Raise awareness of environmental health issues in order to better protect our children and future generations.

EMF Studies

08 July 2013

Installation of Wi-Fi in Long-Term Care Homes


Residence "La Gracieuse" near Morges, Switzerland
This excellent letter written by Lorraine Penner to the long-term care task force, City of Toronto, was originally posted in April 2012.  In her letter, she raises the issue of installation of Wi-Fi in long-term care homes.  At the assisted living place on Long Island (Sunrise) where my 98-year-old mother lives, Wi-Fi has been installed in the ground floor common areas of the home.  Many residents with serious health issues (dementia, diabetes, cardio-vascular problems...) spend much of the day in this area.  

Ms. Penner writes, "Many residents of long-term care homes are non-verbal, and unable to articulate the discomforts or suffering that they may be experiencing.  There has been no effort on the part of the long-term care home management to monitor the effects of wifi on the residents, or to  determine who might be the more electrosensitive among them. As someone  who finds it difficult to spend even two hours in the home since the  wireless technology began broadcasting, I find it most distressing that  the most vulnerable citizens among us should have this forced upon them.  I choose my words carefully and do not exaggerate when I say that for some of the residents, the constant exposure to rf radiation will be a form of torture. It is the most serious abuse and most serious violation of the rights of residents to safety and comfort..."

The issue of installation of Wi-Fi in long-term care homes is becoming a serious concern in such homes in other countries. Recently, during a tour of a similar residence near Morges, Switzerland, the director proudly announced that Wi-Fi would soon be installed.  In the city of Geneva, cell phone antennas are being placed on the rooftops of long-term care homes, as many as three in the case of Les Franchises (69 apartments). (Ms. Penner's letter has been re-arranged, to place her personal testimony of her father at the beginning.)


Lorraine Penner’s letter:


The most serious danger to the well-being of long-term care home residents is the introduction of wireless technology into the long-term care homes. The wireless local area networks (more commonly known as "wifi") that have been introduced into the City of Toronto long-term care homes, and many other homes throughout Ontario can be considered to violate the 2010 Long-term Care Homes Act, which states that all residents have a right to safety and comfort in their residences.


My own father was left sitting for hours under a wifi router in 2009 in Cummer Lodge. At this time the routers were broadcasting constantly despite the fact that the computers had not yet arrived. He developed an extremely itchy rash all over his body, with symptoms matching the condition known as bullous pemphigoid. Around this time I was just learning about the high levels of radiation coming from wifi systems, and asked that the routers be turned off. The staff decided to turn off
the system until the matter could be reviewed. My father's rash began to go away immediately and within two weeks he was completely free of symptoms. In his 92 years he had never experienced such a rash either before or after this exposure. (This effect of rf radiation was described in the August 2009 edition of The Journal of Pathophysiology, in an article by Dr. Olle Johansson.)

Unfortunately, the City of Toronto went ahead with wifi implementation, and Cummer Lodge decided to turn the wifi on again in July 2011. Family members were not informed of the introduction of wireless technology, nor are we able to refuse to allow our loved ones to be exposed to this technology on a constant basis. In early 2010 I had met with Ms. Sandra Pitters, then General Manager of the City of Toronto's long-term care homes. All my attempts to have some input into the review of the technology were rebuffed, and even the names and positions of those people in the Ministry of Health (HOBIC) who had decided to have wifi systems implemented were withheld for almost a year. 

Many residents of long-term care homes are non-verbal, and unable to articulate the discomforts or suffering that they may be experiencing.  There has been no effort on the part of the long-term care home management to monitor the effects of wifi on the residents, or to  determine who might be the more electrosensitive among them. As someone  who finds it difficult to spend even two hours in the home since the  wireless technology began broadcasting, I find it most distressing that  the most vulnerable citizens among us should have this forced upon them.  I choose my words carefully and do not exaggerate when I say that for some of the residents, the constant exposure to rf radiation will be a
form of torture. It is the most serious abuse and most serious violation of the rights of residents to safety and comfort that I have encountered since my parents first moved into Cummer Lodge in 2007.

The most important thing the Task Force can do is to demand that wireless systems be immediately removed from all long-term care homes, and that cell phone base stations not be allowed on or near the homes.  Please do not allow the fact that the use of cell phones and otherwireless technology has become widespread and effectively normalized to deceive you into thinking that the radiation from these devices has no harmful biologic effects. There are a significant and increasing number of people who cannot tolerate exposure to rf radiation, and the elderly and disabled are more likely than the rest of us to experience serious suffering from this technology.

The wireless routers broadcast twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The computers-on-wheels that they communicate with add another layer of radiofrequency (rf) radiation to the constant wifi. This rf radiation was classified as a Class 2B carcinogen by the World Health Organization last May 2011. (Many scientists doing research in this area feel there is enough evidence to justify a 2A classification.) 

As someone who is electrosensitive, I know first-hand that this technology can cause distressing and unremitting symptoms. One of the most common early symptoms of sensitivity to the kind of radiation
emitted by cellphones, masts, and wifi is something known as the microwave auditory effect or Frey effect. It is sometimes confused with tinnitus from other causes, as it consists of an internally experienced tone, which becomes louder as exposure and radiation intensity increases. Sufferers experience this tone as emanating from the back of their head, the centre of their head, or just behind the head. It is relentless and intolerably annoying. 

Other common effects of radiofrequency radiation exposure include: insomnia, vertigo, headache, memory problems, difficult concentrating, fatigue, increased blood sugar levels, heart palpitations, immune system dysfunction, depression, anxiety, and skin rashes. Biologic effects include increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier after even short exposures, causing the brain to be exposed to toxins and possibly contributing to the worsening of dementia or even the onset of neurodegenerative illnesses.

It is perhaps not well known that cellphones and other wireless technology were brought to market without adequate safety testing. The 10 watt per square meter limit for exposure was based on heating effects only, measured in a gelatinous substance after six minutes of exposure.  Recent studies on rf radiation shows that it has many biologic effects, including increased glucose uptake by neurons, possibly needed by the cell to re-establish ion balance as rf radiation is thought to cause irregular gating of calcium-ion channels in the cell membrane. 

It has been estimated that anywhere from 2% - 5% of the population is particularly sensitive to this radiofrequency radiation (popularly known as microwaves), quickly experiencing discomfort when this radiation is introduced into their home or workplace on an ongoing basis. Another 10% - 35% seem to develop problematic symptoms after months or years of exposure. (I would like to note here that although we commonly think of the long-term care homes as places where people go at the end of their
lives, there are many younger mentally or physically disabled people who will spend decades in the homes.)
...
Sincerely,

Lorraine Penner
Toronto, Ontario

No comments:

Post a Comment