Science What Should We Do When Experts Disagree?

Answer: When Experts Disagree, Play it Safe With Children

You take the safer approach until the scientists sort things out. You don't just assume everything will be OK. For the health of your kids, you make a conscious decision to play it safe until you know one way or the other, with reasonable certainty. The wireless industry and the Petaluma City School District (PCSD) wants you to do the exact opposite. Both are willing to experiment with your kids. Don't let them do this. Listen the the current scientific experts and take the simple steps to protect your children from RF/EMF microwave radiation exposure. Please note, µW/m² = microwatt per square meter = millionth of a watt per square meter.

International Institute for Building Biology & Ecology Microwave Radiation Guidelines

No HazardSlight HazardSevere HazardExtreme Hazard
<0.1 µW/m² 0.1 µW/m² to 10 µW/m² 10 µW/m² to 1000 µW/m² > 1000 µW/m²

The Oberfranken study evaluated medical complaints of 356 people with long-term radiation in their homes.

Above 100 µW/m², only 5-6% of the people did not have adverse health effects.

Listen to Dr. Martin Pall's and Dr. Paul Dart's 2/24/14 Presentations to the Oregon Legistlature re: RF/EMF Microwave Radiation

Dr. Martin Pall's and Dr. Paul Dart's 2/24/14 Presentation Materials:
The presentation documents and audio file are also available directly from the Oregon Legislature OLIS web site.

Watch Dr. Martin Pall's 9/16/13 Presentation to Portland City Schools re: RF/EMF Microwave Radiation

Sept 16, 2013: Dr. Martin Pall, Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Basic Medical Sciences, Washington State University, presents updated information on the health impacts from RF/EMF microwave radiation.

Transcript from Dr. Martin L. Pall:

I am Martin L. Pall. I am professor emeritus in biochemistry and basic medical sciences from Washington State University. I have been a Portland resident for the last five years and I have been working in the field of environmental medicine since about the year 2000. I have received seven major international honors for my work in that area and I gave a copy of those to one of the school board members. I'll be receiving an eight [award] by the end of next month in the US.

I am talking about the issue of lack of safety of EMF exposures. I published a paper on that a couple of months ago that's been a real paradigm-shifter. Let me just say that the situation before that paper was published, is that people have been assuming that the only thing that ElectroMagnetic Fields can do is to heat things, like heating things in your microwave oven. There was evidence before my paper was written — a lot of it. — [The evidence] is that [that assumption] is simply not true.

What EMFs do in our bodies is that they work on some channels in the plasma membranes of our cells called voltage-gated calcium channels. What they do is that they open up those channels, calcium flows into the cell and it's the excess calcium in the cell that leads to all the biological effects that are produced by EMFs.

So all of the assessments of safety which have been based on the assumption that the only thing that these fields can do is heat things are based on a falsehood. We know that now. The reason we know that is because you can block these EMF-effects with drugs that block those channels. Now those drugs have lots of side effects so they are difficult to use clinically, but they are very useful scientifically.

When you have this situation where excessive activity of these channels,[which] the EMFS produce, of course, you immediately ask, OK what kinds of diseases can be produced by excessive activity of those channels. So I have started looking at that issue the last two months. I just sent a paper off making a very strong argument that autism is one of them. Why is that?

Well, we know, first of all that autism incidences have been going up very rapidly, paralleling the exposures to EMFs. Everybody knows that and there is now evidence from some studies of a mutant called Timothy Syndrome [beep]. Sorry, are my three minutes up?

Let me just say that autism is one of them. A second one is type 2 diabetes, the third one is the kind of cardiovascular disease that has to do with the electrical control of the heart and the fourth we won't talk about.

Transcript from the second speaker:

I am the author the constitutional argument in the Morrison v. Portland Public Schools. I am here to talk about legacy — mine and yours. My legacy charges me as a Hanford-nuclear-downwind survivor and as the daughter of a marine raider who volunteered to rescue victims in Nagasaki at ground zero. My legacy charges me with no less duty than the defense of another generation of innocents forcibly exposed to microwave radiation. You call it Wi-Fi. It's a cute marketing term.

