Letter to SUSD

Schools in California and beyond are transitioning away from books to computer based learning. In many cases they’re using wireless computers (iPads) to teach at least two subjects, math and language arts. This is part of a new federal curriculum called Common Core.

In my comments to the Sebastopol Union School District I advocate for an alternative technology plan creating a hardwired computer lab for testing and test preparation.  Click here to view the original Letter to SUSD

In Sebastopol the school district is presenting their technology plan on Wednesday September 18 at 4:30 at  7611 Huntley Ave.

9/16/2013
To: Members of the School Board, staff, and teachers
Sebastopol Union School District
7611 Huntley Ave. Sebastopol CA. 95472

Re: Comments on Common Core Technology Plan

The Sebastopol Union School District (SUSD) board is considering adopting a technology plan that converts students from book based learning to computer based learning and testing. This will be presented on September 18 at the board meeting as agenda item 9.1,1, and possibly be adopted at the next board meeting in October. As a parent of a sixth grader at Brookhaven, and director of the EMF Safety Network, I ask SUSD to apply the precautionary principle and adopt an alternative plan that reduces and limits children’s screen time and wireless exposure.

An alternative plan is to create a hardwired computer lab, for testing and test preparation, instead of using computers in classrooms for lessons and testing. This request is based on health advocacy warnings and recommendations from the World Health Organization, American Academy of Pediatrics, Kaiser Permanente, American Academy of Environmental Medicine and other medical and science experts.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey in 2010, children between the ages of 8-18 spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes on technology every day.2

  • How many more hours of screen time will children have if schools convert to computer based learning?
  • Will children also be expected to do their homework on computers?
  • Will the new technology and supporting infrastructure be wired or wireless?
  • Are parents adequately informed and included in the decision making process on whether or not to increase their children’s computer use?

Apply the Precautionary Principle to Ensure Safer Learning in Schools

The Precautionary Principle is based on ‘do no harm’ and ‘better safe than sorry’ philosophy. When an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. 3

Kaiser Permanente recommends limiting screen time to less than 2 hours a day for teens, less than 1 hour a day for children ages 3 through 12, and no screen time for children under 3. 4 Kaiser explains: “Alot of kids spend more time in front of a screen than they do reading, talking with family and friends, or playing outside. It’s also affecting their health. Too much screen time is associated with: violent behavior, poor school performance, lower reading scores, sleep pattern disturbances, being overweight, consumption of junk food and bad habits later in life (like tobacco and alcohol abuse).”

The American Academy of Pediatrics states,“…studies consistently show that older children and adolescents utilize media at incredibly high rates, which potentially contributes to obesity and other health and developmental risks.”The Academy supports limiting screen time and media use for children and adolescents. 5

Wireless is a Health Risk and a Possible Carcinogen

In May 2011,the World Health Organization classified wireless radiation a possible carcinogen6. This classification is based on studies linking cell phone radiation to brain cancer, but it also applies to all wireless devices, including wi-fi routers and computers.

The American Academy of Environment Medicine (AAEM) in a letter7 to Los Angeles Unified School district (LAUSD) discusses why precaution for wireless is warranted and strongly recommends hardwiring computers in schools. AAEM writes, “There is consistent emerging science that shows people, especially children are affected by the increasing exposure to wireless radiation….Adverse health effects from wireless radio frequency fields, such as learning disabilities, altered immune responses, and headaches, clearly exist and are well documented in the scientific literature”.The AAEM states 3% of children and staff will be immediately affected 30% will have time-delayed reactions.

Apple provides warnings about health risks of iPads8 including headaches, blackouts, seizures, convulsion, eye or muscle twitching, loss of awareness, involuntary movement, or disorientation. There are consumer complaints about iPad health symptoms on the Apple support Forum.9“Is it just me or someone else also feels dizzy or nausea after using iPad for a while? 

“YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!! I’ve been getting it too…”

” I have the same problem you have… I looove the ipad but I don’t think I can keep it as I get nausea and feel a bit dizzy just using it for a few minutes.”

“… just today finished series of tests…echocardiogram, brainscan, ultrasound on carotid artery,..the works…to diagnose dizziness, and even one fainting episode..since Xmas. Guess what I got for Christmas…iPad…”

Federal Safety Guidelines Don’t Protect Children

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wireless guidelines are for short term (30 minutes) thermal exposures only. There are no safety guidelines specific to children. The FCC is currently reviewing their guidelines, based on a US Government Accountability Office request.10

Dr. Martha Herbert, a Harvard pediatric neurologist and neuroscientist writes,“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 wifi proponents that the only concern is thermal impacts is now definitively outdated scientifically.” 11

Dr. Ted Litovitz, physicist, stated many studies are showing biological effects below the FCC thermal limit, including psychological changes, stress response, DNA damage, and affects on the immune system, heart, and blood brain barrier. According to Dr. Litovitz biological effects are seen at 75,000 times below the FCC guideline!12

Create a Hardwired Computer Lab and Limit Screen Time

Faced with new testing standards and a new common core curriculum the schools are caught between new government mandates and health authorities safety recommendations. SUSD should not mandate computer based learning and computers in the classrooms. Instead, use the funding to create a hard wired computer lab, and limit children’s use to testing, and test preparation. Provide waivers for those parents, or students opposed, or medically unable to test on computers.

Some students will not feel well in a computer based environment and this will affect their ability to concentrate and learn. In Canada one family has sued the school district because the wi-fi in school makes both their children sick. With public schools throughout California and beyond transitioning to wireless computer based learning, this problem will only increase. What will SUSD do to keep more vulnerable children safe?

Furthermore, while you have the funding to upgrade technology, its a great opportunity to ensure all internet connections, including teachers and staff computers are hard wired for the safety of students, teachers and staff. Please keep the phone lines within the school wired and corded too!

Please feel free to contact me with your comments and or questions. I regret I will not be able to present this information in person on Wednesday.

Thank you for your consideration,

Sandi Maurer
EMF Safety Network
PO BOX 1016
Sebastopol, CA 95473 

I have no doubt in my mind that at the present time, the greatest polluting element in the earth’s environment is the proliferation of electromagnetic fields. I consider that to be far greater on a global scale than warming, and the increase in chemical elements in the environment.’’- Dr Robert O. Becker, Author of Cross Currents and The Body Electric

Footnotes

2Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Oldshttp://kff.org/other/event/generation-m2-media-in-the-lives-of/

3 Science and Environmental Health Network FAQ http://www.sehn.org/ppfaqs.html

4 Kaiser Permanente: “Limit Screen Time for healthier Kids”

5 AAP letter to the Federal Communications Commission dated July 12, 2012 http://www.scribd.com/doc/104230961/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-letter-to-the-FCC

6Wireless devices-potential cancer risk says World Health Organization http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?p=4386

12http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?p=11094

Additional Resources

The BioInitiative 2012 Report is an analysis by 29 independent scientists and health experts from around the world about possible risks from wireless technologies and electromagnetic fields. http://www.bioinitiative.org

Wi-fi in schools video: A ten minute introduction to wireless precaution in schools (Australia) http://youtu.be/GJPTzaNkcUk

Professor Olle Johansson Warns of Wireless DNA Damage to children / two minute video http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?p=9990

Is Wi-fi Safe? http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?p=10576 video

Excerpts from eight expert letters submitted to the LAUSD, by Joel Moskovitz, PhD, Director, Center for Family and Community Health,
School of Public Health, UC Berkeley: http://www.saferemr.com/2013_03_01_archive.html

‘Safe Schools 2012′. Medical and Scientific Experts Call for Safe Technologies in Schools. http://wifiinschools.org.uk/resources/safeschools2012.pdf

Scientific Panel on Electromagnetic Field Health Risks: The Selentun Statement

http://www.sagereports.com/smart-meter-rf/docs/Fragopoulou_et_al_2010b.pdf

EMF World Concerns Summary: A compilation of what government, public health and environment organizations and officials, independent scientists, health advocacy groups and activists are advocating around the world in response to the proliferation of EMF, and especially wireless radiation. http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?p=116

Wi-fi in Schools, a consumer advocacy website focused on wi-fi in schools: http://wifiinschools.com/

 

Reduce radiation risk from wi-fi, cell phones, and ipads

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) published  a Fact Sheet on how to reduce exposure to wireless radiation devices.

