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Parents Sue School Over Use of Wi-Fi Network 667

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the wi-fi-also-deemed-stupid-sounding-term dept.
Iphtashu Fitz writes "Both news.com and Wired are reporting that an Illinois school district is being sued by parents over their use of a Wi-Fi network at a local elementary school. Apparently the parents of 5 students are concerned about potential health risks to their children by the Wi-Fi radio signals. The parents are seeking class-action status for their suit, which seeks to halt the use of wireless networks but does not ask for monetary damages. The complete complaint is also available for your reading pleasure on wifinetnews.com." I would never have guessed that the emissions from a wireless network are bad, unlike the healthy emissions given off by the now inescapable cell phones that are everywhere in public.
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Parents Sue School Over Use of Wi-Fi Network

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  • But these (Score:2, Insightful)

    same brats carry mobile phones, I bet $2.
  • Sad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by captain_craptacular (580116) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:53PM (#7178055)
    Unfortunately, the school district will now have to expend a significant amount of money to defend themselves against these bogus charges. Money that could otherwise be spent for some better cause such as, lets see, educating our children?
    • Re:Sad (Score:2, Insightful)

      You obviously haven't attended school in a while. This will probably get them a referendum to pay for the defense, as well as a hefty bonus for the superintendent who "saved the gift of technology for our children." Unfortunetly, the schools themselves get nothing but wifi.
      Imagine 30 1st graders with laptops and 1 teacher. Or, imagine a beowulf cluster of broken laptops with snot on them, it's the same thing.
      • Imagine 30 1st graders with laptops and 1 teacher. Or, imagine a beowulf cluster of broken laptops with snot on them, it's the same thing.

        Indeed. My employer, a school district, just bought wireless labs for students. Already we've had a dozen in for repair that have been dropped/broken or otherwise destroyed.

    • I REALLY hope that other parrents who have kids going to this school district sue the parrents who are suing the schools. They are trying to steal away educational tools from their children! For the sake of insane paranoia! (and this is comming from a slashdotter!) Heck, this can even cause other school districts to not follow this upgrade. MY children may not get to have this technology in their schools in the future because of these losers, and I don't even live in Indiana.

      The actual class action mov
    • Re:Sad (Score:5, Informative)

      by scoove (71173) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @08:41PM (#7178581)
      expend a significant amount of money to defend themselves against these bogus charges

      Unfortunately this appears to be what happens when you combine a society fixated with junk science with a political class ruled by trial attorneys.

      The State of Missouri had an issue a bit more than a year ago with a state legislator that was trying to get all communication towers banned. The reason? "It might harm children." A few folks did some research on the legislator pushing the bill and guess who one of his largest financial supporters was? Incumbant local telephone companies (the competition to wireless providers). Save the children unfortunately has become code for political and legal system payola.

      Unfortunately this poster touches on the reality of the current US legal nightmare: many defendents cannot afford the fight for what is right due to the complete lack of financial accountability of irresponsible plantiff attorneys and their clients. I'm predicting the school will back out and turn off their wireless devices. Their students will lack the access to information that other students might have. Unless other parents get vocal and oppose this luddite activity, they'll further the progress of their children towards a future job at Burger King.

      Per the allegation that the school has been ignoring evidence that electromagnetic radiation from Wi-Fi networks poses health risks, I'd invite the luddite parents and their attorneys to have a radiofrequency engineer show them what the airwaves in the classroom (or better, at home) look like. 802.11b/a/g is background noise [wlana.org] compared to many of the narrowband signals out there. Better shut off the FM, AM and TV broadcasters [osha-slc.gov] immediately. Throw away that cellphone [wow-com.com] (you don't hold that anywhere *near* your head, do you?) Better start packing candles in the kids lunch bag... those fluorescent lights are little RF monsters [inchem.org] ("to quote: while the intentional radiation of fluorescent light tubes lies in the visible light range, such tubes also generate very low levels of microwave and RF white noise (Mumford, 1949)... microwaves? That's not a classroom lit by fluorescents, it's a Easy Bake Oven from Hell [easybake.com]!). Lock up the school TV sets - what do you think that gunnplexer is firing at your eyeballs? Get weather, aviation and police radar shut off immediately (sure hope that speeder doesn't crash into the school bus). And god forbid you have one of those Air Force E-4B 747's [boeing.com] fly over your home as they do mine... one of those bastards wipes out my TV amplifier every time it flies over my farm! Heck, we haven't even thought about RF experiments like HAARP [alaska.edu] that can probably melt a human in milliseconds!

