EMF Safe Schools
It is fundamentally important that we, as a society, provide safe and healthy learning environments for our children. Unprecedented long term exposure to harmful electromagnetic fields (EMFs) emitted from cell phone towers, wireless computer networks (Wi-Fi ) and wireless communication devices in schools may present a potential health and safety risk for children and staff.
What You Need to Know
A Child's Vulnerability
Full body low level RF radiation exposures, for significant periods of time can have a cumulative effect on the developing body of a child.
From 2015-2017 the 3rd leading cause of death in Australian children between the ages of 1-14 was brain cancer. Clearly, we, as a community, need to take greater precaution when exposing children to W.H.O-admitted carcinogens, such as wireless RF emissions.
Children today have an unprecedented exposure that is higher than that experienced any generation before them and they have been shown to absorb more radiation than adults. It is imperative that our leaders protect the quality of life experienced by the next generation and those that follow.
- Studies show that children are more vulnerable to harmful effects from wireless radiation than adults.
- A five year old can absorb sixty percent more microwave radiation than an adult and exposures in bone marrow can be up to ten times greater.
- Children have thinner skulls (deeper penetration), more water in brain (conductor), and are of smaller size which allows greater absorption into bone and deeper tissues.
- Children have more vulnerable immune and neurological systems as they are not fully developed until early twenties.
- Cancers can have long latency periods (time from first exposure until diagnosis) and it will take decades before we know the full extent of health impacts from this radiation.
There is evidence that genetic damage caused by exposure within current guidelines may not only damage the exposed child, but also their offspring.
Radiation in Schools
WiFi, wireless communication devices and cell phones towers emit microwave radiofrequency electromagnetic fields.
The WHO/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified radio frequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B), based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use.
Extremely low-frequency magnetic fields are also classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B) based on studies that have linked 300-400nT with doubling the chance of childhood leukemia IARC Summary of Data Reported and Evaluation
It is for this reason that many principals and school officals throughout the world are implementing a precautionary approach by choosing to hardwire classroom technological infrastructure.
Duty Of Care
Principals have a duty of care. Every student has a right to feel safe and protected at school. Failure to recognise the risks associated with exposure to wireless emissions within a school setting given their potential to harm both students and staff may constitute a breach of duty.
The Precautionary Principal
In order to protect a childs learning environment, the precautionary approach ought to be applied by States according to their capability. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.
According to a recent study (UNSW, 2019) over 80 per cent of teachers in Australia think digital devices are a growing distraction to students. Three of five teachers in Australia believe there has been a clear decrease in students’ readiness to learn at school. It is no surpirse that in 2019 Australia scored its lowest ever results in the global reading, mathematics and science tests.
A recent study conducted in 2019 found that students attending schools with high RF-EMF exposures had delayed fine and gross motor skills, spatial working memory and attention difficulties compared to the students that were not exposed (Meo 2019).
The Health Effects
Epidemiological studies conducted by Dr. Lennart Hardell, an oncologist at Orebro University Hospital in Sweden, showed that children exposed to this radiation are more likely to develop cancer and develop it quicker.
Other doctors and scientists say exposure is likely a significant contributing factor to the rising rates of other childhood diseases. Dr. Hugh Taylor, a professor and chair of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale University, has shown that fetal exposure to wireless radiation affects neuro-development and behavior and can lead to Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)— a condition that has doubled in the past 10 years.
Harvard Medical School professor and a pediatric neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Martha Herbert, makes a compelling argument that the rise in autism spectrum disorders may also be related to our rise in wireless radiation exposure.
“I really am concerned about people’s brains,” Herbert said. “It’s not a joke to have this stuff getting into these three pounds of delicate, gel-crystalline structure in our heads that does this amazing stuff. It wasn’t meant for this level of exposure.”
"Low intensity microwaves disturb and damage living cells in our bodies and lead to adverse health effects. This can be a whole host of ailments – from mental disease, to cancer. Most concerning are the effects on the developing brains of children."
-Dr. Priyanka (Pri) Bandara (Consultant/Researcher in Environmental Health)
“The placement of Wi-Fi into schools around the country may well be a high-level threat to the health of our children as well being a threat to teachers and any very sensitive fetuses teachers may be carrying, as well,”
-Dr Martin Pall (Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and basic Medical Sciences at Washington State University)
"Radio Frequencies emitted from mobile phone towers will have deleterious medical effects to people within the near vicinity according to a large body of scientific literature. Babies and children will be particularly sensitive to the mutagenic and carcenogenic effects of the radio frequency radiation. It is therefore criminal to place one of these aerials on or near a school."
-Dr. Helen Caldicott, (MD, Pediatrician and co-founder of Physicians For Social Responsibility)
Sources of Radiation In Schools
Dr. Martin Pall, Professor Emeritus of biochemistry and basic medical sciences at Washington State University has alterted the public about the dangers of Wi-Fi in his paper, “Wi-Fi is An Important Threat to Human Health,” published in the July 2018 issue of Environmental Research.
He claims that schools are a particular concern because they are where the most intense concentration of wireless radiation is found today. Many schools have adopted a commercial grade Wi-Fi system with several routers or “access points throughout classrooms, often in the ceiling above students’ heads. This concentrated field of wireless radiation puts children at greater risk of developing disease that wireless radiation has been shown to consistently show to cause: oxidative stress (which can lead to cancer and DNA damage) neuropsychiatric effects, cell death, changes to the endocrine system and more.
Even worse, the people we place in this remarkably concentrated field of wireless radiation are more vulnerable to it. Compared to adults, children are smaller and have smaller and thinner skulls so the radiation penetrates more easily and gets to larger parts of the brain. Also problematic, children’s’ immune and nervous systems are still developing. Plus, kids’ cells divide at a faster rate, which increases the risk for mutations that can lead to cancer.