This video by Wifi in Schools Australia reviews ARPANSA’s advice, explains SAR values, tests iPads vs. iPhones, and tells how to reduce exposure from mobile and other wireless devices.

Canadian Health Authority warns about cell phone/ fertility risks

Screen shot 2013-08-01 at 7.31.12 AMThe BC Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC)  recommends that men keep cell phones out of their pants pocket and limit mobile phone use.  The report confirms that there is consistent evidence that exposure to testes is associated with reduced sperm count, motility, concentration and altered cell structure.

In its report, Radiofrequency Toolkit for Environmental Health Practitioners,  the BC CDC states that “the epidemiological studies of men assessed for infertility were consistent in demonstrating decreased sperm motility associated with increased use of mobile phones”.

In the need to understand how harm is caused by exposure to radiofrequency radiation (RF), the review panel noted that “oxidative stress seems one of the more plausible mechanisms of RF-induced sperm damage.”

While the BC CDC report downplays scientific connections between wireless and health, for example cell phones and head tumors, they do offer strategies for “minimizing personal exposure to RF”, including “replacing wireless RF devices, such as phones with hard wired”.

Radiation Research Trust launched a campaign to warn about cell phone fertility risks: Save the Male- Your Future is in Your Hands.  They write, “Research has shown a consistent link between mobile phone exposure and adverse health effects on male fertility and sperm viability.”

Chemicals in electronics can harm kids

babyw_phoneUniversity of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine researchers presented a new study that shows that flame retardants used in everyday products including electronic devices is associated with hyperactivity and lower intelligence in early childhood.

At issue are substances called polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs.  They’ve been widely used as flame retardants.

Aimin Chen, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of environmental health, was the lead author of a study presented recently at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

“PBDEs are everywhere,” Chen says of the chemicals used in such products as baby strollers, carpeting and electronics. “In the United States, almost everyone has detectable levels of PBDEs in their serum.”

While some manufacturers have voluntarily phased out PBDEs in the past decade and additional phase-outs are scheduled this year and beyond, Chen says, the problem won’t simply go away.

“These chemicals stay in the environment for long periods of time” he adds. “They get into the food chain, and babies get exposure from their mothers during pregnancy. Breast milk also contains PBDEs.

“In animal studies, PBDEs can disrupt thyroid hormone and cause hyperactivity and learning problems,” says Chen. “Our study adds to several other human studies to highlight the need to reduce exposure to PBDEs in pregnant women.”

Chen and his colleagues at UC collected blood samples from 309 pregnant women enrolled in a study at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to measure PBDE levels. They also performed intelligence and behavior tests on the women’s children annually until they were 5 years old.

Link to the study abstract.

Family with young children forced to live in the cold and without power for refusing a LADWP Smart Meter

LOS ANGELES- Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has terminated electricity to the family of a middle school teacher, her husband, and their six children for refusing to have a smart meter on their home, which they say caused their family serious health problems.

In July 2012, LADWP installed a Smart Meter on Derek and Anura Lawson’s home without notice or consent.  Their house was part of a smart meter pilot program. Other houses in the neighborhood still have their analog meters.

That same month their four youngest children started to have serious health problems. The mother, Anura Lawson writes they had fevers “out of nowhere”, “as high as 105”, and they “began to have problems controlling their bodily fluids, our five year old began peeing and pooping herself, our four year began to display the same problems…” The mother also struggled with migraines, insomnia, concentration problems and other health symptoms.