But wireless microwave radiation cannot shed its radiation identity because that is what it is. While as a nuclear engineering student at Oregon State University, I learned what the American trial lawyers now stand behind -- that wireless radiation health effects are equatable to the same diseases as that from nuclear radiation exposure. In fact, this biggest trial lawyer association in the world, now called the American Association for Justice, [in September 2013], [threw] down the gauntlet to federal agencies and the wireless industry: [they said] that Big Telecomm and Wireless [litigation] will go the way of Big Tobacco, Asbestos and Lead Paint litigation.

Meanwhile, players like Cisco, Appple and AT&T promise any comers on school boards and local IT departments that they too can have a personal legacy-building path. Just walk with us, they say. That you, too, can have a share of wireless pork barrel kickbacks from Big Telecom's gaming of the US Department of Education's E-Programs. All you have to do is turn a blind eye, believe in the fable of harmlessness sold to you as a cost-benefit value-add sales pitch, fed to your MBA/IT guy, I call him the decider.

This decider for all of you, who not only has no bio-sciences [education], who has no health training, who professes, in deposition on [the Portland Public Schools] own record, that he doesn't even have a curiosity about the health effects of wireless radiation and, anyway, he doesn't believe in it. As if his confession were some sort of religion of more efficiency on your balance sheets.

So this is your legacy: like the Emperor who has no clothes, you will have stood on the sidelines in a fable while the Wireless Industry has paraded their naked untruths and misinformation, have trotted out their doubt about Wi-Fi health effects on children in schools. As if Wi-Fi is magic that floats through the air like butterflies. But Wi-Fi is not magic; and the Emperor has not clothes.

It took 27 years for my dad to die from Nagasaki, it took 35 years to figure out [the truth] about Hanford down-winders, and wi-fi radiation, predicted by those who know will follow [similar or shorter] latency periods in disease.

Your legacy will be on the wrong side of this science, on the wrong side of history and on the wrong side of even 60,000 pediatricians who have recently sent a letter to congress begging them to stop this exposure of children to a class 2B carcinogen, an agent with [the same classification] as DDT, Lead and gasoline fumes. No kid will escape this Russian roulette you are playing with their lives and their futures. So why did I come here today? To talk about Legacy in three minutes or less. My legacy will stand in history. I ask the question. Will yours?

"Doubt is our product," a cigarette executive once observed, "since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' that exists in the minds of the general public." The strategy of dismissing research conducted by the scientific community as "junk science" and elevating science conducted by industry-backed scientists (a.k.a. product defense specialists) to "sound science" was created by Hill & Knowlton, a PR agency for the tobacco industry over 50 years ago. This often-used strategy was designed to create confusion about the very nature of scientific inquiry and undermines the public's confidence in science's ability to address public health and environmental concerns.

In this book, David Michaels reveals how the tobacco industry's duplicitous tactics spawned a multimillion dollar industry that is dismantling public health safeguards. Product defense consultants, he argues, have increasingly skewed the scientific literature, manufactured and magnified scientific uncertainty, and influenced policy decisions to the advantage of polluters and the manufacturers of dangerous products.

Industry executives have hired scientists and lobbyists to dispute scientific evidence about health risks. To keep the public confused about the hazards posed by global warming, second-hand smoke, asbestos, lead, radio frequency electromagnetic fields, and many other toxic emissions. Industry has not only delayed action on specific hazards, but they have constructed barriers to make it harder for lawmakers, government agencies, and courts to respond to future threats, such as the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 is a law which stripped all States and local governments of their power to consider the potential adverse health impacts of RF radiation from Cell Towers and Cell Antennas, when a wireless company files any type of zoning application seeking to install them. Crafted by those lobbying for the wireless industry, Section 704 of the Act states:

'No State or local government or instrumentality thereof may regulate the placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions to the extent that such facilities comply with the Commission's regulations concerning such emissions." The reference to "the Commission's regulations" refers to the FCC, and denotes that, local governments can't even discuss, much less consider, adverse health impacts, so as long as the Cell Towers/Cell Antennas are compliant with FCC regulations.'

