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Readin’, Ritin’, Radiation

WiFi in school classrooms is the wave of the future, but critics warn that daylong exposure may not be the healthiest choice for our children

by Michael Bielawski on May 22, 2014 · 43 comments

 

Last Dec. 10, the Troy City School District Board of Education approved an $8.4 million technology initiative that includes installing wireless Internet in 250 classrooms. The move echoed a $10 million initiative at Shenendehowa School District in 2012. With the new Common Core State Standards Initiative being implemented in at least 35 states (including New York) this year, it could be inevitable that all schools, including those here in the Capital Region, will eventually implement Wi-Fi.

An excerpt from a districtadministration.com story on Common Core technology standards by Andrew Hermeling reads, “To meet these minimum requirements [of Common Core], district leaders are going to have to assess their bandwidth capabilities, their operating systems, the speed and number of machines required for testing, the quality and coverage of their wireless network, and both student and faculty familiarity with software and the digital testing environment.”

And it does seem like New York state is moving forward with the Wi-Fi in public schools. Here is an excerpt from a Power Point presentation at the April 8 Stillwater Board of Education meeting regarding Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Smart Schools bond referendum.

“The state will hold a public vote in November for permission to borrow $2 billion for school technology infrastructure, broadband or wireless connectivity, pre-kindergarten instructional space, and/or replacement of classroom trailers. Stillwater would receive approximately $856,000 from the bond. To receive these funds, the district would have to develop a detailed improvement plan and then put the proposal up for a local vote.”

Stillwater School District, which has been using Wi-Fi for years now, is getting new I-pads and/or Chromebooks (which require Wi-Fi for any online use). In March, Stillwater technology director Christopher Lynch spoke with The Express Newspaper of Mechanicville about the benefits of the technology in the classroom.

“Being able to capture text, music and pictures, the student becomes an authentic published visionary and creator of work. Moving stories inspire a deeper thought, and commitment to the work at hand. For example one minute of published movie a student may have over ten hours or more invested in research, creative thought, planning, and design. For many students this time invested is completely internally motivated.”

For the Stillwater board, Lynch demonstrated “augmented reality” by moving an I-pad screen around like a “virtual window” to examine a 3D model of the Mars rover Curiosity from different angles. It was a unique demonstration that must be seen to be appreciated, and it clearly requires Wi-Fi to work efficiently.

The push to embrace technology and implement Wi-Fi throughout our schools has gained such momentum that districts resisting the rush, such as the Waterford-Halfmoon Union Free School District, are barely noticed.

And that, according UAlbany Professor David Carpenter, director of the university’s Institute for Health and the Environment, is cause for concern.

“I’ve been sort of a spokesperson for this issue [of Wi-Fi health implications],” Carpenter says. “I can’t seem to escape it. I testified to the President’s [Obama’s] cancer panel three years ago, and I testified to the House of Representatives.” The professor also is outspoken on the subjects of fracking, electromagnetic fields from appliances and waste sites, wind turbines, and other environmental health topics.

He’s been studying radiation effects on children since the 1980s. “We confirmed the previous observations that children who live in homes that are very close to power lines are more likely to have leukemia,” he says. “There are now appearing studies of leukemia around cell phone towers and around radio transmission towers.”

Carpenter thinks that cell phone and Wi-Fi radiation are similar. “The exposure that you get from using Wi-Fi is exactly the same. I have Wi-Fi in my home; it’s not like I am vehemently opposed to Wi-Fi in all circumstances. But the issue with schools is that in an electronic computer room in a school where every kid has a wireless laptop, you are going to have a hotbed of radio frequency radiation. Every child in that room is going to get radio frequency radiation that at some level probably will be approaching that which they would get if they were on a cell phone.”

He does not think that tablets or Chromebooks are a good idea for Stillwater’s classrooms. “If they are going to be spending this kind of money on tablets, and five years from now it becomes very clear that there is a danger to the health of people using tablets instead of wired laptops, then they are going to have to spend all that money all over again.”

Carpenter believes that school administrators are in the dark on this topic. “They want to be contemporary with technology, and I don’t disagree with that at all,” he says. “I think it’s just not responsible for school administrators to implement a program that may put students at risk both of developing diseases like cancer and impairing their ability to learn, when there are alternatives [namely wired Internet] that don’t do that.”

Ray Pealer, a community health advocate living in Vermont who runs wifiiinschools.com, notes that while Wi-Fi advocates reference that school Wi-Fi routers function within FCC (Federal Communications Commission) safety standards, he thinks that those standards are inadequate. “They do not recognize any biological effects other than heat, despite thousands of peer-reviewed studies showing a myriad of other effects,” he says.

