Detailed report-back coming from Wednesday night’s Community Board 2 Parks Committee meeting as it relates to Washington Square Park coming (as I noted… some illuminating things to report). But first…
One item that came up towards the end of the meeting is the issue of permanent Wi-Fi in the park (they call it “free” tho’ it mostly isn’t). This, on the surface, might seem like a good thing until you step back and think … what is a park for? Do we need to be wired … everywhere? What if the electromagnetic radiation from Wi-Fi actually impacts negatively, as the Los Angeles Times outlined, birds and trees… and what about humans?
WSP Blog broached this in a previous post from 2013, Should there be Wi-Fi in Parks? Does it harm Trees – and Humans?:
As far as Wi-Fi in parks, a Dutch study found that trees are affected (negatively) by electromagnetic radiation.
From the L.A. Times, November 2010, Wi-Fi could be harmful to trees, cause bleeding and bark tears, study says:
Wi-Fi signals could be responsible for health problems in trees, leading to bark tears, prematurely dead leaves and bleeding, according to a study by Wageningen University in the Netherlands.
The study into the effects of radiomagnetic radiation on plantlife came about after officials in the Dutch city of Alphen aan den Rijn saw abnormalities in trees that couldn’t be explained by any virus or bacterial strain 5 years ago, according to a PC World article on the research.
Researchers exposed 20 ash trees to various radiation sources for a period of three months. Trees placed closest to Wi-Fi networks produced a “lead-like shine” on their leaves that was caused by the decay of the outer-cell layers of the leaves, PC World reported. Eventually, the leaves died.
The study also found that Wi-Fi could stunt the growth of corn cobs, the magazine reported online.
Wageningen University said on its website that the findings were only initial results and that more research needs to be done to confirm the study and determine long-term effects.
The university also said it would like to conduct its tests on a larger number of plants.
The trees used in the study were exposed for more than three months to six sources of radiation with frequencies ranging from 2412 to 2472 megahertz, the university said online.
The study also found that trees throughout the Western world had similarly unexplained problems such as bark tears and premature leaf death, according to PC World.
About 70% of all trees in the Netherlands’ urban areas show the same symptoms, compared with only 10% five years ago, the study found.
Other than electromagnetic fields generated by cellular networks and Wi-Fi networks, microscopic particles from automobile emissions that can pass through tree bark could also be responsible for urban health problems in trees, according to PC World.
Trees in densely forested areas rarely had the same problems as their urban counterparts, PC world reported.
Think of the corporate interests that are petrified we will all start thinking about this seriously.
At the Union Square Partnership, the executive director boasts of Wi-Fi in Union Square but is it a good thing? Of course, once in awhile I might think it would be nice to have Wi-Fi in Washington Square, but I don’t think it’s worth the risks.
More on the plans at Washington Square Park to come