      Of course, the final step for the trial attorneys and their luddite clients will be banning the ultimate producer of raw RF [noaa.gov]. Once that's done, we can all rest assured that no RF deathrays will harm us.

      *scoove*
      • Re:Sad (Score:5, Funny)

        by dattaway (3088) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @09:19PM (#7178869) Homepage Journal
        Light dimmers and motor controllers are major offenders found around the house that would put a shielded microwave oven to shame.

        We better shut off the electric grid. Start thinking of the children for God's sake.
      • Re:Sad (Score:3, Funny)

        by NanoGator (522640)
        "Per the allegation that the school has been ignoring evidence that electromagnetic radiation from Wi-Fi networks poses health risks, I'd invite the luddite parents and their attorneys to have a radiofrequency engineer show them what the airwaves in the classroom (or better, at home) look like."

        It'd be amusing (though unlikely) if the school filed child abuse charges with the parents who brought up the case, citing that they owned cell phones.
      • by Latent Heat (558884) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:06PM (#7179239)
        There was a time when it was the right-wing nuts who were charging every kind of conspiracy and risk to health. Remember fluoride in water and how the issue was lampooned in Dr. Strangelove?

        I had a libertarian friend who liked to poke fun both at the right-wing nuts who were upset about fluoride along with the liberals who were in a big huff about how bad the conservatives were. He offered up the "fluoron" theory: fluorescent light bulbs emitted "fluorons", subatomic particles smaller than an electron so they were not yet detected by science, but they were shaped like a hammer and sickle (the Soviet emblem), and if one penetrated your skull it would explode a brain cell and turn it into a Communist idealogue. Light exposure (small number of Commie brain cells) turned you into a liberal while heavy doses turned you into a pinko -- and fluorescent lights were everywhere in public schools and government buildings.

        I guess we have come full circle and now the loony Left has become what the loony Right once was.

    • If they had educated the parents on EM fields a little more, they might not have the problem they have now. Of course, such ignorance might be unstoppable.

      Things that are invisibly harmful provoke more superstitions of harm than things that are more well known, like sunlight (and by that I'm not just referring to the visible spectrum).

      I wonder what currently educated children will complain about when they're adults? Photographs that steal people's souls (giving them cancer)? The evil, cancer-causing vo
  • Umm?? (Score:5, Informative)

    by dcstimm (556797) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:54PM (#7178059) Homepage
    2.4ghz Cordless phones use the same freq! What are these parents smoking?
    • Re:Umm?? (Score:5, Funny)

      by japhyr777 (467923) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @08:00PM (#7178153)
      Wait until they find out about Baby Monitors... That'll get them worked up..

      All those hours of the day the poor baby was taking in the radio waves. Possibly right next to it's head. Bzzzzt..
      • Re:Umm?? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by SKPhoton (683703)
        I'd like to see the results of some wifi-crazed person setting up pringles cans and pointing them in all sorts of directions and sitting in front of the cans for hours on end.
        • Re:Umm?? (Score:3, Funny)

          by Exiler (589908)
          Well, for one thing they'd be pretty confused. "All these cans and my signal STILL doesn't reach?!"
    • Re:Umm?? (Score:5, Funny)

      by GammaTau (636807) <jni@iki.fi> on Thursday October 09, 2003 @08:01PM (#7178170) Homepage Journal

      2.4ghz Cordless phones use the same freq! What are these parents smoking?

      I don't know... but whatever it is, don't tell the kids. It might be bad influence.

    • I was thinking the same thing. Glad I read your post before I posted a duplicate.

      I fully expect that unless the parents can show they are NOT using any cordless appliances or cellphones they will loose this case HARD.

