Friday, March 29, 2013

Opposition to the Los Angeles Public Schools Wi-Fi Policy

Opposition to the Los Angeles Public Schools Wi-Fi Policy
March 25, 2013 Update

On March 19, the Executive Committee of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, an international association of physicians and other professionals, wrote a letter to the Los Angeles Unified School District that makes the following recommendation:

"do not add to the burden of public health by installing blanket wireless internet connections in Los Angeles schools. Hardwired internet connections are not only safer, they are stronger, and more secure."

The letter discusses why precaution is warranted:

"There is consistent emerging science that shows people, especially children are affected by the increasing exposure to wireless radiation. In September 2010, theJournal of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine ‐ Fertility and Sterility reported that only four hours of exposure to a standard laptop using WiFi caused DNA damage to human sperm."

"In May 2011, the World Health Organization elevated exposure to wireless radiation, including WiFi, onto the Class 2b list of Carcinogens."

"In October 2012, the AAEM issued a public warning about WiFi in schools that

'Adverse health effects from wireless radio frequency fields, such as learning disabilities, altered immune responses, and headaches, clearly exist and are well documented in the scientific literature. Safer technology, such as use of hardwiring, is strongly recommended in schools.'”

"In December 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics ‐ representing 60,000 pediatricians, wrote to Congress requesting it update the safety levels ofmicrowave radiation exposure especially for children and pregnant women."

"The WiFi systems in schools are typically hundreds of times more powerful than the home consumer systems you may be familiar with. They are also dozens of times more powerful than the cafe and restaurant systems you may have beenexposed to. The WiFi systems in schools are necessarily more powerful than anymicrowave communication systems in any other setting because they are requiredto run hundreds of computers simultaneously. They are also exposing children ‐ the most vulnerable to microwave radiation ‐ to extended periods all day, for their entire childhood."

"This is an unprecedented exposure with unknown outcome on the health and reproductive potential of a generation."

"To install this system in Los Angeles risks a widespread public health question that the medical system is not yet prepared to answer."

The Academy forewarns the District, "caution must be exercised to prevent a potential public health disaster."

"It is unlikely that there are currently enough doctors in Los Angeles County familiar with the biological effects of microwave radiation to diagnose and treat the numbers of children who will potentially become symptomatic from exposure to your wireless system should you elect to install it. Statistics show that you can expect an immediate reaction in 3% of your students and time‐delayed reactions in 30% of them. This will also include teachers."

The full text of this letter is available at:
American Academy of Environmental Medicine Letter to LAUSD 3-19-2013 

March 11, 2013 Update

Dear School Board Members:

I wish to bring to your attention a press release I distributed today as it is relevant to the District's Technology Plan. At a recent meeting, the Board decided to adopt a Wi-Fi system in the LA Unified schools against the recommendations of some American health experts as well as the Council of Europe: and

As you may know, the FCC's regulatory standard protects the population from thermal exposure to microwave radiation from wireless equipment but not from low-intensity, non-thermal exposures.

Since the District ignored these warnings and intends to install wireless networks in the schools, I suggest you consider a requirement that the systems be designed consistent with the ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) principle in order to minimize potential health risks to students and staff. It would be prudent for the Board to follow this course of action based upon the precautionary principle.

In 2003, a major telecommunications company acknowledged in a patent filing that exposure to low intensity, non-thermal wireless radiation is carcinogenic. The technology described in this patent could substantially reduce microwave radiation exposure from a local wireless network. Although I have not done a patent search, I would imagine that the wireless industry holds numerous patents that could reduce microwave radiation exposure from wireless local networks. Unfortunately, the industry has little incentive to apply these patents to extant technology because the FCC has been lax in its regulation of microwave radiation.

The District could become a model for the nation by adopting a Wi-Fi system and distributing tablets/laptops that are compliant with the ALARA principle. School districts and their students throughout the country could also benefit if the Board requires the wireless industry to make this option available to the public.


Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D.

