Teacher Unions and Parent Teacher Organizations: Health Concerns About Wi-Fi
Teacher unions and PTAs internationally are taking action on the issue of wireless technology.
2018: Montgomery County County Maryland
1/12/2018 The Chief Technology Officer of Montgomery County Maryland, one of the top School Districts in the country shared information on Digital Device Safety to all staff on Friday January 12, 2018. Information brought to him by the Montgomery County PTA Technology committee. Read the information here.
- Consider placing Chromebooks/laptops on desks and tables rather than in laps;
- Don’t forget to shut down and log off of Chromebooks/laptops when moving from classroom to classroom;
- Consider turning off cell phones and keeping them in backpacks or lockers off when not in use;
- If necessary, take eye breaks, 1-to 2 minutes in length, approximately every 15 minutes;
- Attend to task! Avoid distractions such as reading email, playing games, or browsing the Internet;
- Engage in face-to-face socialization, especially at free time, lunch, and recess;
- Always use the Internet and devices for educational purposes in accordance with MCPS’s responsible use policies;
- Use resources that do not infringe on another’s copyright or trademark rights.
- “Disconnect” at least one hour before bedtime. This includes all forms of media and requires online-based homework to be done well in advance of bedtime;
- Keep electronic devices out of bedrooms for a sounder sleep.
- Encourage students, when appropriate, to customize their device screens using tools such as ScreenShader designed to reduce potential eye strain and fatigue
- Consider providing students with options for good behavior that include physical activity and social interaction rather than “device time”;
- When requested, provide paper alternatives for take-home class work.
- Maryland Children’s Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council (CEHPAC):
- New Jersey Education Association (NJEA):
See resources the PTA links to here
- New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) PDF for download to print!
- Press Release: Maryland Children’s Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council (CEHPAC)
2017: Hillsmere Elementary School PTA Writes Letter To Anne Arundel County Opposing a Small Cell Near The School and cites the EMF Scientists. Read the letter.
2016: New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) published the article “Minimize health risks from electronic devices” in the September 2016 NJEA Review. Adrienne Markowitz and Eileen Senn detail how to reduce physical health risks from devices including risks from radiation exposure:
- “Keep devices away from the body and bedroom.
- Carry phones in briefcases, etc., not on the body.
- Put devices on desks, not laps.
- Hard wire all devices that connect to the internet.
- Hard wire all fixed devices such as printers, projectors and boards.
- Use hard-wired phones instead of cell or cordless phones.
- Text rather than call.
- Keep conversations short or talk in person.
- Put devices in airplane mode, which suspends EMF transmission by the device, thereby disabling Bluetooth, GPS, phone calls, and WiFi.
- Use speaker phone or ear buds instead of holding the phone next your head.
- Take off Bluetooth devices when not using them.”
- Read the online NJEA article “Minimize health risks from electronic devices”
- PDF of NJEA article Recommendations
2016: Phoenicia Elementary School Onteora School District, New York State
The PTA wrote a letter to the Onteora School District calling for the Wi-Fi to be turned off as a precautionary action
- Watch a video of the School Board Meetings where letter is read here
- Watch videos of parents and students calling for Wi-Fi removal here.
- Read News Report: Some Onteora parents fear Wi-Fi signals in schools are harming their children.
2016: Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation
The Federation has issued a new call for a moratorium on WIFI and in the Limestone School District and they have taken the issue to the school trustees in that District. “The Teacher Union’s president says there is a growing mountain of evidence that WIFI can pose health risks.” Andrea Loken/OSSTF District President stated in a 3/2016 news interview that, “There are thousands of published peer reviewed papers that are indicating adverse health effects from WIFI and we are seeing an increased awareness around this issue worldwide.”
- Watch the video of the news piece with Union members here .
- Read the National Post article here
- Radio Canada International article here.
2016: Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario
A 3/2016 News Report states that they are calling for a “WIFI moratorium until further health studies are done, and lawmakers can catch up with new regulations.”
- Watch the video of the news piece with Union members here
- Read the National Post article here
- Radio Canada International article here.
2014 United Federation of Teachers (Teachers, nurses and professionals working in New York City).
In 2014 their Wireless Radiation Webpage stated “Wireless radiation is emitted by the myriad of wireless devices we encounter every day. It was once thought to be relatively harmless. However, we now know that wireless radiation can cause non-thermal biological effects as well, including damage to cells and DNA, even at low levels.
Curiously in March of 2016, this statement was removed and replaced with new text mimicking FCC verbiage. However the site still posts how to reduce exposure.