      Usually it takes research but they seem to be saying, stop just because. You could challenge the flouride in the water too...
    • The real problem with Wi-Fi is that the single mimics the mating songs of giant roaches. If our children are exposed to such frequencies they might use the school computers to download roach porn or other deviant roach activities. This is definitely a time to stand up for the children. According to our great president Dubya, the only question that schools are responsible for answering is this:

      Is our children learning?--George W. Bush

  • by fruity1983 (561851) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:54PM (#7178063)
    For allowing the use of cellphones, FM and AM radio, wireless telephones and hey! How about power lines, too?
    • How about any object warmer than absolute zero?
    • I guess they should sue the FCC, too.

      I would expect they need to sue the FCC as well... Since the FCC has permitted the use of 2.4GHz for various purposes, doesn't that place the burden on this group of parents to demonstrate some direct health hazard?

      Idiots, the lot of 'em.
    • Internal combustion engines, nuclear power, steam engines (all that wood smoke). All radio frequency emissions, from AM to microwave. Catscans, MRI, X-rays. Let's get rid of all that evil technology.

      Sound like technophobic luddite minivan-driving soccer moms to me. Have these people actually paused to think what might happen to the state of their health if a bunch of geeks' wireless toys got taken away as a direct result of their lawsuit? Like the dog chasing after a car's tires, suppose he actually ma

  • by agent dero (680753) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:55PM (#7178073) Homepage
    This is the 21st century, radio, UV, and all sorts of electromagnetic waves float around us. These schools are not sticking unborn fetuses in microwaves, they are simply putting up a radio network.

    Why not sue the sun because it's barraging Earth with all these bad rays, sue cell phone companies for placing cellphone towers where your children may be. Sue HOT 95.5! for transmitting that crappy music.

    Go get your aluminum foil beanie already.
  • ... When people with money and lawyers get bored, in America.
  • if i work around access points and am surrounded by wireless routers in my apt complex, am i gonna get a low sperm count? if yes, can i sue my boss and get his first child?

    xao
  • by Carnildo (712617) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:57PM (#7178113) Homepage Journal
    Does anyone have the address of these people? I've got a load of tinfoil hats they can use to protect their children!
    • Re:Tinfoil hats (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nsample (261457) <nsample@NosPaM.stanford.edu> on Thursday October 09, 2003 @08:45PM (#7178622) Homepage
      The parent post is a pretty funny comment, and one that should be appreciated by the majority of the /. readers. However, as a new parent, a scientist, and a PhD, I'll admit that I too have worries about WiFi and growing children. And I don't wear a tinfoil hat.

      We had a WiFi network in-home before my son was born, but removed it during my wife's pregnancy. We *still* have a cordless phone, but stepped back to 900MHz. Why? Well, there's enough evidence out there to say that it's worth it to worry. We don't have a complete story, and that's the issue. Unfortunately, there were no equivalent localized high frequency sources in homes and schools 30 years ago. We don't have enough data to say definitively one way or another that something's safe or not.

      And that's what scares the shit out of parents. We don't know enough to rule anything out yet. I know enough that I wouldn't live next to a cell tower, even though I'll risk holding a cell phone to my ear just about everyday. However, when it comes to my kids, I don't take that chance.
      • I assume you don't have a microwave oven. Even with the shielding, those things leak enough microwaves to drown out a WiFi network.
      • If your cellphone functions inside the house, you are getting roughly as much (or more) RF from the tower as from a WiFi point. Now factor in all the other sources (satellites, microwave ovens, walkie-talkies, nearby cellphones, communcication towers, police radio, pagers, regular radio and so on). Obviously, a single wifi point does not matter much.
      • Well, there's enough evidence out there to say that it's worth it to worry.

        I would be more worried about flying saucers, for which there is about the same level of evidence. And there certainly is not enough evidence to rule them out as a danger, either. The good studies of non-ionizing radiation show no effect, the studies that show harm are small and generally show tiny effects of marginal statistical significance under circumstances where there are numerous potential artifacts and biases. And it is ver

      • Re:Tinfoil hats (Score:5, Insightful)

        by theonetruekeebler (60888) on Friday October 10, 2003 @07:03AM (#7181460) Homepage Journal
        Welcome to being a new parent in a new era, because you're certainly talking like a parent rather than a scientist: "We don't have enough data to say definitively one way or another that something's safe or not." Safety is the absence of danger, and when is there ever enough data to prove the absence of a phenomenon? And thirty years ago, between your 1960s color television and the flourescent lights in the supermarket where your mother, pregnant with you, filled up her cart with fatty, chemical-laced foods, you were being exposed to a hell of a lot more radiation that your Wi-Fi, and believe me that's the least of the environmental poisons you were exposed to in 1973. Yet you still managed to grow up to get a PhD.

