VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – They’re loud, annoying, and can cause extreme discomfort, but only if you’re under 25-years-old. At least 33 mosquito noise devices set up at schools in Vancouver are temporarily being turned off.

The powerful frequencies are meant to keep young people off school property after hours to limit vandalism and graffiti.

David Eby with the BC Civil Liberties Association is worried babies or toddlers who live in neighbourhoods around the schools might have their hearing damaged.

“If you’re wheeling a toddler or an infant around in the area, you can’t hear the noise, but your infant certainly can. There’s a real lack of data about the impact of these devices on the auditory health of very young children, although they meet standards for adults,” he says.

Eby is also concerned the devices treat children differently. He supports an outright ban, saying “given those considerations and the fact that they treat young people like a nuisance, we think the school board should seriously reconsider the use of the device. They do something teachers can’t do, which is inflict pain and discomfort on people whose actions they disagree with.”

The European Union has put forward a motion to ban them, calling the boxes a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Vancouver School Board Chair Patti Bacchus had no idea there were so many of the mosquito devices located in the district. “I was very surprised at the number of them. I wasn’t aware they were in place; I’ve been on the board for four years. From what I understand, the first one was put into use before that, so I guess in 2008,” she says.

Because of the concerns, she says a public discussion is needed. “There is a public committee, it will be on the agenda of our facilities and planning committee meeting on May 1st at 5:30,” she adds.

Bacchus would also like to hear from public health workers and people who live in the surrounding neighbourhoods.