Story at-a-glance –
- A panel of experts presented a wide range of scientific evidence that electromagnetic radiation from cell phones and other wireless technologies has indisputable biological, health and mental health effects, and are of particular concern for children.
- Radiation from cell phones and Wi-Fi has already been shown to cause diminished reaction time, decreased brain motor function, social and emotional problems, and inability to focus on complex and long-term tasks in children
- Cell phone use has been linked to nine types of cancer and to declines in sperm count and fertility
- The evidence clearly supports the need for Wi-Fi-free or low-Wi-Fi areas where pregnant women, children and others sensitive to EMFs can be protected, and for precautionary education for these audiences.
- Based on the well-established DNA impacts, there is sufficient evidence now to take proactive action to protect children, and this is especially important since DNA mutations are irreversible, as well as passed down to future generations.
- Young children should not use cell phones except in an emergency; nor play with cell phones like toys. While one can put the phone in ‘airplane mode,’ which disconnects it from Wi-Fi and the Internet, the cell phone still emits magnetic fields from the battery, shown to have equally important biologically consequences, including links to childhood asthma and obesity from fetal exposures.
- Overuse of the internet and multitasking in children has also been linked with social, emotional and relational underdevelopment and a chronically distracted view of the world
By Dr. Mercola
“It may take some sort of catastrophe to get people’s attention,” said Frank Clegg, former president of Microsoft Canada and founder of Canadians 4 Safe Technology, referring to the increasing saturation of Wi-Fi technologies on the public at large, and especially, children.
Leading experts from top universities recently convened at a program organized by ElectromagneticHealth.org in Connecticut to discuss the reality that such a catastrophe is already brewing and, as the panel warned, is now already negatively impacting children, fetuses and fertility. But the majority of parents are not connecting the dots by linking symptoms in their children to the radiation.
During the discussion “Cell Phones & Wi-Fi – Are Children, Fetuses and Fertility at Risk?,” a wide range of scientific evidence was presented that RF/MW electromagnetic radiation has indisputable biological and health effects, including at non-thermal levels, with chronic exposures generally associated with greater harm. This is the kind of radiation emitted not only by cell phones but also by:
|Wi-Fi routers||Baby monitors||Bluetooth earpieces|
|Smart meters||Cordless phones||Other wireless devices|
‘Our Grandchildren and Children Are Being Used as Lab Rats…’
This quote, from Devra Davis, PhD, MPH, president of Environmental Health Trust, sums up perhaps the most alarming EMF issue to date. The fact is, we know that exposure to this ‘unnatural bath of radiation’ damages DNA and impairs natural cellular repair processes, a phenomenon that may lead to cancer. Yet we are proceeding with this large-scale, uncontrolled experiment anyway.
Because children are still developing, they have rapid cellular replication and growth rates that make them especially vulnerable to DNA damage. They also have a longer lifetime exposure to this new pervasive radiation than any previous generation.
As the expert panel stated, research shows that radiation from cell phones and Wi-Fi has already been shown to cause diminished reaction time in children, decreased motor function, increased distraction, hyperactivity and inability to focus on complex and long-term tasks.
In one controlled study, researchers from Yale University positioned a cell phone above a cage of pregnant mice. The phone was transmitting an uninterrupted active call for the entire 17 days of gestation.
When the exposed offspring were later tested, they showed signs of ADHD, and reduced transmissions in the prefrontal cortex of the brain.1 It’s widely known that children, due to their thinner skulls, smaller brains, softer brain tissue and far more rapidly dividing cells, are far more susceptible to damage from cell phone use than adults. This study clearly showed brain patterns are altered, with life long repercussions from brief prenatal exposures to microwave radiation.
Dr. Taylor indicated that there was a dose-response relationship found, and that disruption to the electrical signaling between neurons resulted in permanent changes in the way the brain is patterned that will carry forward into adulthood. The electrical signaling plays a major role in how the brain develops, which determines a lot of who we are as adults, he said, including “how we think and how we behave.”
