Why are Some Countries Removing Wi-Fi in Schools and Others Not?

This article is from https://www.wirelesseducation.org written by Mikko Ahonen, PHD.

France [1] and Russia [2] have current laws to minimise Wi-Fi exposure to children in schools. These two countries have the world’s longest research history on health effect of microwaves, both over 100 years.

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1. Too many devices for long periods of time = chronic exposure

Much of the research has focused on the effects of mobile phones, but there is already some research on chronic exposure to 2450 MHz frequency microwaves, including Wi-Fi devices. The problem in Wi-Fi routers lies in children’s chronic (24/7) exposure to pulsed microwave radiation. Isn’t that reason enough to minimise children’s risks in classrooms?

2. It can have damaging effects on our bodies

Wi-Fi and cell phone data is transmitted by pulsed microwave radiation. This creates a continuous electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure in which we are engulfed. When you browse the world’s largest EMF research database [3], it reveals the effect of Wi-Fi in two areas:

  • Fertility[4]

  • Oxidative stress [5]

Fertility damage is seen in animal and cell studies showing reduced motility of sperm and testes malfunction. Oxidative stress is seen both in animal and cell (in vitro) studies, indicating a risk of inflammation also to Wi-Fi users [6]. Chronic inflammation leads to diseases to which children and pregnant women are especially susceptible because child and fetal cells are still growing, their bones are softer, and they absorb more radiation. Women’s immune systems are suppressed during pregnancy so they are more vulnerable to radiation too.

3. Wireless transmitters are becoming more powerful

The Council of Europe warns about installing routers in schools and recommends a 100 µW/m² precautionary level in classrooms [7]. When a Wi-Fi router is installed in a classroom these levels can reach 30.000 µW/m² (peak value). In many schools, Wi-Fi routers are attached to the ceiling of the classroom. This may be particularly risky, because the router uses microwave radiation to transmit its device ID continuously, even when there is not a single wireless device connected to it. Often the router is rather close to children’s and teachers’ heads [8] and these signals enter one’s body as they travel through walls, ceilings and floors.

4. Wi-Fi routers don’t have to be on all the time

Today the default is to have Wi-Fi on all the time, which adds up to a very heavy cumulative dose of radiation. The mobile industry has a patent [9] to change Wi-Fi routers and the continuous 10 times per second (10 Hz) beacon signal for health reasons. 10 Hz pulse itself is problematic, since in human brainwaves this 10 Hz ‘hits’ the alpha band and can interfere with cognitive abilities and sleep.

The patent is to automatically shut down this continuous device ID sending [SSID]–functionality in the Wi-Fi router when not in use. This would bring a radical decrease in pulsed microwave radiation exposure especially when there is no traffic (no devices connected to the Wi-Fi router). This will create an environment where the Wi-Fi only turns on when it is needed, almost like “Eco-mode” on the cordless DECT phones available in some countries. The patent application mentions DNA damage, which has been found in multiple-studies [10]. Until this new technology is brought to market however, we would be wise to turn off the Wi-Fi when not absolutely needed.

So why do we still have Wi-Fi and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies in schools? Often Wi-Fi risk is down-played by saying “the exposure is only a fragment of the public exposure guidelines.” Current radiation guidelines are 20 years old and do not take into consideration biological effects or the pulsed-nature of the signal, where there is a great difference between average and peak values [11]. When Wi-Fi devices produce pulsed microwave radiation, its peak values will exceed several precautionary recommendation levels of what is considered safe for exposure.

Additionally, current guidelines only account for radiation from one device. With dozens of devices emitting radiation at once in a typical classroom, children and staff are exposed to very high amounts of microwave radiation not accounted for in outdated guidelines. It is no wonder the EUROPAEM environmental health group listed Wi-Fi as one of the riskiest RF-technologies [12]. They point to the exceptionally fast rise time and fall time of Wi-Fi signals, which may have an effect on calcium channels in human cells and the unnatural opening of these channels [13] which can lead to disease.

5. What can be done to reduce the risk?

Generally, schools should be hard-wired, so that in every classroom the Internet is accessible through Ethernet-cable connections. It is feasible to have wired schools, with no Wi-Fi at all.  Even tablets can be attached to the Internet by Ethernet cables and adapters. For laptops and tablets, the Wi-Fi and other antennas (Bluetooth, data, locator) should be turned off (at least most of the time). As a half-measure, Wi-Fi could be used by the adults in the building during the hours in which children are not present. Data uploads and system updates could be done before and after school, or overnight. If Wi-Fi routers are installed, they should be placed away from classrooms and there should be a switch to turn each Wi-Fi router off immediately after use.

Maryland, USA, recently set a positive example and a precedent for healthier schools. Maryland Children’s Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council has provided excellent recommendations for safer use of Wi-Fi and other technologies in schools [14]. These recommendations echo our suggestions to use hard-wired connections with the wi-fi turned off.

See our courses for additional safety measures [15].

We urgently need accessible and healthier classrooms. We at Wireless Education are pleased to develop these together with learning-focused schools and parents, and look forward to doing so with the support of responsible companies.


