Grass-roots effort to raise concerns about Wifi in Southborough

by beth on September 15, 2015

Post image for Grass-roots effort to raise concerns about Wifi in Southborough

Above: At a recent public legislator forum, a local advocate for limiting children’s Wifi exposure showed the meter she uses to measure radiation from mobile devices. (Image cropped from Southborough Access Media video)

Some parents concerned about the impact of Wifi on children’s health have been working to raise awareness in Southborough, through the media, and through state legislation.

The issue put Southborough in the headlines when Fay School was sued by parents of a child with diagnosed with Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Syndrome. (Since then, reports indicate a settlement may have been reached.)

But Fay is hardly alone in using Wifi in the classrooms. It’s become standard practice in schools.

While the schools follow federal safety guidelines, some claim those standards are outdated and our children are at risk of being harmed.

Cece Doucette of Ashland led an effort to implement “best practices” in Ashland public schools.* Now she is attempting to build a grass-roots effort to educate the Southborough community about “second hand radiation” through Wifi in schools and public places like libraries.

In late August, she addressed the public during the Q&A at the Legislative Forum held a the Southborough Library. (You can view her speech here, 1 hour 10 minutes into the video.)

Doucette claimed that thousands of scientific studies “are showing biological harm”. She also stated that other countries have “way lower allowability on Wifi radiation to their citizens.”

She informed the audience that she worked with Representative Karen Spilka, to get a bill introduced to state legislators asking them to look at the health impacts of electromagnetic fields. But she believes that it also needs to be worked on “from the grass-roots mode”.

Doucette followed up by attending this month’s Southborough Board of Health meeting with a town resident to talk about their concerns. Southborough Wicked Local covered that discussion:

Doucette, and a Southborough woman who didn’t want her name publicized, presented to the board numerous possible impacts of wireless Internet and cellphone use. The two spoke of alleged effects on people of all ages, including links to cancer, autism and reproductive problems.

The discussion was designed as a launching point on how to get the word out, they said. . .

Doucette told the board that many people who claim there is no scientific evidence of Wi-Fi radiation are reporting what “they’ve learned from the industry.”

“The evidence is there,” she said. “A lot of what the industry has put out for research says there is no problem, but when you look at independent reports that have been done, about 70 percent say there is a big problem.”

Doucette said there are some simple recommendations not to have devices on the body and turn them off when not used.

To read the full article, click here.

So what are the “best practices” that Doucette helped to implement in Ashland? According to a Metrowest Daily News article:

After Doucette made her request, the [Ashland] School Committee did its own research and decided to have the district post signs to raise awareness about best practices for mobile devices. The signs remind teachers to turn off wireless devices when not in use, turn Wi-Fi on only when it’s needed and always place mobile devices on a solid surface.

For more of Doucette’s arguments about second hand radiation, you can read an article on the issue she posted earlier this summer. (It includes her email, if you want to reach out for more information.)

1 Anon September 16, 2015 at 10:39 AM

This is completely irrational, which is not to say that it won’t have some effect in schools, which are especially vulnerable to completely irrational claims such as these.

This is also sad because people worrying about this are suffering from their worry for no reason. Further, we risk putting attention on a topic which can have no safety benefit when there are always real and known risks elsewhere that, if someone wants to work to improve safety, can have real benefits.

There is no risk from wifi or cell phones or cordless phones. These have been studied endlessly in huge population studies worldwide. There is no such thing as electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome. It should be renamed electromagnetic anxiety syndrome. Claims of scientific foundation are baseless.

Given that cell phones, bluetooth headsets, and cordless phones are everywhere pressed to heads while transmitting, and that everything from commercial TV/Radio broadcast signals, to wifi, to baby monitors to florescent lamps put energy in the electromagnetic spectrum into our houses, it was reasonable to study this worldwide and on a large scale. These studies have been done and have shown no risk from normal use in any credible study. Apart from some continued basic scientific study, no action is warranted at this time.

The list of behaviors with known actual and measurable risks that can be avoided (as opposed to WIFI risks which always measure at zero in all studies), is very long and should be taken up systematically and carefully before anything concerning WIFI, cell phones, or cordless phones. We know of lots of causes of illness, injury and death. We do not serve ourselves well if we act on non-issues while leaving anything measurable unaddressed. Work on real problems. They are not in short supply.