- Resources posted on their site still include Dr. Moskowitz’ Reducing Your Exposure to Wireless Radiation and the BabySafe Project brochure What You Need to Know About Wireless Radiation and Your Baby. “Taking certain precautions around wireless radiation is appropriate for our most vulnerable populations, including pregnant women.”
2014 New York State Teachers Union NYSUT: A federation of more than 1,200 local unions.
“We have enough evidence to justify taking action and we are not willing to wait until our members, their children and the students suffer health consequences from not doing anything,” -Paul Pecorale, Vice President of the New York State United Teachers Union.
- Read the Press Release on Best Practices For Schools prepared for NYSUT
- Download the Guidelines for Safer Use of Wireless Technology in Classrooms Published for NYSUT
- NYSUT hosted a Webinar: Risks of wireless technologies and protecting children and staff in schools.
2014 National Education Association
- Section C-19 of the NEA 2013-2014 Resolutions
- “The National Education Association believes that all educational facilities must have healthy indoor air quality, be smoke-free, be safe from environmental and chemical hazards, and be safe from hazardous electromagnetic fields.”
- “Students and/or their parents/guardians, education employees, and the public should be notified of actual and potential hazards.”
- “School districts should conduct periodic testing for harmful water and airborne particles/agents that are detrimental to the health of students and education employees and shall report the results publicly.”
- “The Association also believes in the development and enforcement of health and safety standards specifically for children.”
2013 Canadian Teacher Federation’s Brief (200,000 elementary and secondary school teachers)
- “CTF is concerned about the lack of definitive research regarding the adverse health effects of Wi-Fi.
- “We propose a prudent approach to the use of Wi-Fi, especially where children are present.”
- “We recommend an education program regarding the relative safety of Wi-Fi exposure and that appropriate resources be developed to educate the public regarding ways to avoid potential exposure risks of Wi-Fi access points and devices.”
- “Pedagogical needs could be met in schools with an approach that limits exposure to Wi-Fi.”
- Read the Briefing The Use of Wi-Fi in Schools – Briefing Document
- 2015: Canadian Teacher’s Magazine published CTF Sounds the Alarm on Wi-Fi
2013 United Teachers of Los Angeles, representing 40,000 teachers and staff
- Resolution passed: “I move that UTLA will abide by current National NEA Policy for Environmentally Safe Schools which states that all employees and stakeholders should be informed when there are changes in their exposure to environmental hazards including electromagnetic radiation and that all stakeholders and the public should be notified of any actual and potential hazards. UTLA will advocate for technological solutions that maintain technology upgrades while not increasing employees exposure to electromagnetic radiation.”
- Health and Human Services Committee 3-6-13 #1: Moved by Kevin Mottus, seconded by John Cabrera.
- UTLA Newsletter editorial by social worker Kevin Mottus.
“There is cause for concern for members’ health and safety, especially women,” said Sandra Wash, a teacher representing the Peel district when the Federation issued a 2014 position statement supporting an Expert Panel recommendation that Health Canada provide the public with more information about radiofrequency energy, and the safe use of wireless technology.
2013 Elementary Teacher’s Federation of Ontario Issued a position statement
ETFO voted to:
- Turn cell phones off in classrooms
- Label the location Of Wi-Fi access points.
- Research Radio Frequency radiation.
- Develop a hazard control program related to wireless microwave radiation through JHSC.
2012 The Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (45,000 Ontario teachers)
- Read the Position Statement here.
- The Teacher Association recommends a wired infrastructure as WIFI “may present a potential Health and Safety risk or hazard in the workplace…The safety of this technology has not thoroughly been researched and therefore the precautionary principle and prudent avoidance of exposure should be practiced.”
- “Controls for WiFi would best be guided by the ALARA principle (As Low As Reasonably Achievable), as well as by applying the concept of prudent avoidance (of non-ionizing radiation).”
- Read CBC News article
- Wireless Resolutions and Proposed Resolutions
- “The BCTF supports members who are suffering from Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity by ensuring their medical needs are accommodated in the workplace.”
- Proposed Resolutions “the World Health Organization’s classification of radiofrequency/electromagnetic fields emitted by wireless devices as a 2B possible cancer risk to humans; that the BCTF ensures all teachers have the right to work in a safe environment, including the right to work in a Wi-Fi/ wireless-free environment.”
