Most people are unaware of the scientific call to reduce wireless exposures or they dismiss it outright as lacking a scientific basis. However, there is a large body of peer-reviewed and published research indicating cell phone and wireless radiation poses serious threats to children’s health in Europe and other parts of the world. From memory damage in teens, to sperm damage, to cancer in animals and humans, the scientific evidence grows every day.   

Russian experts from the Ministry of Health and the Russian National Committee for Protection Against Non-ionizing Radiation have just released new recommendations for children now moving to online learning at home on computers. They recommend limiting overall screen time, disinfecting the keyboard and using wired rather than Wi-Fi. They also warn against using smartphones for educational purposes. 

In the United States, a Harvard investigation explains how wireless companies are using the same tactics as Big Tobacco. We have to follow the money.  As the history of lead, asbestos and tobacco teaches us, it could take years for protective policy. Children can’t wait decades. 

Worldwide schools and governments are taking action to reduce levels of wireless in classrooms. Some examples:

  • France has banned Wi-Fi in kindergarten and restricts Wi-Fi in school by having the wireless off as the default setting. Teachers have wired (not wireless) computers for internet access. The country launched public health initiatives on how to reduce cell phone radiation exposure years ago. 
  • Israel banned Wi-Fi in nursery schools, restricts Wi-Fi in elementary schools, banned cell phones in classrooms and has a national agency educating citizens on how to reduce cell phone radiation. 
  • Cyprus also has removed Wi-Fi from elementary classrooms and has a strong public awareness campaign educating parents, teenagers and pregnant women. 
  • Belgium banned cell phones manufactured for young children. 
  • Mayors have long called for wired networks to replace Wi-Fi networks in schools in cities such as Borgofranco d'Ivrea, Italy, and Haifa, Israel. 
  • French Polynesia also removed Wi-Fi from nursery schools and like Cyprus, launched a major public health campaign. 

In 2011, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) passed Resolution 1815 “The Potential Dangers of Electromagnetic Fields and Their Effect on the Environment” which calls on European governments to “take all reasonable measures” to reduce exposure to electromagnetic fields “particularly the exposure to children and young people who seem to be most at risk from head tumours...and particularly in schools and classrooms, give preference to wired Internet connections, and strictly regulate the use of mobile phones by school children on school premises.”     

In Spain, the Parliament of Navarre voted to adhere to PACE Resolution 1815 urging the Spanish government to implement the recommendations to apply the precautionary principle. Since 2012, several municipalities in Spain have made similar requests.

In the United States, laws are launching investigations into wireless exposures in schools, and many school districts are taking steps towards safer technology. For example:

  • In 2019, Oregon passed a bill, SB283, which directs the Oregon Health Authority to review peer-reviewed, independently funded scientific studies of health effects of exposure to microwave radiation, particularly school exposures. 
  • In 2017, the Maryland State Children’s Environmental Health And Protection Advisory Council issued first-ever state recommendations for reducing wireless exposure in schools by providing wired—rather than wireless—internet connections.
  • Onteora School District, and Ashland, Massachusetts, have “Best Practices” to turn the Wi-Fi off when not in use and keep devices away from the body posted in every classroom. 
  • Several school districts like Petaluma, California, and Montgomery County, Maryland, have policies that tablets and iPads should be on tables (not laps) prompted by parents raising the health issue of Wi-Fi in school.
  • The Los Angeles school district prohibits school cell towers and has set a wireless exposure limit at 10,000 times lower than FCC limits recognizing the existence of biological effects. 
  • The Massachusetts Breast Cancer Association has released an educational curriculum for high school students. 

Many schools are now test beds for 5G equipment. Companies donate the equipment to under-resourced schools with large fanfare. These children are the guinea pigs. School children are holding 5G virtual reality devices right up to their eyes despite research showing high absorption into brain and eye tissue from these devices. 

America’s largest group of pediatricians, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends families reduce cellphone radiation. They have written letters to the U.S. government repeatedly calling on them to update their laws to protect children and pregnant women because “children are more vulnerable.”  

So what should we do? 

Indeed, it is quite a predicament. On the one hand, we are in an unprecedented situation and safe technology options are not always available. Our children need to learn right? Yet there is no safe level of this radiation identified and it simply would not make sense to increase exposure to a type of radiation that could harm our children. 

What can parents do?

They can educate themselves about how to reduce exposure and talk to friends and family. There are a lot of ways to reduce cell phone and wireless exposure at home. 

They can contact school officials and ask that they provide safe non-wireless technology options for all. This would mean ethernet cords and adapters for devices that do not have ethernet ports so children can hook their computers up without Wi-Fi. 

They can set up a safe computer workstation at home with wired - not wireless- connections and remember to keep the devices always on a table.

They should be aware that video and streaming videos wirelessly are situations where radiation levels can peak. 

Many hands make light work and this issue is quite the challenge. However, parents are unstoppable when it comes to the health of their children. Our children deserve safe technology. 

Theodora Scarato is Executive Director of EHTrust.org