Protecting Children from Radiation
Back to: Practical Advice
To: Protecting College and University Students
It is now well established that EM radiation is dangerous for adults and especially for pregnant women and children.
- Prof Elihu D. Richter: "Open letter regarding EHS and WiFi in schools" (2016)
- Dr Erica Mallery Blythe: "Cancer-related and biological justifications for minimising child non-ionising radiation exposures" (Children with Cancer Conference, London, October 9 2018, 31 min.)
- Dr Karl Maret: "Expert Forum on Cell Phone and Wireless Radiation Risks" (2015, 10 min.)
- Dr Maryanne Demasi: "Wi-Fried?" (ABC: Catalyst, 2016, 29 min.)
- Dr Olle Johansson: "Experts and doctors warn: Pregnant women and children should not be exposed to wireless radiation" (Take Back Your Power, 2014)
- Dr Toril Jelter: "Health Effects of Non-Ionizing Radiation in Children" (2015, 20 min.)
- "Electromagnetic Radiation Health and Children" (Dr Erica Mallery-Blythe, 2014)
- Peter Limbrick: letter to Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England: “Your important role in saving children from radiation damage as they use iPads, laptops, tablets, phones and other gadgets” (TAC Interconnections: Team Around the Child, September 28 2015; pdf)
- Mobilewise: "Mobile phone health risks: the case for action to protect children" (2011)
- Roxanne Nelson: "Children Face the Highest Health Risk From Cell Phones" (Medscape, 2014)
- The BabySafe Project
- "Could wireless technology be causing MAJOR health problems in your children?" (Express, May 30 2017)
Action to restrict cellphone and media usage:
Children and unborn babies, therefore, need protecting from these harmful effects.
Consistent evidence for acute electrosensitivity symptoms in teenagers using cellphones
Five recent studies show a link between acute electrosensitivity symptoms and teenagers using cellphones. This is concerning, because of their consistency, as noted in the Swedish report. These studies were published in 2013 and 2014, after reports such as England's AGNIR of 2012.
Government warnings to safeguard children:
Increasing numbers of governments are warning of special dangers to children from electromagnetic radiation.
- Enlgand: in 2000 warned against children under 16 using cellphones except for essential calls.
- France: in 2016 warned children to restrict their use of radiation devices, because of the dangers of electro-sensitivity symptoms ("lack of sleep or disorders such as fatigue, stress, anxiety, irritability, difficulty concentrating, headaches"):
“There is "a possible effect of radiofrequency on the cognitive functions of a child", such as memory, attention, psychomotor skills or language. The results showing acute [short-term] effects are based on experimental studies whose methodology is well controlled." They come to the same conclusion about "possible effects" on the "well-being" of children, a state defined by lack of sleep or disorders such as fatigue, stress, anxiety, irritability, difficulty concentrating, headaches."
(The French National Agency for Food, Environmental and Labor Safety (ANSES): "Exposition aux radiofréquences et santé des enfants" (Report on RF exposure and the health of children) July 8 2016;
Pierre Le Hir: "Alerte sur les dangers des radiofréquences pour les enfants" Le Monde, July 8 2016)
From September 2018: France to ban mobile phones in primary, middle schools starting in September 2018 (ABC News, December 13 2017)
- USA: in 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics:
"Evidence is sufficient to recommend time limitations on digital media use for children 2 to 5 years to no more than 1 hour per day to allow children ample time to engage in other activities important to their health and development and to establish media viewing habits associated with lower risk of obesity later in life.49 In addition, encouraging parents to change to educational and prosocial content and engage with their children around technology will allow children to reap the most benefit from what they view."
"In children older than 2 years, limit media to 1 hour or less per day of high-quality programming."
(American Academy of Pediatrics: Policy Statement: "Media and Young Minds: Council On Communications and Media", 2016)
"Recommend that children not sleep with devices in their bedrooms, including TVs, computers, and smartphones. Avoid exposure to devices or screens for 1 hour before bedtime."