The family requested LADWP restore the analog meter.  LADWP then gave them what they said was an analog meter, but the health symptoms persisted.  The family objected.  According to Anura, LADWP ridiculed them.  She says, “When I called customer service, “Jennifer” laughed at me, telling me they would not remove the meter.”

When an agent of LADWP met with the family he said, “This isn’t one of those ‘SmartMeters’ that have been making all those people sick.  These are RF meters. Totally different.”  He talked about how safe radio was and that it had been used for years.  Meanwhile the children’s health problems persisted.

Clearly something had to be done.

In January 2013, after repeated, unfulfilled requests to LADWP for help, the family restored a true analog meter obtained from Jerry Day.   The mother wrote that after the analog meter was restored the children’s symptoms “diminished greatly, they no longer get high fevers, or suffer from loss of their bodily function.”

Two weeks later, LADWP disconnected their electricity.  Anura saw the workers scale a neighbor’s wall, climb the power pole in their backyard and literally cut the wire to their home.   Since February 11th the Lawsons have been living without electricity, without heat, without use of their appliances and without lights.

Joshua Hart, director of Stop Smart Meters! says, “Pilot programs are supposed to be a test to see how a new system operates.  When problems crop up, you don’t punish customers for reporting them- you fix the problem.”

The family has been using candles and battery powered lanterns to see at night.  They are cooking on a camping stove outdoors, and keeping their food cold in ice chests. The family says the incident has been extremely stressful.

This incident echoes other bullying incidents around the country, where people have been cut off after having had their smart meters removed due to health issues.

Sandi Maurer, director of the EMF Safety Network states, “Federal law states customers should be offered smart meters, not be forced to have them on their homes.  LADWP is exceeding its authority by mandating these devices.”

Jerry Day, a video producer on the forefront of empowering customers to stand up for their constitutional rights states, “This is inexcusable.  This is not responsible power company management. This is senseless abuse of utility customers.”

We agree. The Lawsons need their power switched on and an analog utility meter restored on their home.  NOW.

IMPORTANT FOLLOW UP!  Anura Lawson took this issue to the Los Angeles City Council meeting and their power was restored that same day.

In extreme contrast to this situation, Liz Barris of the People’s Initiative Foundation today reports LADWP has removed a smart meter from a property in Hollywood Hills Ca. She says it took two weeks of wrangling with them until a senior manager Vincent Zabukovec 213-367-2725 agreed to the switch.  Here’s her video of the meter swap.

Article written by Sandi Maurer, EMF Safety Network and Joshua Hart, Stop Smart Meters!

PG&E doesn’t care, a kid’s perspective on Smart Meters


Anna Maurer is ten years old. She lives in Sebastopol California. The City of Sebastopol has asked PG&E for a moratorium on Smart Meters twice.  Recently PG&E began installing Smart Meters in Sebastopol near Anna’s neighborhood and school, despite the city’s request.

Smart Meters transmit radio waves, aka RF radiation, (thousands of pulses a day), which the IARC, an arm of the World Health Organization classifies as a 2b (possible) carcinogen, same as DDT and lead.

Anna and her mom have both suffered headaches when near Smart Meters.  Many people have reported health complaints since Smart Meters have been installed, on their homes or in the neighborhoods. Sleep problems, headaches, ringing in the ears, heart problems and more are reported.

Anna’s mom is Sandi Maurer (EMF Safety Network director) who has been working hard to stop Smart Meters. There is a pending proceeding at the CPUC that might allow communities like Sebastopol to be Smart Meter free, but PG&E doesn’t care. They continue to deploy these toxic meters, because they can.

Anna wrote this speech and made this video because she does not want to have to move.

 “I want to protect my town but PG&E doesn’t care.  They don’t care that people could get sick from what they are putting on our homes.”