Former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) has criticized the FCC on what he sees as a revolving door between the industry and regulators. For example, the current FCC head, Tom Wheeler, is a former cell-phone industry lobbyist.

In 2012, Kucinich endorsed a bill requiring cell phones to have warnings similar to those on cigarette packs. “It’s not going to be easy to make the legislative process work in this case because of the enormous financial resources the industry has at its disposal,” he said in September 2012.

Radiation studies go back to at least 1932, when “microwave or radio sickness” was reported by the British NAVY as fatigue, insomnia, headaches, high susceptibility to infection and general anxiety. Carpenter adds that these concerns are amplified for kids. “There are reports of reduced ability for kids to learn, there appear to be some people that are particularly sensitive to radiation and respond by having headaches, fatigue, ringing in their ears.”

The World Health Organization has been studying the radiation effects on children since 2009; however it has no official recommended safety level for any age group. Pealer adds, “There is evidence, it’s growing that if you are younger then the risk is even greater than if you are older. That is a concern because these days every kid has a cell phone.”

Pealer references a Yale School of Medicine study indicating that wireless exposure causes ADD (attention deficit disorder) in mice. According to YaleNews, “Their conclusion was that exposure to radiation from cell phones during pregnancy effects the brain development of offspring, potentially leading to hyperactivity.” Another 2008 study at the University of California-Los Angeles, titled “Prenatal and Postnatal Exposure,” linked cell phone exposure with hyperactivity.

Not every study draws the conclusion that wireless is potentially dangerous to humans, including a recently released study in New Zealand indicating that Wi-Fi exposure to children is relatively harmless.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization officially classifies Wi-Fi radiation as a “possible carcinogen.” Carpenter explains that means Wi-Fi gets a three on a one-to-five scale. “Known is the strongest, then probable, then possible, then not, and finally unclassifiable.” Other IARC possible carcinogens include asbestos, lead, paint, and DDT.

“It means that the evidence is suggestive but not absolutely definitive,” says Carpenter. “There is evidence that people exposed to high radio frequency fields are more likely to develop cancer. But they can’t quite say that the cancer was caused by those fields because that evidence is still being looked at. And that evidence is primarily from studying cell phones.”

The professor further compares cell phone studies to Wi-Fi. “The difference is that most people don’t stay on a cell phone more than 10 minutes, maybe. Sitting in a classroom, you can be there all day. What we are concerned about is both the intensity and the duration.” He notes that school Wi-Fi routers are advertised as “industrial strength,” stronger than home routers because they service more computers.

A report in 1971 by the U.S. Naval Medical Research Institute, obtained through the Freedom of Information Law, suggests that the wireless industry may be withholding information about potential danger. An excerpt reads, “If the more advanced nations of the West are strict in enforcement of stringent exposure standards, there could be unfavorable effects an industrial output and military functions.” The NMRI documented more than 2,300 research articles citing more than 120 illnesses associated with non-ionizing (non-heating) microwave radiation.

Carpenter says that the most practical solution is to use cables. “No one is going to deny that kids should be using technology and the Internet. A wired computer lab gives you no exposure whatsoever to radio frequency radiation. From my judgment, there is just no reason to go to a wireless school computer lab.”

Pealer says that we can use hands-free devices for our cell phones, and use line phones instead of DECT (digital enhanced cordless telecommunications) cordless phones, which emit radiation even when not in use. He also recommends that people who are regularly exposed to these technologies take supplements such as vitamin C, ginseng and antioxidants to counter radiation effects.

More government regulation might be a hard sell in the United States, but some European nations have taken steps to ban or limit cell phone use among children, and the Council of Europe has recommended that Wi-Fi be banned from all schools in Europe. San Francisco is considering putting warning labels (like those proposed by Kucinich) on cell phones.

Carpenter warns against becoming too paranoid. “I think that one has to have some perspective, as one cannot avoid all the different things that could be dangerous. If you can do things that decrease your exposure that are not expensive, that are not terribly difficult, even if the evidence for how dangerous it is still somewhat debatable. It’s still stupid not to do that.”

Pealer counters that some of us aren’t paranoid enough. “A lot of people, when they hear the term ‘research,’ they disqualify themselves. Also because wireless technology is so popular, people are so addicted to it, that they don’t really want to look at the issue.”

“My public responsibility is to protect people from getting sick even if we don’t have all of the answers of what the mechanism is,” concludes Carpenter, “In this situation, I think it is extremely unsafe to go to Wi-Fi in schools. Of all places, schools should be the last.”

 

 

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Corey May 28, 2014 at 2:02 pm

I wonder how people posting here avoid the RF radiation being emitted from their computers? And, the network cables. And the cable modem/DSL router.