Those same proponents of the wireless industry also succeeded in making sure that such FCC regulations for Cell Towers and Cell Antennas, are virtually non-existent. The majority of Cell Towers in residential areas generally range from 100 to 170 feet in height, and the FCC exempts from registration requirements all towers under 200 feet. This means that the FCC doesn't even know where the Cell Towers are, much less what levels of RF radiation they are emitting. Similarly lacking in protection, are the FCC's safety limitations for the public's exposure to RF radiation from all sources: cell towers, cell phones, wireless routers and access points, wireless laptops, tablets, cordless DECT phones and any other wireless device."

The problem is that cancers are now showing up: there are cancer clusters around cell phone towers and tumors are showing up on people's bodies where people usually hold and/or carry their cell phones. There are also many, often subtle, symptoms that people experience and may dismiss as just being tired or just getting older.

Mobilize - Official Trailer

Mobilize is an investigative documentary that explores the potential long-term health effects from cell phone radiation including brain cancer and infertility. This thought-provoking film examines the most recent scientific research and the challenges politicians face trying to pass cell phone safety legislation. Through interviews with expert researchers, major mobile associates, and prominent politicians, Mobilize presents a balanced and insightful observation about this unspoken health issue.

Wireless Tablets Are Even Worse Than Cell Phones

Streaming video to an iPad exposes users to 20,000+ µW/m² of RF/EMF within an 18-24" radius of the device. Why? There are at least 5 hidden send/receive antennas in the iPad and students use them for longer, continuous periods of time. If the iPad offered a wired USB-to-Ethernet option, which it does not, all of this RF/EMF exposure could be avoided. Instead, select one of the other tablets, listed below, that offer a wired USB-to-Ethernet option. Here are the iPad's hidden antenna locations:

  • 2 antennas for cell reception: 1 in black RF/EMF strip at top and 1 attached to the LCD frame.
  • 2 antennas for Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, 1 in Apple logo and 1 to the left of dock connector at bottom.
  • 1 antenna for GPS antenna in black RF/EMF window across the top.

Learn more about antennas.

A wi-fi enabled tablet and a cell phone are virtually identical: both types of devices are not safe for your children, unless they have airplane mode on/all antennas turned off. That's why, for our children, and for our schools, we should choose devices that offer a wired Ethernet networking option: Google Chromebooks or Nexus tablets, Microsoft Surface tablets, or tablets/laptops from Dell, HP, Lenovo, Nokia or Asus, or even laptops from Appleanything but the Apple iPad, the most dangerous product Apple has ever sold. It is the only major tablet that does not offer a wired Ethernet networking option. Even Apple's own Important Product Information Guide won't tell you that their product is safe to use. Read it. Carefully.

Your Kids in the Petri Dish: Let's Experiement

When thinking about the science of Radio-Frequency ElectroMagnetic Fields (RF/EMF), one has to understand what scientists know and what they do not yet know. At present, there have been no published studies on the safety of children using wi-fi. Every projection right now is just somebody's best guess based on adult cell phone studies and adult-based RF/EMF guidelines that could not have anticipated our current always-on wireless environment. None of these guidelines have ever considered that children are different from adults: children absorb much more RF/EFM radiation than adults because children are smaller, their bones and skulls are thinner and they have higher water content — which makes children excellent antennas for RF/EMF.

Wi-Fi has only been around about a dozen years and has been in wide-spread use for only the last 6-8 years. We simply don't yet know the ramifications of wide-spread wi-fi use in our schools — and we will not know for another 5-10 years. What we do know is that the antennas in wi-fi enabled laptops, tablets and Chromebooks are identical to the antennas in cell phones and they send and receive at similar or even higher power levels. We also know that cell phone use can cause cancer, in just 7-10 years. For perspective, it takes about 20 years of continuous smoking before lung cancer shows up.

Many scientific experts are urging us to take immediate steps to protect our children, the first generation that will be continuously exposed to high levels of RF/EMF from the very beginning of their lives. These experts understand that young children are the most vulnerable.