        There's a lot of money to be made by scaring the shit out of you. When it comes to technology, the magic words are "there is not enough evidence that this product is safe". Remember when they were screaming that power lines were killing babies? Remember when saccharin was killing babies? Remember when Y2K was going to kill all of us and our babies?

        Try this: "There may be a link between measles vaccinations and autism". Okay? Now, wrap your scientist mind around that word "may". It means non-zero probability, so good luck disproving the proposition. And I hope your math skills are up to the task of comparing the "may" above to the "may" in "measles vaccinations may prevent measles", because I made that up about autism. Scared you, though, didn't I? So welcome to the new era of parenting.

        And the fearmongers are never going to shut up. Twenty year studies that turn up no statistically significant link between their pet fear and reality obviously didn't look long enough or hard enough. They like the attention, and their lawyers like the money.

        • There's a lot of money to be made by scaring the shit out of you.

          Truer words were never spoken. I remember when I first woke up to this fact. I was just a kid, watching Donohue's talk show. He was interviewing people who were imploring the public to be more cognizant of the possibility that their kids could go missing. Without specifics, they were giving the impression that there were pervy kidnappers around every corner, just waiting to snatch your kids, abuse them in unspeakable ways, and then sel

  • by doomdog (541990) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:57PM (#7178118)
    Schools are always short of money -- not enough for textbooks, teachers, better facilities, computer upgrades, etc... And now they're being forced to spend money on lawyers to defend themselves against a lawsuit brought up by a few ignorant parents??? Yeah, that's a great way to spend the education budget...

    If we had serious tort reform in this country where the losing party had to pay the legal expenses of the winner, these kinds of stupid lawsuits would never be filed in the first place...
  • Ok, let's get rid of radio and broadcast TV too, it uses the electromagnetic spectrum as well. Hell, don't let the kids out in the daytime, those electromagnetic sun waves are a killer (skin cancer). Give me a break. This suit should be dropped faster than little boys pants at the neverland ranch.
  • When railways were introduced, stations were built far away from towns "because cows would stop producing milk".
  • Ugh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by c0dedude (587568) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @08:00PM (#7178149)
    The plantiffs claim to have over 400 articles about the harmful effects of radiation such as WiFi, yet cite 0. I know this is just the beginning of the case, but this seems like a scare tactic, get rid of it and lose $0 or we'll keep going and you'll lose more. The basis of the scientific method is query and data replicability. If you don't query and produce not one datum, you aren't scientifically proving anything, you're making a political statment. The style, but not the substance, of this article, troubles me greatly.
  • by MoceanWorker (232487) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @08:02PM (#7178177) Homepage
    Only in this country would you expect to find people sueing a person/company/organization/etc.. for such trivial nonsense.

    As I type this post right now, the monitor in my room, my radio, lights, cell phone, speakers are all giving off radiation. Not to mention, objects in my room (i.e. fork) are strengthening these signals.

    Radiation is around us.. everywhere.. We can't stop it. The big question on hand is, do we sacrifice technology and all its benefits for the risk of potential radition which may or may not hinder ones health and/or possibly lead to cancer?

    Please, out of all those parents sueing.. how many of them smoke, have 5 TV's in their house, drive a car, use a computer, etc.. you get my drift.

    I hope there's somebody out there in Illinois who can smack those parents around a bit.. and I think I say this for most of the /.'ers..
    • Only in this country would you expect to find people sueing a person/company/organization/etc.. for such trivial nonsense.

      I would tend to disagree. There are many cases in Europe where people have many more irrational fears of modern technology; power lines, cell phones (ever noticed how everyone has these shouldder bags with a special pocket for the cell phone, held away from the head?), GM foods, nuclear power, etc etc.

