Wireless Radiation Causing Health Problems in Schools?

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With the new school year about to begin, a school board in central Ontario says it will continue providing wireless Internet access in classrooms despite some parents’ concerns that radiation from Wi-Fi transmissions is negatively affecting their kids’ health.

A group of parents in Simcoe County formed the Simcoe County Safe School Committee earlier this year after they became suspicious that the headaches, rashes, dizziness, insomnia, and other symptoms their children were experiencing were caused by wireless transmitters in 12 schools across the board.

The parents said the symptoms abated on the weekends when their children were home but returned as soon as the school week started.

“Parents have been in doctors’ offices trying to figure out why the kids have headaches but their eyes are fine. Parents have been in the cardiologist’s offices trying to figure out why their kids are having these rapid, racing heart-rates only at school, passing-out at school. All this stuff has been going on,” says organizer Rodney Palmer.

Palmer says his two children aged 9 and 5, who attend Mountain View Elementary School in Collingwood, experienced symptoms including fatigue, facial flushing, and moodiness that he blames on the Wi-Fi.

He says that even though “it breaks my heart,” he’s not sending his kids back to Mountain View this fall.

“I think I’m blocking out the first day of school from my emotions at this point.”

John Dance, the Simcoe District School Board’s superintendant of education, says that after the board listened to presentations from the parents, studied the research, and consulted with an expert from the University of Toronto, the decision was made to stay with wireless.

While the parents say there’s no proof that long-term exposure to electromagnetic fields from wireless transmitters is safe for young children, Dance says there’s no evidence that Wi-Fi is causing the symptoms the children are complaining of.

“We’d never had any evidence in the first place that this was attributed to wireless,” he says.

“I know that some scientists say wireless is not safe, but for every scientist so far that has said it’s not safe there are 25 that say, ‘yes, it is.’ And they’re not all in the industry.”

There could be other reasons that the children are having these symptoms, he says, noting that Wi-Fi was installed in the schools four years ago, yet the parents’ complaints only began in December 2009.

“They say that it only happened after wireless started. At the time they didn’t even know when wireless was installed in the schools.”

The school board complies with Health Canada’s guidelines on wireless Internet—guidelines that came into question at parliamentary hearings into cellular telephones in April at which several scientists from around the world testified.

Prof. Olle Johansson of the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden told the committee that safety standards for exposure to microwave radiation in Canada and other countries are “inadequate” and need to be updated. Health Canada’s “Safety Code 6” on microwaves was written in the 1970s.

“It’s obvious that your safety code is completely out of date and obsolete and that goes for any form of international or national standard body throughout the world,” Johansson said.

While both cell phones and Wi-Fi operate on microwaves, critics note that exposure to radiation from wireless transmitters—especially in the case of children in school—usually occurs for hours at a time, not minutes as is the case with cell phones.

In an open letter to schools and parents last year, Magda Havas, an associate professor at Trent University and an expert on the health effects of electromagnetic radiation, warned that “it is irresponsible to introduce Wi-Fi microwave radiation into a school environment where young children and school employees spend hours each day.”

She added that children are more sensitive to environmental contaminants, including microwave radiation.

Palmer points to a Royal Society of Canada study commissioned by Health Canada which found that microwaves at lower levels than the agency’s own guidelines cause biological changes in cells and cross the blood-brain barrier, with children being more vulnerable.

Although parents with the Safe School Committee offered to pay to have wired Internet installed, Dance says with children moving from room to room, that would prove inconvenient.

“With wireless, we can have a laptop or a group of six laptops go where the students are, or we could have cart go in with 25 laptops. We can’t have wires to connect all of these.”

Some school board trustees have said the parents should lobby Health Canada if they want changes.

“Health Canada didn’t install the Wi-Fi system, the school board did,” counters Palmer.

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Dirty Electricity all Around us Part 1

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Dirty Electricity all Around us Part 2

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Electrosensitivity

Are you feeling tired, suffer from sleepiness, depression, increased irritability, unexplained aches and pains, headaches, skin rashes, ringing in the ears, numbness, an irregular heart beat, increased blood pressure or a foggy brain? If so, you may be suffering from “Electrosensitivity”. Dr. Magda Havas, a renowned international expert on electromagnetic radiation (EMR), says “dirty electricity” is a growing worldwide health concern.

Today, few of us would want to discard our electronic devices. But before researching this and the next column, I never realized how modern electrical gizmos generated so much dirty electricity.

Dr. Havas says clean electricity originally powered our homes and workplace using a safe frequency of 60 Hertz (Hz). Today, transformers convert 60 Hz to low voltage power for electronic devices. This creates micro surges of dirty electricity that contain up to 2,500 times the energy of a conventional 60 Hz electrical system. In effect, we’ve created electrical pollution, a contamination that’s not good for us.