The quotes, links, videos and pdf reports, cited below, were shared with Superintendent Steve Bolman of the Petaluma City School District in April, 2013. After a three hour meeting in Mr. Bolman's office on April 15, 2013 to discuss these findings, during which we watched this video and this video and, together, we metered RF/EMF at 16,000 microwatts per square meter at a point 18" from from one laptop and one tablet downloading a video wirelessly in his office, this was Mr. Bolman's response:

On Apr 22, 2013, at 3:42 PM, Steve Bolman wrote:

We did have a detailed discussion and reviewed several sources on the use of wifi on campuses at Thursday's Augmented Cabinet meeting.  It is recognized that scientific inquiry can never prove that something is safe. Based on the discussion, and the state of science at this time, we are going forward with our plan to increase wifi on campuses.
Regards, Steve Bolman

Mr. Bolman's position is irresponsible: he understands very little of the science and yet he is putting your kids on the front lines of the largest human health experiment ever conducted. Do you want your kids to be the test subjects or the control subjects in this experiment? Hint: to play it safe with your kids, choose control, every time. The problem is that Mr. Bolman is not offering any control groups: all the kids in the Petaluma City School District have been put in the test group — without parents' knowledge or parents' informed consent.

This is not acceptable leadership. Parents need a much more detailed and careful explanation of why Mr. Bolman's decision is in the best interests of their children. The PCSD needs to conduct relevant RF/EMF safety testing and share the evidence with parents that will show that his position will not harm the children. The evidence gathered by the District can be put side-by-side with the evidence and science presented on this web site and then parents can make an informed decision.

If parents decide it is not in the best interests of their children to have continuous exposure to RF/EMF in their schools because it creates an unsafe learning environment, then the District has the legal obligation to create at least some safe learning environments: i.e. designate at least some elementary and secondary PCSD schools to be free of RF/EMF.

To date, despite many requests for the District to make RF/EMF measurements, Mr. Bolman has refused to do so. Here is the evidence obtained via a California Public Records Act request:

Despite recommendations made by Will Davis, the Safety Officer of the District's insurance company, Redwood Empire Schools' Insurance Group (RESIG), for Mr. Bolman to hire an outside consultant to conduct an RF/EMF study of PCSD schools in realistic usage scenarios, Mr. Bolman refused:

>>> On Wed at Jul 3 2013 at 9:05 AM, Will Davis wrote to Steve Bolman:

"Alex Stadtner is a consultant with Healthy Building Science in Marin. He does monitoring/sampling for EMFs. He can be reached at 415-785-7986. Please let me know if you decide to proceed with monitoring"

>>> On Wed at Jul 3 2013 at 9:09 AM, Steve Bolman wrote to Will Davis:

"Unless Cal/OSHA ask[s] us to do monitoring, I am not planning on using Alex Stadtner's services."

When I first discovered that RESIG completed a magnetic field study instead of an RF/EMF study, I assumed this was an honest mistake/miscommunication between Will Davis and Steve Bolman, but it's worse than that. Steve Bolman knowingly chose to not spend $750-$1,000 for an outside consultant to complete the RF/EMF study. Instead, Bolman chose a (lower cost?) option and ordered a superfluous magnetic field study, even though Will Davis said to Steve Bolman about the study:

. . . on 7/12 (before the 7/16/13 study): "I doubt this would satisfy this individual, but it would give us some exposure data."

. . . on 7/20/13 (after the 7/16/13 study): "I'm pretty sure that it will in no way satisfy the parent, however, it probably will show good faith to Cal/OSHA."

Davis' magnetic field studies communicate nothing about the levels of RF/EMF faced by PCSD employees and students in PCSD classrooms. Reporting Davis' results is like giving humidity readings to someone who needs temperature readings. What's the point, unless the District hoped that parents would not understand the difference.

EMF from magnetic fields measured in milligauss is completely different from RF/EMF power density measured in microwatts per square meter. Whatever work Will Davis completed on behalf of the District, it could not, in any way, establish the RF/EMF safety of PCSD classrooms.

The truth is that the PCSD school administrators barely understand the science at the heart of the RF/EMF issue and choose only to follow along like sheep: if x, y and z are doing it, then it must be OK, which is the only argument that the PCSD has offered in support of their misguided technology plans and practices over the last ten months. We all deserve much better leadership from our Board of Education, our Superintendent and our School Principals.

