EMF exposure at Schools: an archive of concerns made public by parents and communities
As there’s more information about electrosmog, more individuals and communities express their concern for its potential effects, especially on children. Historically, there has been a particular interest in school exposure levels and other places kids used to frequent.
Electromagnetic pollution (EMF or Electrosmog) is present in every aspect of our lives and every space we frequent every day. It is an invisible type of environmental pollution caused by the use of technologies powered by electricity and telecommunications. It is non-ionizing radiation (classified as possibly carcinogenic 2B by the WHO) that contains unbalanced charges and a polarization that is not compatible with biological systems, such as our bodies and natural ecosystems.
Naturally, there are spaces and places that, due to their energy consumption, wireless connectivity, and attendance, have more polluting EMF sources and higher pollution potency than others.
For example, educational institutions, whether kindergartens, elementary schools, secondary schools, universities, or independent educational institutes, have a huge demand for high-speed Wi-Fi connections, as well as significantly higher electricity demand, and a particular need for diverse technologies working in reduced spaces simultaneously (computer labs, science labs, AV rooms, communications rooms, maintenance machinery, etc.). Not to mention the pollution coming from external sources near the schools, also referred to as far-field EMF exposure, like power lines (high voltage) and wireless communications antennas (cellphones, outdoor wifi).
For decades, experts in different areas of science have investigated the possible repercussions of electromagnetic pollution on constantly exposed children. Their findings have expressed a need to delve deeper into the subject, as the links found have raised concerns.
But, as well as the scientific community, parents, teachers, communities, and organizations from different parts of the world have also expressed their concerns on many occasions, especially for the fast-growing technical evolution in education and the new technological infrastructure being implemented in smart schools. The following are some of the claims that parents and communities have made public through the years.
Fay School in Southborough, Massachusetts. 2015
“A Massachusetts family is suing their son’s school, claiming he has a condition called electromagnetic hypersensitivity—and the school’s WiFi is to blame.”
In the spring of 2013, a young boy (G) at a prestigious Massachusetts grade school began coming home with headaches, itchy skin, and a rash. According to the 45-page complaint filed in the summer of 2015, G’s symptoms always emerged during school hours, then slowly disappeared once he got home. In 2014, they started to get worse. Headaches and itchy skin gave way to nosebleeds, dizziness, heart palpitations, and nausea.
When his condition stumped doctors, his parents “commenced research” of their own. According to the complaint, The Fay School, where G had been a student since 2009, had installed a stronger wireless Internet service in the spring of 2013, the same time he showed symptoms. After linking the two, the parents concluded he had “electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS),” a host of symptoms allegedly caused by exposure to electromagnetic fields. “G’s parents say Fay should switch to Ethernet or find a way to lower emissions in order to accommodate his EHS, which they argue is a disability.”, an article by The Daily Beast wrote.
Dr. Jeanne Hubbuch, the Watertown physician who diagnosed G with electromagnetic hypersensitivity, wrote to the Fay School that there was no other medical explanation for his symptoms. “It is known that exposure to WIFI can have cellular effects. The complete extent of these effects on people is still unknown, but it is clear that children and pregnant women are at the highest risk. This is due to the brain tissue being more absorbent, their skulls are thinner and their relative size is small”, Dr. Hubbuch wrote.
She went on to say that “due to biochemical individuality some people are more susceptible to these effects than others,” and advised precautions be taken in the case of G.
Chipping Norton School in Oxfordshire, United Kingdom. 2015
“Jennifer Fry was just 15 last spring, when she hanged herself in the woods in Oxfordshire — and her parents Debra Fry and Charles Newman blame wireless signals inside her school.”
Jenniffer’s parents claimed that the signals in her schools caused her Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Syndrome. She presented severe headaches, nausea, and fatigue as symptoms, which increased when she was in an area with a wireless network. That was why in her home they disconnected the devices that could cause an acceleration in her EHS.
“Jenny was feeling sick and so was I. I did some research and found out how dangerous WiFi could be, so I decided to remove it from my home. We were both fine, but Jenny continued feeling ill in some areas of her school. She was having a lot of interruptions, not because of being disruptive or bad behavior, but because she often used to leave class to find another place where she could work”, Ms. Fry explained.
They expressed that they want Wi-Fi removed from preschools and schools and also urged the British government to research the syndrome. “I intend to carry on my campaign to highlight the dangers of Wi-Fi…I am not against a bit of technology, but I do feel schools should be aware that some children are going to be sensitive to it and reduce its use,” Ms. Fry told an Australian news site.
Neurologist Dr. Dexter Sun of Lexington Neurology Associates and a professor of neurology at Cornell University Medical College, said he does have patients who complain of the ailments ascribed to EHS.
He acknowledges that some people are highly sensitive to magnetic fields, and though previous studies of cell phones found that they were not an inducement for brain tumors, Sun also raised the specter that no one knows the long-term effects of any of this technology. “The issue is so hard to prove…There has to be some evidence to prove it is Wi-Fi induced, otherwise it is very scary. It needs much more research. Maybe that girl was hypersensitive to a magnetic field…” He added.
Primary School in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland
Alisa Keane, from Downpatrick, Co Down, was dealing with recurring health problems with her sons, James, Conn, and Dara. They suffered severe headaches, nausea, and problems with flagging and erratic concentration when in class, but the symptoms vanished after spending an hour or two at home.