- Recommendation to the Ministry of Education that school boards “begin immediate installation of on/off switches for Wi-Fi routers in schools, thereby reducing microwave radiation exposure and reducing health risks to members, and/or provide safer Ethernet cables or fibre optics”.
- Daily News Coverage:Merritt teachers demand protection from wi-fi radiation ‘Evidence is piling up that wi-fi radiation may in fact be harmful’
- Vancouver Sun News Report
2013 The BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC) of 821 Advisory Councils representing over 500,000 parents in British Columbia passed two resolutions.
- Resolution: On/Off switches for WiFi Routers and Protocol for the Use of Wireless Devices
- Resolution 17 “calls on each Board of Education to have one public school at each education level that is free of Wi-Fi, cordless phones and cell phones. This school will only be equipped with wired computers and wired telephones for personal, educational and administrative purposes.”
- Resolution 18 calls on Boards of Education to “cease to install Wi-Fi and other wireless networks in schools where other networking technology is feasible.” passed with a clear majority.
- Read the Position Statement
- “Voice has advocated that new Wi-Fi systems should not be installed in schools, that existing systems should be turned off when not required and that schools should consider whether they really need to use Wi-Fi, which was developed to facilitate Internet access on the move rather than to be used as a convenient alternative to cables in dedicated IT facilities.”
- ” In the light of what has happened to one of our members [who has developed sensitivity to electro-magnetic radiation], I am concerned that so many wireless networks are being installed in school and colleges without any real understanding of the possible long-term consequences.”- Voice General Secretary Philip Parkin
- Voice Blog post.
Los Angeles California Public Schools
- The LA School District Uses a RF-EMF Exposure Threshold 10,000 Less Than the FCC Limits: The OEHS supported a precautionary threshold level that is 10,000 times lower than the current Federal Communications Commission standard. Read the RF Report the LA School District Used to recommend a cautionary exposure level. RADIOFREQUENCY (RF) EVALUATION REPORT Use of Wireless Devices in Educational Settings
2009 LA School Board Resolution Banning Cell Towers from schools and recommending against WiFi.
- “The Board supports responsible deployment of fiberoptic broadband technology which is superior to wireless in speed, reliability, security, durability and protections it affords people and the environment from the potential hazards of exposure to radio frequency radiation.”
- Adopted Resolution
- Press Release: LOS ANGELES BOARD OF EDUCATION MEMBERS VOTE TO PROHIBIT CELL PHONE TOWERS NEAR SCHOOLS
- 2009 December Resolution Condemning Cell towers NEAR Schools as was this T-Mobile Cell Tower across the street from an elementary school.
- Original Resolution
“As long as questions exist as to the adequacy of these federal regulations, local governments should have the ability to include consideration of health and environmental effects of these facilities.” (referring to cell towers)
- Read the motion by Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Michael Antonovich
2000 LA School Board Resolution Opposing Cell Tower Placement on Schools
- Original Resolution
- Resolution calls for precautions with wireless. ‘Whereas, Recent studies suggest there is evidence that radio-frequency radiation may produce “health effects” at “very low field” intensities’
2010 Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association
“The GVTA recommends a precautionary approach to the School District with regard to provision of wireless internet in schools. The precautionary approach comes from the environmental movement and has been adopted as common practice in areas regarding potential environmental, ecological or biodiversity damage. It suggests that the lack of significant evidence is not enough of a reason to be unconcerned. The fact that many other countries have instituted regulations to protect children, seniors, pregnant women and other susceptible populations should be the guide for a District policy on WiFi installation and use in the worksites.”
The GVTA Wireless in Schools Webpage states now that:
- Wi-Fi free zones should be available.
- On/Off routers recommended and record any adverse Wi-Fi health effects.
- Minimal or non-use within elementary schools.
2008 Lucerne Elementary Secondary Arrow Lakes District SD 10 New Denver BC, Canada Opts for “No WIFI
2001 Fletcher Hills PTA Resolution submitted to the California State PTA
- “RESOLVED, that the California PTA supports local municipal zoning setback rules of at 1000 feet or more from an operating wireless transmitter and a school or residential area; and be it further
- RESOLVED that the California PTA supports encouraging schools to use cable lines for all communications services on campus and to avoid the endorsement, purchase or use of wireless local area network systems on campus; and be it further
- RESOLVED that the California PTA recommend that teachers and students should limit use of cellular phones or other mobile devices on school property to emergencies and that cellular phones, pagers and other mobile phones be turned off and placed out of sight while the individual is on school property”
- Resolution on Wireless Equipment/Cellular Phones and Antennas Read it here.