References:

  1. http://ehtrust.org/france-new-national-law-bans-wifi-nursery-school/

  2. https://www.scribd.com/document/182641315/RNCNIRP-Russia-Wi-Fi-Regulation-19-06-12-pdf

  3. http://www.emf-portal.org

  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22112647,26199911,24460421,22465825,24490664

  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24792079,26578367,23479077,26520617

  6. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/279863242_Oxidative_mechanisms_of_biological_activity_of_low-intensity_radiofrequency_radiation

  7. http://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/XRef/Xref-XML2HTML-en.asp?fileid=17994&

  8. https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/publications/wifi-in-nz-schools.pdf

  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19285841

  10. https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/detail.jsf?docId=WO2004075583

  11. http://tinyurl.com/rf-guideline

  12. https://www.degruyter.com/downloadpdf/j/reveh.2016.31.issue-3/reveh-2016-0011/reveh-2016-0011.xml

  13. https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/reveh.2016.31.issue-3/reveh-2016-0011/suppl/reveh-2016-0011_suppl.zip

  14. http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/OEHFP/EH/Shared%20Documents/CEHPAC/MD_CEHPAC_SchoolWiFi_022017_final.pdf

    https://www.wirelesseducation.org/courses/

International Scientist appeal to United Nations calling for greater health protection on wireless technology

In May 2015, 190 scientists submitted an appeal to the top leaders at the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and the UN Environment Program. The Appeal urgently calls for greater health protection in the against the rapid expansion and proliferation of wireless communications and electrical technologies. The possible impact of deployment of these technologies on human health has not yet been thoroughly studied. As of September 1, 2018, 244 scientists have signed the Appeal

2010 Dr. Martin Blank, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, talks about the inadequacy of current standards SAR (Standard Absorption Rates) and effects EMF has on DNA and children. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DR682Efqy7k

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Scientists call for Protection from Non-ionizing Electromagnetic Field Exposure

“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–radiofrequency 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).

 Scientific basis for our common concerns

Numerous recent scientific publications have shown that EMF affects living organisms at levels well below most international and national guidelines. Effects include increased cancer risk, cellular stress, increase in harmful free radicals, genetic damages, structural and functional changes of the reproductive system, learning and memory deficits, neurological disorders, and negative impacts on general well-being in humans. Damage goes well beyond the human race, as there is growing evidence of harmful effects to both plant and animal life.  

These findings justify our appeal to the United Nations (UN) and, all member States in the world, to encourage the World Health Organization (WHO) to exert strong leadership in fostering the development of more protective EMF guidelines, encouraging precautionary measures, and educating the public about health risks, particularly risk to children and fetal development.  By not taking action, the WHO is failing to fulfill its role as the preeminent international public health agency. 

Inadequate non-ionizing EMF international guidelines

The various agencies setting safety standards have failed to impose sufficient guidelines to protect the general public, particularly children who are more vulnerable to the effects of EMF.  The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) established in 1998 the “Guidelines For Limiting Exposure To Time-Varying Electric, Magnetic, and Electromagnetic Fields (up to 300 GHz)” . These guidelines are accepted by the WHO and numerous countries around the world. The WHO is calling for all nations to adopt the ICNIRP guidelines to encourage international harmonization of standards. In 2009, the ICNIRP released a statement saying that it was reaffirming its 1998 guidelines, as in their opinion, the scientific literature published since that time “has provided no evidence of any adverse effects below the basic restrictions and does not necessitate an immediate revision of its guidance on limiting exposure to high frequency electromagnetic fields . ICNIRP continues to the present day to make these assertions, in spite of growing scientific evidence to the contrary. It is our opinion that, because the ICNIRP guidelines do not cover long-term exposure and low-intensity effects, they are insufficient to protect public health.

The WHO adopted the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classification of extremely low frequency magnetic fields (ELF EMF) in 2002  and radiofrequency radiation (RFR) in 2011 . This classification states that EMF is a possible human carcinogen (Group 2B).  Despite both IARC findings, the WHO continues to maintain that there is insufficient evidence to justify lowering these quantitative exposure limits.

Since there is controversy about a rationale for setting standards to avoid adverse health effects, we recommend that the United Nations Environmental Programme  (UNEP) convene and fund an independent multidisciplinary committee to explore the pros and cons of alternatives to current practices that could substantially lower human exposures to RF and ELF fields. The deliberations of this group should be conducted in a transparent and impartial way. Although it is essential that industry be involved and cooperate in this process, industry should not be allowed to bias its processes or conclusions. This group should provide their analysis to the UN and the WHO to guide precautionary action.

Collectively we also request that:

  1. children and pregnant women be protected;

  2. guidelines and regulatory standards be strengthened;

  3. manufacturers be encouraged to develop safer technology;

  4. utilities responsible for the generation, transmission, distribution, and monitoring of electricity maintain adequate power quality and ensure proper electrical wiring to minimize harmful ground current;

  5. the public be fully informed about the potential health risks from electromagnetic energy and taught harm reduction strategies;

  6. medical professionals be educated about the biological effects of electromagnetic energy and be provided training on treatment of patients with electromagnetic sensitivity;

  7. governments fund training and research on electromagnetic fields and health that is independent of industry and mandate industry cooperation with researchers;

  8. media disclose experts’ financial relationships with industry when citing their opinions regarding health and safety aspects of EMF-emitting technologies; and

  9. white-zones (radiation-free areas) be established.”


Full details can be found here:
https://emfscientist.org/index.php/emf-scientist-appeal
Dr Blank’s interview - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DR682Efqy7k