Scientific Experts: In Their Own Words

Devra Davis, Ph.D., MPH, Environmental Health Trust: Listen to her 12/7/13 Interview, view her video and read her book

"The American Academy of Pediatrics has expressed its concerns about the growing exposures to children in a letter to Congress dated 12 December 2012: ‘Children are disproportionately affected by environmental exposures, including cell phone radiation. The differences in bone density and the amount of fluid in a child’s brain compared to an adult’s brain could allow children to absorb greater quantities of RF energy deeper into their brains than adults. It is essential that any new standards for cell phones or other wireless devices be based on protecting the youngest and most vulnerable populations to ensure they are safeguarded through their lifetimes.'

As many researchers have noted, children are not merely little adults. Their brains and skulls absorb more radiation than do adults. Empirical data have shown a difference in the dielectric properties of tissues as a function of age, mostly due to the higher water content in children's tissues. High resolution computerized models based on human imaging data suggest that children are indeed more susceptible to the effects of EMF exposure at microwave frequencies.

Please be aware that national authorities in France and Israel are advising against wi-fi expansion, especially in schools with younger children. Many authorities have noted that standards for wireless exposures differ by several orders of magnitude, with those in the home country of the World Health Organization, Switzerland being among the most stringent in the world. In fact, research on this topic remains poorly funded in the U.S.

The absence of definitive information on risks from wi-fi in the U.S. at this time should not be interpreted as proof of safety. Wired systems are far more safe, secure, and speedy, and avoid potential long term public health issues. In addition, wired systems will protect the growing number of persons who are hypersensitive to wi-fi exposures, as well as limit risks to persons with pace-makers or those with other implanted electronic or metal devices that can absorb greater amounts of such radiation."

Olle Johansson, PhD, Associate Professor, Karolinska Institute, Department of Neuroscience: view his video, read this report and this letter.

“The Seletun Scientific Statement (2011) recommends that lower limits be established for electromagnetic fields and wireless exposures, based on scientific studies reporting health impacts at much lower exposure levels. Many researchers now believe the existing safety limits are inadequate to protect public health because they do not consider prolonged exposure to lower emission levels that are now widespread. Furthermore, based on the available scientific data, the Seletun Scientific Panel states that:

Sensitive populations, children and fetuses may be additionally vulnerable to health risks; their exposures are largely involuntary and they are less protected by existing public safety standards It is well established that children are more vulnerable to health risks from environmental toxins in general.

The Panel strongly recommends against the exposure from wireless systems of children of any age.

The Panel strongly recommends against the exposure from wireless systems of pregnant women.

Another misunderstanding is the use of scientific publications (as the tobacco industry did for many years) as 'weights' to balance each other. But you can NEVER balance a report showing a negative health effect with one showing nothing! This is a misunderstanding which, unfortunately, is very often used both by the industrial representatives as well as official authorities.”

Martin Blank, Ph.D., Physiology and Cellular BioPhysics, Columbia University: view his video and read these letters

“As a researcher on biological effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF) for over twenty five years, as well as one of the contributors to the 2007 and 2012 Bioinitiative Reports, I am writing to  you concerning the health risks associated with the radiation from WiFi and to urge you not to install WiFi in the schools in your district.

RF/EMF radiation can cause single and double strand DNA breaks at exposure levels that are currently considered safe under the FCC guidelines. There are also epidemiological studies that show an increased risk of cancers associated with exposure to RF/EMF. RF/EMF has been shown to cause other potentially harmful biological effects, such as leakage of the blood brain barrier that can lead to damage of neurons in the brain, increased micronuclei (DNA fragments) in human blood lymphocytes — all at RF/EMF exposures that are well below the limits in the current FCC guidelines.

As noted above, many potentially harmful effects, such as the stress response and DNA strand breaks, occur at non-thermal levels. Since these field strengths do not cause a temperature increase (the only parameter currently accepted as dangerous), they are unwisely considered safe.  It is clear that the safety standards must be revised downward to take into account non-thermal as well as thermal biological responses. Given the problems in current standards, it is essential, for the protection of ourselves and our children to not install WiFi systems in schools.

