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Cyprus bans wireless from Kindergarten and elementary classrooms

At the end of January the Cyprus Minister of Education and Culture issued an "urgent" decree to all Kindergartens and Primary Schools to minimize wireless radiation exposure to children: “We have taken the decision to have the wireless network Wi-Fi disabled in all Public kindergartens in Cyprus.”

Published: March 9, 2017, 7:59 am

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    Wireless is to be removed from all Cyprus kindergartens, and wireless installations are halted in elementary schools and limited to administrative offices. Wired internet, the Ministry says, is already available in all classrooms in the country.

    “Necessary measures to protect children should be taken, and wireless access points should remain inactive when not in use for teaching purposess,” the decree notes, adding that “the consent of parents should be ensured in advance” in cases where children will be exposed.

    The Cyprus National Committee on Environment and Child Health initiated a nationwide campaign several years ago to raise awareness about cell phone and wireless radiation exposures to children, similar to public health warnings concerning tobacco smoke and toxic chemicals.

    At the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies conference at Hebrew University in January 2017, which was organised in cooperation with the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and Environmental Health Trust (EHT), The Cypriot multimedia public awareness campaign was lauded.

    “This Committee has developed tools that are ‘models for other countries’ to follow,” Devra Davis, PhD, and member of the Environmental Health Trust noted at the conference.

    Several countries have announced measures to reduce young children’s exposure to wireless, including France, Brazil, Belgium, and Israel. In Israel, third and fourth grade class internet is restricted to 3 hours per week.

    France passed comprehensive new legislation in 2015, informing the public about how to reduce exposure. French merchants must display SAR Radiation levels for different phone models, all phones must be sold with a headset, cell phone ads aimed at children younger than 14 are banned and phones made for children under 6 are banned.

    The French National Library along with other libraries in Paris, and a number of universities have removed all wi-fi networks.

    The French law from 2015 stipulates that all wi-fi must be be turned off in elementary schools when not in use and cellphone advertisements must recommend headsets to reduce exposure to the brain.

    A 2013 ANSES Report recommended hands free phones, SAR labeling, and “limiting the population’s exposure to radiofrequencies… especially for children and intensive users, and controlling the overall exposure that results from relay antennas.”

    In Herouville-Saint-Clair, the municipality has removed all wi-fi equipment installed in municipal buildings.

    Canada’s Standing Committee on Health of the House of Commons also issued a report recommending a public education campaign and in the Belgian city of Ghent, spaces that cater to children between 0 and three years of age – essentially, pre-schools and day care facilities, are wireless-free.

    “In schools where they work with tablet computers, wi-fi can remain in place,” Ghent education alderwoman Elke Decruynaere explained to Het Laatste Nieuws. “We want all children to have access to internet at school, but we also want to be careful. A report has demonstrated that we need to cautious with exposure of young children to radiation through wireless internet.”

    Politician Peter Dedecker however, spoke out against the plan, saying that the negative effects of radiation are not irrefutably proven and that restricting internet access could limit children’s general educational development.

    “It’s important for children to get used to technology,” Dedecker told deredactie.be. “There are also a lot of educational mobile applications that teach young children about colours and shapes, for example. It would be a shame if the apps can’t be used because there is no wi-fi at school.”

    Dedecker’s area of focus is the government’s telecom and Open Data dossiers.

    In the United States, the Maryland State Children’s Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council recently recommended that the Department of Education in all school districts in the State of Maryland install wired — rather than wireless — internet connections for classrooms, the first state advisory body to issue strict guidelines on radiation exposure, with Massachusetts and Oregon to follow.

    But countries like Switzerland, Italy, France, Austria, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Israel, Russia and China have set RF exposure limits 100 to 10 000 times less than the USA.

    karin@praag.org

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