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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...

Friday, April 28, 2017

School Board Candidate Raises Wireless Health Threat As The Most Pressing Issue Today For Students

David Morrison's full response to Portland school board candidate questionnaire in Oregon Live News 

What inspired you to run for the board?
My experience with PPS boards, with a few exceptions, has been disappointing in responding to critical safety issues. Chronic microwave exposure in schools has been shown, through scores of peer reviewed scientific studies, to lead to hundreds of immediate biological effects.
We need an unbiased critical review of our reliance on technology as a teaching tool.   There are now over 200 studies on technology in education that have shown negative effects on learning and cognition. Adolescent mental health problems have exploded by 50% in the last 10 years. Increasing numbers of children are being medicated for depression, anxiety and ADD.

What is the single most pressing issue facing Portland Public Schools and why?
The single most pressing issue that nobody can reasonably argue, is the safety of students, teachers and school staff. Students are exposed to seven hours of radio frequency microwave radiation from industrial strength wi-fi routers daily for as long as they are in school.
Despite widespread perception that wireless technology is safe, there is no regulatory agency of the government or corporation claiming wireless technology is safe.
No wireless device was ever pre-market safety tested leaving the technology industry unable to get liability insurance. School boards, in all probability, will be liable for damages from future lawsuits. 
Read the full news article here 

Worcester Massachuttsetts School District Drafts Warning on Wireless Devices

WORCESTER – The school district could soon warn families to take precautions against exposure to wireless Internet radiation, after a school standing committee this week approved a set of recommendations developed by the administration.
The new guidelines, which still must be approved by the full School Committee at its meeting Thursday, encourage technology users to avoid keeping cellphones, tablets and laptops close to their body, and to turn off the wireless connectivity on those devices when not using the internet.
The full list of recommendations, comprising five bullet points, will be posted to the district’s Web site and distributed to students in handouts later this school year should the committee give its OK, according to John Monfredo, vice chairman of the committee’s Teaching, Learning and Student Supports Standing Committee, which adopted the safety tips at its meeting Monday.
While health organizations have asserted extensive research into the matter has not produced any solid evidence that non-ionizing radiation given off by smartphones and Wi-Fi routers is harmful to humans, Mr. Monfredo said the school system still should make parents aware of any potential dangers.
“We don’t want, 10 years from now, to find out there was something we should have done,” he said. “We live in the 21st century. We know technology will continue to grow ... but we can’t be blind to the fact it may cause some problems.”
Hardly any school districts have officially considered electromagnetic radiation an issue, however. In the region, the Ashland schools were the first to implement recommended best practices for mobile devices, which some Worcester school officials have used as a basis to explore developing their own.

Victory in Spain: Two Year Fight To Remove Vodaphone Cell Antennas Near A School

"Today in Spain we have the news of the triumph of reason over greed. An antenna near a school has been dismantled. The fight has lasted two years."

Read the parent blog here http://noantenasmarianao.blogspot.com.es

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Dr. Ronald Powell's Letter To Maryland Teacher Union About Their Report Which "Minimizes The Risk" of Cell Towers on School Grounds

Subject: MSEA Analysis of the Health Effects of Cell Towers on School Grounds Understates the Health Risks

April 27, 2017

TO:   Maryland State Education Association (MSEA)
Betty Weller, President
Cheryl Bost, Vice President
Bill Fisher, Treasurer
Maura Taylor, Executive Assistant
Angela Booker, Assistant
Executive Director
David Helfman, Executive Director
Michelle Alexander, Member-at-Large
Richard Benfer, Member-at-Large
Joseph Coughlin, Member-at-Large
Jason Fahie, Member-at-Large
Anna Gannon, Member-at-Large
Lori Hrinko, Member-at-Large
David Nicholson, Member-at-Large
Ted Payne, Member-at-Large
Doug Prouty, Member-at-Large
Deborah Schaefer, Member-at-Large
Rowena Shurn, Member-at-Large
NEA Directors
Jacob Bauer Zebley, NEA Director
Doug Lea, NEA Director
Russell Leone, NEA Director
Dear MSEA Leaders,

My respects to all of you for your efforts to provide the best education possible for all of Maryland's children.

