Children – WiFi – Schools – Parents – PA – BOM.
By Allan Brennan.
ThePlatform.ie – Ireland’s Solutions Resource.
School Board of Management & Parent Associations.
Children starting school is an exciting time for both parents and children. Many parents want to assist the school in whatever way they can. It has been well recognised that parents donating time and expertise helps to enrich the school, strengthen community ties, and plays a key part in the day to day running of many schools.
All parents want their children’s school environment to be friendly and free from distractions that may inhibit or negatively impact on their learning experience. Parents want a pollutant free environment for their children.
In following the 2015 Children’ First Act, the school also want what is best for children and do not want to subject children to unnecessary man-made environmental pollutants.
Parents who join a Parents Association or Board of Management will know that many school finances are stretched. No school wants to introduce a technology that requires a General Risk Assessments and Specific Risk Assessments. Risk Assessments introduce a cost, either from an in-school resource or by an external contractor.
So what about Wi-Fi?
Wi-Fi uses microwave radio signals. Microwave signals are group-listed carcinogens and classified as physical agents. If any school is considering a Wi-Fi network, they must be aware of the increased costs and risks associated with Wi-Fi exposure. For example if a teacher has a pacemaker, and they use Wi-Fi in school, that school must undertake a Specific Risk Assessment.
The school will have to pay for that Specific Risk Assessment.
For pregnant teachers, the school must know/understand the Wi-Fi exposure levels and ensure there is an area within the school where pregnant teachers can spend time, free from Wi-Fi signals.
Typical symptoms reported in many schools include – headaches, earaches, sore eyes, sore stomach, nose bleeds and skin rash.
Of the 6 common symptoms, five will disappear within two hours once the child is taken out of the Wi-Fi environment. Skin rash typically takes longer to disappear (1 – 2 weeks).
More information on the children’s health conditions and Wi-Fi can be found at
There are 5 important Guidelines/Regulations all parents should be aware of when joining a Parents Association or Board of Management:
- Governance Manual
(schools must have comprehensive insurance – Wi-Fi not covered by comprehensive insurance)
- 2015 Childrens Safety First Regulations
(Chlidren’s best interests of paramount importance)
- 2016 EMF Safety, Health & Welfare At Work Regulations
(Lists 4 ‘at particular risk’ groups of workers – Pregnant women, People with Pacemakers, Passive implants & Body-worn medical devices)
- 2017 Children First National Guidance
(School must maintain the Welfare and Well-being of every child)
- Council of Europe, Resolution 1815
(Children deemed ‘high-risk group’ re: Wi-Fi & Wi-Fi not recommended for schools)
Governance Manual 2019 – 2023
Published by the Department of Education, the Governance manual is well written and contains plenty of information concerning the running of the school. One interesting aspect is the requirement to maintain fully comprehensive insurance. Wi-Fi is excluded from all health cover claims.
2015 Childrens Safety First Act (S.I. 36 of 2015)
The main takeaway from this legislation is that all actions concerning children will be taken with the children’s best interests in mind. Children shall not be neglected or harmed in any way and that maintenance of their welfare/wellbeing will be of paramount importance.
Wi-Fi is a group-listed carcinogen. In 2011, Children were identified as a ‘high-risk group’ when it comes to microwave wireless radiation. As a ‘high-risk group’ it is most definitely not in a child’s best interest to be exposed to a known group-listed carcinogen (Group 2B).
Note: In a school environment, the other Group 2B listed carcinogens are Lead & Chloroform.
Children do not play with lead in the classroom and are not exposed to chloroform all day.
The best interests of the child will be served by using a wired connection.
2016 EMF Safety Regulations (S.I. 337 of 2016 – Directive 2013/35/EU)
Following Directive 2013/35/EU the 2016 Health & Safety Regulations were introduced to protect workers from the known dangers of electromagnetic fields e.g. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3G, 4G & 5G etc. Four groups of workers were identified as being ‘at particular risk’: Pregnant Women, People with Pacemakers, People with passive implants & People with body-worn medical devices.