I discovered it’s easy to get fooled by dirty energy if you’re not an electrical engineer. For instance, our home has several dimmer devices. I naively believed this was a prudent move, but these devices, along with fluorescent lights, energy saving light bulbs, electrical entertainment centers and computers, generate dirty electricity. In fact, they generally emit more electromagnetic exposure than power lines.

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40 women who have developed breast cancer working night shifts in Denmark are receiving compensation from their government

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40 women who have developed breast cancer working night shifts in Denmark are receiving compensation from their government

Dr Vincent Cogliano of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said that it believed that alterations in sleep patterns caused by working nights could lower the body’s production of melatonin. “Melatonin has some beneficial effects in preventing some of the steps leading to cancer,” he told the BBC. He said that the UN agency’s finding was based on a wide range of studies. “The level of evidence is really no different than it might be for an industrial chemical,” he said. They describe night shifts as being a ‘probable’ carcinogen, the same as EMFs.

Professor Andrew Watterson, an occupational health specialist at Stirling University, said we are far behind Scandinavia in recognising the dangers of night work. “I think we can say there is a big public health problem here,” he said.

In our article on melatonin, we cite some of the studies which link melatonin levels with reduced cancer risk, including breast cancer. Melatonin is a natural anti-cancer agent in the body, but the body can stop producing it when exposed to light at night. Melatonin is produced at night in conditions of darkness, and light switches off the pineal gland’s ability to produce melatonin. Exposure to other types of electromagnetic fields (of which light is one) can also reduce pineal melatonin.

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Biological Effects Of Exposure To Cell Phone RF Radiation Now Beyond Doubt Part 3

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Afsset recommends “choosing systems that minimise the power emitted by DECT cordless telephones;” (page 18 of the report, called OPINION on the bottom of the linked press release). This is exactly what the Orchid phone does.
* Clear labelling of the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR)

This would favour the least radiation-emitting mobile phones, (though this is only a part of the story, see the Powerwatch article on Mobile Phones).

Afsset also recommends researching some points on the ground where levels of radiofrequency waves are clearly higher than average. It recommends mapping them and suggesting a procedure to reduce the levels.

The expert appraisal carried out by Afsset is novel, not only by the complete nature of the publications analysed but also by the method and innovative approach developed in order to carry it out. The expert appraisal listed 3,500 references. The work compared diverse schools of scientific thought, from interested parties and whistle-blowers, through hearings in particular. The human sciences have been taken into account in the expert appraisal process. Finally, for the first time, an observer from the associative structures will have monitored all of the debates.

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Biological Effects Of Exposure To Cell Phone RF Radiation Now Beyond Doubt Part 2

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Whilst the biology is discussed and the epidemiology is uncertain, the French Agency accepts that the possibilities are there and the time for precaution is now.
Afsset recommends the following :

* Developing research to clear up remaining doubts and remain on the look-out for new emerging signals

Afsset recommends targeting, as a priority, epidemiological studies, as well as studies on reproduction and childhood development, while also responding to studies that display biological effects. It highlights the delay taken in the knowledge of health effects concerning new frequency bands below 400MHz and those above 2GHz, which includes WiFi.
* Reducing exposures of the public

There is potential to reduce the exposure to radiofrequencies. The priority goes to mobile phones which are the main source of exposure for the public (though this is not necessarily so, see the two previous news items, pointing to DECT phones and mobile phone masts as the worst offenders).

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Brain Tumor Risk Associated With Cell Phone Mobile Phone Use Part 2

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Electrosensitivity

Many young people use text messaging rather than holding the phone to their ear, but as this pattern of behaviour was not allowed for in the study, it seems that the risk may have been underestimated, as the number of hours they held the phone to their head was less than the hours used overall.

We feel it is important that people should use a wired phone whenever possible to reduce the risks they are exposing themselves to when they use a wireless phone (mobile or DECT).

Ten years may seem like forever to a young person, but it soon slips by. We will soon be experiencing a rise in brain tumour incidence, that could feel like an epidemic as we enter the time of 10 years after mobile phones became commonly used by adults and then children.

Be aware of your family’s mobile phone use. Listen to what the authorities in different countries say about reducing your exposure because of the health risks, outlined in the article library on the EMFields site on ‘Mobile Phones’ and ‘Children and Mobile Phones’. It is not worth just hoping that Hardell and many others are wrong. If necessary buy those you are concerned about a mobile phone screening cover to reduce the exposure to their brain.

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Electro Magnetic Fields EMFs, Melatonin and your Pineal Gland Radiation Dangers Part 2

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Research by Dr. Sidney Lang, an expert on piezoelectricity, which is the production of electric fields by pressure on crystalline structures, has shown that the pineal gland has piezoelectrical activity. Dr Lang hypothesizes that this activity is a function of this granular material and if so it may be responding to narrow wave lenghts.

