BBC TV Panorama - conflates WiFi radiation fears with Mobile Phone Masts - ignores Mobile Phone Handsets in Schools
The British Broadcasting Corporations flagship TV documentary programme Panorama has transmitted several megawatts of scaremongering pseudo science, regarding WiFi radio computer networks in schools.
They made the unsubstantiated claim that WiFi signals were somehow equivalent to Mobile Phone radio signals, despite the vast difference in power and frequency.
See this rebuttal - Guy Kewney's Open Letter to Sir William Stewart to the earlier Independent on Sunday rubbish, which the Panorama programme seems to have rehashed and expanded upon..
Why did Panorama not investigate the health risks to schools from their own Television broadcast transmissions ?
Mobile Phone Frequencies in the UK are in bands around either 2100 MHz for 3GPP or 1800MHz, and 900 MHz for GSM and about 400 MHz for the Police and Emergency Services Airwave encrypted radios, all of which require lots of Transmitter Masts for national coverage.
The the lower frequencies overlap with the frequency bands used to transmit the very BBC Panorama programme on national broadcast television (no surprise, as they used to be allocated to TV in the past)
WiFi bands are around 2400MHz.
WiFi in the UK is "license free", but at a lower level than in other countries such as the USA. The UK limit for a WiFi Access point is 100 MilliWatts Effective Radiated Power (ERP) i.e. one tenth of a Watt (dependent on the antenna design)
Many WiFi Cards and USB adapters only run at say 30 MilliWatts.
When Laptop computers etc. in a Classroom are near to an Access point, they will mostly reduce their power output automatically, in order to save battery power, if the signal strength is good enough to provide maximum data
If WiFi radio signals are, as the Panorama programme claimed, equivalent to Mobile Phone transmissions, then so are Television broadcasts, which have not been linked to noticeable health effects over the last 70 years or so.
Many Television Transmitters have the same order of magnitude of Effective Radiated Power (ERP) as Mobile Phone masts i.e. tens of watts, but some emit hundreds of watts, some emit thousands of watts and Crystal Palace approaches a 100KWatts i.e. a MegaWatt of ERP..e.g.
Regional Reception Information for London region
Station Name BBC1 BBC2 ITV C4 ERP
Crystal Palace 26 33 23 30 1000kW
Alexandra Palace 58 64 61 54 65W
East Grinstead 40 56 46 59 117W
Forest Row 48 54 62 66 120W
Guildford 40 46 43 50 10kW
Hemel Hempsted 51 44 41 47 10kW
Woolwich 57 63 60 67 630W
All of the alleged health risks from Mobile Phone Masts, pale into insignificance , when compared with the much stronger signals produced by the Mobile Phone Handsets carried by virtually every child these days i.e.there could be 20 or 30 Mobile Phone Handsets in any one classroom.. These may transmit at up to 1 Watt (i.e. 10 times the power of a WiFi Access point) and since they are in physical contact with a child or adult, any as yet unproven health risks are likely to be from these transmitters and not from either the Mobile Phone Masts or from WiFi.
Do they not teach elementary Physics at school any more ? How can BBC journalists be so wilfully ignorant of the Power Laws, which are proportional to the square of the distance from the transmitter?
The segment of the programme which went on a jolly trip to Sweden, to track down people who are suffering mentally from a fear of radio waves (a real enough handicap, even if there is no evidence of physical damage) featured both Aluminium foil, and some black,allegedly radio wave absorbing paint.
We are well aware of the use of aluminium foil to shield low power radio waves - see
Foiling the Oyster Card - but only for specific security / privacy of electronic devices.
Despite making all these scientific claims, the Panorama website, like the wretched Independent on Sunday article a few weeks ago, does not provide any actual URLs or references to the studies on which they have based their theories.
This all seems to have been sparked off by the personal gut feeling of the Head of the Health Protection Agency, who has expressed views which he did not put in the official report which he commissioned , but which he did not actually compile, into the health risks of Mobile Phones, and which the former Daily Mail features journos at the Independent on Sunday and now the BBC Panorama team have sensationalised..