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

EMF Studies

28 October 2012

Dr. Olle Johansson's Letter on the Safety and Use of Wi-Fi in Schools Addressed to the Greater Victoria School District

Dr. Olle Johansson, neuroscientist at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, has addressed a letter concerning the safety of Wi-Fi and its use in schools to the Board of Education Trustees of the Greater Victoria School District 61 in Victoria, British Columbia. The Board will very soon make a public announcement on this issue. The 5 October 2012 letter in full is available here.

“According to Article 24 of the UNICEF’s Child Convention ‘children have the right to … a clean and safe environment, and information to help them stay healthy’. We must all ensure that this article never is violated. This is about our social responsibility, and is very much a public health issue,” Dr. Johansson writes. “Many WiFi systems are close to beds, kitchens, playrooms, schoolrooms, and similar locations. These wireless systems are never off, and the exposure is not voluntary. They are being forced on citizens and their children everywhere…”

Following are several extracts from the letter regarding proof of health effects, reporting, need for independent research, involuntary exposure:

“NO PROOF OF HEALTH EFFECTS” 

One often hears about "safe levels" of exposure and that there is "no proof of health effects", but my personal response to these seemingly reassuring statements is that it is very important to realize, from a consumer's point of view, that "no accepted proof for health effects" is not the same as "no risk". Too many times, 'experts' have claimed to be experts in fields where actually the only expert comment should have been: "I/we just do not know". Such fields were e.g. the DDT, X-ray, radioactivity, smoking, asbestos, BSE, heavy metal exposure, depleted uranium, etc., etc., etc., where the "no risk"-flag was raised before true knowledge came around. Later on, the same flag had to be quickly lowered, many times after enormous economic costs and suffering of many human beings. 


In the case of "protection from exposure to electromagnetic fields", it is thus of paramount importance to act from a prudence avoidance/precautionary principle point of view. Anything else would be highly hazardous. Total transparency of information is the key sentence here, as I believe the public does not appreciate having the complete truth revealed years after a certain catastrophe already has taken place. For instance, it shall be noted, that today's recommended values for wireless systems, such as the SAR-values, are just recommendations, and not safety levels. Since scientists observe biological effects at as low as 20 microWatts/kg, can it truly be stated that it is safe to allow irradiation of humans at SAR 2 W/kg, or at 100,000 times stronger levels of radiation?

IMBALANCED REPORTING 
Another misunderstanding is the use of scientific publications (as the tobacco industry did for many years) as 'weights' to balance each other. But one can NEVER balance a report showing a negative health effect with one showing no effect. This is a misunderstanding which, unfortunately, is very often used both by the industrial representatives as well as official authorities to the detriment of the general public. True balance would be reports showing negative health effects against exact replications showing positive effects. However, this is not what the public has been led to believe. 

NEED FOR INDEPENDENT RESEARCH 
In many commentaries, debate articles and public lectures - for the last 20-30 years – I have urged that completely independent research projects must be inaugurated immediately to ensure our public health. These projects must be entirely independent of all types of commercial interests; public health cannot have a price-tag! It is also of paramount importance that scientists involved in such projects must be free of any carrier considerations and that the funding needed is covered to 100%, not 99% or less. This is the clear responsibility of the democratically elected body of every country. 

INVOLUNTARY EXPOSURE 
According to Article 24 of the UNICEF’s Child Convention “children have the right to … a clean and safe environment, and information to help them stay healthy”. We must all ensure that this article never is violated. This is about our social responsibility, and is very much a public health issue. 

Many WiFi systems are close to beds, kitchens, playrooms, schoolrooms, and similar locations. These wireless systems are never off, and the exposure is not voluntary. They are being forced on citizens and their children everywhere. Based on this, the inauguration of wireless systems with grudging and involuntary exposure of millions to billions of human beings to pulsed microwave radiation should immediately be prohibited until ’the red flag’ can be hauled down once and for all.

There has been insufficient public debate about whether children actually need these wireless applications in their school work or if there are pedagogic rationales supported by professional teachers behind these ‘modernizations’. There should be debate rather than decision-making over parents’ heads. It is the children (and their staff!) who will suffer the potential health consequences of living every minute in all these exposures from Wi-Fi, and similar wireless installations, and they have no choice in the matter. Approved man-made microwave exposures are one million billion times – or more – larger than natural evolutionary background levels, the latter being as low as 0.00000000001 µW/m2.

CONCLUSION 
In conclusion, wireless systems, such as Wi-Fi routers, cannot be regarded as safe in schools, but must be deemed highly hazardous and unsafe for the children as well as for the staff. 

I encourage governments and local health and educational bodies to adopt a framework of guidelines for public and occupational EMF exposure that reflect the Precautionary Principle. As noted, the Precautionary Principle states when there are indications of possible adverse effects, though they remain uncertain, the risks from doing nothing may be far greater than the risks of taking action to control these exposures. The Precautionary Principle shifts the burden of proof from those suspecting a risk to those who discount it — as some nations have already done. Precautionary strategies should be based on design and performance standards and may not necessarily define numerical thresholds because such thresholds may erroneously be interpreted as levels below which no adverse effect can occur.

Some 100 years back, we learned the hard lessons of ionizing radiation and the need for strict health protections – now we must openly face the possibility that we must take a seat in life’s school and learn again. This time it is about non-ionizing radiation.

Based on all of the above, I strongly urge you to consider your public stance on the safety of Wi-Fi in schools.

No comments:

Post a Comment