National Association for Children and Safe Technology
MYTH #1 Radiation emitted by wireless technology has been around since
the beginning of time. It's natural and does not pose any concerns.
FACT: People have never before been exposed to levels even remotely close to the current levels of microwave radiation in our living space today. Parents today did not themselves grow up in homes and schools with constant microwave radiation from Wi-Fi routers and devices. Wireless routers in classrooms are like bringing mini cell towers into classrooms. Each device in use in the classroom brings another stream of radiation into your child’s school environment.
It was not until the second half of the twentieth century that we became increasingly exposed to wireless radiation. Wireless technology generates unnatural electromagnetic frequency radiation and has been shown to disrupt the biology of all living things; this is our critical concern. Natural electromagnetic frequency has been around since the beginning of time and is essential to life.
“In the room you are sitting in right now, just from the third generation mobile telephone...you are sitting in levels that are approximately one million billion times above natural background electromagnetic radiation."
- Dr. Olle Johansson
MYTH #2 Wireless radiation is no more carcinogenic than pickled vegetables or coffee.
FACT: Specific techniques of fermenting Asian pickled vegetables have been shown to cause lethal esophageal cancer. Studies have shown that heavy coffee drinking is linked to bladder cancer. Would you feed your child coffee nonstop for 6 hours a day? By ridiculing these findings, the industry hopes we will ignore the truth that the World Health Organization (WHO) classified microwave radiation exposure from cell phones in the same risk category as DDT and lead. In fact, there are countless chemicals on the Class 2b list that have been since taken off the market and banned in the USA.
The WHO classified wireless radiation as a Class 2b, possible human carcinogen in 2011. Since then, research linking wireless radiation to biological effects has increased.
Please note, there are senior scientists calling for precautions, stating the current risk classification is too low. They are publicly saying the evidence for risk to humans has increased. For example:
Doctor Anthony Miller, World Health Organization EMF Group Scientist from the University of Toronto's Dalla Lama School of Public Health, testified in November 2013 that wireless exposure should be classified more stringently, as a 2a (“a probable carcinogen”), based on accumulating research since 2011. For more information watch the 4 minute video: Dr. Anthony Miller to Toronto Council re: RF Exposure
The Evolution of Wireless Radiation Carcinogen Classification
The World Health Organization’s gold star cancer classifications move like this:
Possible carcinogen (Class 2b) ==> probable carcinogen (Class 2a) ==> known carcinogen (Class 1)
You will be interested to know that the WHO classified air pollution as a known carcinogen in 2013. They need overwhelming data showing harm to classify an exposure as a carcinogen. .
This process moves too slow for our children. We do not want our children to be a statistic. We do not want our children to be one of the injured subjects in a data set reviewed in 10 or 20 years when the WHO upgrades it’s classification. Furthermore, in addition to cancer risk, low "safe" levels of wireless radiation have been shown to cause harm to the reproductive system and to the brain. Cancer is just one issue to consider.
MYTH #3 Wired connections are too expensive and unsightly. They are also a tripping hazard.
Fact: Many estimates show that wired connections are actually less expensive than Wi-Fi over time- especially when it comes to schools. Furthermore, hardwired connections are faster, more reliable and are not vulnerable to hacking. Tripping hazards are not an issue when the wires are laid out thoughtfully along all of the walls with classroom needs in mind.
More importantly, we think that our children's health is the priority. Using wires will eliminate a serious risk to children's health. We, as parents and educators, believe that safety always comes first. Just as we take measures to prevent violence at schools we can take measures to prevent environmental health damage.
MYTH #4 If wireless technology wasn't safe, surely our government would not
allow these devices onto the market or encourage the use of them in schools.
FACT: Contrary to popular belief, these devices were not pre-market tested for safety. They are not regulated like food or drugs are in this country.
"If cell phones were a drug. They would be banned." - Dr. Devra Davis
In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has the authority to regulate the radiation emissions of wireless devices, cell towers, etc. However, the FCC is not a health and safety agency and is not comprised of medical staff.