Magda Havas, PhD, Environmental & Resource Studies, Trent University: view her videos here & here, then read these letters

"The safest way to connect to the internet in the classroom is through either Ethernet cable or through fiber optics.  The worst way to connect to the internet from a health perspective is through Wi-Fi routers.

The scientific evidence clearly shows that microwave radiation at levels well below the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) guidelines and at levels now commonly found inside classrooms with Wi-Fi routers causes cancer in laboratory animals, causes heart palpitations in sensitive adults, causes reduced sperm motility and viability, and is associated with symptoms of electrosensitivity that include–but are not limited to–cognitive dysfunction, pain, fatigue, mood disorders (depression, anxiety, irritability), dizziness, nausea, weakness, skin problems, and tinnitus.

In 2011 the World Health Organization classified radio frequency electromagnetic fields as a possible human carcinogen, which is a warning to governments around the world. Why would we want to place a possible human carcinogen in the classroom?”

American Academy of Environmental Medicine: read the letter here

"Adverse health effects from wireless radio frequency fields, such as learning disabilities, altered immune responses, and headaches, clearly exist and are well documented in the scientific literature. Safer technology, such as use of hard‐wiring, is strongly recommended in schools. In December 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics ‐ representing 60,000 pediatricians, wrote to Congress requesting it update the safety levels of microwave radiation exposure especially for children and pregnant women. The WiFi systems in schools are typically hundreds of times more powerful than the home consumer systems you may be familiar with. They are also dozens of times more powerful than the cafe and restaurant systems you may have been exposed to. The WiFi systems in schools are necessarily more powerful than any microwave communication systems in any other setting because they are required to run hundreds of computers simultaneously. They are also exposing children ‐ the most vulnerable to microwave radiation ‐ to extended periods all day, for their entire childhood. This is an unprecedented exposure with unknown outcome on the health and reproductive potential of a generation."

Martha Herbert, M.D., Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital: read her letter

"In fact, there are thousands of papers that have accumulated over decades and are now accumulating at an accelerating pace, as our ability to measure impacts become more sensitive that document adverse health and neurological impacts of EMF/RFR.  Children are more vulnerable than adults, and children with chronic illnesses and/or neurodevelopmental disabilities are even more vulnerable. EMF/RFR from wifi and cell towers can exert a disorganizing effect on the ability to learn and remember,  and can also be destabilizing to immune and metabolic function.  This will make it harder for some children to learn, particularly those who are already having problems in the first place. I urge you to step back from your intention to go wifi in the LAUSD, and instead opt for wired technologies, particularly for those subpopulations that are most sensitive.  It will be easier for you to make a healthier decision now than to undo a misguided decision later.

Joel Moskowitz, Ph.D., School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley: view his video and read his letter

Based upon my review of the research of the health effects associated with exposure to radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic radiation (EMR), especially microwave radiation, I feel compelled to register my concern that adoption of Wi-Fi in LAUSD classrooms is likely to put at risk the health of many students and employees in the District.” . . . I was concerned about the health risks of unnecessarily subjecting 660,000 children to 13,000 hours of Wi-Fi microwave radiation during their K-12 school years.” I have been calling on the FCC to strengthen its standards and testing procedures to protect the public and workers from the low-intensity, non-thermal risks of RF EMR exposure that have been reported in hundreds, if not thousands, of research studies. These include increased risk of neurological and cardiovascular problems, sperm damage and male infertility, reproductive health risks, and cancer.."

Erica Mallery-Blythe, MD: download/view this video, skip to 11:38 - 12:20

"On a cellular level, 100% of people are reacting [to RF/EMF]. That means that the health care consequences of not taking this seriously and not recognizing it are potentially huge and the numbers of people who have mild or moderate electrical sensitivity are probably far higher than we estimate."

Professor Denis Henshaw, Bristol University: download/view this video, skip to 17:06 - 18:00

"None of the current rules have anything to do with chronic health effects or cancer. None of them, not one of them. They are all set for heating effects and acute effects, like prickling of the skin . . . None of them are for long term health effects. [The current guidelines] are meaningless. They are not intended to protect from long-term health effects."

