WiFi in schools: Is it hurting your child?

LAS VEGAS - Microwave radiation from cell phones and WiFI -- it's something a lot of people aren't too worried about.

But a growing contingent of doctors are worried about school children who are -- they say -- under a "constant barrage" of microwave radiation.

In 2011, the World Health Organization declared radiation from WiFi in cell phones as a possible carcinogen right up there with formaldehyde and car exhaust.

Recently, consumer reports gathered the latest research and concluded that people should not carry their cell phones in their pockets or bras.  The revelation prompted some people to wonder why we're adding to the invisible soup of electromagnetic signals by installing WiFi in schools?

For several years, April Tatro-Medlin has been working to warn the Clark County School District about the risks of WiFi exposure in schools.  And at a time when Clark County schools are upgrading their wireless systems, and even providing free laptops in some schools, governments in other parts of the world are removing WiFi systems because of the potential health risks.    

While a clear link between radio frequency radiation and cancer has not yet to be established, there still is an agreement among doctors that children's developing brains and bodies are more vulnerable to most subtle changes in the environment.

"We cannot afford to treat our children as if they are in an experiment without controls," said Dr. Devra Davis, Environmental Health Trust.

Doctor Davis, is an epidemiologist and president of the Environmental Health Trust, which is based in Washington, D.C.  In April, Dr. Davis wrote a letter to Governor Brian Sandoval, R-NV, urging him to consider the issue.

It said in part, "Today's students are the first generation to study under constant bombardment from multiple sources of low level radiation.   Routers beaming signals from the classroom walls,  laptops on their desks, and cellphones in their pockets."

According to Tatro-Medlin, "I think we should all have the choice whether we want our children to be exposed to the upgraded WiFi."

As of this week, every school in the Clark County School District has WiFi.  Forty-two of the schools have enhanced WiFi or total site saturation.    

When 8 News NOW contacted the district to see if they've discussed the risks and considered that other countries are removing WiFi from schools, they responded by saying no one would be available for interviews, so the district issued the following statement:

"While there is no clear and consistent evidence or indication that the WiFi equipment in CCSD schools pose a health risk, all concerns about the safety of students are thoroughly researched and acted upon.
CCSD has provided students with reasonable accommodations if their parents expressed health-related concerns regarding school WiFi systems."

However, Tatro-Medlin says that's not true.

"They told me that I could pick another school," said Tatro-Medlin.

Tatro-Medlin says she has had to shuffle her daughter from school to school to avoid WiFi.  She said her daughter is currently attending Las Vegas High.  However, the WiFi at Las Vegas High School is scheduled to be enhanced over the summer, so Tatro-Medlin plans to change her daughter's school once again.

"Schools around the world are taking steps to reduce WiFi," Dr. Davis said.  "The city of Haifa has recently removed WiFi from the schools. France has policies to have no wifi in kindergarten."

The CCSD's statement continued with, "The implementation of WiFi has allowed for positive benefits in the classroom and it remains an essential part of learning in the 21st century."

While many applaud schools for offering the latest technology, Dr. Davis, and others suggest following the lead of other countries, who are playing it safe and ditching WiFi   

The bottom line: There is no scientific evidence that exposure to microwave radiation from WiFi is safe or dangerous because studies with children have not been conducted.  Dr. Davis, who was among the first to argue against smoking on airplanes, before it was learned that breathing second hand smoke was bad for everyone, told 8 News NOW Governor Sandoval has yet to respond to her letter.


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