“This is the first experimental evidence that fetal exposure to radiofrequency radiation from cellular telephones does in fact affect adult behavior…” said Hugh Taylor, Professor and Chairman, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Yale University.
Camilla Rees, MBA of ElectromagneticHealth.org,2 said Dr. Taylor encouraged the audience to appreciate that while we don’t think of ourselves as being on the cell phone 24 hours a day, the cell phone is still emitting radiation 24/7 and impacting us if it is turned on and near us, day or night.
“It’s not talking on the phone that matters, it’s any time the phone is turned on,” he said. Every 900 milliseconds, whether you are using the phone or not, your cell phone has a spike in radiation because it is looking for a signal from the tower…”
She summarized key impacts on children from cell phone and WiFi radiation drawn from the BioInitiative Report, the Mobilewise (UK) report on cell phone effects on children, Russian research overseen by the Chairman of the Russian National Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, and the Yale report, “Cell Phones: Technology, Exposures, Health Effects.”
Reference to the latest BioInitiative Report’s (2012) section on possible EMF links to autism written by Harvard Professor Dr. Martha Herbert, who runs the Transcend Research Lab at Mass General, was also made. Dr. Herbert has said,
“EMF/RFR from wifi and cell towers can exert a disorganizing effect on the ability to learn and remember, and can also be destabilizing to immune and metabolic function. This will make it harder for some children to learn, particularly those who are already having problems in the first place.”
“Powerful industrial entities have a vested interest in leading the public to believe that EMF/RFR, which we cannot see, taste or touch, is harmless, but this is not true.”
Several panelists mentioned the new condition “Digital Dementia,” increasingly being reported globally, where children are exhibiting signs of deterioration in cognitive abilities from overuse of internet technologies, thought to result from imbalanced development of the brain. The lesser cognitive function will also result from the RF/MW exposures, but researchers who are focused on ‘overuse’ have not been as aware of this factor.
More research is necessary here to ferret out how much of the behavioral and brain effects of technology overuse are coming from the RF/MW, or brain changing aspects use of the technology itself, and the resulting lesser human interaction and lower quality relationships.
An excellent new book by Raffi Cavoukian, renowned singer, children’s champion and supporter of a commercial-free childhood, “#LightWebDarkWeb,” takes a deep philisophical look at society’s unquestioning embrace of these technologies for children. It covers the health, privacy, safety, security, social, societal, mental health and addiction issues from children’s use of social media and modern communications technologies. Raffi says we need to “act quickly to subdue the perils of InfoTech’s shadow,” and “to move the risk-benefit ratio in favor of the LightWeb.”
In light of the growing evidence for harm to children and fetuses, Dr. Davis explained:3
“The cell phone standards we use today for the 6.5 billion cell phones in the world were set 17 years ago and have never been updated, despite the fact that the users and uses of cell phones are very different now. And they’ve never been tested for their safety around children… We’re in the midst of a huge experiment on ourselves and on our children…
A whole generation of people has been unaware of the risks of wireless radiation, and have not been taking precautions. This is why public health officials are so concerned. There is already evidence that exposure to radiofrequency radiation in excess leads to disease. And exposures have grown dramatically in the last few years. Our grandchildren and children are “being used as lab rats in an experiment with no controls… that’s what we are doing with cell phone and wireless radiation with our children today.”
Frank Clegg, formerly CEO of Microsoft Canada, also commented on the adequacy of safety guidelines: Clegg said he is disappointed with industry, and regrets the lack of responsibility demonstrated by the technology sector in turning a blind eye to the biological realities of this radiation.