According to Pall, these factors make children more susceptible to the disease processes that wireless radiation has been consistently shown to cause: oxidative stress (which can lead to cancer and non-cancerous conditions, as well as DNA damage), sperm and testicular damage, neuropsychiatric effects, cell death, changes to the endocrine system, and calcium overload.
Radiation emitting building infrastructure such as SMART meters could be located at several locations throughout school grounds (auditorium, gymnasium, library, office, indoor and outdoor lounge or activity areas, daycare facilities, etc.). It is important to be aware of EMR infrastrure in unexpected locations that may irradiate students and staff. Learn more about SMART meters, methods to mitigate the risk and the option to opt out here.
SMART Teaching Technologes
SMART devices are becoming common place in Australian schools. Some schools have even made iPads and Notebooks compulsory for students to complete their studies. According to a recent study (UNSW, 2019) over 80 per cent of teachers in Australia think digital devices are a growing distraction to students. Three of five teachers in Australia believe there has been a clear decrease in students’ readiness to learn at school. In 2019, Australia scored its lowest ever results in the global reading, mathematics and science tests.
Could there be a connecton? Many parents assume that Australian schools regulate their students’ screen time. But the reality is that Australian schools have some of the lowest levels of restrictions on screen time in the world. Are we creating tech savvy students? Or are we exposing students to addictive, radiation emitting devices, that impair sleep, have a negative impact on a students’ academic performance and mental health?
Children and staff attending schools in close vicinity (within 500m) to telecommunications infrastructure such as cell phone towers and ‘small cell’ installations are at risk of high radiation exposures. This can have a negative effect on the physical and mental health of students and staff. A recent study conducted in 2019 found that students attending schools close in proximity to cell phone towers (with high RF-EMF exposures) had delayed fine and gross motor skills, spatial working memory and attention difficulties compared to the students that were not exposed (Meo 2019).
To search for tower locations, and more information such as proposed upgrades to 5G and emission reports please visit www.RFNSA.com.au. You have the right to object to wireless infrastructure that irradiates you, your students, staff or your child while at school. Schools are specified as ‘senstivite locations’ in the Mobile Base Station Deployment code and therefore a precautionary approach must be applied by Telcos when installing antenna in these locations. For more info visit: www.amta.org.au/the-deployment-code/
Does WiFi In School Effect Us –
A Classroom Experiment
WiFi In School- The Facts
Some Easy Solutions For Schools
Familiarise Yourself With The Issue
Principals, teachers and policy makers must educate themselves to ensure that their duty of care is not compromised by exposing students and staff to Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) in schools. Children and teenagers are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of wireless radiation. Therefore, it is imperative that a precautionary approach is employed.
Consult With A Building Biologist
Building Biologists are radiation experts who will measure and determine the environmental health risks associated with exposure to EMR emissions in classrooms and on school grounds. Become a SEEN member and receive a professional EMR assessment discount.
Choose Hardwired Teaching Technologies
Take immediate precautionary action by hardwiring all technology devices, such as computer networks, internet connections, printers, projectors, computer accessories (mouse, keyboard & headphones) throughout school grounds to ensure an EMF safe space. This is the first step to protecting students and staff from long term exposure to wireless radiation. Hardwiring is a relatively simple process, however schools without pre-exisiting infrasture may want to adopt the following interim solutions.
Interim Solution A – Network Based Timer A network based timer system can be custom developed for schools to manage & schedule when your Wi-Fi is on or off.
Interim Solution B – Wifi Kill Switch With the flip of a switch, you can manually shut on and off all WiFi routers to minimize wireless radiation exposures when the internet is not in use.
Reduce Reliance on Wireless Technology for Learning
Do not rely on wireless technologies for learning. When the curricula requires internet connectivity, limit it to specific times rather than allowing students to access technology freely. Facilitate “offline” learning opportunities. Utilise books, print outs or download and install files for curriculum prior to students’ use. It is proven that children learn better without distraction and some schools are going back to text books. When technology is used, ensure that the internet connection is hardwired with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilites disabled.
Undertake A Full Risk Assessment
Principals and school officials should conduct a risk assessment by determining sources of EMR in classrooms and on school grounds. Sources may include Wi-Fi, wireless computer networks and devices, building infrastructure and/or nearby mobile telecommunication infrastructure. Injury to wireless radiation is not insurable and third party product liability is not covered by Insurance companies. You may wish to engage a building biologist for a professional environmental risk assessment.
Implement Safe Tech Policies
Create and maintain policies for wireless device use in classrooms that reflect the precautionary principle. Incorrect implementation of wireless technology can create over exposure and hot spots in the classroom compromising the health, well being and learning capacity for some students.
The policies should aim to:
- Limit or ban Wi-Fi, personal tablets, mobile phones, hotspot devices and all other devices with wireless emissions in classrooms.
- Disallow the use of all devices in classrooms unless they are used as part of the lesson and under supervision.
- Facilitate non-wireless methods of communication between students and parents, such as a corded landline.
- Educate staff and students of the health risks; teach them how to reduce exposure, such as hardwiring, selecting “airplane mode” and keeping the device at distance from the body and ensure their understanding of and adherence to EMF Safe policies.
We refer you to Upper Sturt Primary Wi-Fi & Wireless Device policy for guidance
Educate The Community
EMR exposures are a community issue. School officials may like to host information seminars to educate parents and teachers about safer use of technology, the challenges of parenting in the digital age and strategies that will minimize the health risks of wireless devices. Promote hardwiring workshops and demonstrations on how to create a low EMF computer workstation. Inform the community, to help curve device addiction and the pyscho-social implications. SEEN is available to assist schools learn more about this topic. Contact us for further information.