EMF Safety regulations introduce procedures to protect workers from known short-term effects of wireless radiation (30mins). All workplaces are required to put in place awareness campaigns informing workers about the dangers of non-ionising wireless radiation.
Workplaces are also advised to have areas that are free from wireless signals for those workers who are sensitive e.g. pregnant teachers.
One of the more common symptoms associated with microwave wireless radiation exposure is a condition called ‘microwave hearing’. Microwave hearing (high-pitched or clicking sound) is a well known condition arsing from exposure to wireless signals in the range 200Mhz – 6Ghz. Wi-Fi uses wireless signals operating within the 200Mhz – 6Ghz range.
2016 EMF Safety Guidelines (P.48) ‘Action levels and exposure limit values will not normally provide sufficient protection for workers at particular risk.’
Children are not workers, their bodies are not yet fully formed and wireless radiation signals penetrate further than an adult.
Children were classified as ‘high-risk group’ in 2011 (Council of Europe).
If there is Wi-Fi in a school, children are exposed to over 10 times the levels used in the safety guidelines. The safety standards used in Ireland are based on a Wi-Fi exposure time of 30 minutes. Children are in school for 5 or 6 hours (sometimes more).
Children First – National Guidance
The National Guidance document provides a detailed and comprehensive overview of what is expected from adults who work with children. How a child’s best interests must be of paramount importance and explains the different types of abuse – Neglect, Emotional, Physical, Sexual and Circumstances which may make children more vulnerable to harm.
2011, Resolution 1815
In 2011 Children were classified as a ‘high-risk’ group when it comes to microwave wireless exposure e.g. Wi-Fi. The advice given in 2011 was that children should not use WiFi in schools.
Schools should give priority to wired networks.
If a school uses Wi-Fi, the school must adopt the Precautionary and ALARA principles.
Precautionary Principle means if children are not actively using Wi-Fi they should not be exposed to Wi-Fi. ALARA – As Low As reasonably Achievable – when in use make sure the power is Turned down.
Section 8 contains information on Children, Wi-Fi (WLAN) and Schools
Points to note:
- Governance Manual for Primary Schools – 2019 – 2023 (17.6 Insurance). Schools must maintain a fully comprehensive insurance policy. (a) In general, it is the duty of the board of management (delegated by the trustees in schools where there are trustees) to put in
place comprehensive insurance cover for the school.
- Wi-Fi networks are not covered by the school comprehensive insurance policy. All forms of wireless radiation (including Wi-Fi) are specifically excluded from any and all health cover claims.
- When considering whether or not to install a Wi-Fi network the school must involve and inform all stakeholder groups in the planning stage: Parents, Teachers, Parents Association, Board of Management and Children. No school Principal/BOM should make any decisions about the installation of a Wi-Fi network without involving all school stakeholders.
- No classroom should have a Wi-Fi Access Point or router unless the classroom is at least 80sq metres in size.
- In secondary schools the Wi-Fi signals should not be accessible outside the schools grounds.
- If any child is exposed to Wi-Fi, the maximum signal exposure is -66dBm (2.4Ghz) and -60dBm (5Ghz).
Allan Brennan, Brief Bio:
Awarded Fellow of the Irish Computer Society for his Promotion and Contribution to the Irish Wireless Industry.
Allan founded two wireless companies and introduced Ireland’s 1st high-capacity millimetre-wave wireless technology.
Married with two children, Allan has a particular interest in promoting Safe + Healthy Adoption of Technology and in particular Reducing Children’s Radiation Exposure.
Disclaimer: Views expressed in articles, interviews, posts etc. on ThePlatform.ie may not reflect the views of the ThePlatform.ie. ThePlatform.ie does not give financial, legal, medical or health advice; readers/viewers are advised to do their own research and due diligence.