Here’s her short speech:
“My name is Anna Maurer.  I am ten years old.  I like where I live, I have good friends, a nice house, and I live close to my school.  If my neighborhood gets Smart Meters I will have to move. I don’t want to move because I have the perfect place to live for me.  If I don’t move I will get headaches, and my mom will suffer, as will I.  Smart Meters have made bad things happen for me and my family.  I don’t want to have Smart Meters on my house, in my neighborhood, or in my town.  I don’t think it is right to force people to have a Smart Meter on their home, or pay more not to have one. There could be people like me who are sensitive to Smart Meters and don’t know.  I want to protect my town but PG&E doesn’t care.  They don’t care that people could get sick from what they are putting on our homes.”

When she was 8 years old she talked about how just walking by a Smart Meter gave her flash headaches. See video below.

Prenatal EMF Exposures Can Lead to Childhood Obesity

Posted by Dr. Louis Slesin:

De-Kun Li, an epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California, has a new paper out showing that EMF exposures in the womb are linked to an increased risk of childhood obesity.

“Maternal exposure to high [magnetic fields] during pregnancy may be a new and previously unknown factor contributing to the world-wide epidemic of childhood obesity/overweight,” Li writes in a paper posted today by Scientific Reports, a peer-reviewed, open access journal owned by the group that publishes Nature.

Read the full story at: http://microwavenews.com/news-center/emf-exposures-womb-can-lead-childhood-obesity

New report calls for protecting children and expecting mothers from cell phone radiation

Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI) released a cell phone environmental report calling for tougher standards to regulate cellular technologies—especially for children and pregnant women.

EHHI reviewed hundreds of peer-reviewed studies that examined the potential health threats associated with cellular device use, along with the regulatory standards that have been adopted by the U.S. and other nations.

John Wargo, Ph.D., professor of Environmental Risk and Policy at Yale University and lead author of the report, said, “The scientific evidence is sufficiently robust showing that cellular devices pose significant health risks to children and pregnant women. The weight of the evidence supports stronger precautionary regulation by the federal government. The cellular industry should take immediate steps to reduce emission of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from phones and avoid marketing their products to children.”

EHHI President Nancy Alderman said, “Children between the ages of 8-18 spend an average of 7.5 hours per day—nearly half their hours while awake—on smart phones, computers, televisions or other electronic devices. Exposures to electromagnetic radiation are increasing most rapidly among the youngest in our society, as service providers focus their advertising on children and educational markets.”

Dr. Hugh Taylor, coauthor of the report, summarized his concerns regarding neurological effects from cell phone radiation. “The human brain is especially susceptible to numerous environmental insults that can produce irreversible damage during critical periods of nervous system development between conception and full maturity.  A number of peer-reviewed studies reported changes in the nervous systems of rats, mice and humans following exposure to cell phone radiation. These include diminished learning, diminished reaction time, decreased motor function, reduced memory accuracy, hyperactivity and diminished cognition.”

Taylor explained differences in exposure between children and adults, “The thinner skulls of young children permit cell phone radiation to penetrate brain tissues more deeply than occurs in adults. Devices stored in pants pockets while in standby mode can expose rapidly developing reproductive organs to radiofrequency energy. Storage in shirt pockets will increase exposure to breast tissues. Children’s and fetuses’ rapidly developing nervous systems, more rapid rates of cell division, longer potential lifetime exposure, and longer average use per day all heighten their risks of adverse health effects.”

Wargo cautioned, “Cell phones have enjoyed exceptional freedom from government oversight and control to protect against health and environmental hazards before cell phone devices are marketed. There are no enforceable standards to limit human exposure to cell phone radiation. While the U.S. does not require any regulations to restrict advertising or warnings against use of cellular devices by pregnant women or children, many other nations do.”

Nancy Alderman, president of EHHI, summarized the group’s recommendations. “The government must take greater responsibility for testing cellular technologies before they are marketed to assure their safety, their proper disposal and to educate the public about safe patterns of use.”

Full text EHHI of press release