Principal of Australian Girls School Resigns Over Wi-Fi*
THE long-time principal of an exclusive Sydney girls’ school has quit due to health concerns over Wi-Fi radiation.
Dr Marie-Therese Gibson — who served for 19 years as principal of the Tangara School for Girls at Cherrybrook — resigned in July due to health problems she blames on Wi-Fi installed three years ago.
The school agreed to switch off the Wi-Fi in the administrative wing, but Dr Gibson said she suffered debilitating headaches when she visited other parts of the school.
“I gave the best part of my life to that school but I had to resign because I couldn’t exist in that environment,’’ she said yesterday.
“I realised as time went on I was getting sicker and sicker and couldn’t sleep at night.
“There were parts of the school I just couldn’t go into.
“I started getting strange headaches and tremendous fatigue, and I found I couldn’t think clearly.
“My thyroid is kaput and my body can’t make melatonin.’’
Dr Gibson said she believed schools should cable computers, or install switches to shut down Wi-Fi when not in use.
“Why should students be immersed in it for six or seven hours a day when they’re using it for one?’’ she said.
“It just doesn’t make sense to me.’’
The new principal of Tangara School for Girls, Katrina George, yesterday said she did not want to comment on the matter.
Dr Gibson has served on the executive of the NSW Association of Heads of Independent Girls’ Schools, and is on the board of the feminist think-tank Women’s Forum Australia.
A Sydney University physics lecturer, Dr James McCaughan, also quit his job in July after Wi-Fi exposure from smart phones in the lecture room “shut me down’’.
He said Wi-Fi on trains gave him a ringing in the ears.
“Different people react in different ways,’’ he said yesterday.
“It’s like when people go out in the sun, the fair skins come up with sunburn farm more quickly than people with olive skin.
“Once you’ve been stimulated (with EMF radiation) it doesn’t stop when you turn it off — your head is still ringing.’’
Dr McCaughan is building a “Faraday cage’’ around his home computer to shield him from electromagnetic emissions.
Australian Medical Association president Steve Hambleton yesterday said electromagnetic sensitivity was not recognised as an illness.
He said there was “no known mechanism’’ for Wi-Fi to damage DNA.
“We are not detecting increased rates of cancer,’’ he said.
“But if we can minimise exposure, even if we don’t think it is a problem, it’s probably a good idea.’’
Dr Geza Benke, who is part of the Monash University team involved in the global Mobi-Kids project, researching possible links between mobile phone use and brain tumours in children, yesterday said it was difficult to research electromagnetic sensitivity because the symptoms varied so much.
“Some of these people are really sick,’’ he said.
“They’re definitely ill.
“The question it comes down to is, is it exposure to EMF from mobile phone frequencies or is it some psychosomatic thing that stresses them and leads to the illness?’’
The director of the Australian Centre for Electromagnetic Bioeffects Research, Professor Rodney Croft, said there was “absolutely no evidence’’ of people suffering sensitivity to electromagnetic radiation.
“The research is well and truly in the court of it not having an effect, but people are still complaining,’’ he said.
“We need to understand this better so we can help them.’’