Health warning over wireless latopsFears over potential risks for children

30 April 2007

Child at a computer

Children should be discouraged from putting their laptops on their lap when using wireless internet connections because of potential health risks, an expert has warned.

Professor Lawrie Challis, who heads the committee on mobile phone safety research, said youngsters should be monitored as public concern continues over emissions from Wi-Fi networks.

He added that until more research is carried out, children should keep a safe distance from the embedded antennas on Wi-Fi enabled laptops.

'With a desktop computer, the transmitter will be in the tower,' he told the Daily Telegraph.

'This might be perhaps 20cms from your leg and the exposure would then be around one per cent of that from a mobile phone.'

Wi-Fi concerns

But if a laptop was placed straight on the lap when using Wi-Fi, people could be around 2cm from the transmitter, and receiving comparable exposure to that from a mobile phone, he said.

He added: 'Since we advise that children should be discouraged from using mobile phones, we should also discourage children from placing their laptop on their lap when they are using Wi-Fi.'

Prof Challis said the potential risk might be greater for children who were more sensitive than adults to some dangers, like UV radiation.

Jeff Hands, Professor of imaging physics at Imperial College London, said: 'If we are talking about health issues linked to localised heating of tissue then these will be insignificant at the power levels we are talking about here.'

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