I am writing to you because I have just read a document on the MSEA web site called "New Business Item 14-05:  Analysis of Cell Towers on Public School Property in Maryland", dated May 2015.  If I understand correctly, this document was prepared at the direction of the MSEA.
As a scientist (Ph.D., Applied Physics), I was concerned to find that this document reflects multiple misunderstandings about the effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (RF) on biological systems.  RF is emitted by all wireless devices, including cell towers and cell phones.  Below, I list just some of the generic short comings in the MSEA analysis:
  • The MSEA analysis cites only three biomedical research papers, selected apparently to show a lack of evidence of biological effects from RF.  But in reality there are THOUSANDS of papers published by the international biomedical research community that have contributed to our understanding of the biological effects of RF.
  • The MSEA analysis cites none of the massive reviews of the biological research literature on the biological effects of RF.  Nor does the MSEA analysis cite the fact that the conclusions reached in those massive reviews indicate that RF, including cellular radiation specifically, presents significant biological risks.  Each of those massive reviews addresses hundreds to thousands of archival biomedical research papers.
  • The MSEA analysis relies heavily on comparisons of the strength of RF to the exposure limits set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  But those FCC limits are based on a false assumption that the only adverse biological effects produced by RF are caused by excessive heating from such exposure.  Those FCC limits do not protect against the biological effects caused by exposure to lower levels of RF on a chronic basis.  Such chronic exposure is the type produced by cell towers, which transmit continuously, 24 hours per day, every day of the year.
  • The MSEA analysis needs updating.  For example, the three papers cited in the MSEA analysis are all from 2010.  By that year, more than enough information had been published by the international biomedical research community to show that RF poses risks to health.  But in the seven years since then, even more biomedical research papers of relevance have been published and have further increased our understanding of the seriousness of those risks.
  • The MSEA analysis provides partial discussions of key concerns, while omitting the most important facts.  For example:
  • In the discussion of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the conclusion reached by that organization in 2011 is omitted.  That conclusion was that RF, including specifically cellular radiation, was classified as a Group 2B carcinogen, which means a "possible human carcinogen".
  • In the discussion of damage to DNA, RF is said to be unable to cause cancer because it cannot damage DNA by ionization.  Omitted from that discussion is the fact that ionization is not the only mechanism by which DNA can be damaged.  The international biomedical research community is working hard to determine how radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation damages DNA and is making progress.
For a broader overview of the relationship between RF and health, please see the attached two documents.  Each document will point you to multiple references that dig deeper.
You should know about a new report, just issued in December 2016 by the Maryland Children's Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council (CEHPAC).  The Council advises Maryland's Governor on the health of the environment in Maryland's schools.  The CEHPAC report recommends that Wi-Fi be phased out of Maryland's schools because of the health risks that Wi-Fi presents.  In this report, CEHPAC indicates that it will next address cell phones in the schools.
Whatever the status of the use of Wi-Fi and other wireless devices in Maryland's schools, adding to the RF in the schools by installing cell towers on school grounds is very much to be avoided.

Any payments offered to a school by the providers of cell towers, as inducements to accept the cell towers, pale in comparison to the health risks for everyone in the schools and for everyone in the surrounding communities.

If interest persists in having a cell tower on the grounds of a particular school, despite the health risks, I hope that the school involved will consider the following three suggestions.  The assistance of an attorney would be advisable for the second and third suggestions which affect the terms in the contract with the provider of the cell tower:
  • INSIST that the company providing the cell tower give the school written, and signed, documentation proving the safety of the cell tower for the health of children and adults.  The documentation should be provided 6 months in advance of any decision by the school to proceed, in order to provide time for review by experts on the impact of RF on health.  Remember that the burden of proof of safety is on the company providing the cell tower.  There is no burden of proof on the school to prove that the cell tower is not safe.
  • INSIST that the contract with the company providing the cell tower acknowledges that the company accepts liability for all harm done to the health of anyone caused by the RF that the cell tower produces.
  • INSIST that the contract with the company providing the cell tower states that the company will remove the cell tower, and all supporting equipment, from the school grounds, at no cost or penalty to the school, if the SCHOOL later determines that the cell tower presents a health risk.
If the company providing the cell tower insists that the cell tower is safe but WON'T accept the above three requirements, then you will have your answer about how confident the company is that the RF from the cell tower is truly safe.

For the sake of the health of the children in our schools, the health of the faculty and staff in our schools, and the health of the community surrounding our schools, DO REJECT the installation of cell towers on school grounds.

There is no need to make a mistake as tragic as permitting the installation of cell towers on school grounds.  There is no reason that our children should be subject to an uncontrolled biological experiment for which the unhappy outcome is already known, in return for money.  There is no reason for our schools to become viewed as hostile by parents and surrounding communities, as public awareness of the health risks of RF, and cell towers as sources of RF, continues to increase.

Please feel free to share this message and the attached two papers with anyone you wish.  And thank you for your attention.

Who am I?

