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It’s Time to Slow Down and Re-evaluate High Speed Wireless

Early in June, we saw a bevy of articles extolling President Obama’s pitch for a five year plan of the installation of $18 billion in high speed wireless networks throughout the United States including into 99% of the country’s schools.
First outlined in the President’s State of the Union address, this ambitious plan is designed to keep America competitive and at the cutting edge, ready and poised to compete globally.

While meritorious in its objectives, numerous scientific studies suggest that wireless connectivity is harmful to living tissue.  This should be a red flag particularly to any planned installation that involves the participation of children.  Numerous countries, such as France, the U.K., Israel, and Russia, have put the brakes on Wi-Fi in schools and libraries and cell phone use for children.  Their logic is simple:  Many studies show alarming effects due to non-ionizing radiation exposure and as such, the jury is “still out” as to safety and long term consequences.
Perhaps the European Community’s Mobi-Kids study will help shed light on the effects of non-ionizing radiation on children’s health.  This ambitious 5 year project, involving several countries partnering with their European counterparts, seeks to study wireless communication devices and their effect on certain increasing childhood pathologies, specifically brain cancer and brain tumors.  Expected results are due by 2016.

As we await the results of the European research, where might we find data today to help us evaluate the wisdom of the quest to install Wi-Fi in 99% of U.S. schools?  Dr. Martha Herbert, PhD, MD, a board certified neurologist at the Harvard Medical School, has shed important light on the topic of Wi-Fi and the dangers it poses to children’s health.  In her February 8, 2013 letter to the Los Angeles Unified School District titled “Wireless vs. Wired Classrooms,” Dr. Herbert carefully outlines some of the science which should make us all reconsider the wisdom of wireless networks. 

Specifically, Dr. Herbert states:

“There are thousands of papers that have accumulated over decades – and are now accumulating at an accelerating pace, as our ability to measure impacts become more sensitive – that document adverse health and neurological impacts of EMF/RFR [Electromagnetic Frequencies / Radiofrequency Radiation].  Children are more vulnerable than adults, and children with chronic illnesses and/or neurodevelopmental disabilities are even more vulnerable… Current technologies were designed and promulgated without taking account of biological impacts other than thermal impacts.  We now know that there are a large array of impacts that have nothing to do with the heating of tissue.  The claim from Wi-Fi proponents that the only concern is thermal impacts is now definitely outdated scientifically… EMF/RFR from Wi-Fi and cell towers can exert disorganizing effect on the ability to learn and remember, and can also be destabilizing to immune and metabolic function. This will make it harder for children to learn, particularly those who are already having problems in the first place.”

So before we rush out and spend $18 billion on nation-wide Wi-Fi installation, let’s hope that the decision making folks in Washington will take a moment to speak with Dr. Herbert and her colleagues.  It seems that slowing down, re-evaluating and perhaps re-considering the merits of further Wi-Fi installations at this time would be prudent.