Tuesday, December 15, 2015

"Wi-Fi networks in schools and cell towers on your school grounds could significantly increase the cancer risk in your community," warns Dr. Anthony Miller, World Health Organization Expert to MCPS

"Waiting for the government to update their decades old regulations will be too late for the children currently being exposed to RF radiation in your district's classrooms. Wi-Fi networks in schools and cell towers on your school grounds could significantly increase the cancer risk in your community."

Dear Montgomery County Public Schools,

I am a physician epidemiologist specializing in cancer etiology, prevention and screening, currently Professor Emeritus at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. In the past I served as Assistant Executive Director (Epidemiology) of the National Cancer Institute of Canada; Director, Epidemiology Unit, National Cancer Institute of Canada, Toronto, and Chairman, Department of Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics, University of Toronto. I have conducted research on ionizing radiation and electromagnetic fields and cancer. I have served on many expert committees assessing the carcinogenicity of various exposures, including working groups of the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

I am writing to ensure you have accurate information about the research on radiofrequency radiation and health as I understand that Montgomery County Public School District is addressing the health risks of radiofrequency radiation and posting information to parents and staff.

In 2011 a working group of IARC classified Radiofrequency radiation as a Class 2B Carcinogen, a possible human carcinogen (May 31, 2011 Press Release by the International Agency for Cancer, Lyon, France).  The IARC 2013 Monograph vol. 102 details the evidence that provided the scientific basis for the classification: 
      Epidemiological studies that looked at long term cell phone exposures found an increased risk of brain cancer after heavy cell phone exposures equivalent to about 30 minutes a day for over ten years.
   The IARC classification is intended to apply to all radiofrequencies from 0KHz to 300GHz clearly including the 2.45 GHz commonly used for wireless networks in schools; specifically wireless laptops, wireless tablets and Wi-Fi access points.
      Current US exposure guidelines for radiofrequency energy radiation levels were developed three decades ago to avoid heat and they did not consider the unique vulnerability of children to this type of radiation. FCC compliance is therefore not proof of safety.
      Many studies have shown that RF radiation exposures at levels that do not induce heat can damage the nervous system, impair sleep, hearing and reproductive health, and increase the risk of cancer.
      Children absorb RF radiation deeper into their bodies and brain than adults and they are far more vulnerable than adults to adverse effects of RF radiation now and in the future.

I recently co-authored a review paper in the  International Journal of Oncology, which looked at research published after the 2011 IARC 2B classification.  We concluded that radiofrequency fields should be re-classified as a Group 2A probable human carcinogen under the criteria used by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

It often takes many years between the use of a new cancer-causing agent — such as tobacco — and the observation of an increase in cancer rates. Initially, we thought lung cancer was the only effect of smoking but now we understand a myriad of cancers plus heart disease, stroke, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cataracts, inflammation, impaired immune function and more are caused by cigarette smoke. Similarly, research indicates a far too long list of possible biological effects from radiofrequency exposures in addition to brain cancer.  Accumulated research indicates oxidative stress, neurological, immune and reproductive damage occurs after exposure to RF radiation.  It will be some years before we see the full effects from this exposure in the population and understand the full extent of its harmful effects.

We advise that the as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA) principle be adopted for all uses of wireless technology. The federal government should adopt the precautionary principle and put stronger warnings on cell phones and wireless devices. Likewise, school districts should also adopt the precautionary principle and use safe hardwired technology for Internet connections in the classroom. The ALARA principle provides an excellent framework for moving forward.

Waiting for the government to update their decades old regulations will be too late for the children currently being exposed to RF radiation in your district's classrooms. Wi-Fi networks in schools and cell towers on your school grounds could significantly increase the cancer risk in your community. I urge you to educate your school community about the health risks from cell phones and wireless devices so they can take simple precautions to protect their health.  I urge you to act thoughtfully now to reduce wireless exposures in classroom and choose safer corded non-wireless technology for Internet connections to ensure a safe school environment for children, teachers and staff.  

Thank you for considering my comments,

Anthony B. Miller, MD FACE
Professor Emeritus Dalla Lana School of Public Health
University of Toronto


Watch Dr. Miller lecture on the International Agency for the Research on Cancer classification for wireless radiation at this lecture at The Women's College Hospital 2014 Symposium on Health Issues Associated with the Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields and Microwave Radiation Click HERE


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