By B.N. Frank
For several years already, tech experts (aka “Silicon Valley Parents”) have taken drastic measures to limit their own kids’ use and exposure to screens. This includes sending their kids to low-tech and/or no-tech schools as well as making their nannies sign “no screens” contracts (see 1, 2, 3, 4). Meanwhile, other American families have been coaxed into accepting inferior high tech /screen-based curriculums which subjects their children to unhealthy levels of exposure to blue light, wireless “Wi-Fi” radiation (including from utility “smart” meters) and sometimes 5G. Kudos to Santa Clara County Medical Association for supporting safer practices for its district’s students.
Medical Association Adopts Recommendations for Best Practices for Safe Technology in Schools
In March 2023 the Santa Clara County Medical Association, in California, adopted comprehensive Recommendations for Best Practices for Safe Technology in Schools in order to educate physicians, school officials and teachers of the complex health risks and potential health hazards of digital and wireless technology in schools. The group examined research on the broad impacts of digital technology including health and neurologic effects of exposure to wireless radiation, eye effects, mental health effects and impacts on academic performance. Recognizing the importance of protecting children’s health in all environments, including schools several recommendations for best practices were advised.
SCCMA Best Practices Recommendations include
- Creating a “Safe Tech in Schools Program” to educate students and staff on how to use devices safely and reduce wireless use in the classroom
- Using blue light reduction methods to reduce eye strain
- Establishing and promoting school cell phone-free policies
- Preferring and installing hard-wired ethernet devices instead of wireless wherever possible
- Consulting with an RF professional who can measure radiofrequency radiation
- Avoiding installation of smart meters on school premises
- Considering a policy to restrict installation of cell towers on school property
Reducing All Childhood Toxic Exposures
Many academic, Governmental, and non governmental organizations have focused on reducing chemical exposures and risks to children who are more vulnerable to all toxic exposures due to their immature development, size, and behavior. Hospital specialty units, such as Boston Children’s Hospital have also emerged due to increased scientific awareness of the connection between the environment and rising childhood chronic diseases that can also later lead to adult illness. “Children breathe more air, drink more water, and eat more food per kilogram of body weight than adults” (Landrigan 2016) Commonly encountered substances include pesticides, cleaning products, plasticizers, flame retardants as well as industrial chemicals.
CEHN and CHEJ are hosting a Webinar “ Training Call: Are Schools Safe? Protecting the Environmental Health of Children’s Spaces on Tuesday, August 15th, 2023 at 12:00 PM EST.
Organizations Recommending Precaution in Wireless Radiation Exposures
The SCCMA now joins many other organizations who have researched this issue and who also recommend precautionary measures to reduce exposures to wireless emissions and distraction from digital devices including:
- Maryland Children’s Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council 2023
- The Collaborative for High Performing Schools–
- New Jersey Education Association
- European Council Parliamentary Assembly
In 2011 the European Council passed Resolution 1815 on “The potential dangers of electromagnetic fields and their effect on the environment.” They recommend concerning the protection of children: 8.3.1. develop within different ministries (education, environment and health) targeted information campaigns aimed at teachers, parents and children to alert them to the specific risks of early, ill-considered and prolonged use of mobiles and other devices emitting microwaves; 8.3.2. for children in general, and particularly in schools and classrooms, give preference to wired Internet connections, and strictly regulate the use of mobile phones by schoolchildren on school premises;
In 2011 the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as a class 2 B possible carcinogen after reviewing 900 studies. IARC Monograph 2011. WHO. Radiofrequency Radiation Group 2B- Possible Carcinogen
In 2013 The American Academy of Pediatrics has also weighed in with a letter recommending reevaluation of safety standards for cell phones and other wireless products. The letter notes, “The FCC has not assessed the standard for cell phone radiation since 1996… Many more people, especially adolescents and young adults, now use cell phones as their only phone line and they begin using wireless phones at much younger ages…The FCC standard for maximum radiation-exposure levels are based on the heat emitted by mobile phones.. it is essential that any new standard for cell phones or other wireless devices be based on protecting the youngest and most vulnerable populations to ensure they are safeguarded throughout their lifetimes.”