Dr. Andrew Goldsworthy, Imperial College: download/view this video, skip to 18:00 - 22:35

"The people who do work on wireless technologies are by and large engineers. They have no idea what is going on in a living cell, but they are pontificating on this. They make the assumption that the only thing that can affect the well-being of a living organism is if [the level of RF/EMF] is powerful enough to heat the tissue. But that's like saying they know if they boil an egg, it goes hard; what they don't know is that if they don't boil the egg, it turns into a chicken. They don't have the slightest idea how that happens, but yet they pontificate as if they do."

The Safe Path: Put Your Kids in the Control Group and Relax

We can all agree that it is safe for students to use wired Ethernet connectivity, but we cannot all agree that it is safe for students to use wireless connecitivity. It is also important for children to maintain an adequate distance from the computers and monitors around them: at least 18"-24". This is why Ethernet cabling, external keyboards and mice have been the standards in our public schools, for many years.

Wired Ethernet connectivity is the lowest cost and most secure connectivity option because we can use the existing Ethernet wires already in our schools. Doing this would give teachers more control, fewer tech support headaches, more robust network security and no radiation exposure from wireless access points/routers or devices. The benefits are many; the one downside is seeing those ugly wires: which is a very small price to pay to keep your kids in the safe, control group.

When it comes to protecting the health and safety of children, we have all learned how take extra steps to protect them:

  • We liberally apply sun screen to our children to protect them from too much sun exposure and the possibility of future skin cancer
  • We make our children wear bike helmets to protect them from the possibility of a future catastrophic head injury
  • We keep our children from eating too much refined sugar to protect them from the possibility of future obesity or diabetes
  • We can also limit our children's RF/EMF exposure to protect them from the possibility of future illnesses and cancers.

This decision is a no-brainer. If you love your kids, you won't allow your School District to put them on the front lines of some ill-conceived experiment. It's that simple.

The Unknown Path: Put Your Kids in the Test Group and Worry

The Petaluma City School District is a run-away train barreling down track in the wrong direction: it is spending the majority of its technology budget — hundreds of thousands of dollars each year — to expand wireless connectivity across all of its campuses, which spews a class 2B Carcinogen into every classroom. Once one considers what scientists already know about the health concerns of RF/EMF from early radar-focused studies (1940's to the 1970's), later cell-phone-focused studies (1980's to the 2010's), current observations about autism and one realizes that wi-fi antennas and cell phone antennas are virtually identical, there are real reasons for concern.

The results from many of the studies are alarming.

  • Permanent DNA damage, creating precursors for tumors
  • Breast, testicular and ovarian tissue damage
  • Interruption of intra/intercellular communications
  • Leakage at both the colon and the blood-brain barrier
  • Toxins, pesticides and heavy metals deposit into one's brain
  • Weakens immune system & lowers melatonin & other hormones
  • Tachycardia, heart and circulatory problems: blood clumping (Rouleaux formations)
  • Decreased cognitive functions: attention-deficit, autism
  • Cancer: brain and soft tissue cancers

Scientists have been studying the effects of EMF and RF/EMF for a very long time. We have data points documenting ill health effects from EMFs experienced by telegraph operators back in the 1890's. The scientific research on RF/EMFs started in earnest in the late 1930's and 1940's because we were maiming our early radar operators - the folks who discovered that microwaves could melt a chocolate bar in one's pocket. The government had to establish some kind of safety guideline, so it picked the easiest one to measure: heat, a notion which has stuck for over 75 years, despite thousands of published scientific studies documenting a multitude of other biological effects casued by RF/EMF that are not related to heating.

About half of all the studies out there show significant health effects. The other half do not. Why? You have to read each study to know for sure, but a common strategy followed by wireless-industry-backed researchers is to design studies that end before the effective period of exposure: i.e, if it takes ten years to see an effect, the researchers/funders halt the study after five years and publish no effect. This happens all the time; these are the studies government agencies cite when the set their guidelines that balance economic benefit versus public health and safety.