Wireless Industry's Patented System to Reduce Cancer Risk from Wireless Local Networks Never Adopted 

A major telecom company patented a system to reduce "electrosmog" from wireless local networks to reduce cancer risks associated with non-thermal exposures to microwave radiation. The industry has known the risks for many years but has failed to act. Joel M. Moskowitz, PRLog (Press Release) - Mar 11, 2013

Swisscom AG, a major telecommunications provider in Switzerland, filed U.S. and international patent applications for an innovative system to reduce “electrosmog” from wireless local networks (i.e., Wi-Fi) in 2003.

This patent application acknowledged the cancer risk from exposure to wireless radiation eight years before the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer declared that radiofrequency energy, including cell phone and Wi-Fi radiation, is a “possible carcinogen” to humans, like DDT and lead.

Furthermore, the application acknowledged that low-intensity, non-thermal exposures to wireless radiation is genotoxic. This is critical because the current U.S. regulatory standard for wireless radiation, established in 1996, does not protect us from non-thermal exposures ...

To see entire news release:


March 7, 2013 Update

Last night, the Los Angeles Teacher’s Union adopted a resolution to ensure safety from hazardous electromagnetic fields (EMF) in schools including EMF emissions from wireless technology.  The news release can be found on my Electromagnetic Radiation Safety Facebook page at

February 9, 2013

The Los Angeles Unified School District plans to spend $500 million to install Wi-Fi in every classroom and provide every student with a tablet or laptop. 

The initial $50 million pilot phase for this project was discussed at a School Board meeting on February 13, 2013.  Althoughwritten and oral testimony was presented to the Board in opposition to this plan based on concerns about the health and safety of students and employees from continued exposure to Wi-Fi radiation, the Board approved the pilot plan.

For background on this issue and video clips, see these news stories:

Following are excerpts from eight letters submitted in opposition to the plan.

Excerpts from Selected Letters

Martin Blank, Ph.D., College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University
“As a researcher on biological effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF) for over twenty five years, as well as one of the contributors to the 2007 and 2012 Bioinitiative Reports, I am writing to  you concerning the health risks associated with the radiation from WiFi and to urge you not to install WiFi in the schools in your district.”

“RF radiation can cause single and double strand DNA breaks at exposure levels that are currently considered safe under the FCC guidelines. There are also epidemiological studies that show an increased risk of cancers associated with exposure to RF.”

“RF has been shown to cause other potentially harmful biological effects, such as leakage of the blood brain barrier that can lead to damage of neurons in the brain, increased micronuclei (DNA fragments) in human blood lymphocytes--all at RF exposures that are well below the limits in the current FCC guidelines.“

“As noted above, many potentially harmful effects, such as the stress response and DNA strand breaks, occur at nonthermal levels. Since these field strengths do not cause a temperature increase (the only parameter currently accepted as dangerous), they are unwisely considered safe.  It is clear that the safety standards must be revised downward to take into account nonthermal as well as thermal biological responses. Given the problems in current standards, it is essential, for the protection of ourselves and our children, to take a precautionary approach and not install a WiFi system.”

Devra Davis, Ph.D., MPH, Environmental Health Trust
“In our new paper, we conclude that the weight of scientific evidence available at this time supports a classification of cell phone and other wireless technology as a "probable human carcinogen." (2A) The information on which we base this view includes experimental studies as well as a growing number of studies in humans. The criteria on which we rely have been validated through more than three decades of use by the IARC; other materials classified as probable human carcinogen include: diesel engine exhaust, tars, petroleum refining and a number of pesticides. Our paper reviews new studies not available to the IARC in its determination in 2011, including several reports from the team of Swedish investigators led by Lennart Hardell.”

“We note that the American Academy of Pediatrics has expressed its concerns about the growing exposures to children in a letter to Congress dated 12 December 2012: ‘Children are disproportionately affected by environmental exposures, including cell phone radiation. The differences in bone density and the amount of fluid in a child’s brain compared to an adult’s brain could allow children to absorb greater quantities of RF energy deeper into their brains than adults. It is essential that any new standards for cell phones or other wireless devices be based on protecting the youngest and most vulnerable populations to ensure they are safeguarded through their lifetimes.'”

