WiFi will not kill kids or teachers: research

The New Zealand Ministry of Health recently published a report which found that Wi-Fi in schools does not pose a health risk to children or staff.

The report, commissioned by the country’s Ministry of Health, presents the results of measurements of exposures to radiofrequency (RF) fields from Wi-Fi in two New Zealand schools.

The research focused on the radiation from the Wi-Fi access points and devices which used Wi-Fi connectivity.

“The results from New Zealand are consistent with data published by the British Health Protection Agency (HPA, now part of Public Health England) and Industry Canada,” the report stated.

“Exposures to Wi-Fi signals in New Zealand schools, both from the access points and devices, are very low. On this basis, Wi-Fi in schools does not pose a health risk to children or staff.”

Although the measurements in New Zealand classrooms did not include exposures from 5GHz Wi-Fi, it also looks safe.

“In one of the schools, the company which installed and maintained the network stated that the access point transmit power at 5 GHz is only one tenth of that at 2.4 GHz, and all devices were connecting to access points at 2.4 GHz,” the report stated.

“Assuming similar transmission patterns, the contribution of 5 GHz WiFi could add around 10% to the exposures.”

WiFi exposure testing
WiFi exposure testing

Technical findings

The research found that all exposures were very low compared with the public exposure limit in New Zealand (Standard 2772.1:1999 Radiofrequency Fields Part 1: Maximum exposure levels 3 kHz – 300 GHz).

“The maximum exposure averaged over six minutes was equivalent to 0.024% of  – about 4000 times lower than – the reference level specified for the public in that Standard,” the report stated.

“In a classroom with a Wi-Fi access point mounted on the wall, time average exposures were less than 0.01% of the limit (10,000 times lower). In classrooms without an access point, exposures were lower still.”

The time average exposures measured 30 cm from a laptop were generally less than 0.001% of the reference level.

The results indicate that the duty cycle of devices is typically less than 0.005 (ie, the devices transmit for a total of less than 18 seconds in every hour).

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WiFi will not kill kids or teachers: research