Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Latest Hysteria

The news from Toronto:
A group of central Ontario parents is demanding their children's schools turn off wireless Internet before they head back to school next month, fearing the technology is making the kids sick. Some parents in the Barrie, Ont., area say their children are showing a host of symptoms ranging from headaches and dizziness to nausea and even racing heart rates.

They believe the Wi-Fi setup in their kids' elementary schools may be the problem.

The parents complain they can't get the Simcoe County school board or anyone else to take their concerns seriously, even though the children's symptoms all disappear on weekends when they aren't in school.

"Parents are getting together and realizing this is the pattern," said Rodney Palmer of the Simcoe County Safe School Committee. "We went to the school board and they did nothing."

The symptoms, which also include memory loss, trouble concentrating, skin rashes, hyperactivity, night sweats and insomnia, have been reported in 14 Ontario schools in Barrie, Bradford, Collingwood, Orillia and Wasaga Beach since the board decided to go wireless, said Palmer.

"These kids are getting sick at school but not at home," he said. "I'm not saying it's because of the Wi-Fi because we don't know yet, but I've pretty much eliminated every other possible source."

Every other possible source? Hmmm. What about, their kids just don't like school? Or, as Steven Novella suggests, sleep deprivation, which could explain all of these symptoms and which would go away on weekends when the kids sleep in. Whatever the problem, it isn't likely to be wi fi, which produces a very small part of the radio energy we are exposed to from myriad sources. On the brighter side, at least the school board is ignoring them.

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