It is important to understand:
1) The guidelines have not been updated since 1996; that was 18 years ago.
2) The guidelines completely ignore non-thermal biological effects, which is the
health issue with wireless radiation.
3. The EPA and FDA have not done a comprehensive review of the safety of these devices.
Here are statements, made by other governmental agencies, regarding the FCC guidelines:
“The FCC’s standard is inadequate because it is based solely on one dominant mechanism – adverse health effects are caused by body heating.” -1993 National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH):
“FCC rules do not address the issue of long- term, chronic exposure to RF fields." (Comments from the FDA to the FCC. 1993)
MYTH #5 But the radiation is so low, it could not possibly affect children's health.
FACT: Low level radiation has been shown in thousands of studies to disrupt our biology at the cellular level. These studies document effects such as: reduced fertility, cardiac incidents, cancer, anxiety, insomnia, reduced concentration, exhaustion, DNA damage and increased risk of ADHD in children.
Please note that when the long term studies of cell phones and cancer were done, the high level of use was 30 minutes a day. These days 30 minutes a day would be considered "low". There is no known safe level in terms of non thermal effects as the research has not been done to determine this.
6 Hours a day of constant microwave radiation is not "Low".
Do you recall when lead was considered "safe" at low levels? Currently pediatricians advise us now to minimize all lead exposures to children due to the irreversible neurological damage it causes. Europe banned lead in the 30's, yet the United States waited until the 70's because of strong industry pressure. The US waited because it needed to be “proven”.
MYTH #6 The studies are inconclusive, so we should not worry.
FACT: There is more than enough scientific evidence showing a link to biological health impacts. More studies come out every day. Please visit the “Science” section to access some of these studies.
What if the research being done over the next few decades proves that this radiation is a carcinogen and neurotoxic? Currently we have more than enough scientific evidence showing a link to biological health impacts, so much that the World Health Organization and scientists from around the world are calling for more research.
“recent provocation studies using Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) signals have reported effects on brain function, notably on sleep electroencephalography (EEG) and resting EEG (e.g. van Rongen et al., 2009). These studies have shown moderate consistency to date. The significance of such biological effects on health per se is unknown, but so far the changes recorded have not been found to relate to any specific health effects. It is important to clarify the neural processes underlying possible RF field effects on the brain.
• If ethical approval can be obtained, acute effects on cognition and EEGs should also be investigated in children exposed to RF fields in the laboratory."
If you read the above quote you will see that sleep and brain functions are impacted. The WHO states that the significance is “unknown”. They say that "so far" these changes are not related health effects and more studies are needed. They also talk about "ethical approval" to test on children. Yet we are rushing to bring this technology into our schools. Is this practice ethical?
Dr. Jonathan Samet, Senior Scientist and Chairman of the WHO’s EMF Working Group who made the Class 2 B classification, in a recent 2014 Commentary stated:
“The IARC 2B classification implies an assurance of safety that cannot be offered—a particular concern, given the prospect that most of the world’s population will have lifelong exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. These studies indicate some neurotoxic effects (reduced neuronal cell number, glial cell35 activation) after exposure for several days to RF fields at SAR-levels below 2 W/kg. Additional studies with better dosimetry are needed before any firm conclusions can be drawn. Additional studies on early development as well as the effects on the pathologic brain are also justified. (page 104) "
We could easily dismiss one or two studies but there are simply far too many studies showing this neurotoxic effects. While the science is “inconclusive” now, it very well could be “conclusive” decades from now after all the recommended research is done. If wireless radiation does end up “conclusively” impacting our children’s health, will we look back and wish we had made a safer choice? These are the realistic questions we must ask ourselves as parents and teachers.
MYTH #7 Children will be disadvantaged if we don't get them started using iPads and laptops right away.
FACT: Schools can use hardwired, safe connections to give children across the country equal access to the internet. We have a choice to use a safe technology or a risky one. Wireless is simply not necessary for schools to meet their educational goals involving technology integration into the classroom.