I am a retired U.S. Government career scientist (Ph.D., Applied Physics, Harvard University, 1975).  During my Government career, I worked for the Executive Office of the President of the United States, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  For those organizations, respectively, I addressed Federal research and development program evaluation, energy policy research, and measurement development in support of the electronics and electrical-equipment industries and the biomedical research community.  I currently interact with other scientists and with physicians around the world on the impact of electromagnetic fields on human health.


Ronald M. Powell, Ph.D.
20316 Highland Hall Drive
Montgomery Village, MD  20886-4007
United States of America
E-mail:  ronpowell@verizon.net
Tel:   (301) 926-7568

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

EFF Survey Reveals Gaps in Protecting the Privacy of K-12 Students Using School-Issued Devices and Cloud Apps

Today, EFF released its report titled "Spying on Students Ed Tech". It includes results from a national parents survey: 

EFF Survey Reveals Gaps in Protecting the Privacy of K-12 Students Using School-Issued Devices and Cloud Apps

“They are collecting and storing data to be used against my child in the future, creating a profile before he can intellectually understand the consequences of his searches and digital behavior."
This was the response of one parent to an online survey EFF conducted to learn more about the use of mobile devices and cloud services in K-12 classrooms across the country—so called education technology or “ed tech.”

The report is organized around 6 themes: 
  1. Lack of transparency: Schools and districts do not provide adequate notice and disclosures to parents about what technology their children use in the classroom, including devices and online applications that require transferring student information to private companies.
  2. Investigative burden: Parents and even students themselves put in significant effort, sometimes over many months, to get information from both schools/districts and ed tech companies, about technology use in the classroom and its implications for student privacy. 
  3. Data collection and use: Parents are concerned about the specific data about their children that ed tech companies collect, and what companies do with that data, particularly for non-educational, commercial purposes and without written notice to and consent from parents.
  4. Lack of standard privacy precautions: Survey participants reported 152 apps, software programs, and digital services being used in classrooms. Only 118 of these have published privacy policies online. And far fewer address important privacy issues such as data retention, encryption, and data de-identification and aggregation.
  5. Barriers to opt-out: Many schools and districts do not provide the ability for parents to opt their children out of using certain technologies. Or if administrators are open to providing an opt-out option, many parents and students have found it difficult to make alternative technologies and teaching methods a reality.
  6. Shortcomings of “Privacy by Policy”: Survey participants expressed doubt that the privacy policies of both schools/districts and ed tech companies actually protect student privacy in practice.
  7. Inadequate technology and privacy training for teachers: Survey participants emphatically reported that teachers, those who interface most directly with ed tech and students, lack adequate training to move from “privacy by policy” to “privacy by practice.”
  8. Digital literacy for students: Survey results revealed that there is a ripe opportunity and need to educate students about how to protect their privacy online, operate safely online, and generally be savvy users of technology, which are skills that they should carry into adulthood.

MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith Refers to Outdated FCC Limits as "Safe" Despite No Proof Of Safety.

Please read this letter from Superintendent Jack Smith.

Screen Save of pertinent section from this letter.

Click Here To Read The Full Letter

In response we state that FCC regulations do not protect the public. 
Why is MCPS hanging onto outdated regulations?
Why is MCPS statin that FCC limits are "safe" when there is no proof of safety and countless organizations state concerns about these limits?

See this excerpt from Comments by Scientists to the State of Maryland:
"As the US EPA has detailed, FCC regulations were set intending to protect from thermal effects only and not intending to protect from non-thermal effects from long-term chronic exposures. Since, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for the Research on Cancer classified radiofrequency radiation as a Class 2 B Carcinogen in 2011, evidence has significantly increased that long-term radiofrequency radiation exposure causes cancer. It has been scientifically demonstrated that adverse biological effects can occur at non-thermal levels of radiofrequency fields. A recent animal study performed by the National Toxicology Program in the United States found an increased incidence of cancer and increased DNA damage in rats with prolonged exposure to radiofrequency fields that were too weak to increase temperature. Importantly, these adverse effects (and other effects now well documented in scientific literature) occurred at levels below those that cause “thermal” injury, contrary to what had long been espoused by the FCC. Therefore, FCC regulations do not provide adequate protection for children as the regulations do not account for biological effects at these non-thermal levels.  
The American Academy of Pediatrics has long called on the federal government to inform the public and to strengthen FCC limits because children are more vulnerable to radiofrequency radiation exposures due to their unique anatomy and physiology, and rapid development. Considering that children will have a lifetime of exposure, it is critically important to reduce childhood RF exposures in schools and homes and equally important to address the myriad of ways children are exposed be it from Wi-Fi, tablets and/or cell phones."

Sunday, April 16, 2017