24 February 2006

EMF vs. the world

So, some dumbass at Lakehead University in Ontario has curtailed student access to WiFi because "[the] jury is still out on the impact that electromagnetic forces have on human physiology."

Please. Give this electromagnetic forces (EMF) nonsense a rest.

When I was co-chair of one of our institutional occupational health and safety (OHS) committees, I did a lot of research into EMF hazards, and found very little to worry about. Basically, you don't want to sit with the back of an older computer monitor behind your head, but otherwise the readings on almost every other electrical device found in an average office, library, or classroom surrounding is minimal.

Sure, you could argue that collectively, the fields might pose a hazard -- but even studies that seem to link very high EMF exposure (e.g. arc welders) to cancer are "inconclusive" at best. (Besides which, I'm pretty sure that in the next 15 years some grant-hungry scientist is going to "prove" that the nitrogen in the air is actually carcinogenic.)

Bottom line: unless you are going to move to a tent or cave in the wilderness, you are going to encounter EMFs in your daily life.

Read more about EMFs via NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health -- USA) and the CDC (Center for Disease Control): EMF Factsheet.

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