2 beth September 16, 2015 at 12:12 PM

Doucette claims that research that shows no harm is mostly industry funded. She further claims that thousands of scientific reports from independent scientific studies show otherwise.

From the SWL article:

Doucette told the board that many people who claim there is no scientific evidence of Wi-Fi radiation are reporting what “they’ve learned from the industry.”

“The evidence is there,” she said. “A lot of what the industry has put out for research says there is no problem, but when you look at independent reports that have been done, about 70 percent say there is a big problem.”

3 Charles September 18, 2015 at 9:42 AM

I would like to actually see these “thousands of scientific reports,” or just one good one in a reputable medical journal. I find it hard to believe that there are that many studies on this topic, and independent groups are just as capable of bad science and pushing an agenda as industry-funded ones.

4 Resident September 16, 2015 at 12:01 PM

This sounds like someone from Ashland coming to press her agenda on Southborough. The linked article referred to a Southborough woman who didn’t want to be named. Calling this a grass-roots effort is a bit of an overstatement.

5 beth September 16, 2015 at 12:19 PM

You have a point.

It’s hard to distill stories to headlines. In the article I clarify that she is attempting to build a grass-roots effort in our community.

(Perhaps the Headline could have been Attempt to build grass-roots effort. . . but that would be a bit wordy. Of course, wouldn’t have been the first time I had a headline that was too long.)

6 Al Hamilton September 16, 2015 at 5:49 PM

WiFi operates at 2.4 GHz (giga Hertz). There is a far more dangerous set of frequencies in the 500 THz (tera Hertz) range that humans are regularly exposed to. The research on these frequencies is clear, regular exposure is a human health hazard and does cause of cancer.

7 n September 18, 2015 at 11:42 AM

view #1: No study has proven that wifi is detrimental to our health.

view #2: No study has proven that wifi is NOT detrimental to our health.

Until enough time has passed to get closer to demonstrating that there are no meaningful negative implications I don’t know why there is so much resistance to erring on the side of caution.

8 Al Hamilton September 18, 2015 at 1:18 PM

You can’t prove a negative. View #2 can never be proved. If we took that approach we would not have flush toilets, electricity, rail roads, canals, or fire.

In life, you have to deal with the world based on the best information available at the time. “You pay your money and you take your chances”

The truth is that very day every one of us is bathed in the electo-magnetic spectrum all day long whether it comes from the sun, the remnants of the big bang, radio and TV sets and towers, transformers, your PC or alarm clock.

9 Charles September 18, 2015 at 3:19 PM

There have been plenty of studies on this topic. Studies have not found any meaningful connection between wifi signals and detrimental health exposures.

http://www.rrjournal.org/doi/abs/10.1667/RR2255.1
http://www.jstor.org/stable/4133177?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

In fact, some research says fear of wifi exposure engendered from media reports about potential dangers can create symptoms, even when no signals are present.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022399912003352%20-%20publication%20(abstract)

So, yes, there is resistance to creating fear about a technology where the preponderance of existing evidence says there is no meaningful danger and hyping up the fears can actually create psychosomatic symptoms.

10 Cecelia Doucette September 28, 2015 at 7:55 AM

Folks, thanks for joining the conversation. As much as I wanted to believe wi-fi radiation is science fiction too, after hundreds of hours of research, I found thousands of world-wide peer-reviewed scientific studies showing we are putting our children and fetuses especially in danger. The one that got me on my feet demonstrated that male human sperm exposed to laptop wi-fi damaged DNA, slowed motility, and decreased the number of viable sperm — in just four hours. Feel free to do your own research, I did a search on the NIH PubMed database using the phrase “Electromagnetic fields adverse effects” and it returned over 3,000 studies.

Industry has been very effective in the U.S. at suppressing evidence of harm, even having detractors post comments on articles like this. See the report issued by Harvard’s Center for Ethics on June 30, 2015, “Captured Agency” which details how the FCC came to be run by industry leaders who are putting profit and convenience above public health. The industry is using the tobacco industry playbook to create doubt so we don’t change our usage and buying patterns.

Those who take the time to do their due diligence will find the scientific evidence of biological harm is clear. We can still benefit from technology but it should be hard-wired, not wireless. All wireless operates off of unshielded wi-fi radiation. There is much you can do immediately to lessen your exposure and teach the ones you love to do the same. Feel free to peruse my research repository as a launch point to do your own independent research then draw your own conclusions. Thanks again for tuning in. https://sites.google.com/site/understandingemfs/

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