The Health Risks of Wireless Internet in Schools
A Letter by A Montgomery County Public School Alumni 9/16/2015
This was written by a 2014 MCPS Graduate (Now In College ) who got informed on the issue by some Safe Tech for Schools Maryland parents during the summer of 2015.
Dear Mr. Sherwin Collette, MCPS Board of Education, Administrators, Parents, Teachers and Community,
Montgomery County Maryland Public Schools Chief Technology Officer Sherwin Collette recently responded to a parent’s concerns about the health risks of Wi-Fi. Mr. Collette based the crux of his defense of current MCPS wireless technology policy on purported compliance with FCC radio frequency radiation exposure guidelines. However, organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Department of Interior (DOI) have all condemned the current guidelines (which have not been revised since 1996) as inadequate, since the guidelines are based on studies which;
- Only measure the effects of short-term exposure to wireless radiation (unlike the nearly constant exposure children in MCPS schools receive),
- Do not consider the effects of exposure on particularly vulnerable populations such as children, and,
- Only consider tissue heating caused by the radiation, a measure now considered an inappropriate gauge of the potentially adverse health consequences of wireless radiation.
A recently published Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine study has strongly linked wireless radiation exposure to increased oxidative stress in cells, a known health hazard and well associated with diseases such as cancer and neurodegenerative illnesses. As the Harvard Center for Ethics recently published book on the issue states, the FCC “has not changed course despite the IARC classification of cell phones as possibly carcinogenic, despite the recent studies showing triple the glioma risk for heavy users, despite the floodtide of research showing biological effects.” Indeed, the FCC continues to base its guidelines only on protection against thermal heating.The 19 year old FCC guidelines completely ignore biological effects from low level “non heating” levels. “It only hurts you if it cooks you,” the FCC says.
Furthermore, Collette's letter suggests that because Public Health England and Health Canada have similar wireless technology policies, those espoused by MCPS must of course be safe. Yet Collette neglects the facts that Health Canada's approach has been vehemently criticized by the Canadian Parliament's Standing Committee on Health and the Canadian Medical Association Journal; that Public Health England's policy has been denounced as unsafe by leaders of Britain's Education Professionals Union The Voice, and Association of Teachers, and Lecturers and over 100 scientists who stated that Canada’s standards are “flawed, obsolete and did not protect Canadians”.
Why did Mr. Collette not mention European Union? The European Parliament issued Resolution 1815 expressing grave concerns regarding long-term wireless exposure, particularly for children, and it specifically recommended that all European nations take steps to reduce wireless exposure in schools.
Collette quotes the World Health Organization in attempting to prove the unequivocal safety of wireless technology, yet neglects that the WHO itself classifies wireless radiation as a Class 2B possible human carcinogen, and that over 200 scientists around the world have petitioned the WHO to take immediate urgent action on wireless radiation. Countries like Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Spain have taken significant steps to limit exposure to wireless radiation in schools. France has gone as far passing a law to ban wireless from nursery schools across the nation, turn wireless off in elementary schools as the default setting recommending wired connections rather than wireless technology. Israel also bans Wireless for the younger grades , drastically limits hours of wifi exposures, and recommends wired not wi-fi.
With so many around the world taking such action, how can the argument that we must accept wireless radiation as safe simply because a select few other institutions do so stand? Ultimately, this question amounts to whether to blindly follow the dictums of a bureaucratic organization not even specialized in public health (the FCC), or to step back and look at the situation with some common sense. While the pressures to adopt new, more "advanced" technologies may be strong often to the point of overwhelming, and in no small way influenced by the financial incentives of the technology industry, we must critically assess whether these technologies are really best for the welfare of our children and society before fully embracing them.
While the technology will not go away, the opportunity to protect the health of our children will never come back. We have a choice. Schools across the nation and worldwide have taken steps to reduce the risk of wireless radiation, recognizing that we ought to err on the side of caution when our children's safety is at stake.
We as a county can choose to dispassionately undertake similar precautions, or to dogmatically cling to the outdated guidelines of a single federal organization and the doctrine that what's new is always better. The decision's implications for the future are tremendous.
A 2014 MCPS High School Graduate Now In College
This was written after becoming informed on the issue by some Safe Tech for Schools Maryland parents during the summer of 2015.
MCPS staff attended a scientific lecture at George Washington University. A Safe Tech Maryland parent asked a question in the Q and A session about the safety of wireless in schools. See the answer by Dr. Carlo in this 2 minute video.
In response to Mr. Collette's letter (see above), Safe Tech for Schools Maryland parents wrote the following response:
Dear MCPS Board of Education, Parents, Teachers, Staff, Administrators and Community,
We have enough evidence to justify taking action and we are not willing to wait until our members, their children and the students suffer health consequences from not doing anything,"
Mr. Collette, the MCPS Chief Technology Officer, wrote to Safe Tech for Schools Maryland (STSM) on August 4, 2015. In that letter Mr. Collette gave MCPS’s response to some of the concerns raised by parents of STSM. Although this took months to receive, we appreciate his response. Unfortunately, this response includes serious factual mischaracterizations. We are deeply concerned about MCPS’s profound misunderstanding of wireless radiation in the school environment and the health implications for the over 150,000 students entrusted to MCPS. We are responding point by point to MCPS’s letter given the seriousness of these errors.
Every statement by The Office of Technology is met with facts that all parents and staff should know.