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Dark mutterings on killer Wi-Fi in schools help no one

An Open Letter to Sir William Stewart

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Column Dear Sir William,

Please: either shit, or get off the pot.

When it comes to Wi-Fi radiation, there's one comment from the anti-radiation lobby that I agree with: "We need another official inquiry - as authoritative as the Stewart reports on mobile phones."

What we don't need is vague waffle of the sort which says that "Sir William is said to be 'very keen' that pupils are monitored for potential health problems", or gossip that "Sir William Stewart, the man who has issued the most authoritative British warnings about the hazards of mobiles, is becoming worried about the spread of Wi-Fi.

"The chairman of the Health Protection Agency - and a former chief scientific adviser to the Government - is privately pressing for an official investigation of the risks it may pose."

Without some authoritative comment, we are going to have to listen to stuff like this, from Alasdair Philips of campaign group Powerwatch.

Philips "believes the radiation from wireless networks is partly to blame for the rise of behavioural problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD".

Philips was quoted as saying: "The problems that many teachers are reporting, such as poor concentration and the four-fold increase in ADHD in the last 10 years are exactly the problems we would predict."

If that's what he said, he's talking nonsense. Wi-Fi has been around for what, four years? And before yesterday's switch-on in central London, in trivial amounts. But ADHD has gone up fourfold in the last 10 years. Therefore, we would predict that if Wi-Fi appeared sporadically from 2002, ADHD would start to quadruple from 1997? Only if we're daft.

He said: "I believe that rolling out wireless networks in schools should be a criminal offence without close monitoring of pupils' health."

Is he basing this on anything that was uncovered by Sir William's investigation?

Last weekend, my cornflakes were spoiled by an apparently fact-based claim in one of the UK's daily papers, that the Stewart report had exposed real dangers from mobile phones, and this had been ignored by the Government.

This doesn't square with what I found out when Sir William Stewart's original report was published. Someone is, in a word, lying.

First, the report I read was not written by Sir William. He was the chairman of the Health Protection Agency which appointed the report committee; and when the report came out, it said absolutely nothing about real dangers. You can read the report yourself here.

What did happen, however, was that at a press conference after the report was unveiled, Sir William was asked what he, personally, thought about some aspects of mobile phone radiation. And he said - personally - that he'd favour conservative approaches.

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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