This is the second guest blog on BRHP. The opinions expressed in it are of Erja Tamminen herself. Publication of these opinions in BRHP does not mean that BRHP agrees with or endorses these opinions. However, publication of guest blogs is an attempt to start an open debate and free exchange of opinions on RF and health.
OUR CHILDREN DESERVE SAFER TECHNOLOGY THAN WIRELESS
There is a technology fever in Finland, even though several international organizations like the World Health Organization, the European Environment Agency, the Council of Europe and the governments of Australia, Belgium, France and Israel emphasize the precautionary principle. In Finland wireless technologies are being favored and the mobile phone industry is influential. Finns areknown to be obedient to authorities and there is a strong reliance on national experts and research done in Finland.
Families have mostly given up their landline telephones, and many children use mobile phone as their only phone. In general, children do not use a hands-free kit, even though the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) gave a cautionary advice in 2009 in which it was advised that it is prudent to restrict children’s’ mobile phone use. Few people are aware of this position, because it was not enough advertised by STUK.
Instead of implementing the precautionary principle, the use of wireless technology is promoted in schools and colleges by the actions of the government and the Ministry of Education. This development is in blatant conflict with the fact that children are more sensitive to radiofrequency radiation. Children´s nervous system is immature, skull bones are thinner than those of adults’, brains contain more fluid and radiation penetrates more deeply into head.
Neglecting all warnings and concerns, leading politicians pursue the opposite direction, which is enhancement of the Information Society Strategy. Its purpose is to expand the use of digital technology, smart phones and laptops, as educational tools in schools and colleges. Such development is already widely taking place. Wlan/Wi-Fi routers, tablets and smartphones are being used in numerous Finnish schools.
What will ensue from the Information Society Strategy and who will reap the benefits?
According to the Ministry of Education the digital agenda creates opportunities for the use of modern technology, and when the plan is realized the society will be more successful and people will feel better than before. However, we already have evidence of the opposite.
It is known, even in the Ministry, that Finnish schoolchildren are not thriving. Migraines, headaches, ADHD-like symptoms, and feeling of being unwell are very common among pupils and students. Huge amounts of funds are directed to the research related to media literacy, but the research regarding health effects of wireless technology to children is neglected.
It is doubtful that the schoolchildren will benefit from the use of wireless technology, but it makes a good business for the companies participating in the development projects. Representatives of the electronics industry, such as Nokia, Elisa, TeliaSonera, Microsoft, Innopark and Hewlett Packard have been well represented in the working group of the Ministry of Education.
The companies will benefit from the hardware and software purchases, as well as computer maintenance. A big problem in Finland is the fact that no one questions the strong and influential position of industry in the working groups of ministries.
This policy should be changed as the current Information Society Strategy is one-sided. It has not considered the health effects of electromagnetic radiation. The following research findings should be taken into account:
Radiation from a Wlan/Wi-Fi router can adversely affect working memory according to a study by Papageorgiou.
Argiro E. Maganiti from Athens University of Technology investigated the effect of radiation similar to Wlan/Wi-Fi technology to brain’s electrical activity. It was noticed that radiation significantly reduced the function of alpha- beta-regions in women.
Argentinian researchers noticed that radiation similar to Wlan/Wi-Fi weakens sperm quality. Wireless networks are exposed to similar radiation group was statistically significant changes in sperm DNA and decreased sperm motility expose the non-group.
Atasoy and his colleagues studied the effects radiation, similar to wireless Internet, to the testicles of laboratory animals. It was found that the damage to the DNA had increased. In addition the levels of endogenous antioxidants catalase and glutathione decreased in the experimental group, probably due to the reduced enzyme activity caused by radio frequency radiation.
In addition, several authoritative international organizations have given regulatory statements, which should have already led to the implementation of precautionary principle:
The cancer research institute IARC of the World Health Organization has classified radiofrequency radiation as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” in 2011.
European Environment Agency, EEA, stated in 2009: “The evidence is now strong enough, using the precautionary principle, to justify the following: “For governments, the mobile phone industry, and the public to take all reasonable measures to reduce exposures to EMF, especially to radio frequencies from mobile phones, and particularly the exposures to children and young adults who seem to be most at risk from head tumours.”
The Council of Europe gave a recommendation in March 2011 that wired Internet connections should be favored in schools.
The recent BioInitiative Report 2012 reviewed more than 1 800 new published studies on electromagnetic fields and mechanisms of action. The researchers, who drafted the summary of the report, emphasize that children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of radiation.
Detrimental effects of radiation to the brain were seen in 98 studies included in the BioInitiative Report. In nine studies there was an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia risk as a result to the exposure to low-frequency electromagnetic fields.
Traditionally, Finnish people are known as honest, hardworking people. In the long term, Finland can succeed only by acknowledging the facts, which includes the health effects of electromagnetic radiation. We should prioritize the wellbeing of children and their long-term health instead of the short-term profits of wireless industry.
Often concerns has been expressed that implementation of the precautionary principle would slow down economy, but according to a report published in January 2013 by the European Environmental Agency there is little evidence to support such assumption. Rather, it can encourage the innovation as it forces companies to find new technological solutions. What we really need is biologically and ecologically sensitive technology. In long term, that can also benefit the industry.