Nine Types of Cancer are Linked to Cell Phone Use
It was back in 2011 that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a committee of 27 scientists from 14 different countries working on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO), concluded that exposure to cell phone radiation is a “possible carcinogen” and classified it into the 2B category — the same category as the pesticide DDT, lead, gasoline engine exhaust, burning coal and dry cleaning chemicals, just to name a few. The children’s health expert panel explained that, as of 2013, there are nine types of cancer linked to cell phone use, including:
|Glioma (brain cancer)||Acoustic Neuroma (tumor on acoustic nerve)||Meningioma (tumor of the meninges)|
|Salivary Gland Cancer (parotid gland in cheek)||Eye Cancer||Testicular Cancer|
|Leukemia||Thyroid Cancer||Breast Cancer|
The science connecting cell phone and Wi-Fi radiation is among the strongest there is, and children, again, are slated to bear the brunt of what could become a new epidemic of cell-phone and Wi-Fi-induced cancers. The panel reported:
“The latency period between cell phone use and brain cancer is thought to be 20 to 30 years. Brain cancer rates are double for people who’ve been using cell phones for 10 years or more, appearing on the side of the head where they hold their phones, and risks are 5x greater for children using cell phones under the age of 20 than those over the age of 50.”
Fertility and Sperm Count May Be at Risk
Infertility rates have been on the rise in the US, and today’s children may be even worse off than their parents if current trends continue. Several of the panel members focused on this issue, including studies that have found cell phone radiation can affect men’s sperm count and the quality and motility of their sperm. One such study, published in PLoS One,4 found:
“RF-EMR [radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation] in both the power density and frequency range of mobile phones enhances mitochondrial reactive oxygen species generation by human spermatozoa, decreasing the motility and vitality of these cells while stimulating DNA base adduct formation and, ultimately DNA fragmentation. These findings have clear implications for the safety of extensive mobile phone use by males of reproductive age, potentially affecting both their fertility and the health and wellbeing of their offspring.”
The panel further reported:5
“There is a direct relationship between duration of cell phone use and sperm count decline. Sperm count is reduced by half in men who carry cell phones in their pants pockets for four hours per day. The motility of the sperm is also impaired. The testicular barrier, that protects sperm, is the most sensitive of tissues in the body, and is 100x more absorbent. Besides sperm count and function, the mitochondrial DNA of sperm are damaged 3x more if exposed to cell phone radiation.
…DNA mutations have been linked more to damage on the male side in research from Iceland, the assumption being that male sperm is more vulnerable than female eggs, which are more protected. Mutations increase with the age of the father, and more autism and schizophrenia increase with the age of the father.”
EMF-Free Zones Should Be Available for Pregnant Women and Children
The weight of the evidence clearly supports the need for Wi-Fi-free or low-Wi-Fi areas where pregnant women or those hoping to conceive, children and others sensitive to EMFs, can be protected, according to the panel.
The European Council has already taken the exemplary step of recommending that mobile phones and wireless networks get banned in classrooms and schools, according to Dr. Davis, and the Turkish government is launching a campaign to educate pregnant women and young men of reproductive age about the safety risks of cell phone radiation. Rajasthan India has banned cell towers on or near schools. The Israeli Health Ministry has issued a report recommending against Wi-Fi in schools, on the basis that not enough is known about its chronic exposure. It has been shown, however, that increasing numbers of people think and learn better in locations that are free of cell phones, wireless devices and other forms of EMFs.
The Israeli Supreme Court in July ordered the Israeli government to investigate how many Israeli students are suffering from electrosensitivity in response to a brief claiming that it is unreasonable to expose children to WIFI when it is proven to cause sickness. The Government must submit the result of its investigation, supported with a sworn affidavit, to the court by November 16, 2013. Israel Minister of Health Rabi Yaakov Litzman wrote to the Minister of Education saying:
“I do fear that there will come a day that we will all cry because the irreversible damage that we, in our own hands cause the future generation.”
The panel noted that ‘extreme caution’ is advised for pregnant women and women hoping to conceive:6
“Prenatal exposure results in fewer cells in the hippocampus of the brain, the area we need for thinking, reasoning, judgment and significantly impairs the development of neurons in the brain… Some of the most profound effects in children from in utero EMF exposure are emotional and behavioral.”
