Noxtak Technologies

EMF exposure at Schools: Scientific Facts and a Wake-Up Call for Parents

CEO's Office - J. Joaquín Machado

Abstract:

Children are, nowadays, one of the most exposed populations to EMF. These generations are digital natives; they are fully connected at all times, and technologies are an active part of their lives (education, entertainment, social). They are connected 24/7 one way or another, and there is a price to pay for that hyperconnected lifestyle.

Whenever you have a group of people concentrated in a fully connected room, you will have a highly EMF polluted environment. For example, educational institutions, especially high schools, are moving forward with the trend to be digital and wireless in every classroom; consequently, they are highly polluted in terms of Dirty Electricity and High Frequencies EMF. That’s a reality. 

Schools need super high-speed connections, high energy consumption, and have multiple technologies working simultaneously. Additionally, there’s a significant far-field exposure coming from external sources like power lines (high voltage), and wireless communications antennas, phones, outdoor Wi-Fi, etc. 

Many experts in different areas of science have been investigating for decades the possible repercussions of electromagnetic pollution on constantly exposed fetuses, children, and teenagers. Some studies have also noted that children are more vulnerable to radiation than adults because their developing bodies absorb more. 

All the conclusions gathered point in the same direction: There are significant associations between EMF exposure and biological effects in children. We need to keep investigating to determine the extent of this and define possible solutions.

Key Questions:

Are EMFs endangering our children? Why are children more vulnerable? What are the possible effects they can suffer due to that exposure? Should the existing claims be further analyzed? Are parents, communities, and institutions aware of this? What kind of actions can be taken? Who should be acting on this? Are there realistic solutions? It’s the solution to go with fiber connections? And what happens with the cellphones emissions from each student? What happens with bluetooth earbuds and speakers they use all day long? What if we can set a road map for coexistence with technologies responsibly and even so keep using Wi-Fi connections? Are the experts willing to step forward and explore new alternatives? 

The impacts of electromagnetic pollution in biological systems have been proven by decades of scientific research. However, despite all the public claims and evidence, deeper investigations about how EMF radiation impacts people, especially children, have been neglected for years.

EMF is now omnipresent throughout the developed world; and places commonly visited by children, like schools, are cradles of EMF radiation: hundreds of students clustering together with their mobile phones, computer labs, lots of electricity being used, cell phone towers that are often placed hazardously close to schools, and Wi-Fi networks that usually produce three times more radiation than the average domestic Wi-Fi. 

All these factors combined make it evident that the potency of EMF radiation that children are being exposed to each day at school is greater than we could have ever imagined, exceeding the kind of exposure they are likely to receive anywhere else.

But what effects might this exposure be causing on them? Why are they significantly affected? In this article, I’ll be answering these and the primary key questions around this matter.

Children’s Vulnerability

In recent decades, the advances of neurosciences have shown that just like developing bodies are more vulnerable to illness and injury. Developing brains are too. So, children are part of those susceptible populations, as they are more vulnerable to EMFs because of their not-fully developed skeletal structure and nervous system. 

The sheer size and complexity of the human brain need an extended period of growth not seen in any other animal species. According to a study by Dominic Holland et al. at the University of California’s San Diego School of Medicine, infants’ brains increase in size by 64 percent in the first 90 days of their lives.

Children’s brain tissue is highly conductive; also, the blood-brain barrier is more permeable. Because this barrier is not yet fully intact in many young children (as some say it is not fully developed until the age of 7), their brains are even more vulnerable to toxins and free radicals.

In a paper published in 2015, named Children Absorb Higher Doses of Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Radiation From Mobile Phones Than Adults, Robert D. Morris, L Lloyd Morgan, and Devra L Davis agreed that “Even if children and adults had the same tissue dose for a given exposure, the effects of that same dose on the developing brain of a fetus or young child would almost certainly be greater. Younger brains are faster growing and can therefore be more vulnerable to any toxic agent, whether chemical or physical. In addition, the insulating layer of myelin, which acts to protect nerve cells, is far less developed in the child, the skull is thinner, the immune system is still developing, and cells are reproducing far more rapidly than in adults. All of these vulnerabilities increase susceptibility to neurological insult. Neurologists, toxicologists, and brain scientists agree that the developing brain is acutely and uniquely sensitive to hazardous exposures.”

Human brain development continues thereafter into early adulthood, exposing even adolescents to a heightened risk of brain damage. According to investigations, there’s a great need for caution when it comes to exposing children to medications and environmental toxins, as both of these things may impact their growing brains negatively, causing irreversible damage which affects adult cognition and mental health.

Many parents have made the innocent mistake of thinking that giving their children various devices will help them learn, keep themselves entertained, or communicate. But it is important to note that the SAR (specific absorption rate) produced by cell phones differs between children and adults. EMF penetrates greater relative to one’s head size. 

