Why are doctors concerned about wireless in schools?
Schools are a unique environment because there are so many wireless devices in each room. All wireless devices (including cell phones, cordless landline phone, any item with Wi-Fi or bluetooth capability, etc.) generate and emit an invisible electromagnetic radiation called radiofrequency (RFR). Children will spend several hours a day in classrooms with wireless exposures.
A growing amount of scientific research links this wireless radiation to serious health effects on health—such as memory and sleep problems, headaches, cancer, and damage to reproduction, brain development, and DNA. The radiation penetrates deeper into children’s brains due to their thinner skulls. Children’s brains and immune systems are still developing, therefore they are more vulnerable to the effects.
Where can I find expert opinions about wireless effects on health?
Physician groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Vienna Medical Association, and Athens Medical Association are among the many international medical organizations that have issued recommendations to the public to reduce exposure to cell phone radiation.
Countries such as France, Cyprus, and Israel have banned wireless in young children’s classrooms.
In several letters sent to school districts, physicians strongly recommended wired connections for technology in classrooms to eliminate unnecessary wireless radiation exposures.
The American Academy of Pediatrics
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations include:
- Use text messaging when possible, and use cell phones in speaker mode or with the use of hands-free kits.
- Make only short or essential calls on cell phones.
- When talking on the cell phone, try holding it an inch or more away from your head.*
- Avoid carrying your phone against the body like in a pocket, sock, or bra. Cell phone manufacturers can’t guarantee that the amount of radiation you’re absorbing will be at a safe level.
- If you plan to watch a movie on your device, download it first, then switch to airplane mode while you watch in order to avoid unnecessary radiation exposure.
- Avoid making calls in cars, elevators, trains, and buses. The cell phone works harder to get a signal through metal, so the power level increases.
The Collaborative for High Performance Schools
The Collaborative for High Performance School Low EMF Criteria includes:
- Install a wired local area network (LAN) for Internet access throughout the school.
- Provide wired network connections for desktop computers, laptops, notebooks, and tablets.
- All wireless transmitters shall be disabled on all Wi-Fi-enabled devices.
- Install easily accessible hard-wired phones for teacher and student use.
- Prohibit use of standard DECT cordless phones operating at 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz
- Prohibit the use of cell phones and other personal electronic devices in instructional areas / classrooms.
Are schools taking steps to mitigate this exposure?
Entire countries and cities worldwide and many private schools in the USA are replacing Wi-Fi with corded connections.
- France has banned Wi-Fi in kindergarten and restricts Wi-Fi in school by having the wireless off as the default setting and teachers have wired (not wireless) computers for Internet access. In-school networks are being hardwired, and in situations where wireless is needed it is turned on only for a short duration in the classroom as needed and turned off after use. France also has banned cell phones in elementary/middle schools and started educating the public years ago with public health initiatives about how to reduce exposure.
- Israel has banned Wi-Fi in nursery schools, restricts Wi-Fi in elementary, bans cell phones in classrooms, has a national institution educating on how to reduce cell phone radiation and has a limit of 4 mG for EMF.
- Cyprus has removed Wi-Fi from elementary classrooms and has a strong public awareness campaign educating parents, teenagers and pregnant women.
- An example of a private school policy reducing wireless exposure is the Upper Sturt Primary School WiFi and Cell Phone Policy.
- Onteora School District, and Ashland Massachusetts have “Best Practices” to turn the Wi-Fi off when not in use and keep devices away from the body posted in every classroom.
- Several school districts (Petaluma, Montgomery County) have policies that tablets and iPads should be on tables (not laps) prompted by parents raising the health issue of Wi-Fi in school.
What resources do teachers have to teach students how to reduce cell phone radiation?
The California Department of Health issued guidance on how to reduce exposure to cell phone radiation, including keeping the phone away from the body, reducing cell phone use when the signal is weak, reducing the use of cell phones to stream videos and not sleeping with your cell phone. These can be used by educators in the United States.
Education modules for students were developed in partnership with the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition to teach high school and middle schoolers about why and how to reduce radiation from cell phones and wireless devices.