Around the world, many countries are already adopting the Precautionary Principle regarding cell phone use, and this is also what the panel recommended. Russian officials have issued the recommendation that all children under the age of 18 should avoid using cell phones entirely. The UK, Israel, Belgium, Germany, India, France and Finland also urge citizens to err on the side of caution with respect to their children’s use of cell phones. Panel member Martin Blank, PhD said:
“The precautionary principle is in order here – certain precautions should be taken as a result of the risk that’s been identified. That’s the reason we have seat belts in cars… not because every car is going to crash, but because we want to minimize the damage when they do.”
Safety Recommendations for Cell Phone and Wi-Fi Use
The cell phone industry is one of the fastest growing and strongest global industries in the world today and is even stronger than the pharmaceutical industry. As a multi-trillion dollar industry that funds media around the world they are capable of making sizable political donations and persistent lobbying efforts that dictate government policies, and that also influence science carried out at universities and prominent cancer institutes.
So while cell phone dangers will one day likely be as well known as tobacco dangers, there’s going to be a window when people are extremely vulnerable. And that window is right now. Children are especially vulnerable to damage from cell phone radiation, and should not use them at all (or only for very limited amounts). Men and women who want to have healthy children need to take special precautions to protect their reproductive organs and should not keep phones in their front pockets or close to their abdomens.
In the US, public warnings are not yet commonplace, but it’s still important to protect yourself – and your children. There is plenty of science showing harm to warrant taking action now
The panel advised:7
• Children should not play with radiating cell phones. Young children should not use cell phones except in an emergency. While you can put the phone in ‘airplane mode,’ which disconnects it from Wi-Fi and the Internet, the cell phone still emits magnetic fields from the battery, which have also been shown to have equally important biological consequences.
In no cases should children sleep with cell phones.
Extreme caution was advised for pregnant women or women hoping to conceive due to the profound long-term impact of environmental factors.
• Limit or eliminate Wi-Fi exposures. If you have a WI-Fi router make sure your router is a low power version, not in a high-use area and keep it turned off as much as possible. Consider putting it on a timer so it is only available during certain hours, and never during sleeping hours.
• Schools should not have Wi-Fi. Cabled/wired connections do not pose the same risks. If there is Wi-Fi, again, it should be limited to the time when the Wi-Fi is specifically needed and not be operating at other times. Ideally, classrooms and school libraries and gyms should be WiFi-free.
◦ Resume using landline phones whenever possible. Get rid of your portable phone and use your landline. At the very least, don’t keep your cell phone in your bedroom while you sleep. Be aware even landline phones emit magnetic fields from the speaker, and sensitive people can sometimes feel them, especially on long calls and particularly when using trim phones. Old-fashioned desk phone earpieces offer a greater distance between the speaker and your ear that can make a meaningful difference.
◦ Keep your cell phone away from your body. Avoid keeping it in your pocket or on your belt. If you’re pregnant, keep your cell phone away from your belly. Keep your phone at the other end of the room or on the seat of the car. Use texting more than talking. A cell phone case for the iPhone is available that filters out a significant portion of radiation (but by no means all the power and frequencies and other biologically disruptive signal characteristics also remain). There are several options for shielded cell phone cases and holsters at www.EMFSafetyStore.com.
◦ Use a wired earpiece or headphones with cell phones. Like with landline phones, some people are impacted by the magnetic fields from the speaker in the ear buds, so choose a model with the greatest distance from your ear, or use air tube technology with no electronics near your ear.
◦ Use caution using your cell phone in your car. Signals bounce around inside your vehicle, and your head is the antenna.
◦ Opt-out of new utility meters called ‘smart meters.’ Prevent smart meters from being installed in your home whenever possible.
◦ Avoid using wireless baby monitors, as they all operate on microwave frequency. Look for the old wired monitors.
◦ Know your exposures. You or your community can purchase an RF meter for about $500 to measure the RF in homes, schools, churches, etc. See www.EMFSafetyStore.com.
◦ Support labeling laws that require cell phone manufacturers to list radiation levels in an obvious place on the packaging and at the retailer.