Sacred Connections Scotland

Wi-Fi health risks
Theresa Dunford

Whilst I certainly appreciate the benefits of faster broadband speeds, especially for businesses, there is considerable research querying the health risks of Wi-Fi, particularly for children.

Dr. Erica Mallery-Blythe I was reminded of an article I had read in the online edition of The Telegraph (9th May 2015) about Dr. Erica Mallery-Blythe, who said “…as soon as I started digesting the literature on EMFs [electromagnetic fields] it was a no-brainer,’ she says of her decision to relinquish wireless gadgets.”

“Her interest in EMFs started in 2009 after she began noticing increasing trends in certain symptoms – headaches, insomnia, fatigue and palpitations, but also more serious conditions including brain tumours in young people, fertility problems and accelerating neurological diseases such as early onset Alzheimer’s and autism.” (There are of course other reasons why a person may be experiencing such symptoms, or have contracted a serious disease, but the role that EMR exposure is playing in putting our bodies under greater stress should not be underestimated. EMFsurveys.co.uk)

“One such case is that of nine-year-old Jessica Lewis’s family. In the autumn term of 2011, Jessica started to complain that she was getting bad headaches at school. She was also feeling overly tired, developed rashes on her legs and her parents said she looked ‘completely washed out’ after school, particularly on Mondays.“ This turned out to be the day the classroom router was switched on so the class could work on laptops.

Wi-Fi – possible human carcinogen
Dr. Mallery-Blythe says: “The World Health Organisation (WHO) / International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Classified RF as a Group 2 B ‘Possible Human Carcinogen’ (2011). Despite this, there has been no attempt in the UK at disseminating this important information to the public.” See also: Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity: A summary by Dr. Erica Mallery-Blythe

What Is Wi-Fi (wireless) technology?
Some say that Wi-Fi is not the same, or even similar, to a microwave oven – and therefore safe. However, it’s not that straightforward. Jack Schofield, the Guardian’s computer editor, says: “Microwave ovens use radiation in the same waveband as Wi-Fi connections, remote control cars and many other devices.”

Wi-Fi in Schools, UK explain: “Microwaves are electromagnetic waves with frequencies between 300MHz (0.3GHz) and 300GHz in the electromagnetic spectrum. Radio waves are electromagnetic waves within the frequencies 30KHz – 300GHz, and include microwaves. Microwaves are at the higher frequency end of the radio wave band and low frequency radio waves are at the lower frequency end.

Mobile phones, phone mast antennas (base stations), DECT cordless phones, Wi-Fi, WLAN, WiMAX and Bluetooth have carrier wave frequencies within the microwave band of the electromagnetic spectrum, and are pulsed/modulated. Most Wi-Fi computers in schools use 2.45GHz (carrier wave), the same frequency as microwave ovens. It is worth noting that the electromagnetic spectrum is divided into different bands based on frequency. But the biological effects of electromagnetic radiation do not necessarily fit into these artificial divisions.” From Working for Safe Technologies for Nurseries, Schools and Colleges

EMF International Scientist Appeal
Nearly 200 scientists from 39 countries (EMFscientist.org) have appealed to the United Nations and the World Health Organisation for Protection from Non-ionizing Electromagnetic Field Exposure. They say: “We are scientists engaged in the study of biological and health effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields (EMF). Based upon peer-reviewed, published research, we have serious concerns regarding the ubiquitous and increasing exposure to EMF generated by electric and wireless devices. These include–but are not limited to–radio frequency radiation (RFR) emitting devices, such as cellular and cordless phones and their base stations, Wi-Fi, broadcast antennas, smart meters, and baby monitors as well as electric devices and infra-structures used in the delivery of electricity that generate extremely-low frequency electromagnetic field (ELF EMF).

Dr. Kavindra Kesari, MBA, PhD (scroll down page) says: ‘On the basis of scientific evidence, there is no question that EMF emissions from several devices like cell phones, cellular antennas, and microwave ovens, have a causative effect on the brain and reproductive organs’.”

WiFi in schools Wi-Fi banned from pre-school childcare facilities in a bold move by the French government
“The French National Assembly has adopted a bill to limit exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) generated by wireless technologies – cell phones, tablets, Wi-Fi etc. This bill will mean the following:

• A ban on Wi-Fi in all childcare facilities for children under the age of 3.
• Cell phone manufacturers will have to recommend the use of hand-free kits.
• A ban on all advertising targeting children under 14.

Children’s EMF exposures are a particular cause for concern. Studies show that children’s brains can absorb up to three times as much radiation compared to adults. A recent International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) report suggested that EMF exposures can be more devastating in children because their:

• Brain tissue is more conductive.
• Skull is thinner.
• Smaller brains and softer brain tissue allows radiation to penetrate more effectively.
• Potentially longer period of exposure due to use beginning at an earlier age.”

Guidance for schools from wifiinschools.org.uk.
Key points for schools : “Schools using wireless technologies need to have policies in place for dealing with potential health issues. Since there are reasons for concern:

Schools choosing to use Wi-Fi (and other wireless technologies) may need to also provide safe screened rooms with wired computers for people experiencing adverse health effects or for those requesting a low radiation environment. There will be consequences for staff numbers and provision of space, as well as ensuring that all pupils are fully involved and supported in the educational curriculum.

There are increasing demands to adopt a precautionary approach to wireless technologies made by international organisations. These include the European Environment Agency, the International Commission for Electromagnetic Safety, the Council of Europe, the Bio-Initiative report, governments, teachers’ unions and medical associations.”

Some schools in the United States and Canada have chosen to remove Wi-Fi from their environment. For a list of schools with/without Wi-Fi in the UK (not complete) see Powerwatch.org.uk

Teachers are also concerned about Wi-Fi exposure in schools
Voice: the union for education professionals say: “It is a considerable concern that we are installing wi-fi systems in schools and we have no clear evidence that they are safe. Our concern is that until they are declared to be safe and proven to be safe we should not be installing them in schools. The difficulty is that once installed in schools, they are switched on constantly. Whether the children are using them or not, they are exposed to that level of radiation.

“Voice has advocated that new wi-fi systems should not be installed in schools, that existing systems should be turned off when not required [my emphasis] and that schools should consider whether they really need to use wi-fi, which was developed to facilitate Internet access on the move rather than to be used as a convenient alternative to cables in dedicated IT facilities.”

What can parents do to limit Wi-Fi exposure in the home?
Safe Schools Information Technology Alliance, London say: “It is hard to choose not to give your children something when others are letting their children use it. But there are safe alternatives. Children can use wired landline phones and wired internet connections for computers at home and school. You can choose to switch off Wi-Fi at the access point and on the computer.”

“In order to limit RF, the Federal Communication Commission (an Independent agency of the United Stated Government) has suggested using a speakerphone, headset, or an earpiece, or texting rather than talking.” See also “Berkeley to vote on ‘right to know’ law on cellphone radiation risk.”

In conclusion, I believe there is sufficient research for us to be concerned about the health effects of wireless technology, both for adults and particularly children. These affects tend to be recognised more quickly by those who are sensitive. There was a “Report on the Case Studies of people who report their health to be seriously affected by Pulsating Microwave (RF) Technologies” carried out by SSITA in September 2013 (PDF) See also an International EMF Collaborative report on the connection between mobile phones and brain tumours. It is interesting to note that smoking was considered safe in the early 20th century (although, as with wireless technology today, research was available to the contrary, but generally debunked) yet we are now told smoking causes cancer. For the sake of our health we don’t want to wait until we are informed, many years from now, that wireless technology does indeed carry health risks.