      It's true that there is more litigation in the States; but the Luddite fears are a

  • Cluelessness (Score:3, Insightful)

    by deglr6328 (150198) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @08:02PM (#7178181)
    I wonder how quickly these idiots ran to their portable phones to call their lawyers in order to file this frivolous lawsuit. It's ironic that these people who are supposed to be products of an educational system which teaches basic science(for instance, oh I don't know....the difference between ionizing and non-ionizing radiation) is now actively participating in the promotion of their children's scientific illiteracy. Horay for the triumph of knee jerk emotional reaction over rational analysis!!
    • Re:Cluelessness (Score:3, Informative)

      by ejaw5 (570071)
      I recently got the privledge to try out the Tech International's CellSensor (http://www.techintlcorp.com/cellsensor.htm).

      It measures Cellular radiation (range: .1-10 mW/cm2) and EMF radiation (range: 1-50 milliGauss).
      I measured a Nokia 3360 of emitting ~8 mW/cm2 Cellular radiation and over 50 milliGauss EMF (outside the sensor's range). What else gives off 50+ milliGauss? 5.1 receiver, microwave in operation. Refrigerator gives off ~35 milliGauss and a table fan gives off ~40 milliGauss.

      I didn't have a
  • Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spoonist (32012) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @08:03PM (#7178192) Journal

    I would bet serious money that these are a bunch of Soccer Moms who drive like freakin' maniacs in their minivans and feed their fat lethargic kids fast food.

    "Oooh... I don't want my child hurt by WiFi."

    Meanwhile they're driving their freakin' POS minivan at 90 mph down the freeway zig zagging in and out of traffic as if they were driving a sports car while screaming at their morbidly obese kids in the back who are stuffing their faces full of fast food.

    And you're worried about WiFi? Come on.

    Sorry for the rant. I just had to get that off my chest. Yeah, maybe these parents are very health conscious... I dunno...

  • Microwave ovens 1) use the same frequency as WiFi networks, and 2) give off 10 times the radiation as a WiFi network. So schools should be sued for gross neglegence if they have microwaves too! Or plaintiffs who own microwave ovens should be shot.
  • Let's not forget EM from TV's, Microwaves, my brain, etc.
  • This sounded more like SciFi news. How much time before the same parents sue cellphone companies?
  • The WiFi network is operated by the school, and the laptops used for Internet research at desks are for all practical purposes required.

    This is therefore, in the eyes of the law, a completely different case -- with a vastly different defendent -- than in the case of the potential issue of injury from the use of cell phones.

  • I assume then... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by El (94934) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @08:10PM (#7178273)
    that these same parents never use baby monitors, cell phones, cordless phones, microwave ovens, or cathode ray tubes, as these all emit radio waves which pose a risk to their children? And that their houses are also sheilded against stray RF from power lines, the Sun, and even outer space? In other words, they must live in caves with only a wood fire for heat and light?
  • I will be sueing all of mankind for emitting dangerous electromagnetic radiation from their heads! Only those with flatline electroencephalograms will escape my litigious wrath!

  • I hope none of these parents use cordless phones, TVs, microwave ovens, chlorinated tap water, computers, or folding chairs at home. God knows WiFi is 100 times worse than that healthy radiation comming from the TV or monitor.
    1. Dumbass parents sue school
    2. School spends lots of money on lawsuit
    3. School unable to spend money on education
    4. Children of dumbass parents do not get proper education
    5. Said children grow up as dumbasses themselves
    6. ???
    7. Profit!!!
  • by retro128 (318602) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @08:13PM (#7178313)
    I suspect that once they heard that WiFi uses the same frequencies as microwave ovens they got worried. Too bad the power output of WiFi at the antenna is 1/10000th of what a microwave runs at. Maybe they should sue to shut down all radio stations, all cell networks, all electrical stations, and all TV's.

    The parents need to be clued in on some wonderful news: It's impossible to escape RF radiation. As a beginning electronics hobbyist, one day I was playing with my new oscilloscope and touched the metal part of the probe, and a very rough waveform came up on the screen. Wondering what it was, and having a hunch, I plugged my function generator into the secondary inputs and set it to 60Hz sine, and guess what, they matched. My body was acting as a giant antenna for the RF waves coming off the electrical lines in my house. I'd write more, but I've decided to sue Socal Edison.
  • I have a feeling this one is going to go just about as far as the electric lines over the school deal did.

