United Educators of SF Webinar on School Technology Safety

United Educators of San Francisco Webinar: Prefer Wired to Wireless Classrooms

Original EH Trust article here.

Theodora Scarato, Executive Director of Environmental Health Trust

Dr. Cindy Russell of Physicians For Safe Technology

View the webinar here with added referenced videos and news clippings below.

This is a webinar for United Educators of San Francisco ('UESF') on technology in schools. UESF educators signed up to participate in this webinar and received continuing education credit.

The subject areas covered in the webinar include:

  • A review of the UESF Resolution on Technology Safety that addresses wireless radiation
  • A review of the scientific evidence on health effects of wireless radiation.
  • Recommendations for schools on how they can reduce radio-frequency radiation ('RFR') exposures.
  • Examples of actions and reports by teacher unions in North America to protect students and staff.
  • International and and US policy that reduces RFR exposures.
  • Examples of schools banning cell phones in classrooms.
  • Examples of schools and governments banning Wi-Fi in classrooms.
  • Published resources and recommended videos to learn more.

Resources From the Webinar

UESF Resolution and press release

The UESF resolution became official as of May 23rd, 2018. The “Resolution on Enhancing Technology Safety in San Francisco Unified School District” and press release be found on UESF website.

California Department of Health (CDPH) Cell Phone Guidelines

The new three-page CDPH guidance includes practical steps to reduce exposure to cell phone radiation, including keeping the phone away from the body, reducing cell phone use when the signal is weak, reducing the use of cell phones to stream videos and not sleeping with your cell phone.

  • Link to California Department of Health Cell Phone Advisory PDF “How to Reduce Exposure to Radiofrequency Energy from Cell Phones"

  • Link to Press Release California Department of Health Issues Guidelines on How to Reduce Exposure to Radio-frequency Energy from Cell Phones

  • Link to Drafts of CDPH cell phone advice from 2009 to 2017 from Dr. Moskowitz FOIA request.

Top Resources on the Health Risks of Wi-Fi in Schools

  • Link to Questions and Answers on Wi-Fi and Cell Phones in Schools. This two pager is filled with links and resources on why and how to reduce wireless radiation exposure at schools.

  • Link to Checklist on How to Reduce EMF and Wireless Radiation for Schools: A list of actionable steps every school can take to eliminate and reduce EMF exposure at school.

  • Link to Physicians For Safe Technology web site(Executive Director Dr. Cindy Russell)

Articles Mentioned in the Webinar by Dr. Russell

We highly recommend the Santa Clara Medical Association articles: “Wifi In Schools: Are We playing It Safe With Our Kids?” and “Shallow Minds: How the Internet and Wi Fi in Schools Can Affect Learning”

Other articles on schools, cell phones and health

Best Technology Practices for Schools

  • Link to CHPS Low EMF Criteria Fact Sheet: The Collaborative for High Performance Schools has developed Best Practices for LOW EMF classrooms that details how schools can replace wireless networks with wired networks.

  • Link to Upper Sturt Primary School WiFi and Cell Phone Policy: The Upper Sturt School has an excellent safe technology policy on WiFi and Wireless that can be used as a template for other private schools looking for an example of how to approach this issue.

  • Castle Hill High School P&C Committee recommendations to reduce cell phone wireless exposure for students and staff.

  • List of international schools that are taking action to ensure a safer school environment by eliminating or reducing wireless.

  • EHT has developed a short list of key actions that teachers, staff and policymakers can act on to mitigate the EMF in classrooms.

Medical Doctors Recommendations

Doctors recommend reducing EMF in the classroom as much as possible. As dozens of scientists state in their letters compiled by Environmental Health Trust here) wired networks and corded phones are an important part of a safe and healthy school. For example, read letters to Petaluma Public Schools from:

  • Dr. Carpenter,
  • Dr. Anthony Miller
  • Dr. Martha Herbert
  • Dr. Lennart Hardell

  • Over 250 medical doctors are calling on the United Nations for urgent action on this issue. Please read their published appeal at the European Journal of Oncology (read the list of doctors signing.)

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics has repeatedly written the US government calling for cell phone/wireless radiofrequency radiation exposure limits to be updated to protect children who are more vulnerable. Read the American Academy of Pediatrics Letter to US Representative Dennis Kucinich in Support of the Cell Phone Right to Know Act and the Time Magazine News Article – “Pediatricians Say Cell Phone Radiation Standards Need Another Look

  • The EPA awarded educational campaign The BabySafe Project has a statement now signed by over 250 doctors and educators urging pregnant women to reduce wireless exposure to minimize risks to their babies’ brain development. A medical research team at Yale, led by Dr. Hugh Taylor, Chief of Obstetrics at Yale Medicine, found radiofrequency radiation exposure led to higher hyperactivity, poorer memory, and altered brain function—corroborating prior published research findings of altered brain development after exposure.

Printable Resources to Spread the Word

How do I reduce exposure at home?

  • Learn more here about how to reduce RFR exposures at home.

What schools are banning cell phones?

  • EHT has a list of schools banning cell phones here.

Where do I find published science on this issue?

Why have I never heard of this and why is the US government not telling us about this issue?

What videos can I watch to learn more?

