March 2023 the Santa Clara County Medical Association (SCCMA), 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 effects of exposure to wireless radiation, eye effects, mental health effects, privacy 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 Practice Recommendations for Safe Tech in Schools 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 biological 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, early toxic exposures and rising childhood chronic diseases that also continue into adulthood. “Children breathe more air, drink more water, and eat more food per kilogram of body weight than adults” (Landrigan 2016). Commonly encountered hazardous substances include pesticides, cleaning products, plasticizers, flame retardants as well as industrial chemicals. The CDC notes, “In the United States, more than 40% of school-aged children and adolescents have at least one chronic health condition,1 such as asthma, obesity, other physical conditions, and behavior/learning problems.” Decades of research indicates that wireless non-ionizing radiation can also act as a cumulative biologic toxicant, even at low levels and is associated with cardiac, reproductive and neurologic harm. Synergistic effects can also occur. Scientific literature is referenced in the SCCMA Best Practices Recommendations.
For information on childhood toxic exposures you can visit these websites or attend their webinar. Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN) and Center for Health Environment and Justice (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 recognize that wireless radiofrequency radiation (RFR) also acts as a biologic toxicant, thus harmful to children, and who also recommend precautionary measures to reduce exposures to wireless emissions. The SCCMA recognizes, as well, the need to reduce distraction, addiction, privacy concerns and commercialization from digital devices. Those recommending reducing RFR in schools include:
- 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 2017 the Reykjavik Iceland International Appeal on Wireless Technology in Schools was signed by 134 physicians, scientists and experts. The appeal states, “We, the signers, are concerned about our children’s health and development in schools with wireless technology for teaching. A vast amount of scientific studies have shown considerable medical risks with long-term exposure to Radiofrequency Radiation (RFR) from wireless devices and networks well below the recommended reference levels from the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). We ask the authorities to take their responsibility for our children’s future health and wellbeing…Cognitive impairments in learning and memory have also been shown. Results from the OECD’s PISA performance surveys in reading and mathematics show decreasing results in countries that have invested most in introducing computers in school…[these risks] stand in marked contrast to the often claimed, but largely unproven possible benefits.”
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 March 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.” As of September 2023, over 200 school districts have joined the lawsuit according to the Wall Street Journal,. These include San Mateo, California; Maryland; Louisiana; Florida; Arizona; Tennessee; Colorado and more. They join the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in singling out social media companies as major contributors to the rising numbers of youth mental health disorders.
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.
In October 2023 A Federal Lawsuit by 33 attorney generals was filed against META (formerly Facebook) for harm to children. The lawsuit alleges that Meta’s deliberately addictive platforms and products have harmed minors and contributed to a youth mental health crisis in the United States. “Tuesday’s multistate federal suit — filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California — accuses Meta of violating a range of state-based consumer protection statutes, as well as a federal children’s privacy law known as COPPA that prohibits companies from collecting the personal information of children under 13 without a parent’s consent.” CNN.
In October 2023 The International Declaration on the Human Rights of Children in the Digital Age, was proposed as a supplement to the 1959 U.N. Declaration on the Rights of the Child. This proposed 2023 Declaration in the Digital Age was addressed to the Secretary General of the U.N., Member States of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, UNICEF, UNESCO, the European Council, and the WHO. The 2023 Digital Age declaration states, “In this document we set out three fundamental legal rights of children regarding the deployment and use of technology: their right to be free from intentionally addictive devices, platforms and apps; their right to be free from harmful exposures to radiation; and their right to be free from commercial exploitation.“
2023 Legislation-Massachusetts Bill S. 316 (2023). An Act relative to best management practices for wireless in schools and public institutions of higher education
In 2023 Massachusetts legislator Paul W. Marks introduced S.316 to provide for best practice recommendations for wireless technologies in schools.
S. 316. An Act relative to best management practices for wireless in schools and public institutions of higher education. Section 98. The department of elementary and secondary education shall develop best practices and guidance for the purchase and installation of wireless internet service in schools. In developing these guidelines, the department shall consider and prioritize practices that protect the health and safety of public school students and staff. https://malegislature.gov/Bills/193/S316
Testimony was presented on October 30, 2023 and includes experts as well as stories of electrosensitivity from Courtney and Amelai Gilardi, Jonathan Mirin and Sandra Galiwango which you can listen to individually by clicking on the time before their names.
