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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 4/21/15

"Aiming to First Do No Harm: The Education of Electronics Users"

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We also need a regulatory environment that protects our health and ecosystem.

I'm especially concerned about the risks of EMR exposure to children. In 2014, Dr. Hugh Taylor, the head of Yale Medical School's ob/gyn department, warned pregnant women and children that exposure to cell phone and Wi-Fi radiation may increase aggressive behavior in children.

After schools install or upgrade their Wi-Fi, parents and teachers report that some children begin bleeding from their noses and ears. Some go on beta-blockers for high blood pressure. Some get strange rashes and become constantly nauseous. In a Canadian school district, several teenagers had heart attacks. Rather than eliminate the Wi-Fi, this school district installed defibrillators, as if teenaged heart attacks are normal.

Other countries have are taking proactive measures: The Israeli Supreme Court is considering banning Wi-Fi in schools.

To address its 24 million Internet-addicts under 18, China has established 250 military-style boot camps.

To prevent addictive behavior and support developing brains, the Taiwanese government will fine anyone who exposes children under two to television, an iPad, or any other device with a screen $2000.

In 2013, the FCC requested comments from the public about its proposed revisions to telecom regulations. The EMR Policy Institute, with which Gary Olhoeft and I are affiliated, submitted a definition of biological harm: "Harmful interference," we wrote, "includes acute, chronic or prolonged exposure to RF signals and emissions that endangers, degrades, obstructs or repeatedly interrupts biological functioning of a person, plant, animal or ecosystem, or that results in adverse health effects from malfunctioning of medical devices."

We proposed that the FCC include this in its definition of "harmful interference." The FCC has never responded to our proposal.

Instead, in September, 2013, this engineering agency reclassified the outer parts of our ears as extremities. A few minutes ago, I explained that hands and feet are extremities, legally able to receive a Specific Absorption Rate of 4.0 w/kg within one gram of tissue, nearly three times as much radiation as the head and trunk are allowed.

Now that the FCC considers your outer ears as extremities, they can legally absorb the same amount of radiation as your hands and feet. The ears of pregnant women, infants, children and people with medical implants can now also receive nearly three times as much radiation--and manufacturers can sell us much more powerful devices.

In 2014, Boston area Starbucks began deploying wireless charging stations in their coffee shops. McDonalds began deploying them in UK.

Gary Olhoeft contacted the Wireless Power Consortium and asked whether their wireless chargers would interfere with his deep-brain stimulator. An administrator told him that the chargers work by magnetic induction.

This raises more red flags. Magnetic induction used by some stovetops can emit magnetic fields into the hundreds of milligauss. With chronic exposure, magnetic fields in the 2- to 5-milligauss range present a risk for cancers and neurological diseases. The World Health Organization declared magnetic fields a possible human carcinogen in 2001; it declared radiofrequency field radiation--which cell phones and Wi-Fi emit--a possible carcinogen in 2011.

Don't manufacturers need to analyze their products' risks to the public? What would be the consequences of seating a small child in a metal-sided stroller at a table with a wireless charger? Shouldn't the public be informed and warned about the consequences before sitting near a charger?

"Let me be specific," Gary Olhoeft emailed. "How close can I get to the wireless charging system? Could Starbucks doors post signs to warn people with medical implants about the EMR emissions inside? At what distance does the wireless power exceed 0.1 milliTesla, the maximum recommended exposure for people with medical implants?"

While this discussion evolved, IKEA announced that it will market furniture with embedded wireless chargers beginning in April, 2015.

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Katie Singer works on public policy with the Electromagnetic Radiation Policy Institute. A medical journalist, her books include The Garden of Fertility; Honoring Our Cycles, and An Electronic Silent Spring: Facing the Dangers and Creating Safe Limits. 

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