Once melatonin is produced, its ability to pass through the cell membrane allows it to pass directly into the blood stream. Once in the blood melatonin has access to every cell in the body where it passes through the cell membrane to the cell nucleus, which has receptors for it. A few cell membranes also have receptors for melatonin, which may control the 24 hour circadian rhythm of the endocrine system.

In the cell nucleus, melatonin plays a role in regulating gene expression. The ability of melatonin to enter all cells is also essential for one of the other important functions of melatonin, which is to act as a scavenger of highly toxic oxygen-based free radicals. The production of these free radicals is a consequence of the utilization of oxygen by all organisms. About 1 – 2% of inspired oxygen ends up as toxic free radicals which can damage macromolecules such as DNA, proteins and lipids. This damage is referred to as oxidative stress.

Because of its ability to eliminate free radicals, melatonin is probably the most efficient natural cell protection and oncostatic agent in our bodies. At night, melatonin production floods our bodies, eliminating the build up of free radicals that are being produced, allowing the DNA synthesis and cell division to occur with a far lower chance of damage and hence producing more healthy cells. Melatonin also dampens the release of estrogen, prolonged exposure to which may increase the risk of breast cancer.

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Mobile Phone Masts More Of A Problem Than Cell Phones

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A recent Swiss study shows that the general public’s RF exposure comes more from masts than from mobile phones, with DECT phones running a close third.

Frei et al (May 2009) produced a study looking at RF exposure experienced by the general population. About one third (32.0%) came from mobile phone masts, mobile phones were responsible for 29.1%, and DECT phones 22.7%.

This means that studies (such as the 13-country Interphone study investigating RF exposure and potential health effects resulting from such exposure) as a result of using mobile phones alone, without allowing for masts and cordless phone usage is flawed, and does not reflect reality. Masts and DECT phones account for more than 70% of people’s of people’s exposure to RF.

Alarm bells sounded by the National Institute for Science, Law and Public Policy to alert legislators and journalists about the hazards of DECT phones and WiFi.

Prof. Magda Havas, a prominent researcher and voice advising caution in the use of wireless technologies, reviews the independent science on the health hazards of wireless radiation.

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Austrian Research Shows DECT Cordless Phones Are The Most Dangerous

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In contrast to the Swiss study referred to in a previous news item, in a survey of bedrooms in Austria, the research team headed by Dr Johannes Tomitsch found that by far the highest source of RF exposure came from DECT phones.

Powerfrequency fields as well as radiofrequency fields were measured.
The findings

High electric fields were mainly from bedside lamps.

Magnetic fields over 0.1 microtesla were in 2.3% of homes; the fields from transformers inside the house, or powerlines outside.

Radiofrequency levels above 0.6 V/m were found in 7.1% of homes. 3.3 V/m came from DECT phones and 1.4% from mobile phone masts.
Precautionary advice

Make sure bedside lights are earthed. Use 3-core cable.

Magnetic fields of 0.1 microtesla are at our very precautionary level for bedrooms. There is nothing you can do about powerlines, but keeping transformers out of bedrooms will reduce this level further. Remember magnetic fields travel through walls, so be careful about the new place you move it to.

People have been found to be sensitive to radiofrequency EMFs of 0.5 V/m. Electrically sensitive people react at levels lower than this. 3.3 V/m and 1.4 V/m exceed levels at which people experience adverse health symptoms.

If you feel this situation applies to you, you could return to an ordinary landline telephone, or buy a low-emission cordless phone (such as the Orchid phone) if you feel a walk about phone is essential.

You might choose to screen your home against neighbours’ phones or outside masts.

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Children and Teachers Made Ill By Cell Phone Tower Mast

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Manuel de Falla school in the town of Vega del Guadalquivir, in Spain, has a mobile phone mast in the school grounds and 2 others nearby.

Three of the children at the school have developed cancer and one has died. One pupil has lost the sight of one eye because of a retinoblastoma; five others have had an operation to remove part of the thyroid and ganglial tumours in different parts of the body.

There are also about a hundred other cases of cancer and degenerative diseases among the teachers, the domestic staff and the residents living nearby.

An unusually high number of thyroid conditions have been diagnosed, and as thyroid problems have been linked to radio frequency exposure, this may be a further pointer to a link with the phone masts.

The phone mast was put up in the playground in 2001. Until not very long ago the children could get close to it, touch it and even climb up it! Recently a wall was built to shield it, but depends on the dimensions of the wall as to whether this is adequate, or whether it just gives the appearance of protection. There has been no mention of whether the exposure levels have been measured.

The Town council has no power to order the removal of the mast, though in 2002 an attempt to prohibit masts in residential areas was made. An 8-year court battle is ongoing.

Local residents are talking about taking further action, such as picketing Telefónica, one of the mobile phone companies concerned.

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