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Carl May 28, 2014 at 11:25 pm

Corey, computer components (motherboard, display, hard drive, optical drives) emit low frequency electronic and magnetic fields – very different animal than RF (radio frequency radiation) from wi-fi, cell phones, cell towers/transmitters etc . The original Cable and DSL modems do not emit any RF (radio frequency radiation). The newer Cable/DSL modem routers have built-in wi-fi transmitters emit RF. I have no wi-fi, no cordless phones in my house.

The most sensitive people on the planet are affected by the LF fields coming off a computer or laptop – I know a few individuals who are this sensitive.

Network cables are not a problem – they are shielded.

I had a friend who does EMF testing for a living over re-testing my place a couple of weeks ago. I can feel my next door neighbours’ wi-fi 80 feet away – I get three bars when I turn my laptop’s wi-fi receiver on but he gets background readings on his Gigahertz solutions RF meter. The newer “N” standard wi-fi routers have a range of up to 1000 feet.

If a faint signal is strong enough to be detected on a wireless device, it’s strong enough to disrupt the micro currents in cells – the threshold for sensitivity is minute because it’s not dependent on heating of the tissue (Kositsky 2001).

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Corey May 30, 2014 at 8:19 pm

looooooool

Computers produce RF all over the emf spectrum. And, you think CAT5 cables are shielded? loooooool Try running a network cable near a fluorescent tube.

And, cable modems and DSL routers cause HF hash over MANY bands.

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joe imbriano May 31, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Distance to the source, frequency, power levels- all no comparison to the devices being deployed that utilize this strategic frequency.

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Joe May 29, 2014 at 5:03 am

I’ve always thought that Wifi and similar devices can cause problems and various health risks. The question is, when can we expect definitive proof that this is actually the case?

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Joe Imbriano May 30, 2014 at 5:47 pm
Maureen May 29, 2014 at 3:22 pm

It’s EASY to avoid RF microwave radiation. Turn off WiFi, Bluetooth and your cell phone. Use an Ethernet cable to your modem/router and get a corded phone land line. DONE.

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Joe Imbriano May 29, 2014 at 7:41 pm
DOUBTING THOMAS May 30, 2014 at 4:04 pm

“Carpenter explains that means Wi-Fi gets a three on a one-to-five scale. “Known is the strongest, then probable, then possible, then not, and finally unclassifiable.” Other IARC possible carcinogens include asbestos, lead, paint, and DDT.”

What Carpenter does not explain is that other ‘possible’ carcinogens include nickel (found in stainless steel), coffee, vinyl, woodworking, engine exhaust – and dozens of other agents that people contact every day. In addition, there are other ‘known’ carcinogens, including sunlight, smoking and alcohol – that people are routinely exposed to. So what does it mean?

Immediately following the IARC classification of electromagnetic fields, WHO issued a factsheet (#193), that concluded: “To date, research does not suggest any consistent evidence of adverse health effects from exposure to radiofrequency fields at levels below those that cause tissue heating.” Obviously, the meaning of ‘possible’ is ‘not impossible’ – no more, and no less than that!
“The world renowned Dr. David Carpenter” has perhaps misunderstood the full meaning of the IARC classification. Could this be because he has no credentials or experience in researching the health effects of RF-EMF exposure?

Carpenter may be well intentioned in raising concerns, but being an MD without a license to practice medicine, does not qualify him as an expert in anything. It’s just another fringe opinion without a strong scientific foundation. And, well outside the mainstream of scientific thought!

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Joe Imbriano June 5, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Mr. Whitney, here is to the MD’s and fortunately for you, you are not one of them http://thefullertoninformer.com/a-picture-of-the-universe-as-we-know-it/

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david May 30, 2014 at 6:28 pm

Obama thinks enough of DR. Carpenter to have him as an adviser on his cancer panel. I think that speaks to your cynicism. Your position is indefensible now. The Who fact sheet is meaningless. the EPA tried to classify RF as a class 1 human carcinogen and had their jurisdiction removed and handed to the FCC which is in the hands of the telecom industries.
The Class 2B was a compromise, there are many industry insiders at foot within the ranks of the WHO. Cognitive dissonance won’t save anybody from a brain tumor or their children from autism. This is microwave RADIATION. Key word, “RADIATION” you can parse words, sow doubt but in the end it is still the same carcinogen. Other Class 2B’s are lead, chloroform, DDT

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DOUBTING THOMAS May 31, 2014 at 5:47 am

David seems to be conflating health effects with biological effects in order to reach his illogical conclusion. A biological effect occurs when a change can be measured in a biological system after the introduction of a stimulus – like a sound, touch or smell – or exposure to EMF. A biological effect, in and of itself, does not necessarily suggest the existence of a health effect. Even normal cognition (thinking) can lead to biological effects. But, a biological effect only becomes a health effect when it causes detectable impairment of health.

