Turin could slash Wi-Fi over 'radiation' concerns

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Turin hopes to reduce potentially harmful radiation from wireless modems. Photo: Scott Beale/Maelic/Flickr
11:49 CEST+02:00
Turin is planning to cut back on Wi-Fi in state schools and government buildings over concerns that radiation might damage people's health.

The plans were outlined last week as the city's new new Five Star Movement (M5S) mayor, Chiara Appendino, presented her council's five-year political plan.

“We're aware that we need to consider electromagnetic radiation when we speak about pollution,” reads page 23 of the council's programme.

“We would like to take all precautions necessary and ask all public structures to work to reduce the volume of emissions and while guaranteeing connectivity for citizens.”

Details of the plans emerge just days after Appendino hit headlines for her proposals to reduce citizens meat consumption over he next five years, by teaching the benefits of a vegan or vegetarian diet in Turin's schools.

As news of the councils ambitions circulated, Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi couldn't resist the opportunity to mock the M5S over the plans, in a bid to land a blow against his party's main rival at the polls.

“While certain people are out there insisting Wi-Fi is harmful, our government has been busy striking deals with Amazon, Apple and Cisco,” Renzi told reporters on Friday evening, after meeting with Amazon chief Jeff Bezos to discuss a new €150 million Amazon hub in Lazio.

In the wake of criticism, Appendino took to Twitter to defend herself, saying at no point did the council's plans state Wi-Fi emissions were 'harmful'.

While she hopes to get rid of 'superfluous' emissions, Appendino highlighted that the council's plans also promise to 'ensure high speed-broadband was available throughout the city.'

In spite of Renzi mocking the new mayor's proposals, Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano reported that Turin's previous council – which was run by his Democratic Party – had tabelled an identical plan at a city hall meeting just six months previously.

Although Turin's new proposals may seem severe, one Piedmont mayor went even further last year, when he banned Wi-Fi in his town's schools.

Livio Tola, The MS5 mayor of Borgofranco d'Ivrea, 51 kilometres outside Turin, controverisally told the town's high school and elementary school to replace their wireless connections with old fashioned plug-in cables.

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The decision came after Tola read a report which said electromagnetic radiation produced by modems was especially harmful to children and adolescents.

There is currently no scientific evidence confirming that the radiation produced by routers is actually harmful to humans. However, The World Health Organization has recognized the "anxiety and speculation" surrounding electromagnetic field exposure.

The possible effects are still being investigated, but some studies have suggested that electromagnetic radiation given off by wireless routers can affect the development of cells in young children.  

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