"As many researchers have noted, children are not merely little adults. Their brains and skulls absorb more radiation than do adults. Empirical data have shown a difference in the dielectric properties of tissues as a function of age, mostly due to the higher water content in children's tissues. High resolution computerized models based on human imaging data suggest that children are indeed more susceptible to the effects of EMF exposure at microwave frequencies."

"Please be aware that national authorities in France and Israel are advising against wi-fi expansion, especially in schools with younger children. Many authorities have noted that standards for wireless exposures differ by several orders of magnitude, with those in the home country of the World Health Organization, Switzerland being among the most stringent in the world."

"In fact, research on this topic remains poorly funded in the U.S. The absence of definitive information on risks from wi-fi in the U.S. at this time should not be interpreted as proof of safety."

"Wired systems are far more safe, secure, and speedy, and avoid potential long term public health issues. In addition, wired systems will protect the growing number of persons who are hypersensitive to wi-fi exposures, as well as limit risks to persons with pace-makers or those with other implanted electronic or metal devices that can absorb greater amounts of such radiation."

Katharina Gustavs, Cert. EOH, Building Biology Consultant IBN
 “Second, as an EMF consultant, I recommend choosing wired technologies, especially for Internet access in schools and, in general, keeping RF radiation exposures from all sources as low as possible. In this I follow the recommendations of the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection (2007), the Parliament of the Federal State of Salzburg (2007), the Israeli Parliament (2010), the International Commission for Electromagnetic Safety (ICEMS), the BioInitiative Working Group (2012), and the Seletun Scientific Panel (2010), just to name a few. Understand that with each additional wireless transmitter you add to the school environment, you unnecessarily increase the overall exposure to radio-frequency radiation for each student and staff member. Be inspired by other government agencies and school districts that try reducing the RF exposure of their students and staff members. “

“Last year the Physicians’ Working Group of the Competence Initiative not only launched another International Doctors’ Appeal, but they also released another warning regarding Wi-Fi in which it says: ‘Wi-Fi radiation seems to be perceived as particularly stressful. Not only electrohypersensitive people say so, but also healthy people report their discomfort in the presence of Wi-Fi radiation.”

“Laboratory tests of laptops have shown that the exposure level for a user can easily be greater than 100,000 μW/m2 when the laptop is placed in the lap, which is definitely higher than even elevated urban RF levels. The recently released EMF Guidelines by the EMF Working Group of the Austrian Medical Association consider any level greater than 1000
μW/m2 ‘very far above normal,’ and greater than 10 μW/m2 ‘far above normal.’”

“Do not be fooled by the URS report.* In my testing experience, people tend to adversely react to Wi-Fi radiation, starting at 100 μW/m2 (0.01 μW/cm2). And this is not a whole- body, time-averaged value, which would be much lower, but a peak value. The human body does not care about the ‘accepted practice’ of the FCC.”

“Also, basic logic seems to escape the authors of the URS report. On the one hand, they claim that ‘a cautionary level of 0.1 μW/cm2 is attainablewithin LAUSD classrooms.’ At what distance from any device? At the user distance? From one single Wi-Fi device? For any scenario when all devices in a given classroom are working? How can recommendation
number 3 on page 1-2 be reconciled with number 6? Does this mean that the recommended cautionary level only applies to a single frequency band, i.e. Wi-Fi? What about cumulative exposure from all the different types of wireless frequencies?”

“Ambient exposure levels in a classroom with a Wi-Fi access point may range from 100-4,000 μW/m2 (up to 90,000 μW/m2), depending on a person’s distance to the access point. Compared to the 10 million μW/m2 of the FCC limit, 1000 μW/m2 (0.1 μW/cm2) may sound rather small. Considering that the natural background radiation (in which
human life has evolved) is over a billion times lower (ca. 0.000001 μW/m2), this may give you pause. For your orientation, I have compiled a table with various Wi-Fi exposure levels: 

“The electromagnetic quality of our indoor environment is part of a healthy learning environment. Just because we cannot smell RF radiation does not mean it cannot cause any harm at low levels. Be smart; invest in wired networks and the future health of our children.”