(American Academy of Pediatrics: Policy Statement: "Media Use in School-Aged Children and Adolescents: Council On Communications and Media", 2016)
Seven major areas:
1. Cellphones and smartphones
- All cellphones and smartphones have minimum regulatory distances to be kept from the body to prevent heating (usually about 1-3 cm or up to 1 inch).
- Many governments are also advising much greater distances (1-2 meters or 3-6 feet) or limited use, because of the non-thermal effects, such as using on speakerphone, with air-tube headsets, only for texting, switched off or on air-plane mode at all times except in use, kept in separate bags and not in clothing on the body, etc.
2. WiFi and iPads at home and at school
- Laptops are tested for heating safety at a distance of 20 cm. This means that laptops may cause excessive body heating if held closer to the human body than 20 cm (8 inches).
- Some governments are also advising limited use, because of the non-thermal effects. This advice includes using laptops with radiation transmitters switched off or on air-plane mode at all times, except in uploading or downloading before or after a class of children is present,
- Some governments are now insisting on using wired laptops with cabled internet access only. If the radiation transmitters are switched off this would significantly reduce the harm to children using laptops in schools and at home.
- Some governments have banned WiFi in schools and for young children (see Legal).
- All WiFi should be removed from the home and cables used instead. A less healthy alternative is that WiFi should be switched off at night and only switched on when needed.
- "A Father Speaks About Wifi in Schools and His Children's Health" (2015)
- "Alberta parental group worry Wifi may cause health risks for children" (2015)
- "Canadian Teacher Union Wants Wifi Banned From Schools" (2016)
- "Children speak out on WiFi symptoms" (2010)
- "Chromebooks in Public Schools Emit Radiation" (2015)
- "Dr. Lennart Hardell Has An Opinion About Wi-Fi in Schools: MCPS" (2015)
- "Expert Forum on Cell Phone and Wireless Radiation Risks" (2015)
- “Health Concerns over Wi-Fi technology exposure in schools” (2016)
- "Health Dangers of WiFi in Schools" (2010)
- "How we kill ourselves: Radiation" (2016)
- "Invisible Danger: EHS and WiFi in schools" (2016)
- "iPad WiFi Radiation with Wireless Router On" (2013)
- "Israel Wi-Fi Breakthroughs: TV Documentary, School Ban" (2016)
- "Jenny Fry teenage suicide due to WiFi" (2016)
- Mary Adkins: "The Elephant in the Classroom" (2016)
- "Math Teacher asks School To Protect Children From Wi-Fi" (2016)
- "MCPS Wi-Fi : Get the Facts and Decide for Yourself" (2015)
- "Montgomery Co. parents concerned about wireless routers in school" (Mola Longhi, WUSA9, October 26 2015)
- "Mother calls for school wi-fi ban" (2015)
- "Mystery headaches reboot wi-fi fears" (Times Educational Suppl., 2007)
- "New Construction and Renovation" (US-CHPS: Collaboration for High Performing Schools, 2014)
- "Safe & Smart 4 r Kids - reduce wireless radiation" (2013)
- NIH Conference: Theodora Scarato: "How To Reduce Children's EMF Exposure In Schools" (July 2018, 7 min.)
- "School wi-fi led to death of my daughter, says mother" (ITV news, 2015)
- "Should you limit how much your children use wi-fi?" (Daily Mail, January 14 2015)
- "Teacher Unions and Parent Teacher Organizations Taking Action On Wi-Fi Health Risks" (2016)
- "The mayor of Haifa (in Israel) ordered to disconnect WiFi in schools and kindergartens – until examining the safety of WiFi thoroughly" (Local News, April 18 2016_
- Vivien Mason, “Parents of schoolgirl Jenny Fry are campaigning to have WiFi restricted in schools following her death” (Cotswold Journal, November 25 2015, about the death of Jenny Fry in England, aged 15 years, who in November 2012 became sensitised to WiFi but her school failed to remove the WiFi and she was found hanged on June 11 2015)
- "Why the FCC's safety guidelines for Wi-Fi need to be re-evaluated" (2015)
- "Why Wi-fi Why?" (2016)
- "WiFi in schools proven dangerous" (2010)
- "WiFi in Schools - the facts" (2012)
- "WiFi Is Not Safe For Kids" (2010)
- "Wireless Radiation" (United Federation of Teachers)
3. Cellphone Towers near schools and homes
4. Mothers using cellphones or iPads during pregnancy
5. Electric power lines and electric wiring
6. Downsides of electronic devices in education, including mental health
7. Smart meters
Protection from Smart Meters for children and others sensitive to radiation.