The chemical reactions that keep our cells alive produce about 1 Watt of power for each kilogram of body weight when the body is at rest. Vigorous exercise, a fever, hot drinks, or your metabolism can increase this power by 10 to 15 times. When exercising, up to 15 Watts per kilogram would appear throughout the body. Meanwhile, the maximum permitted environmental exposure to RF-EMF is limited to .08 Watts per kilogram of body weight. The equivalent power density measure would be 10 Watts per square meter.
For perspective, you should appreciate that electromagnetic radiation of direct sunlight exposure is about 1,400 Watts per square meter. Furthermore, the energy of UV from the sun is about 6 orders of magnitude (a million times) higher than EMF in the microwave frequency range.

The conclusion is obvious: EMF exposure at FCC guideline levels is absolutely trivial compared to EMF naturally occurring in the environment; and it is quite implausible that low level radio signals from Wi-Fi, Smart Meter & cell phone systems and devices could penetrate the human body with sufficient energy to have functional consequences for body processes which operate at much higher energy levels.

Current exposure limits are consistent with science-based standards used in other parts of the world (e.g., Canada, the European Union, Japan, Australia and New Zealand). FCC limits are among the most conservative science-based limits in the world.

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david May 31, 2014 at 12:02 pm

black is white and white is black. show me your science. I have put it out in the comment field. refute the science. it’s all there.
you don’t know what you are talking about and are using double speak and false alice in wonderland logic to try and diffuse what is out there. you couldn’t have looked at any of the science. also, this is a waste of time. why then does the u.s. have the highest exposure limits in the world? 100x’s higher than russia?
i won’t waste any more time on this. you people work on corralling us into wasting our time in arguments.

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DOUBTING THOMAS June 2, 2014 at 8:13 am

David, I have checked out your science references and now I am convinced. Convinced that you have not checked them out; or did not understand them or their significance. Do you not know how to use internet search engines?

Take your Daniel Hirsch reference, for example. Googling reveals that this hero of yours has no science qualifications at all. He is a ‘social policy lecturer’ at a liberal arts college – and his article is not peer reviewed or published in a science journal. Furthermore, his ‘evidence’ has been evaluated by real engineers and scientists from the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, and found to be quite erroneous.

As a rare book merchant, I thought you would have understood the need to check the provenance of the goods you are peddling. It’s no different for the evidence you rely upon – check its authenticity.

Fear and ignorance is a poor substitute for genuine scholarship!

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Joe Imbriano June 2, 2014 at 4:11 pm

Mr. Whitney-Fear and ignorance are what paralyzes people. The studies on the eggs are under lock and key. Are the children are being sterilized? http://thefullertoninformer.com/the-inconvenient-truth-of-the-wireless-agenda/

Remaining willfully ignorant and fearful of standing up for them is far from being a poor substitute for genuine scholarship, it is being a willful participant in an unprecedented holocaust. Maybe your worldview entails such.

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joe imbriano May 31, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Biological effects can be found by studying a dose response to a specific tissue. Where are the studies on the eggs? Under lock and key as these devices are deployed in every child’s lap in every classroom in the nation. They dont hide their agenda. As a matter of fact it is right in your face. http://thefullertoninformer.com/the-wireless-agenda-purloining-their-fecundity-the-next-generation-betrayed-enslaved-and-ending-up-depraved/

The body produces the power it needs at the right voltage the right frequency and at the right time for the exact duration as necessary. What is the atmospheric opacity of the planet with respect to microwaves? is there a reason that it is what it is? You just have a little too much science based medicine, Lorne Trottier, and establishment indoctrination for your own good. Governments are killing their own people like they have done for centuries. The only difference is now they are taking their time, not hiding it by doing it with implied consent, and making people fight for the right to keep it going. Inject irradiate and stay tuned to 2.45 GHz -while the brains and eggs are being slowly electrocuted. Look at the children in the eyes-they are not the same. The vitality is going away. Look at the lines at the fertility clinics. They know and they knew, you need to believe.

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david May 31, 2014 at 2:26 pm
christine May 31, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Thankyou for such an informative article, last week in the adelaide australian newspaper a reader wrote in to the “whats the problem” page 69 advertiser.com.au thursday may 29th 2014 section enquring if there were any health concerns associated with close proximity to a wifi antenna, the answer was “quoted from the WHO in that it was unproven and unlikey but that public anxiety itself was an important issue. I have been trying to write a reply and your article has helped me do so. So i thank you for this.

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Minerva Murzyn June 2, 2014 at 2:52 am

One see the results of the latest research studies on the harmful radiation on the users. http://researchandstudy.uta.fi/2014/05/27/radiation-effects-not-yet-taken-seriously/comment-page-1/#comment-3319

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