MYTH #8 It doesn't matter if we add more wireless radiation
into children's environments because it's already there anyway.
FACT: As with any toxic exposure, less is better, especially when it comes to children who are more vulnerable to the impacts of exposure since they are still growing and developing. Stem cells are more active in children and have been shown to be more impacted by microwave exposures. The younger the child, the greater risk of harm from exposure.
Please keep in mind, the wireless classroom is a unique environment with the number of devices equal to the class size and an industrial strength router to accommodate the many devices. This is all within the space of one classroom and is an unprecedented amount of radiation emissions on our children. The wireless classroom is an environment like no other. By definition, a child in this environment will sustain biological impact(s). This is an experiment we simply cannot allow.
It just makes sense to decrease exposure on our children when possible. “It is everywhere” is not a good reason. There are many harmful things in our environment. There are many risks we take such as driving on the highway. Risks are everywhere. However, we use seat belts and car seats to minimize our risk. We choose special vitamins when we are pregnant to minimize risks to our baby. At one time, we had ashtrays in buildings and homes. Today, they are nowhere to be seen. With time and education, things change. In the same way, we can make intelligent choices by using safe technology when possible.
MYTH #9 Not my child, not my family;
That only happens to other people's children.
FACT: Autism spectrum disorders, developmental delays, behavioral issues, immune issues and cancers
have all been associated with exposure to wireless radiation and electromagnetic fields.
Cancer and many other life threatening diseases often can have a long latency period, so effects may not be evident until much later. It is also possible for cancers to develop aggressively in children since they are growing and their cells are multiplying rapidly.
Significant research has shown effects on the reproductive system including damage to the DNA of sperm and a decrease in ovarian follicles. Such research raises the serious possibility that our children’s fertility could be impacted. If so, we won't know until they are adults.
This information is deeply disturbing and it sure would be easier to say “This cannot happen to us." However, the truth is that no scientific health agencies declare that wireless radiation is safe. They say there is inconclusive evidence and that more research is needed.
“If we want to wait for final proof, at least in terms of cancer, it may still take 20 years and the issue will become that we will not have unexposed population to act as control. We may never have the absolute final proof. But we have enough data to go ahead with a precautionary principle."
- Dr Annie Sasco, Director, Epidemiology for Cancer Prevention, Formerly International Agency for Research on Cancer, Unit Chief of Epidemiology for Cancer Prevention, in her Testimony to Canadian Parliament
MYTH #10 There are no warning labels on the packaging of wireless devices so they must be safe.
FACT: Here is the warning provided by Apple for their iPad tablets:
"to be sure that human exposure to RF energy does not exceed the FCC, IC, and European Union guidelines, always follow these instructions and precautions:
Orient the device in portrait mode with the Home button at the bottom of the display, or in landscape mode with the cellular antenna (located under the black edge at the top of the device) away from your body or other objects...”
In fact, all wireless devices have fine print FCC recommendations like these in the manuals. We simply never saw them because we rarely read the manual! Did you know that several US States have introduced Right to Know legislation so that consumers are aware of these warnings? Please read more about these efforts on our US Policy page.
Did you know?
Wireless routers and wireless printers have a warning in their manufacturers manual to keep body parts at about 8 inches (20 cm) away from the body ?
Placing a laptop on your lap could expose your body to radiation levels at 100 times the FCC exposure standards?
Wireless devices are not tested in the way consumers typically use them. Cell phones are tested with a spacer between the head and phone. Laptops are tested at 20 cm from the body. In fact, you may notice they are not called "laptops" anymore because in fact you are not supposed to put them on your lap.
Perhaps most disturbing is that these fine print warnings only apply to the FCC regulations which only protect us from a heating effect. Therefore, if a device is exceeding this level it is thousands above what could cause biological effects.
Watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta discuss Cell Phone Fine Print Warnings here.