Doctors advise that it is key that sleeping areas are free from radiation.
NB: screening on just the outside of the meter may send the radiation inside the property:
(see also: Smart Meter Protection)
8. Other dangers to children
Government and regulatory advice
Many governments and experts now warn about dangers to children from wireless radiation.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics: "On the Cell Phone Right to Know Act" (2012)
- Ashland Public Schools, MA, USA: "Best Practices for Mobile Devices" (2014)
- California Medical Association, House of Delegates Resolution: "Wireless Standards Re-evaluation 2014 Resolution 107-14" (2014)
- Government of Cyprus: "Protect Children from Radiation of Mobile Phones and WiFi" (2016, 7 min.)
- Switzerland: Canton of Geneva:"General recommendations:
"For the well-being and health of children and young people, exposure time to screens must be limited according to age.
Before age 3: No TV or DVDs.
Between ages 3 and 6: Limiting the exposure time to screens to one hour a day is desirable.
From age 6: From this age, the total exposure time to screens should be limited to one hour a day.
From age 9: The exposure time should also be limited to two hours a day for all screens."
Office de l'enfance et de la jeunesse: Service de santé de l'enfance et de la jeunesse: "Usages du numérique: risques pour la santé" (Republique et Canton de Geneve: Département de l'instruction publique, de la culture et du sport, September 5 2017)
English Translation: "Uses of Digital Technology: Health Risks" (Translation by the Editor of "Towards Better Health", September 7 2017)
- UK government: ""the UK Chief Medical Officers advise that children and young people under 16 should be encouraged to use mobile phones for essential purposes only, and to keep calls short." (NHS: Mobile phones and base stations: Health advice on using mobile phones, 2011)
Protecting vulnerable people
It has long been established that some people are more sensitive to electromagnetic exposure than others. The principles of public health require that all peoples are protected in a public environment, and not just a limited proportion of the general population.
Such vulnerable people, such as children, pregnant women, the ill, the elderly and those especially sensitive, cannot be expected to have radiation detection meters at hand or protective clothing or shielded housing or shielded workplaces. Instead, as with air quality, chemical pollution or other known toxins, it is the responsibility of regulators and governments to ensure that the environment is safe for everyone.
Most Environmental Protection Agencies see their role as protecting all people, not just some, and accept established non-thermal mechanisms, not just thermal ones:
- "(c) The 1992 ANSI/IEEE conclusion that there is no scientific data indicating that certain subgroups of the population are more at risk than others is not supported by NCRP and EPA reports.
- (d) The thesis that the 1992 ANSI/IEEE recommendations are protective of all mechanisms of interaction is unwarranted because the adverse effects level in the 1992 ANSI/IEEE standard is based on a thermal effect."
(EPA: Office of Radiation & Indoor Air: "EPA Submission to FCC", 1993, Summary 1.c,d.)
Some other agencies, however, are ambivalent because of industry pressure. Thus the World Health Organization's ICNIRP in 2002 published a statement requiring governments to set non-thermal limits to protect everyone in their populations. At the same time, however, it still clung to its heating limits instead of introducing appropriate long-term and low-level biological limits at non-thermal levels.
Cellphones and computers can harm learning and education
The following studies do not attempt to ascertain why students' performance can be harmed by cellphones or computers.
Experts suspect it may depend on both:
- the way the brain is affected physically by harmful electromagnetic exposure, and
- the way the brain adapts cognitively to a less stimulating or less demanding learning environment.