In 2015 The Ashland Public School District in Massachusetts became the first in the nation to adopt a districtwide policy on “Best Practices for Mobile Devices” to reduce wireless exposures in schools with simple measures to turn off Wi Fi when not in use, turn on Wi fi when needed, viewing the screen from a distance of 12 inches, using devices on a table to reduce exposure to the body and have staff regularly remind students about best practices.
In 2019 California Assembly Bill 272 was signed by Governor Newsom recognizing the “growing evidence” of harm associated with “unrestricted use of smartphones” by students at schools. Lower pupil performance, interference with teaching, and increases in depression, anxiety, and suicide were cited. The bill authorizes schools to adopt policies that “limit or prohibit” smartphone use by students.
In 2022 the Louisiana State Legislature passed HB 548-Best Practices for Digital Devices in Schools to address health impacts of digital screen time. HB 548 Requires the state Department of Education to develop and distribute health and safety guidelines relative to best practices for the use of digital devices in public schools. In collaboration with the Louisiana Department of Health, ” Digital Learning: Digital Device Guidance” report was developed for the public schools. While it does not address problematic wireless radiation, it does address eye effects, social media and need for physical activity.
In 2023 the Seattle Public Schools filed a complaint against the companies operating TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, SnapChat, and YouTube. Kent School District has since joined the complaint as well. They state that, “Young people across the nation are struggling with anxiety, depression, thoughts of self-harm, and suicidal ideation. This mental health crisis impacts the SPS mission to educate students by draining resources from schools… We cannot ignore the mental health needs of our students and the role that social media companies play…By marketing to and targeting young people, the companies who own these social media platforms have created digital environments that can negatively affect the mental and emotional health of our students… We believe that the companies should be held responsible for their actions and the harm they are causing by contributing to the increasing costs that school districts now bear in response to the increasing mental and emotional health needs of students.”
- Wi Fi in Schools– https://mdsafetech.org/wi-fi-in-schools-2/
- EH Trust – International Policies of Wireless https://ehtrust.org/policy/international-policy-actions-on-wireless/
- Safe Tech Schools– https://www.techsafeschools.org/
- Healthy Tech at Home Project–https://healthytechhome.org/resources/how-do-i-protect-children-from-blue-light/
PST Wi Fi Radiation Health Effects
PST Executive Summary
PST Links and Resources (Books)
PST Scientific Literature on Eye Effects and Blue Light
PST Scientific Literature on Nervous System Effects
PST Scientific Literature on Electrosensitivity
PST Scientific Literature on Cancer
PST Scientific Literature on Reproductive Health
PST Scientific Literature on military and Government Reports
SCCMA Recommendations Best Practices for Safe Technology in Schools 2023 https://www.sccma.org/Portals/19/LiveBlog/3697/SCCMA%20Best%20Practices%20for%20Safe%20Technology%20in%20Schools%20Recommendations%20%2021423.pdf?ver=CwFQFTHs4ZuDmjDYrsLXzQ%3d%3d
Maryland Children’s Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council. Updated Guidelines to Reduce Electromagnetic Field Radiation. December 2022. https://healthytechhome.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/201/CEHPAC-EMF-in-HomeWi-Fi-in-School-Report.pdf
Maryland Children’s Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council Wifi Radiation in Schools in Maryland Final Report. December 13, 2016 https://health.maryland.gov/phpa/OEHFP/EH/Shared%20Documents/CEHPAC/MD_CEHPAC_SchoolWiFi_022017_final.pdf
2011 The European Council Resolution 1815. The potential dangers of electromagnetic fields and their effect on the environment.http://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/XRef/Xref-XML2HTML-en.asp?fileid=17994
