BY CARSON DESHEVY-RENOUF
People today, living in an age of advancement, are surrounded by technology. It has become a way of life to jump on to the next iPhone release, or to make sure we are running on the fastest networks. But what people don’t often consider are the dangers that arise from this technology.
Most technological devices, every iPad, every BlackBerry and every PlayStation, are broadcasters and receivers. They all emit a level of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) within the broadcast fields that they create, levels that some doctors say can cause serious problems.
“(This radiation) can cause male infertility … it increases damage done to sperm DNA,” said Dr. Anne Marie Mingiardi, a physician who works part time in Conestoga’s Health Services office.
Mingiardi, alongside many other Canadian doctors, recently attended a lecture highlighting the hidden dangers of wireless radiation. It was held by American public health expert and president of Environmental Health Trust, Dr. Devra Davis. It not only informed but prepared doctors. Just over a week prior, the Canadian government had announced a $150-million “technology and learning fund” that will pay for the implementation of wireless devices in classrooms from kindergarten to Grade 12.
According to a press release from the Ministry of Education, the fund is designed to “give kids more opportunities to become technologically savvy with tools such as tablets, netbooks, cameras and software, while preparing them for success in the global economy.” This means that classrooms will begin to be designed to keep up with the ever-changing world and prepare students for the challenges that new technology brings. However, this will also introduce students of all ages to wireless networks and devices, further exposing them to the radiation that the devices produce.
“I’m very concerned … the evidence for harm is growing,” Mingiardi said.
Canadians for Safe Technology (C4ST) is a non-profit organization of volunteers whose mission is “to educate and inform Canadians and their policy-makers about the dangers of the exposures to unsafe levels of radiation from technology.” Research in the Journal of Microscopy and Ultrastructure has shown that children, born or not, are most susceptible to EMR, far more than adults.
An experiment was conducted at Yale University that exposed pregnant mice to EMR by placing a cellphone above their water supply and waiting until they gave birth. The experiment was conducted to see how the radiation would affect the mice’s offspring. Once the mice had given birth, their offspring were raised to adulthood and then put through a series of tests. The adult offspring were found to be hyperactive, have impaired memory and a decrease in caution. These symptoms almost resembled those attributed to attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder found in humans.
The other side of this issue is backed by Health Canada. In an email, Health Canada media relations officer Sara Lauer insisted that “there is no convincing scientific evidence that exposure to low-level radio frequency (RF) energy from Wi-Fi (devices) causes adverse health effects in humans … These conclusions are consistent with the findings of other international bodies and regulators (ie. World Health Organization).”
Lauer also insisted that “RF energy levels from Wi-Fi equipment in all areas accessible to the general public, including school settings, are required to meet Health Canada’s exposure guidelines.” This means that all levels of radiation produced from devices introduced to the public must fall within appropriate and safe limits.
According to Health Canada, no studies have been completed in respect to the effects of long-term exposure of EMR, especially involving children. There have been “an abundance of studies that have used frequencies and signal patterns similar to Wi-Fi.” These studies, just as studies done with the radio frequencies produced from Wi-Fi devices, do not focus on long-term effects, even though some of them studied the effects on children.
An international, multi-centre study called MOBI-KIDS is currently underway and is looking into the effects of the use of “communications devices” and environmental factors on young people and their central nervous systems (including the potential of brain cancer). The research for this study will take place over a five-year period. According to Health Canada, it is one of, if not the only research program dedicated to finding concrete evidence on the subject.
Even though Health Canada insists that you have nothing to worry about, those like Dr. Mingiardi insist that you should reduce your exposure to the radio frequencies and subsequent radiation. Turning off devices, using wires instead of wireless, turning on your airplane mode and moving yourself away from devices are all ways to reduce your exposure.
“If you can’t disconnect the Wi-Fi, distance is your friend,” Mingiardi said.
Lauer said, “Health Canada recognizes the need for long-term studies related to children and wireless devices, and will continue to monitor scientific literature on this subject.”