    Lawyer "There is no tests that prove they are safe"

    Judge "You use your cellphone about once every half hour right?"

    Lawyer "Yeah"

    Judge "Have you gotten a tumor yet?"

    Lawyer "No"

    Judge "There's your proof its safe asshole"

    course if only the real world was this easy

  • They have no idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jcsehak (559709) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @08:14PM (#7178322) Homepage
    My father works on the electronics systems on the latest military aircraft, and he mentioned once, a year or so ago, that one had a box that would report on all the different signals coming in through the air -- radio, TV, cell phones, whatever; and when he turned it on without any filters, the screen just kept scrolling. He couldn't believe how many there were.

    I have to wonder that if someone evolved to be able to percieve more than just the visible light spectrum or regular sound waves, they'd go crazy, thinking they heard voices in their head. Then I have to wonder if at least some people who are "crazy" don't simply percieve some of these signals, and their brains don't know how to process the information.
  • Wouldn't it be much simpler for the parents simply to have their children wear hats made from aluminum foil? :)
  • And my classmates were wondering why I went to class with my trusty tin foil & duct tape hat. Now they know. Now they all know. Now they will all wear one. Now they will all reflect the deadly radiations coming from above. Now I need a full-body suit. Dangsarnit! Dangsarn slashdot!
  • As a physics guy who advocates greater science education and literacy, I'm occasionally asked by otherwise intelligent people, "Isn't it just a waste of time? We have division of labor, so why should I have to know anything about science?" This is the sort of headline which implicitly answers that question.
  • And todays humor is brought to us by Paraniod suburbanites, who dont think before they act.

    In the Spiffy town of "Oak Park" a few peon.... err parents have decieded to sue the local school district over the usage of a Wi-Fi network in the schools. The reason is unclear has to why they would sue the schools yet still have some wonderful things around the home that are far more damaging Such as:

    1. Cell phones
    2. Microwaves
    3. TV. its eviillll
    4. Themselves.

    Think about it, exactly how harmfu .... err helpful c
  • And of course, these same parents are so concerned about the effect of 2.4Ghz waves on their childrens' health that they've all thrown out their microwave ovens, right?

    ...Right?

    ...Is this thing on?

  • Oak Park District 97 (Score:3, Informative)

    by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Thursday October 09, 2003 @08:27PM (#7178461) Homepage Journal
    Based on the "About Us" info found here [k12.il.us], this is an upscale [epodunk.com], academically successful school district located in the 'burbs west of Chicago.

    I wonder if the parents of students in the inner city are laughing or crying when they read about this lawsuit. "Hah! Our kids have a tough time getting textbooks, and the parents in Oak Park are worried about wireless networks?!"

  • I am now just waiting for the next logical step in people who believe that the fact they have children means they can make anyone do anything

    Specifically, I am waiting for the movement of concerned parents to ban WiFi on the grounds that it is beaming harmful pornography into their children

    OH GOD WONT ANYONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN
  • by Jouster (144775) * <slashdot@NosPAM.angelfaq.com> on Thursday October 09, 2003 @08:33PM (#7178516) Homepage Journal
    Backwoods, AL--A group of parents in this small town, calling itself "Citizens for Safer Classrooms", is suing their school district over the installation of what they call "massive portals designed solely for the purpose of subjecting our children to radiation." They claim these portals (which the school district contends are called "windows") are made of material carefully selected to ensure the maximum range of radiation is hitting their children.

    "Well, I think it's an outrage," said Patti Jo, a mother of two children in the school district and one of the plaintiffs in the suit. "It's becoming more and more obvious that they're maliciously subjecting our little boys and girls to a whole host of EMR [electro-magnetic radiation], simply so they can save a few pennies on their electricity bill." She started to cry softly. "We intend to petition for a criminal trial, too. We're claiming it's premeditated murder. The school board should fry," she added.