Testimony Massachusetts S. 316 Wi-Fi in Schools Bill 2023. Oct 30, 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iW2iQUstrI&t=3113s
51:53: Senate Chair Jason Lewis grants accommodation request and allows S. 316 to be heard at a specific time so testifiers can limit radiation exposure in the chamber and from the electric and magnetic fields at their home computers
53:06: Cece Doucette, Director, Massachusetts for Safe Technology
1:06:26: Shelley Wright, Canadian Educators for Safe Technology
1:08:27: Courtney Gilardi, parent seeking electrosensitivity accomodations in school for daughters
1:11:20: Amelia Gilardi, student with electrosensitivity
1:13:16: Theodora Scarato, Executive Director, Environmental Health Trust, sued the FCC and won
1:18:28: Leslie Frodema, RN, learned about wireless radiation at a brain health conference
1:20:52: Jonathan Mirin, Director, Piti Theatre Company, drama teacher, husband to electrosensitive wife
1:23:25: Sandra Galiwango, MBA, electrosensitive and mother of electrosensitive child
2023 -Safe Tech North Carolina Sponsors Webinar on Safe Tech Schools on Sept 26, 2023
On Sept 26, 2023 Safe Tech North Carolina sponosred a Safe Tech Schools Webinar. Presenters were Kent Chamberlin, PhD, Cindy Russell, MD, Natalie Sadler, MD, Julia Gresser, and Doug Wood of TechSafeSchools.org. Safe Tech Schools Webinar. Sept. 2023. Faculty: Kent Chamberlin, PhD, Cindy Russell, MD, Natalie Sadler, MD, Julia Gresser, and Doug Wood of TechSafeSchools.org. An edited shorter version (14 Min) of Dr. Russells talk “Health Risks of RF Exposure in Schools” with Cindy Russell, MD can be found here.
2023– Privacy: Digital Media and Developing Minds Conference 2023 and The Age Appropriate Design Code of the UK to Protect Children Online
The 2023 Digital Media and Developing Minds Conference in Washington DC brought together physicians and researchers to discuss effects of digital technology on our youth. Keynote Speaker Baroness Beeban Kidron, Founder and Chair of 5Rights Foundation, Crossbench Peer, UK House of Lords, delivers the powerful opening night keynote at the 2023 Digital Media and Developing Minds International Scientific Congress on September 20, 2023. The Baroness pushed though the UK’s law to protect children called The Age Appropriate Design Code (AADC), which came into effect September 2023. The Guardian reported on this here. A comparison of The UK and California’s Age Appropriate Design code can be found here. The Age Appropriate Design Code in the UK is quite thorough containing 15 basic components including, Data Minimization, Data Sharing, Profiling, Parental Controls, Connected Toys, Transparency, Enforcement and the definition of the “Best Interests of the Child”.
Poster Presentation 2023 DMDM Conference – U.S. and International Law and Policy to Address Children and Cell Phone Radiation Health Issues. Theodora Scarato,MSW , Executive Director Environmental Health Trust. Expert Forum Webinar Video- SCIENCE, POLICY AND LAW OF 5G, 4G AND WIRELESS: THE HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT IMPACTS. Oct 29, 2023. EH Trust.
Poster Presentation 2018 DMDM Conference – Adverse Biologic Effects of Digital Technology on Memory and Learning in Children: Wireless Radiofrequency Acts as a Biologic Toxin to the Nervous System. Cindy L. Russell, MD. Executive Director -Physicians for Safe Technology. Adverse Biological Effects of Digital Technology on Memory
- 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/
- Safe Tech Schools Resources. https://www.techsafeschools.org/resources
- Healthy Tech at Home Project. https://healthytechhome.org/resources/how-do-i-protect-children-from-blue-light/
- EMF Medial Conference Videos . https://vimeo.com/showcase/10624511
PST WiFi in Schools 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/
Dozens of states sue Instagram-parent Meta over ‘addictive’ features and youth mental health harms. CNN. Oct 23, 2023. https://www.cnn.com/2023/10/24/tech/states-sue-instagram-parent-meta/index.html#:~:text=Participating%20in%20Tuesday’s%20multistate%20federal,Ohio%2C%20Oregon%2C%20Pennsylvania%2C%20Rhode
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/
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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/
A National and State Profile of Leading Health Problems and Health Care Quality for US Children: Key Insurance Disparities and Across-State Variations. Bethell CD et al. Academic Pediatrics. Vol 11, Issue 3. May–June 2011, Pages S22-S33. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1876285910002500
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Age Appropriate Design Code UK: a code of practice for online services. https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/uk-gdpr-guidance-and-resources/childrens-information/childrens-code-guidance-and-resources/age-appropriate-design-a-code-of-practice-for-online-services/
Children’s Environmental Health Network. https://cehn.org/
Center for Environmental Health. https://ceh.org/
Center for Health and Environmental Justice. https://chej.org/