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Last Updated: Friday, 12 October 2007, 17:42 GMT 18:42 UK
Wi-fi health study gets go ahead
Wireless hotspot, AFP
Wireless hotspots are becoming much more common and widely used
The government is taking another look at the effect that wireless networks have on health.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has announced it will carry out "systematic" research into how wireless networks are being used.

The research will aim to establish average exposure to the low level radiation emitted by wi-fi access points and wireless links on computers.

The HPA said it expected the results of the research to be "reassuring".

Average exposure

In its statement outlining its intentions, Professor Pat Troop, chief executive of the agency, said there was "no scientific evidence to date" that wi-fi or wireless local networks could have an adverse effect on the health of the general population.

The signals used on wi-fi networks were very low power, said the HPA, and well within guidelines issued by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation (ICNIRP).

"Given this, there is no particular reason why schools and others should not continue to use wi-fi or other wireless networks," said Prof Troop.

However, she added, little work had so far been done on the exposure of the average person to wi-fi networks. The research will aim to establish a baseline for this exposure.

The HPA said it was "logical" to consider this research work in light of advice from the agency itself and England's Chief Medical Officer that children should limit non-essential use of mobile phones.

The agency said it was now consulting with other government departments about the best way to carry out the research project.

It said that the results of the research would be published on its website and submitted to peer-reviewed journals.

Wi-fi networks have been in the news because some teachers have expressed worries about its effect on the health of pupils.

In August 2007 the Professional Association of Teachers said pupils were being used as "guinea pigs" until the safety of wi-fi was established.

The government has said its expert advice was that there was no problem with wi-fi, nor any reason to discourage its use.

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