Wireless technologies have proliferated inside our educational system in recent years adding to the already $60 Billion Tech Ed industry. Concerns from lower test scoring to more serious matters like wireless health risks have been raised by many throughout the world. Here’s what the experts have to say about it.
In a letter addressed to the Half Hollow Hills School Board on September 20, 2018, Harvard trained public health physician Dr. David Carpenter made formal recommendations to limit wireless exposures to children and staff during school hours. He states in his letter, “WiFi transmitters are indoors, where people may be very close to them. Elevation in rates of brain cancer among individuals exposed to high intensities of RF have been found among people of all ages, but the latency for development of brain cancer appears to be shorter than that observed in older people. Thus children, teachers and staff in a school with extensive use of WiFi are at elevated risk of developing several kinds of cancer.”
Dr. David Carpenter’s accoladed career has been spent working in the area of electro magnetic fields for several decades, serving as the Executive Secretary for the New York Powerline Project in the 1980’s, co-author of the BioInitiative Report, former Director of the New York State Health Department in Wadsworth, testifying to the 2009 United States Presidential Cancer Panel and currently the Director of Institute for Health and the Environment a Collaborating Center of the World Health Organization. His expertise in this area has been revered on FOX news, ABC, CNN, the 10-time award winning documentary film “Generation Zapped”, and the award winning documentary film “Take Back Your Power”.
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the medical arm of the World Health Organization, radio frequencies (RF) are classified as a type 2B possible carcinogen which places RF in the same category as lead, DDT, engine exhaust and chloroform. Since this 2011 classification, the FDA appointed the 10 year $30 million dollar NIH National Toxicology Program (NTP) study on cell phone exposures in the 2G and 3G radio frequency field range which found “clear evidence” of cancer in the brains and hearts of test subjects. These study findings came out in 2018, the same year as the Ramazzini Institute study which revealed it’s study findings also on 2G and 3G RF in far field exposures from cell towers and small cells. Surprisingly to the scientists, they also found evidence of the same type of glioma brain tumors and schwannoma heart tumors.
Additional health concerns have been studied in recent years with an accumulation of thousands of peer reviewed scientific studies on the subject with over 136 on the effects of WiFi. Scientist are discovering a multitude of health risks that include headaches, memory impairment, cognitive hinderance, fertility problems, melatonin disruption, voltage gate calcium channel disturbance, immune impairment, oxidative stress, cell damage, brain glucose alterations, cancers, with links to depression, suicide, diabetes, ADHD, Alzheimer’s and Autism. Birth defects, cancer promoting effects and sterility were also found in the 2000 T-Mobile Ecolog Report which reviewed 220 peer-reviewed and published papers.
As further confirmed in Dr. Carpenter’s letter, “There is increasing evidence that excessive RF exposure reduces attention span and learning ability, which is the last thing one wants in a school. Some children will develop a syndrome of electrohypersensitivity, where they get headaches, excessive fatigue, ringing in the ears and gastro-intestinal effects as well as reduced cognitive function.” This should be of great concern to parents and educators who are often unaware of the possible health risks associated with over exposure to radio frequency radiation, previously known in the military as microwave sickness.
Radio frequency fields are part of the electro magnetic spectrum which produce varying levels of radiation. What was not publicized until recent unclassified military reports were revealed was that excessive levels of RF exposures can lead to adverse health effects. Current Federal Communication Commission (FCC) guidelines are for thermal effects only, which excludes the possibility of any biological effects. Standards established in 1996 were based on military science data from the 1980’s and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) suggestions.