Magda Havas, Ph.D., Environmental & Resource Studies, Trent University, Canada
“The safest way to connect to the internet in the classroom is through either Ethernet cable or through fiber optics.  The worst way to connect to the internet from a health perspective is through Wi-Fi routers.  However, if Wi-Fi routers are deployed in the classroom it is essential that the routers be turned off when not in use and/or turned down to minimize exposure of students and staff.”

“The scientific evidence clearly shows that microwave radiation at levels well below the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) guidelines and at levels now commonly found inside classrooms with Wi-Fi routers causes cancer in laboratory animals, causes heart palpitations in sensitive adults, causes reduced sperm motility and viability, and is associated with symptoms of electrosensitivity that include–but are not limited to–cognitive dysfunction, pain, fatigue, mood disorders (depression, anxiety, irritability), dizziness, nausea, weakness, skin problems, and tinnitus.”

“The current guidelines for microwave radiation are based on a heating effect of a healthy adult male (as they were originally designed for military personnel working near radar antennas).  These guidelines were never designed nor intended to protect children and pregnant women.  The guideline in the U.S. is calculated as the average exposure over a 30-minute period that does not raise the body temperature of tissue by 1 degree Celsius.  The U.S. has no long-term guidelines and no biological guidelines for microwave radiation.  The guidelines in Russia, Switzerland and many other countries are 100 times more protective than those in the United States.”

“Furthermore, in 2011 the World Health Organization classified radio frequency electromagnetic fields as a possible human carcinogen, which is a warning to governments around the world.   Why would we want to place a possible human carcinogen in the classroom?”

Martha Herbert, M.D., Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital :
“In fact, there are thousands of papers that have accumulated over decades and are now accumulating at an accelerating pace, as our ability to measure impacts become more sensitive that document adverse health and neurological impacts of EMF/RFR.  Children are more vulnerable than adults, and children with chronic illnesses and/or neurodevelopmental disabilities are even more vulnerable. “

“EMF/RFR from wifi and cell towers can exert a disorganizing effect on the ability to learn and remember,  and can also be destabilizing to immune and metabolic function.  This will make it harder for some children to learn, particularly those who are already having problems in the first place.“

“I urge you to step back from your intention to go wifi in the LAUSD, and instead opt for wired technologies, particularly for those subpopulations that are most sensitive.  It will be easier for you to make a healthier decision now than to undo a misguided decision later.”

Olle Johansson, Ph.D., Dept of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Sweden
 “In November, 2009, a Scientific Panel comprised of international experts on the biological effects of electromagnetic fields met in Seletun, Norway, for three days of intensive discussion on existing scientific evidence and public health implications of the unprecedented global exposures to artificial electromagnetic fields (EMF) from telecommunications and electric power technologies. This meeting was a direct consequence of on-going discussions already from the mid-nineties, when cellular communications infrastructure began to rapidly proliferate, and stretching through, among many, the Benevento (2006), Venice (2008) and London (2009) Resolutions from this decade, and involving important conclusions drawn from the 600-page Bioinitiative Report published August 31, 2007, which was a review of over 2,000 studies showing biological effects from electromagnetic radiation at non-thermal levels of exposure, which partly was published subsequently in the journal Pathophysiology (Volume 16, 2009). The Bioinitiative Report has, in addition, recently been updated (2012).”

“The Seletun Scientific Statement (2011) recommends that lower limits be established for electromagnetic fields and wireless exposures, based on scientific studies reporting health impacts at much lower exposure levels. Many researchers now believe the existing safety limits are inadequate to protect public health because they do not consider prolonged exposure to lower emission levels that are now widespread.”

“Furthermore, based on the available scientific data, the Seletun Scientific Panel states that:

· Sensitive populations (for example, the elderly, the ill, the genetically and/or immunologically challenged) and children and fetuses may be additionally vulnerable to health risks; their exposures are largely involuntary and they are less protected by existing public safety standards.

· It is well established that children are more vulnerable to health risks from environmental toxins in general.

· The Panel strongly recommends against the exposure from wireless systems of children of any age.

· The Panel strongly recommends against the exposure from wireless systems of pregnant women.”

