That’s because president Fred Gilbert won’t allow it until he’s satisfied EMF (electro magnetic fields) exposure doesn’t pose a health risk.
Gilbert told Computing Canada he based his decision on scientific literature that indicates the potential for “some fairly significant” health consequences.
“These are particularly relevant in younger people (who have) fast-growing tissues, and most of our student body are late teenagers and still growing, so it’s just a matter of taking precautions and providing an environment that doesn’t have a potential risk associated risk,” he said.
Gilbert cited studies done by scientists for the California Public Utilities Commission, whose findings boil down to the fact that while there is no proven link between EMFs exposure and diseases such as leukemia and brain tumours, the possible risk warrants further investigation.
He also said Canadian regulation allows for a higher minimum degree of exposure to EMFs than do some other countries.
“All I’m saying is while the jury’s out on this one, I’m not going to put in place what is potential chronic exposure for our students,” he said. “Admittedly that’s highest around the locations of the antenna sites and the wireless hotspots, but those are the places people tend to gravitate to because they get the best reception.”
Gilbert added that he believes many adverse environmental effects don’t emerge until 30 to 40 years after exposure.
“Second-hand tobacco exposure is a case in point,” he said. “We’re just finding out now what some of those impacts are. Asbestos is another example.”
Lakehead, which is located at the head of Lake Superior in Thunder Bay, Ont., has some wireless access, but only where the university’s fibre optic network doesn’t reach. There are plenty of computers around campus where students can access the Internet 24 hours a day, so it’s not like they’re cut off, Gilbert said.
And it doesn’t necessarily mean there will never be ubiquitous wireless at Lakehead, he said.
“When we get to the stage where the evidence is conclusive there is no health impact I have no problem putting wireless in place,” said Gilbert.