Alisa, teacher and a communications expert, told The Mirror:
“The issues seemed more pronounced with James who is the oldest, but all three boys struggled… When James told me he just couldn’t think in school I was really concerned. He said he could only think straight when he was at home. This was from a very bright boy who loved to learn, he loved to participate but he was really struggling… He was even getting annoyed with his classmates when they chatted as it broke his concentration and he was feeling generally irritated. But once he was home, the fog lifted and he was able to get down to his work happily.
But he often felt nauseous and had a runny nose from an inflammatory problem which took longer to ease off and when it did, he’d be back in class and the problem would start again. Their dad Mark and I noticed a pattern had developed and the only difference between school and home was that we had no WiFi at home, we use the ethernet which is hard wired.”
Alisa researched to see if it was possible that radiofrequency radiation, the RF/ EMF that delivers WiFi, could be an issue. She learned in their school they had two industrial-sized routers, and that the signals were also much stronger than those produced by an average home WiFi hub because of the amount of bandwidth required to accommodate more users.
“I discovered Lloyds of London dropped its insurance cover for WiFi use, and then discovered shockingly that the World Health Organisation International Agency for Research on Cancer classified wireless WiFi radiation as a Group 2B Possible Human Carcinogen. Then they outlined how children’s bodies absorb wireless radiation deeper into their bodies than adults”, Ms. Keane said.
Alysa and Mark, her husband, took the boys out of school. “Within one week we noticed a vast difference. The headaches and nausea were gone, the runny nose and what appeared as allergy symptoms cleared up and they were all able to concentrate and focus”, they added.
Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School in Mississauga, Canada. 2018
“A Mississauga mother says she is protesting the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board (DPCDSB) so her son can go to school…Paulette Rende’s goal is to raise awareness about electro-hypersensitivity (otherwise known as Wi-Fi injury) and the need for digital device safety in Ontario schools”, an article in Mississauga’s local news says.
Paulette’s son, Alex, 17, is a student at St. Paul’s Secondary School in Mississauga that suffers from electro-hypersensitivity and, according to her, he presents a broad spectrum of symptoms, including headaches, congestion, heart palpitations, anxiety, and nausea.
“It’s a bigger problem than people realize… To the detriment of students and teachers, the provincial government has been that ostrich with its head in the sand, ignoring the glaring gaps in health and safety guidelines,” said Rende, who hopes for a change in provincial government that leads to changes in school policy. She also claims that other school boards across the province are having the same issues with Wi-Fi injury.
“We understand and are sensitive to the safety concerns some community members have regarding the use of wireless technology (Wi-Fi) in schools,” Bruce Campbell, the school board’s manager of communications and community relations said in an email. “We are well aware of the specific concerns of this parent and have offered and/or provided numerous accommodations to try to meet the needs of the family…We continue to reach out to them and are currently in the process of trying to set up a meeting to review the results of environmental testing carried out specifically in relation to their concerns at the school,” added Mr. Campbell.
Weston Elementary School in Ripon, California. 2019
“Cell phone tower shut down at elementary school after eight kids are diagnosed with cancer in ‘mysterious’ cluster”, the title of the article reads. In this school, eight children were diagnosed with cancer, all under the age of 10, each with different types of cancer: brain, kidney, liver, and lymphoma.
Sprint, the operator that owns the tower, has shut it down despite insisting the radio frequency levels are 100 times below the federal limit. But the kids’ mothers say their own private investigator found much higher levels, though still below the limit.
Monica Ferrulli, whose son Mason was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2016, told CBS “It is classified as a possible carcinogen. That tells us that there is some evidence out there. We’re not naive to the fact that there could be other components out there – other environmental influences… but the bottom line that we feel in regards to this tower is it doesn’t belong there… if there are any indications that it’s unsafe”
Ferrulli and Kelly Prime, whose son Kyle was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2016, fought to take the tower down for two years. After hiring lawyers earlier in 2019, they finally got assurance in March that it would be coming down.
Their lawyers at The Cochran Firm argue that contamination is the most likely cause of the unusually high rate of childhood cancer in one small area. Ripon, east of Sacramento, has a population of around 14,000; and, according to the American Cancer Society, about 411 Californians per 100,000 develop cancer every year. That’s a rate of 0.0041, and includes adults, who are more likely than children to develop cancer. So, even skeptics say the number of cases affecting children in such a small city is unusual.
On April 2021, Ripon parents rallied again, but this time against a planned AT&T cell tower near Colony Oak Elementary School. About 200 public comments were lodged with the county Board of Supervisors on April 20, many from parents and community members in Ripon. Each one echoed a similar message, specifically that they did not want a cell tower anywhere near Colony Oak Elementary School.
There’s no doubt that there are real concerns about EMF exposure at schools, and they have been manifested for years. These cases are just a bunch of thousands that have not been made public. But, despite the real stories, these and many other similar claims have been ignored with very little or no further investigation at all.
But what if there were scientific evidence to back up these concerns? For decades, scientists and physicians have been investigating this matter, and they have found links that suggest that more investigation is needed in order to set measures to keep kids safe and healthy at schools.
In our next article, our CEO will be analyzing some of these studies and, from his experience, will provide some personal conclusions around this matter.