A study from 2011 states that “The SAR for a 10-year old is up to 153% higher than the SAR for the SAM (Specific Anthropomorphic Mannequin) model. When electrical properties are considered, a child’s head’s absorption can be over two times greater, and absorption of the skull’s bone marrow can be ten times greater than adults”.

The effects of EMF Exposure in Children: A review of the evidence

Cancer Risks

Research on childhood exposure to EMF radiation has been remarkably poor, but some preliminary studies conducted on cell phone use in young people found that those under the age of 20 have over a 500% increased risk of developing cancer after only one year of using a cell phone.

There is an increasing research trend indicating there’s a connection between various forms of cancer and EMF exposure. For example, some studies carried out in Sweden indicate that those who begin using either cordless or mobile phones regularly before age 20 have more than a fourfold increased risk of cancer. Additionally, it has been observed that there is an approximately twofold increased risk of childhood leukemia for higher levels of EMF exposure. 

Extremely low-frequency magnetic fields (ELF-MFs) are classified as a possible carcinogenic factor (Group 2B). Over 40 epidemiological studies have been performed looking at a possible link between childhood leukemia and EMFs. Most of those studies have found associations, and there is clearly a statistical association within the studies that have been performed between unusually high magnetic fields and childhood leukemia.

For example, a medical paper released in 2012 concluded that “Epidemiological studies show a consistent association between ELF-EMF and Childhood Leukemia. A 1.4- to 1.7-fold increased risk for exposure levels above 0.3 μT compared to <0.1 μT was found in pooled analyses.”

The Childhood Cancer Research Group at the University of Oxford also conducted a study on cancer rates in relation to power lines. They concluded that “Children who lived within 200 m of high-voltage power lines had a relative risk of leukemia of 1.69… Those born between 200 and 600 m had a relative risk of 1.23.”

A Korean study performed reviewing the data on three different databases was published early in 2021. In this study, significant associations were observed between exposure to ELF-MFs and childhood leukemia; and a possible dose-response effect was also observed.

“Children exposed to 0.2-, 0.3-, and 0.4-μT ELF-MFs had a 1.26, 1.22, and 1.72 times higher odds of childhood leukemia. In childhood brain tumors, children exposed to 0.2-μT had 0.95 times higher odds, and those exposed to 0.4-μT ELF-MFs had a 1.25. Children exposed to 0.2- and 0.4-μT ELF-MFs had a 1.10 and 2.01 times higher odds of any childhood cancers.”

Autism

Emerging research is starting to establish a significant link between EMF exposure and autism. According to Dr. Martin Pall, this might be an effect of voltage-gated calcium channel (VGCC) activation and increasing the amount of calcium within the brain cells.  The excess of calcium creates inflammation and ultimately cell death, contributing to autism spectrum-related symptoms.

In 2011, a study was conducted by Stanford University on identical twins. For a long time, we believed that genetics accounted for 90% of Autism risk, but researchers concluded that genetics account for less than half of the risk, and environmental factors are responsible for the remaining portion. Researchers have focused on EMF radiation emissions as the possible environmental factor triggering this.

Dr. Marth Herbert and EMF expert Cindy Sage also released a paper in 2013 that drew a relation between symptoms of autism and symptoms of overexposure to EMFs. These symptoms include immune aberrations, low total, and reduced glutathione levels, lower activity of the anti-oxidative stress system, and mitochondrial dysfunction. A common attribute among individuals with autism is oxidative stress, which aligns with well-established evidence.

“Various vital but vulnerable mechanisms such as calcium channels may be disrupted by environmental agents, various genes associated with autism, or the interaction of both. With dramatic increases in reported ASCs (autistic spectrum condition) that are coincident in time with the deployment of wireless technologies, we need aggressive investigation of potential ASC – EMF/RFR links. The evidence is sufficient to warrant new public exposure standards benchmarked to low-intensity (non-thermal) exposure levels now known to be biologically disruptive, and strong, interim precautionary practices are advocated”, the paper concluded. 

ADHD & Other Cognitive/Behavioral Disorders

We have seen a strong connection between EMFs, ADHD, and other cognitive and behavioral disorders for some years. In 2008 a study of 13,000 children with behavioral problems was carried out, where their mothers were asked about the use of cell phones during and after pregnancy. The researchers concluded that there was a direct correlation, in fact, an 80% greater trend for children to have behavioral, emotional, and hyperactive conditions after excessive exposure to cell phones prenatal and postnatal.

A group of Korean scientists also articulated an extensive study that grouped a total of 2,422 children from 27 schools in 10 cities in Korea. The study concluded that there is indeed a risk of ADHD symptoms associated with mobile phone use for voice calls and radiofrequency.

According to Electromagnetic fields, pulsed radiofrequency radiation, and epigenetics: how wireless technologies may affect childhood development, by Sage and Burgio, “Symptoms of retarded memory, learning, cognition, attention, and behavioral problems have been reported in numerous studies and are similarly manifested in autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, as a result of EMF and RF exposures where both epigenetic drivers and genetic (DNA) damage are likely contributors.”