    Although both sides are trying to reach an agreement on how best to contain the situation, a school board member we contacted, speaking on condition of anonymity, was resolute. "Sure, they get a little UV radiation burned at times," the anonymous boardmember stated. "But have you looked at the cost of fluorescent tubes lately?"

    Punitive damages, if the plaintiffs succeed, are expected to be in the millions.

    Jouster
  • WHAT?! (Score:5, Informative)

    by MrScience (126570) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @08:39PM (#7178571) Homepage
    This is insane. My company rolled out 802.11 a while ago, and they had a few statistics they sent out to address safety concerns.

    Stuff like, "Since these run at low transmit power (.03 Watts), it's 1/10-1/20 the power of a cell phone." and "You'd have to hold a body part within 2cm of the antena for 30 minutes while the radio operated continuously at 100% capacity for that time."

    Just look at IEEE C95.1 1991 [ieee.org], which details the maximum safe exposure for any EM radiation.

    Or, gosh, here's a thought... what about OSHA [osha-slc.gov]?! They've got a bazillion links on the research involved.

    I hope this gets thrown out of the courts faster than you can blink. The last thing students need is to be shoved back into the backwaters of technology.
  • First this isn't a troll/flame. As someone who lives in a burb nearby Oak Park....well....anybody who knows the stereotype of Oak Park parents wouldn't be really surprised by this. I heard a mom from Oak Park speak on radio about how siblings with different last names had family issues. Yeah....only from Oak Park. If you lived nearby, you wouldn't be nearly as shocked at the stupidity of this as I'm sure some of you are right now. This kind of stuff happens all the time there, it just doesn't normally
  • there is a much better solution to this and many other problems. Homeschool. I don't like WiFi either, but the sun puts out microwaves too, and I'm *much* more concerned about the content of Family Life Education here in Virginia. So we homeschool.

    In the early days of public schools in America, each school was closely supervised by a relatively small number of parents with mostly compatible philosophy. Think Oklahoma! or Anne of Green Gables. This arrangement worked well. Public school today is a gi

  • by xtal (49134) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @08:44PM (#7178612)
    Given the incredible lack of information taught in public schools about RF and electromagnetic energy, this doesn't suprise me. People think that wireless data communication is like magic. Science programs glaze over even the most basic introduction to electromagnetics. I don't think I even had an iota of a introduction to the topic until I started university in an Electrical Engineering program. How many people could answer the basic question: How are EM waves produced? (Or rather, why are they produced?")

    I hope these parents get smacked down, because there is far more RF energy coming from other sources. What they MIGHT want to be concerned about is the placement of electical substation transformers for the power grid. Would they like to teach schools without electricity?

    Ignorance brought us great things like witch burning and the inquisitions. I hope this doesn't turn into one..
  • and set a completely unfair precedent.

    WiFi uses non-ionizing radiation. After so many tests over so many years, scientists have very easily found ionizing radiation to cause or accelerate cancers, yet they have never been able to find evidence of the same with non-ionizing radiation.

    Their kids are at infinitely more risk playing in the playground, soaking up UV from the Sun or sitting in front of a CRT which emits small ammounts of x rays.

    What's more, typical WiFi puts out no more than 0.2W! Even if you
  • The names and addresses of the parents weren't difficult to find. Let's give them a call or two and teach them a thing or two about radio waves. Or, if you aren't the talking type, write them a nice little letter.

    PLAINTIFF #1: Baiman, Michelle & Rhon
    (708) 445-9052
    205 S Humphrey Ave
    Oak Park, IL 60302

    PLAINTIFF #2: parents of John Davis (good luck finding this)

    PLAINTIFF #3: Cabral, John T
    (708) 524-0205
    134 Clinton Ave
    Oak Park, IL 60302

  • Quick! quick! Look there are people installing some weird technology which has rays coming out of it.

    Hand me my CELL PHONE so i can start a class action against it. I am glad that my kids are watching the safe TELEVISON and talking on the safe CORDLESS PHONE while resting on an ELECTRIC BLANKET wating for the food to heat up in the MICROWAVE OVEN.