Banning cellphones improves students’ performance
- “This paper investigates the impact of schools banning mobile phones on student test scores. By surveying schools in four English cities regarding their mobile phone policies and combining it with administrative data, we find that student performance in high stakes exams significantly increases post ban. We use a difference in differences (DID) strategy, exploiting variations in schools’ autonomous decisions to ban these devices, conditioning on a range of student characteristics and prior achievement. Our results indicate that these increases in performance are driven by the lowest achieving students. This suggests that restricting mobile phone use can be a low-cost policy to reduce educational inequalities.”
(Beland L-P, Murphy R (2015) “Ill Communication: Technology, Distraction & Student Performance” London School of Economics: Centre for Economic Performance, Discussion Paper, No.CEPDP1350; pdf)
Computers harm learning
- “We present findings from a study that prohibited computer devices in randomly selected classrooms of an introductory economics course at the United States Military Academy. Average final exam scores among students assigned to classrooms that allowed computers were 18 percent of a standard deviation lower than exam scores of students in classrooms that prohibited computers. Through the use of two separate treatment arms, we uncover evidence that this negative effect occurs in classrooms where laptops and tablets are permitted without restriction and in classrooms where students are only permitted to use tablets that must remain flat on the desk surface.”
(Carter SP, Greenberg K, Walker M (2016) “The Impact of Computer Usage on Academic Performance: Evidence from a Randomized Trial at the United States Military Academy” Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Department of Economics; & National Bureau of Economic Research: School Effectiveness and Inequality Initiative (SEII) Discussion Paper, #2016.02. pdf)
Computers used frequently at school reduce learning outcomes
- “Students who use computers moderately at school tend to have somewhat better learning outcomes than students who use computers rarely. But students who use computers very frequently at school do a lot worse in most learning outcomes, even after accounting for social background and student demographics. The results also show no appreciable improvements in student achievement in reading, mathematics or science in the countries that had invested heavily in ICT for education. And perhaps the most disappointing finding of the report is that technology is of little help in bridging the skills divide between advantaged and disadvantaged students … One interpretation of all this is that building deep, conceptual understanding and higher-order thinking requires intensive teacher-student interactions, and technology sometimes distracts from this valuable human engagement … If students use smartphone to copy and paste prefabricated answers to questions, it is unlikely to help them to become smarter. If we want students to become smarter than a smartphone, we need to think hard about the pedagogies we are using to teach them.”
(OECD (2015) Students, Computers and Learning: Making the Connection, Pisa, OECD Publishing: Andreas Schleicher, Director, Directorate for Education and Skills, p.3-4)
Reduced screen-time improves students’ grades
- “We investigated prospective associations between physical activity/sedentary behaviour (PA/SED) and General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) results in British adolescents … An extra hour/day of screen time at 14·5y is approximately equivalent to two fewer GCSE grades (e.g., from B to D) at 16y. Strategies to achieve the right balance between screen and non-screen time may be important for improving academic performance. Concerns that encouraging more physical activity may result in decreased academic performance seem unfounded.”
(Corder K, Atkin AJ, Bamber DJ, Brage S, Dunn VJ, Ekelund U, Owens M, van Sluijs EMF, Goodyer IM (2015) “Revising on the run or studying on the sofa: prospective associations between physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and exam results in British adolescents“ Int J Behav Nutrit Phys Activity. 12: 106; DOI: 10.1186/s12966-015-0269-2)
If the mother is exposed to high electromagnetic fields while pregnant, the child has been shown to have a higher risk of autism and other developmental problems.
It is therefore very important that pregnant women should not use cellphones, WiFi, live near to cellphone towers, have a smart meter on the property, or sleep with electrical devices in the bedroom and the house.
Dr D. Klinghardt: "A Treatment Protocol for Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD)" (2006)
Dr D. Klinghardt: ""Smart Meters" & EMR: The Health Crisis Of Our Time" (2012, 43 mins)
Studies on Children and Adolescents and wireless exposure
8. Other dangers to children
Neonatal incubators:A majority of U.S. teens are taking steps to limit smartphone and social media use