Signs alerting the public that Wi-Fi networks are in use at Suffolk County buildings would be moved to entrances instead of at each router, prompting Republicans to label the bill a waste of time.
The legislature in December unanimously passed a law requiring signs to be posted at all county routers. At the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge, signs say, "Notice: Wireless technology in use."
But it's not to advertise public Internet access. The law was prompted by community groups concerned about possible health dangers of Wi-Fi networks, said the bill's sponsor, Legis. William Spencer (D-Centerport).
While the original bill passed unanimously, two Republicans said Tuesday they regretted their vote.
"Should we add 'duh' to the signs?" asked Legis. Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore) in committee. "It's ridiculous to think that someone doesn't realize wireless is being used in a public building."
Spencer said the new bill informs the public without creating a clutter of signs.
"There are dozens of wireless routers and dozens of signs," said Spencer. "One sign at the main entrance fits the intent of the bill, which is public right to know."
Spencer, a medical doctor, said he doesn't believe Wi-Fi is unsafe. But, he said, some constituents are concerned about the technology.
The bill passed the county's education committee on a 3-2 vote Tuesday, with the two Republicans voting against it.
Legis. Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) said, "It's a waste of the county's time and effort. No one is paying attention to the signs."
According to the Federal Communications Commission website, wireless devices sold in the United States -- whether wireless cellphones or Wi-Fi devices -- go through a formal approval process to ensure they do not exceed the maximum allowable "absorption rate," which measures the amount of energy absorbed into the body.
Patti Wood, executive director of the nonprofit group Grassroots Environmental Education based in Port Washington, had approached Spencer about the bill. Among other research, she pointed to a 2012 Yale study in which pregnant mice in a laboratory exposed to cellphone radiation produced offspring that were more hyperactive and had poorer memories.
Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), who chairs the education committee, said she has concerns about the health effects of wireless technology, particularly with pregnant women.