  • by localghost (659616) <dleblanc@gmail.com> on Thursday October 09, 2003 @08:48PM (#7178651)
    I might care more about this if the district had a legitimate use for wifi. It's an elementary school district, grades K-8. None of the students have laptops, and the majority of the teachers are incapable of using anything other than Internet Explorer, Microsoft Word and Gradequick.

    Now the high school, on the other hand, could benefit from wifi. One student in my math class recently got a tablet PC, and we were talking a couple days ago about how nice it would be if there was a school-wide 802.11b network. Unfortunarly, our school is way behind the times as far as technology goes. We watched laserdiscs the other day in psych.

    Money isn't an issue for either of them, though. Both the elementary schools and the high school have more money then they know what to do with. The middle schools just built two new buildings, and the high school got a new $3 million artificial turf football field, an artificial turf soccer field with stadium lighting, and built a parking garage. The issues are stupid parents and stupid administration.

    (In case you couldn't tell, I attended the district the lawsuit was filed against)
  • come on (Score:3, Informative)

    by MegaFur (79453) <wyrd0@NOspaM.komy.zzn.com> on Thursday October 09, 2003 @08:49PM (#7178663) Journal

    Are Wi-Fi signals all that different from standard radio signals? Aren't all of us being bombarded by stuff like this all the time that we're able to listen to good tunes on our AM/FM radios in our car?

    I mean--I am basically clueless here--what's the issue? Is it the wavelength or what?

    Okay, here's me actually clicking on some links, and I get this:

    The Wi-Fi Alliance says Wi-Fi networks are safe. The radio waves in a Wi-Fi network use the same frequency as wireless home phones, and have one-thirtieth the power of cordless phones, said Grimm, the spokesman for the group.

    Now the only catch is that's from the Wi-Fi alliance and they cannot be taken to be entirely neutral in this affair. Can anyone not associated with them back them up on this claim? Is a Wi-Fi network really the same frequency as wireless home phones but 1/30 the power? 'Cause if so, I think we can just chock this one up to Standard American Paranoia (Concerned Mom Flavor) and move on.

  • ... I have the urge to call my dad and thank him for being sensible.
  • by Casca (4032) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @08:51PM (#7178672) Journal
    There is a simple solution to this really. The geek kids all need to get together and kick the shit out of the kids whos parents are suing. Damnit, nevermind...
  • "Meat" of complaint (Score:3, Informative)

    by SeanAhern (25764) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @09:01PM (#7178735) Journal
    For those too lazy (I almost was) to read the text of the complaint, I'll include the relevant portions here:
    Specifically, the Defendants have installed wireless networks in each of the school buildings under its jurisdiction. In so doing, the Defendants have ignored the substantial body of evidence that high frequency electro-magnetic radiation poses substantial and serious health risks, particularly to growing children.

    And later:
    16. In fact, there is a substantial and growing body of scientific literature studying and outlining the serious health risks that exposure to low intensity, but high radio frequency (RF) radiation poses to human beings, particularly children. For example, responsible scientists have reported that prolonged exposure to low intensity RF radiation can break down DNA strands, cause chromosome aberrations and break down the blood-brain barrier, thereby permitting toxic proteins to invade the brain. And, these occur at radiation levels below what a child would be exposed to by sitting in front of a computer on a wireless network.


    17. Other researchers have observed other potential health risks that they believe are traceable to exposure to low intensity RF radiation at levels that are at or below the levels that children would experience by using wireless LANs in a classroom. In fact, at present, the lawyers for the Plaintiffs and their clients have collected more than 400 scientific articles, summaries and references outlining health risks from low intensity RF radiation exposure, all or most of which have been researched and written after 1995. By way of example only, attached as Exhibit 2 is a listing and a summary of thirty-one articles, all of which deal with the potential health risks from prolonged exposure to low intensity RF radiation, i.e., radiation given off by, among other things, wireless LANs.

    And finally:
    19. Defendants have stated publicly that they have examined the current, prevailing government regulations relating to safety of wireless technology and the system installed in District 97 poses no health risks to humans. This statement is false. The only U.S. standards that relate in any way to radiation exposure were developed by the F.C.C. before 1993 and relate only to thermal radiation. The radiation that Plaintiffs object to here is non-thermal and the federal government has not promulgated any standards relating to this.

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