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Dear MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith- Time to Protect Students Not Promote Pollution

Dear Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith, I am writing to you on an important issue regarding our children’s hea...

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

"We cannot afford to experiment in this manner on our children and grandchildren" writes Ellie Marks, Director of the California Brain Tumor Association, to Montgomery County Schools

"In 2008 my seemingly healthy 56 year old husband had a grand mal seizure and diagnosis of a lethal brain tumor. Ironically our son worked for Senator Ted Kennedy in his private office. Just 10 days after my husband’s diagnosis the Senator suffered the same fate. His family felt it was his cell phone that caused his tumor and subsequent death but they chose to keep that quiet."

Dear Dr. Andrew Zuckerman and Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education,

I am the Director of the California Brain Tumor Association and I am writing to you because I have recently become aware that your school district is making decisions on how to respond to the health risks of cellphones and wireless radiation. I am appreciative of your interest in this serious topic.

In 2008 my seemingly healthy 56 year old husband had a grand mal seizure and diagnosis of a lethal brain tumor. Ironically our son worked for Senator Ted Kennedy in his private office. Just 10 days after my husband’s diagnosis the Senator suffered the same fate. His family felt it was his cell phone that caused his tumor and subsequent death but they chose to keep that quiet. However, our son knew and was concerned as my husband was an early adopter of a cell phone and used it often holding it to the side of the head where his glioma grew. My research began immediately and later that year I testified to the United States Congress and in the years following have appeared on many television and radio programs. Many others have reached out to me that had lost loved ones to cancers related to wireless radiation.. All were far younger than my husband- the youngest was a 12 year old boy who died from a brain tumor after keeping the iPad on under his pillow for a year.

After hearing from so many who were suffering,  my son and I founded the California Brain Tumor Association. I have traveled the world to meet with scientists to educate myself on the health effects of wireless radiation. We have worked extensively on prevention. We also work on legislation to advise consumers at the point of sale as to the distance information the industry hides in the manuals or deep within the phone. We recently helped get legislation passed in Berkeley, CA whereby cell phone retailers must inform customers that: To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radiofrequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely. The telecom industry sued and hired the notorious Ted Olson to represent them. Berkeley prevailed in court and the law goes into effect this month. Many other cities, states and nations are considering adopting similar laws.

I took the time to read the Montgomery County School District’s detailed information page on Radiofrequency Radiation and I would like to provide you some comments.

First, In the FAQs Section there is a response to the question of the potential cancer risk from cellphones and your provided information currently states that the IARC carcinogenic conclusion was based on 1,640 hours or more of cellphone use a year. This is not true. In fact, the research studies that the IARC is referring to corresponds to 1,640 cumulative use equivalent to about 30 minutes a day of cell phone use over ten years.

The Montgomery County Page then states that applying this carcinogenic classification to wireless “does not accurately represent the intention of the classification.” I myself had this question of the intention of the classification as well.  I have an email from Robert Bann, the Secretary of the International Agency for the Research on Cancer that clarifies the answer to that question. Robert Bann stated that, ”So the classification 2B, possibly carcinogenic, holds for all types of radiation within the radiofrequency part of the electromagnetic spectrum, including the radiation emitted by base-station antennas, radio/TV towers, radar, Wi-Fi, smart meters, etc.” Thus, in fact, the classification does apply to wireless networks as the radiation is the same type- radio frequency radiation (RF-EMF).

While cell phone use clearly results in more of this radiation into the brain of the user, wireless laptop use would also result in children being exposed to not just their brain, but chest and abdominal area (reproductive organs).  Many research studies show adverse effects at extremely low levels. What will be the health effect on children who will be exposed at such an early age, and for so many years? We cannot afford to experiment in this manner on our children and grandchildren. DDT is in the same WHO category- we would not spray DDT on them daily!
Just because it is invisible and is a valuable technology that does not mean it is harmless.
I understand that the radiofrequency measuring your district completed this year shows that the radiofrequency radiation levels in schools are “FCC compliant”. However, compliance with eighteen-year-old outdated FCC regulations has no bearing on the health risks to the students and staff, especially pregnant staff.  According to experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the FCC regulations do not consider children’s vulnerabilities. Furthermore, cancer can have a very long latency period so we may not know the true health impacts from such daily low level exposure for another decade.  Many scientists recommend reducing exposure as low as reasonably possible- the ALARA principle. In a classroom setting this means hardwiring the technology.  FCC compliance is not proof of safety.

While the Berkeley Ordinance mentioned earlier is specific to cell phones, there are similar fine print instructions on all wireless devices such as laptops and tablets as well- again they are well hidden.. Laptops are tested at 20 cm or 8 inches from the body so any closer could result in radiation levels that exceed already outdated FCC regulation. I should note that adhering to  these distances does not ensure safety for children as the distances are based on outdated so-called safety standards that only protect from thermal damage to DNA. Thousands of studies have shown damage at non thermal levels- the exposure limits are meaningless.

Children are known to absorb this radiation deeper than adults so they are more at risk and vulnerable to the adverse health effects and it is especially important that they and their parents are aware of this information. Parents and teachers are unable to monitor children to ensure they are not leaning into the laptop or crowding around the devices or placing them on laps and so they cannot ensure that children follow even these distances. Also there is science proving there is second hand radiation from these devices. Thus a child in a classroom is not only exposed to wireless radiation from the wireless access points but also from the other tablets being used in the room.  A hardwired connection is the safe solution. The children can still take advantage of using the internet as an educational tool but not be exposed to a possible carcinogen (without their consent) while at school.

Research shows that the statistically significant association between cell phone use and brain cancer is even more increased for people who started using cell phones at younger ages. The County could do immeasurable good and in fact help save lives by helping to reduce radiofrequency radiation to students and by teaching them safer ways to use technology. My colleagues and I are happy to help educate administrators, staff, parents and students about how to protect oneself in a wireless society.

Thank you so much for considering my comments,
Ellie Marks
California Brain Tumor Association

Download This Letter HERE

Watch Ellie Marks and her husband tell their story in a 
 San Francisco Press Conference  with other people who have cell phone connected brain cancer in this video below. 

Read About Ellie Marks in the News Here

San Francisco Chronicle,  September 2015: San Francisco woman’s crusade against cell-phone industry" No one appreciates the significance of a federal judge’s ruling in favor of Berkeley’s cell-phone-warning law more than Ellie Marks."

"Judge suggests he may side with most of Berkeley’s cell phone law"
Bob Egelko, San Francisco Gate, Aug 20, 2015

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