There has been a good deal of correspondence between activists concerned with electromagnetic pollution recently and some discussion as to whether trade unions could become actively involved in the fight to reduce electrosmog. In one post, Sarah Starkey of www.wifiinschools.org.uk pointed out that:
The Trades Union Congress in the UK has a document about carcinogens in the workplace. This offers guidance for all Trade Unions in the UK. In it they say
'Trade unions believe the aim should be to remove all exposure to any known or suspected carcinogen in the workplace .'
'Caution should be used to prevent exposure to substances in Group 2B (EMR from mobile phones has just been recognised as a group B carcinogen by the WHO's IARC).'
'The regulations are clear: that the first aim should always be to remove the hazard .'
'Management Regulations and COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) lay down clear principles for prevention that must be followed when deciding what to do about a potential hazard. This means the first step must always be, where possible, to remove the hazard altogether – removing any cancer-causing hazards from the workplace .'
'There is a legal requirement on employers to only use a carcinogen if there is no reasonable alternative.'
I have sent this information to Teachers' Unions in the UK, as it is something which they need to consider carefully. There are alternatives to Wi-Fi which could be used in the workplace, thereby removing the hazard. The Teachers' Union 'Voice' has for some years been calling for Wi-Fi not to be used in schools and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers at their 2009 conference expressed some concern. The others are currently sticking to the official guidance from the Health Protection Agency that exposures are very low and within international guidelines and so are not expected to have any effects.
Recently a paper came out showing changes in brain responses when a Wi-Fi access point was switched on, so whilst the HPA and also the WHO may not expect there to effects of Wi-Fi, there are!
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First Published in August 2011
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