San Francisco Educators Pass Resolution Calling For Safer Technology Standards For All San Francisco Schools

Enhancing Technology Safety in San Francisco Unified School District

WHEREAS, cell phones emit radio-frequency energy when they send and receive signals to and from cell towers, and

WHEREAS, cell phone usage in the United States continues to increase, especially among children, and

WHEREAS, current research is suggesting usage of cell phones and other wireless devices and the concomitant exposure to the energy emitted by those phones/devices and by the supporting wireless infrastructure impacts human biology, and

WHEREAS, the developing brains of children and adolescents may be more affected than brains of others by cell phone use, and

WHEREAS, the California Department of Public Health, in December of 2017, issued guidelines on reducing exposure to radio-frequency energy from cell phones, other wireless devices and supporting wireless infrastructure, including

  1. Keeping cell phones away from your body
  2. Not holding phone against the head when calling
  3. Making calls on speaker phone or with wired earbuds
  4. Reducing or avoiding use of cell phones when it is sending out high levels of RF energy (when signals are weak or when downloading large data, such as music or videos)
  5. Not streaming music or videos, wirelessly
  6. Not sleeping with the cell phone in your bed or near your head and the antennas powered on
  7. Not relying on “radiation shields” or other products claiming to block RF energy, electromagnetic fields or radiation from cell phones, and

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that UESF place this matter as an agenda item for discussion in the UESF/SFUSD Labor-Management Health and SafetyCommittee at the first meeting of the committee following passage ofthis resolution, and

THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that said agenda items will include (the discussion of the CA DPH guidelines for reducing exposure to RFR exposures from cell phones, other wireless devices and the supporting wireless infrastructure, (2) the development and dissemination of SFUSD best practices for the reduction of RFR exposures, (3) recommend that all students and families have access to the CA DPH guidelines via the SFUSD Student/Family Handbook, and the posting of the CA DPH guidelines in every classroom (see attached) and

THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that UESF publicize to its members, via e-mail blast (including a link to the CA DPH guidelines) and via publication with the union’s newspaper, the CA Department of Public Health guidelines for reducing exposure to RF energy from cell phones other wireless devices and the supporting wireless infrastructure and

THEREFORE, BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that UESF urge its members to follow the CA DPH recommendations in their personal and professional use of devices emitting radio-frequency energy.

Statements From Individuals and Organizations:

Joel Moskowitz, Director, Center for Family and Community Health, UC Berkeley School of Public Health

“The professionals in California’s health department should be lauded for overcoming political pressures by putting public health above corporate profits. The Department’s evidence-based, cell phone safety guidance enacts an important recommendation of the 240 EMF scientists who signed the International EMF Scientist Appeal, namely “the public (should) be fully informed about the potential health risks from electromagnetic energy and taught harm reduction strategies.”

Barbara Sattler, Professor, RN, DrPH, FAAN, University of San Francisco, School of Nursing and Health Professions

“Our public health guidance has not been keeping pace with our newest evolutions of telecommunication technologies. And yet the health science regarding cellular technologies suggests the need for caution. A very first step would be to apply the California State Health Department Cell Phone Guidelines, particularly in settings where there may be children or workers whose exposures last their whole work day.”

Devra Davis PhD, MPH, founder, and president of Environmental Health Trust

“Around the world today, school districts are on the front lines wrestling with increasingly distracted youngsters who find it difficult to learn how to learn. EHT applauds California teachers efforts to regain control of the classroom by limiting the use of cell phones and other wireless devices and ensuring that they and their students understand why and how to practice safe technology.”

Theodora Scarato, Executive Director of Environmental Health Trust

"Children and teenagers have no idea that the phone they love so much exposes them to radiation. Raising awareness in schools is logical, practical and will be life-saving. The Union's resolution adds momentum to the many educational unions nationwide who are developing safer policies on cell phones and wireless. Around the world, over twenty governments have issued advice to reduce exposure to cell phones. Several countries have banned cell phones and Wi-Fi in schools.”

Sandi Maurer, Director, EMF Safety Network

“Thanks to the United Educators of San Francisco and the Department of Public Health for providing this valuable information to reduce wireless radiation, so children and teachers can be better protected in the classroom and at home.”

Ellie Marks, California Brain Tumor Association

“The California Brain Tumor Association thanks Sarah Aminoff and the United Educators of San Francisco for their collaborative work in regard to dissemination of information regarding best practices for reducing wireless exposure for students, teachers and staff. The California Department of Health, based on scientific evidence, published a guideline sheet in regard to this issue in 2017. It contains excellent information as to simple precautions one can take to use wireless technology as safely as possible. It is critical that teachers, parents and students learn of these precautions.

Wireless radiation is not only causing brain tumors but other cancers (wherever the phone is kept on the body), damage to fetuses, damage and death of sperm, and electro-sensitivity. The recent $25 million United States National Toxicology Program study states there is now clear evidence that wireless radiation is causing cancer. Children, teens and young adults are at greater risk as they will have a lifetime of exposure and their bodies absorb more of the radiation emitted.""

Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE)

“The United Educators of San Francisco’s leadership will go far to educate and protect students and staff. The California Department of Health’s advice on how to reduce exposure is the first step in addressing this critical public health issue.

Additional Resources

  • California Department Of Health:Link to Advice On How To Reduce Cell Phone Radiation]

  • Physicians for Safe Technology:Link to Wireless Technology and Public Health

  • Maryland State Children’s Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council:Link to CEHPAC Advice to the Department of Education

  • New Jersey Education Association:Link to “Minimize health risks from electronic devices" and a PDF of Recommendations

  • 2014 National Education Association:Link to Section C-19 of the NEA 2013-2014 on EMF

  • New York State Teachers Union:

    • Link to Press Release
    • Link to Guidelines for Safer Use of Technology
    • Link to Webinar: Risks of wireless technologies and protecting children and staff in schools
  • The Collaborative for High-PerformancePerformance Schools:Link to Low EMF Criteria and School Best Practices

  • Catholic Teachers Association:Link to Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association Position Statement on Wi-Fi

  • Resolutions and Actions:Link to Resolutions Passed by US Unions Regarding Cell Phone, Wireless, and Health

BabySafe Project Resources:

Downloadable PDFs