New Jersey Education Association. Minimize health risks from electronic devices. https://www.njea.org/minimize-health-risks-from-electronic-devices/
IARC Monograph 2011. WHO. Radiofrequency Radiation listed as Possibly Carcinogenic. Group 2Bhttps://www.iarc.who.int/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/pr208_E.pdf
The American Academy of Pediatrics 2012 letter recommending reevaluation of radiofrequency radiation safety standards. https://ehtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-letter-to-the-FCC-July-12-2012.pdf
California Assembly Bill No. 272. Pupils: use of smartphones. (2019-2020). https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200AB272
Seattle Public Schools. Complaint Filed Against Social Media Companies to Address Practices Harmful to Young People. Jan 6, 2023. https://www.seattleschools.org/news/social-media-case/
HB 548 Louisiana (2022)Best Practices for Digital Devices in Schools. EDUCATION: Requires the state Department of Education to develop and distribute health and safety guidelines relative to best practices for the use of digital devices in public schools. https://legis.la.gov/legis/BillInfo.aspx?s=22RS&b=HB548&sbi=y
Department of Education Louisiana State. Digital Device Guidance. 2022 https://www.louisianabelieves.com/docs/default-source/healthy-communities/digital-devices-guidelines-(hb548).pdf?sfvrsn=18106318_2
Smartphone Ban Recommended In Schools As UN Says They Are A ‘Distraction To Learning’.July 26, 2023. https://www.forbes.com/sites/siladityaray/2023/07/26/smartphone-ban-recommended-in-schools-as-un-says-they-are-a-distraction-to-learning/?sh=21b69bbe9c05
Mobile phones and other devices to be banned from Dutch classrooms: Education ministry in the Netherlands says tech is a distraction from learning and will only be allowed if specifically needed. July 4, 2023. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jul/04/mobile-phones-other-devices-to-be-banned-from-dutch-classrooms
FIRST US PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT LIMITS WI-FI RADIATION EXPOSURE TO STUDENTS AND STAFF. Sept 29, 2015. https://ehtrust.org/first-us-public-school-district-limits-wi-fi-radiation-exposure-to-students-and-staff/
A Textbook of Children’s Environmental Health. Edited by Philip J. Landrigan and Ruth A. Etzel. Published 2013. https://global.oup.com/academic/product/textbook-of-childrens-environmental-health-9780199929573?cc=us&lang=en&
Landrigan PJ. Children’s Environmental Health: A Brief History. Acad Pediatr. 2016 Jan-Feb;16(1):1-9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26498257/
Landrigan PJ et al. (2023) The Minderoo-Monaco Commission on Plastics and Human Health. Ann Glob Health. 2023 Mar 21;89(1):23. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36969097/
Childhood Ingestions of Environmental Toxins: What Are the Risks? Hauptman M et al. Ped Ann. 2017. Dec 1;46(12) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6982419/#:~:text=The%20%E2%80%9Cbuilt%20environment%E2%80%9D%20can%20be,other%20industrial%20or%20agricultural%20concerns.
The EPA’s Commitment to Children’s Environmental Health: History and Current Challenges. Am J Public Health. 2022 Jan;112(1):124-134. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34936388/
Environmental pediatrics and its impact on government health policy. Pediatrics. Goldman L et al. 2004 Apr;113(4 Suppl):1146-57. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15060212/
Pediatric Environmental Health, 4th Edition. 2018. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://shop.aap.org/pediatric-environmental-health-4th-edition-paperback/
Children’s Environmental Health Network. https://cehn.org/
Center for Environmental Health. https://ceh.org/
Center for Health and Environmental Justice. https://chej.org/
Activist Post reports regularly about unsafe technologies. For more information, visit our archives and the following websites:
- Physicians for Safe Technology
- Environmental Health Trust
- Americans for Responsible Technology
- Children’s Health Defense
- Electromagnetic Radiation Safety
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