Markedly, these standards have never been updated. To lend perspective on the time line of technologies we use today, WiFi availability first began in 1999, cell phones like the Nokia candybar were introduced to the market in 1998 and the invention of the iPhone was only a mere decade ago in 2007. The US has acceptable exposure limits set at 1,000 times higher (see Fig.1) than some other countries and there are no agencies regulating these limits.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics website “Another problem is that the cell phone radiation test used by the FCC is based on the devices’ possible effect on large adults—not children. Children’s skulls are thinner and can absorb more radiation.” The FCC recommends that a mere 6 minutes be the allowed exposure time for occupational controlled exposures and only 30 minutes for non-controlled general population exposures. That’s a pretty hard guideline to follow when children and staff are in school for an average 6 hours a day chronically exposed to wireless access points installed in the ceiling of classrooms as well as multiple wireless devices used for educational learning purposes right at their desks. As said by EMF expert and environmental toxicologist Dr. Magda Havas in the documentary film “Generation Zapped”, “You have an analogy of a classroom like the inside of a microwave set at very low power. Children are exposed to that WiFi radiation 6 hours every school day, 5 days a week and for several months during the year, 13 years of school is a very disturbing trend that we are setting up by irradiating some of the youngest and most vulnerable people in our population.” (see Fig.2)
On January 15th of this year a second expert made recommendations to the Half Hollow Hills School District on the dangers of RF, advising on the limitation of wireless communications throughout the district. Dr. Devra Davis is a world renowned epidemiologist, founding Director of the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology of the U.S. National Research Council, and founding Director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, President Clinton’s appointee to the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, a former Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Health in the Department of Health and Human Services, current visiting Professor of Medicine at the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School and founder of the non-profit Environmental Health Trust (EHTrust.org), a nonprofit Think Tank and policy organization.
In Dr. Davis’ letter to the Half Hollow Hills School Board she said, “Many people are unaware that cell phones and wireless laptops and tablets function because they are two-way microwave radios. A typical classroom might have the following scenario: every student has a laptop (which is typically tested for use 8 inches away from an adult male body); a cell phone in the pocket (which is also tested at a distance away from an adult male body); a network transmitter on the ceiling; and possibly a cell tower outside next to the sports field. All these devices emit radiofrequency microwave radiation that can readily penetrate into children’s bodies and brains (see Fig.3). These devices have never been tested for safety with children. Accumulating research indicates that long-term exposure to low levels poses a serious risk to children’s health.”
Could it be that we’ve overlooked this important threat, camouflaged in a convenient service pushed upon the school system in the form of the 2014 Obama FCC E-Modernization Rate ruling which allocates over $1 Billion annually in nationwide Smart School Bond Act funds for educational technologies to accommodate the Common Core technology requirements. Dr. Davis further wrote “The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is informing parents and the public about this issue in several ways. In addition to its letters to the US government (FCC), AAP issued ten recommendations on how to reduce RFR radiation exposure including, “If you plan to watch a movie on your device, download it first, then switch to airplane mode while you watch in order to avoid unnecessary radiation exposure.”
The AAP now recommends zero screen time hours for children under the age of three and no more than one to two hours for older children. “Of particular concern is the clear evidence that children are more vulnerable than adults to any environmental exposure. This is because their bodies are growing and developing. Cancers do not appear immediately upon exposure but leukemia and brain cancer are the most common types of childhood cancer. Some of the cancers from RF exposure in school will likely occur after a student has graduated, but have been caused by exposure in school,” as cited in Dr. Carpenters’ letter. The Patch reported on the 2018 CDC study on the “troubling pediatric cancer rates.” The study observed childhood cancers from 2003 to 2014. Among the top three ranking were leukemia, brain tumors and lymphomas, listing radiation as one of the main possible influential causes. According to the Half Hollow Hills Superintendent, Dr. Patrick Harrigan, the district’s first installment of their wireless infrastructure was back in 2013. Currently the district uses 500 commercial grade dual band 2.4GHz and 5Ghz access points, a common standard among schools and well over 2,000 wireless devices such as tablets and laptops which are used daily by students. As shown in the Fig.4, courtesy of the EHTrust.org, according to laptop antenna placements, children can absorb large quantities of RF radiation into their torso, head and genitalia.