Obesity & Asthma

During the last decade, new research has shown that EMFs could be linked to a greater risk of childhood obesity. EMFs have a huge impact on the function of various glands, like the thyroid, adrenal glands, and even the gonadal tissues. This is especially concerning because endocrine glands affect many aspects of metabolism, and their dysfunction causes chaos in our bodies. 

According to a 2012 study made by Kaiser Permanente’s Research Division, prenatal exposure to high MFs (magnetic fields) levels is associated with an increased risk of being obese in offspring than those with lower MF levels. So, maternal exposure to high MF during pregnancy may be a new and previously unknown factor contributing to the worldwide epidemic of childhood obesity/overweight.

Another 2011 study by the same team linked EMF Exposure with Asthma. “After adjustment for potential confounders, a statistically significant linear dose-response relationship was observed between increasing maternal median daily MF exposure level in pregnancy and an increased risk of asthma in offspring: every 1-mG increase of maternal MF level during pregnancy was associated with a 15% increased rate of asthma in offspring. Using the categorical MF level, the results showed a similar dose-response relationship: compared with the children whose mothers had a low MF level during pregnancy, children whose mothers had a high MF level had more than a 3.5-fold increased rate of asthma, while children whose mothers had a medium MF level had a 74% increased rate of asthma…Our findings provide new epidemiological evidence that high maternal MF levels in pregnancy may increase the risk of asthma in offspring.”

My conclusions: We need to do more, explore new avenues and alternatives to approach this issue affecting our children and young populations

We all suffer the consequences of EMF exposure, but children are especially vulnerable to those biological effects. We have to understand that their bodies are different, more fragile, and still changing. We have been experiencing high levels of EMF in our adulthood, but they are growing up with them, they coexisted with radiation even before they were born, and they could be suffering the most significant consequences in the long term. 

Just like Professor Dariusz Leszczyński commented, we have no idea what the long-term consequences of EMF will be. We have not gone that far. But kids are getting their first phones at the age of 6-7 years and have some 70-80 years ahead of them during which they will be exposed to this radiation, and we have no slightest idea what exposures over such a long period can cause.

But, talking about the present, we already see some undeniable effects. There are even thousands of cases like the ones we mentioned in our previous article that exemplify what electro-hypersensitive kids are experiencing nowadays. But, for some reason, most people have decided to ignore or underestimate not only the evidence but also the testimonials.

I want to point out that the evidence and cases exposed here are not absolute truths. Of course, more research, evidence, and case studies are needed to understand the extent of this problem. But, while that happens, we have enough proof to start doing something for the youth’s sake.

Keep in mind that stopping or banning technologies is not and will never be an option. Promoting that is nonsense, and that would mean going backward. We have to understand that the newest generations have a strong bond with technologies, and they will continue using them for learning, communication, and entertainment purposes. That’s the way it should be. So, we need a better approach with them. 

First, let’s really consider and implement the ALARA principle as the foundation upon which we can build a bridge of coexistence with technology. Second, let’s educate youth about the responsible use of technologies and the potential consequences of ignoring healthy use habits. Third, let’s focus on applying all the technologies science-based proven to control: 

  • Dirty power emissions
  • Reduce ELF exposure to Electrical Fields  
  • Filter ELF exposure to magnetic disturbances 
  • Be sure the grounding systems are properly installed 
  • Be sure the artificial light is not full of flickering stressing impulses to the brain
  • Plan a route of safety wireless transmissions ALARA certified. 

Additionally, produce an Educational Campaign oriented to children and teenagers focused on teaching them the consequences of electro-pollution, because, nowadays, educational programs tend to be oriented to parents. In my opinion, there’s a better way, as children need to know and understand this problem just as they know about any other types of environmental pollution. Once they understand, they can act accordingly. These campaigns, paradoxically, should be also brought to social media, which is an excellent channel to promote healthy and smart habits to favor their healthy development. 

With the youth raising awareness in communities, we could start promoting the creation of new standards at an institutional level to set new permissible radiation levels considering the physical features of children; and, that way, industries could implement readapted manufacturing practices to create cleaner technologies by reducing the emissions to the minimum possible. And those remaining emissions needed for the technologies to work should not be a problem. 

For instance, in my experience using the SPIRO® filtering technology in schools, I have seen formidable results with easy implementations. We work in the ALARA principle and draw a road map that allows schools to keep using technologies (even wireless like WIFI) but reducing the harmful biological effects of EMF to zero, so schools and places meant for the youngest people could still be connected and packed with technologies, but without electropollution. 

Finally, I think schools should be counseled about the measures they must take to protect students from EMF and provide them with a completely healthy environment. The idea is to aim for electro-clean schools in the future, no matter how technologically advanced and smart they are. I think that guided by the standard set by organizations like EFEIA, we could achieve institutions with spaces that are entirely accessible, even for the most sensitive students.