On the issue of negative health effects caused by RF/EMF, the experts have not reached a consensus. There is no universal agreement, or said another way the research is not conclusive. When you hear the phrase "the research is not conclusive", do not think for a second that everything is fine. That would be a false and perhaps a very dangerous conclusion. It really means scientists do not agree, so be careful until they learn more.

Studies funded by the wireless industry report no effect 2/3's of the time, while studies funded by independent scientists show effects 2/3's of the time. How can that be? There is a very prevalent practice in the research world: please your funder by designing a study in such a way that you can show no effect and then get paid to field another study.

How much confidence should we place in the results of these industry-funded studies? According to the Italian Supreme Court in October 2012: none. The judge considered only independent research to award millions of dollars of damages to an Italian business man who suffered a brain tumor caused by the use of his cell phone.

One of the noteworthy conclusions of the Italian Supreme Court is its stated preference for the Lennart Hardell study over Interphone. The court cited Hardell's independence from industry funding, “unlike the IARC study,” which was partially paid for by cell phone manufacturers. The Supreme Court had acknowledged the presence of conflict of interest and thus business bias within ICNIRP, IARC and Interphone.

The implicit business biases in many of the studies tracking the health effects of RF/EMF muddies the science, by design. The wireless industry in trying to maximize its profits is certainly willing to damage individuals' health along the way. Sounds a lot like Big Tobacco all over again.

All Petaluma Students Are in the Test Group; There is No Control Group

Despite parents' specific written non-consent to ensure that their children will not face RF/EMF exposure in their classrooms, the PCSD has taken no action or made any plan to accommodate the needs of these students. There is not a single elementary school in all of Petaluma without RF/EMF exposure: the PCSD achieved this without any effective prior safety-testing, without parental notice and without informed consent. The District just did it — ignoring all of the existing and still applicable safety guidelines, approved by previous school boards:

  • Page 6 — Goal: Students, teachers, administrators and staff will practice appropriate and safe use of technology
  • Page 10 — Standard 2: Social, ethical, and human issues: Students develop positive attitudes toward technology uses that support lifelong learning, collaboration, personal pursuits, safety, and productivity.
  • Page 10 — Standard 2: Students practice responsible use of technology systems, information, and software.
  • Pages 12, 13 — 6.9,8.7,12.10: Use technology in a responsible and ethical manner.
  • Page 25 — Professional Development, Tier I: All teachers are able to use computers to safely enhance personal productivity
  • Page 25 — Professional Development, Tier I: Use technology equipment safely
  • Page 25 — Professional Development, Tier I: Understand technological issues involving safety practices, ethics, and equitable access

What should we now do about our children's school environments? Do you care about how much RF/EMF is in your kid's classroom every day or are you content to sit back and let the chips fall as they may over the next ten years? The evidence clearly shows that PCSD School Administrators are not thinking carefully about this; they are content to sit back and let the chips fall as they may — and put your kids at risk.

What Happens If the Petaluma City Schools District is Wrong?

Intelligent leaders carefully weigh the costs and benefits of many options before making decisions that will affect the well-being of their followers: in this case, the nearly 900 staff members and 7,500 students in the Petaluma City School District.

The Petaluma City School District is very willing to bet/guess on an outcome that is not at all certain. Let's fast-forward ten years and hypothesize that the RF/EMF issue has been fully researched and the results accepted by all. There are two options:

  • Option A: Wireless is proven safe and has no long-term health-impacts.
  • Option B: Wireless is proven unsafe and has needlessly caused many illnesses and cancers in the population.

Scenario 1: If the District bets/guesses on Option A and it turns out that Option B is the truth, then the District has needlessly inflicted irreparable harm on it students and staff — a very large price to pay.

Scenario 2: If the District bets/guesses on Option B and it turns that Option A is the truth, then the District has needlessly endured the inconvenience of purchasing wired devices and running wired networks — a very small price to pay.

This is the compelling argument: the downsides of being wrong are much greater for Scenario 1 than for Scenario 2 and we have no certainty of the eventual outcome of future research. In short, for our children, who have no choice in this matter, it is better to be safe than sorry.

If you are now convinced that parents need to do something to fix this problem, then please help. I think it is well worth the effort to protect our children's futures. Do you? If so, we need to work together to change some minds in our the Petaluma City School District.