Despite several parent requests, the district has been reluctant to entertain any finite solutions that may ensure the health and safety of its students and staff from this pressing concern. As advised by expert Dr. Davis, “Schools have a unique opportunity to maintain low-radiation environments through prudent technology choices and Low-EMF Best Practices, thus significantly reducing children’s overall lifetime RF exposures. Considering that no research documents long-term exposure to low-intensity microwave radiation as being safe for children, and that the NTP study found a “clear” carcinogenic effect, the best approach is to reduce exposure to as low as feasibly possible.” Best Practices as used by the Massachusetts Ashland School District, the first U.S. public school district to limit WiFi radiation exposures, includes; turning off devices when not in use and turning WiFi on only when needed. Simple solutions such as wiring access points to permit accessibility to their power source so that they may be turned off when not in use would greatly reduce involuntary RF radiation exposures in the classroom.
Dr. Davis, Dr. Carpenter and Dr. Havas are a few among many who are sounding the alarm on this environmental health issue. This includes parts of the European Union who have issued the precautionary principle on the issue. Over 100 physicians, scientists and experts from around the world signed the Reykjavik Appeal on wireless technologies in schools at the Children, Screen Time and Wireless Radiation International Conference of 2017. Countries like Israel, France, India and Cyprus are limiting WiFi exposures in their schools particularly in the younger grades and prohibiting any use among the preschool and kindergartners. Belgium and Taiwan have recently made it illegal to market cell phones to children. This issue has even state health departments in the U.S. concerned, such as the Maryland State Children’s Health Advisory Council who in 2016 wrote a white paper recommendation to limit WiFi in schools across their state. The California State Health Department has issued public notices on safer cell phone use, legislative bills on limiting WiFi in schools and on childrens’ exposure are working to get passed in Oregon, Maine and Massachusetts. The United Educators of San Francisco, the New Jersey Education Association, and the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) are among many teacher organizations who have also issued guidelines for limiting wireless exposures in the classroom.
Vice President of NYSUT, Paul Pecorale, was quoted by prnewswire.com as saying, “We have enough evidence to justify taking action and we are not willing to wait until our members, their children and the students suffer health consequences from not doing anything. The history of occupational disease shows the devastating consequences of doing just that. We think that following these simple, common-sense Guidelines makes sense for school districts, their staff and students.” Guidelines referenced are the collaborated effort of NYSUT and Grassroots Environmental Education, a non for-profit organization which advises schools and teachers to limit exposure. NYSUT further addressed the issue with an informative 2017 Safety webinar called “Risks of Wireless Technologies and Protecting Children and Staff in Schools” presented by Dr. Magda Havas and Patti Wood, director of Grassroots.
Parent teacher organizations such as the NYSPTA are taking a proactive approach by adopting the 2014 resolution citing “Resolved that the New York State Congress of Parents and Teachers, Inc. support legislation that would encourage local communities, including parents and school officials, to regulate the placement of cell towers and cell tower antennas particularly in schools and areas where children congregate, and be it further that the NYSPTA support continued research into the long-term effects of radio frequency and microwave frequencies on humans especially as they apply to children.” News media outlet Epoch Times has called this, “Wi-fi in schools: Experimenting with the Next Generation!”
Some questions you may find yourself asking are, should parents and teachers be worried about WiFi exposure at any schools that have wireless technologies and what can be done about it for the sake of our children’s futures. The answer is up to us and the solution simple. Requesting a wired connection to ensure the health and safety of children, faculty and staff is what they deserve. “Providing parents with information about any potential risks arms them with the information they need to make informed decisions for their families,” the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Fay Tsamis is a world traveler, former NYC Fashion Designer, a current Computer Graphics Designer and Real Estate Manager. As a concerned citizen and parent, her passions have armed her with the courage to fight for what’s right. Joining the Citizens for 5G Awareness team of brilliant advocates, she offers her knowledge dealing with educational institutes using wireless technologies. In her spare time she enjoys painting, reading, researching and soaking up as much vitamin D as possible.