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Wireless Radiation Fears Nearly Scupper Broadband Mast in Scotland

Thursday, February 6th, 2014 (6:34 pm) - Score 1,206

Mention words like Microwave or Radiation and some people will instantly conjure up frightening images of nuclear disasters, three headed dogs and of course.. Justin Bieber. The latter is particularly horrifying but not when it nearly scuppers a seemingly harmless rural broadband project (the wireless aspect not Bieber).

Fears about allegedly harmful mobile or wifiradiation” rotting peoples brains or DNA have been around for quite a while, albeit largely without any firm scientific proof to back them up. The European Commission and UK Health Protection Agency have both consistently said that WiFi is safe to use and frequently cite a lack of evidence for any adjustment to current “exposure limits” (though we’d happily welcome an exposure limit for Justin Bieber).

Unfortunately that hasn’t stopped such fears hampering local wireless broadband projects (example) and now another one has narrowly avoided a similar fate after the SNP councillor for Central Buchan in Aberdeenshire (Scotland), Jim Ingram, raised public health concerns over plans for a new 8 metre mast at Longside Primary School.

Jim Ingram told an Area Committee Meeting:

I’m disappointed to see this being proposed for schools. I would have been very concerned about the impact of microwaves, especially at schools and nurseries near infants. I believe these things are subject to interpretation and my interpretation is this is a danger to public health.”

It’s unclear how such things can be “subject to interpretation“, presumably as opposed to scientific proof, but we’ll leave that up to our readers to debate. In any case the mast was ultimately approved (5 votes to 4) and will be used to help deliver superfast broadband services to rural areas, although Thinkbroadband has spotted that the specifics about its technology choice are admittedly quite vague (mast report).

Buchan Area Committee Report

In terms of potential impacts upon health the submitted ICNIRP Declaration certifies that the installation of the telecommunication mast at Longside School is designed to be in full compliance with the requirements of the radio frequency (RF) public exposure guidelines of the International Commission on Non-Iodising Radiation Protection, as expressed in EU Council recommendation of 12 July 1999 “on the limitation of exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields (0Hz to 300GHz).

As such it is not considered that the mast will impact upon the health or well being of any residents. The equipment will operate in compliance with legislative standards and as such there will not be any exposure to the population of electromagnetic fields at what would be considered an unsafe level.

The same meeting also deferred the construction of another 12 metre high mast, although this is more understandable because it was due to be built in a conservation area and such work has a tendency to be similarly controversial; albeit without using the word “radiation” to cause FuD.

On the other hand a more pragmatic viewpoint might be that new research is always worth pursuing and that there’s no harm in further scientific study to examine some of the fears. On the other hand the existing research doesn’t show a problem and, next to the energetic cosmic particles that bore their way through our bodies every single day, a little low power wireless radiation is surely the least of our worries.

So to summarise.. let’s get rid of Justin Bieber.

Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Avatar Matthew Williams

    That is brilliant loved the bieber bashing.

  2. Avatar Stephen

    This doesn’t suprise me one bit, I think the authorities in Aberdeen/shire want to return to the days of wearing kilts and making porride, they seem to oppose any kind of upgrade or improvements that will benefit the people and the region.

    I was up in Mintlaw last week and they could definitely do with some upgrades to the networks. In fact, up here in the North of Scotland we are so far down the priority list for new services by any ISP’s that we should be biting the hand off of anyone who is willing to invest and upgrade our services. If it’s not wanted in Central Buchan I would love to see the west or the south of the city receive an upgrade instead!

  3. Avatar X66yh

    …and there is the point made well “biting the hands of anyone willing to invest”.

    The snag is that contrary to the wailings on BB forums everywhere investing in Superfast BB is not the money spinner many seem to believe it is.
    If it was then companies and their financial backers would be at your doorstep all ready to – as some might say ‘rip you off’.

    But they are not – and when you consider that in the UK BB is seemingly sold on minimum price as the sole consideration, they look at the expected revenues vs the upfront capital cost of improvements and say you must be joking if you thing we are going to invest in this.

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