“Another misunderstanding is the use of scientific publications (as the tobacco industry did for many years) as 'weights' to balance each other. But you can NEVER balance a report showing a negative health effect with one showing nothing! This is a misunderstanding which, unfortunately, is very often used both by the industrial representatives as well as official authorities.”

Joel Moskowitz, Ph.D., School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley
 “Based upon my review of the research of the health effects associated with exposure to radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic radiation (EMR), especially microwave radiation, I feel compelled to register my concern that adoption of Wi-Fi in LAUSD classrooms is likely to put at risk the health of many students and employees in the District.”

“…I was concerned about the health risks of unnecessarily subjecting 660,000 children to 13,000 hours of Wi-Fi microwave radiation during their K-12 school years.”

“I have been calling on the FCC to strengthen its standards and testing procedures to protect the public and workers from the low-intensity, non-thermal risks of RF EMR exposure that have been reported in hundreds, if not thousands, of research studies. These include increased risk of neurological and cardiovascular problems, sperm damage and male infertility, reproductive health risks, and cancer.”

“The precautionary principle should be applied to this critical policy decision. This principle, developed at a U.N. environmental conference in 1992 states that in the absence of scientific consensus if an action has a suspected risk of causing harm, the burden of proof it is not harmful falls on those taking the action, and all reasonable measures to reduce the risk must be taken. Internet access can be provided to students through wires or optical fiber without installing Wi-Fi in the classrooms.”  

(Complete letter: .)

 Cindy Sage, M.A., Sage Associates, Santa Barbara, CA 
“The LAUSD will place hundreds of thousands of school children at risk for illness, learning impairments and other health problems by choosing a delivery technology that produces a toxic emission (radiofrequency and microwave radiation) that has recently been classified as a Possible Human Carcinogen.”

“There is overwhelming evidence that children are more vulnerable than adults to many different exposures (Sly and Carpenter, 2012), including RFR (Wiart et al, 2008), and that the diseases of greatest concern are cancer and adverse effects on neurodevelopment. “

“Existing FCC safety standards are under formal review by the FCC (Proceeding 03-137).  The US Government Accountability Office Report of 2012 recommends to the FCC that it formally reassess, and, if appropriate, change it's current RF energy exposure limit and mobile phone testing requirements related to likely usage configurations,  particularly when phones are held against the body (US GAO, 2012).  The existing FCC public safety standards cannot be presumed for purposes of the LAUSD decision on wireless to be protective of public health under these circumstances.  The existing safety limits do not protect against chronic exposures nor against non-thermal effects of radiofrequency and microwave radiation on human health.  They are specifically not protective of children or smaller-stature individuals (they are developed to be suitable to protect a six-foot man (in stature). They address acute, but not chronic exposures.  And they are not protective against biological effects of non-thermal low-intensity RFR exposures for either children,  adults, or the disabled.”

“LAUSD must incorporate appropriate measures to address the recent World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classification of RFR as a Possible Human Carcinogen before subjecting widespread hundreds of thousands of its District personnel and students to a preventable toxic exposure. The WHO IARC  classified RF radiation as a Group 2B Possible Human Carcinogen; it joins the IARC classification of ELF-EMF (Extremely Low Frequency Electromagnetic Fields) as a Group 2B Possible Human Carcinogen.  The evidence for carcinogenicity for RFR was primarily from cell phone/brain tumor studies but IARC applies this classification to all RFR exposures.”

“New scientific studies of radiofrequency radiation of the kind and at the levels associated with wireless classroom environments report that chronic, whole-body RFR exposure at levels as low as 0.003 microwatts per square centimeter result in adverse health effects on children and adolescents (Thomas et al 2008; Heinrich et al 2010; Thomas et al 2010; Mohler et al 2010). Wireless classrooms will create unavoidable and involuntary exposure to RFR at levels shown to adversely affect memory, learning, cognition, attention, concentration and behavior to school occupants. No level of RFR exposure has been conclusively determined to be safe.”

“LAUSD should not encourage or mandate the use of wireless devices like iPads or wireless computers with associated wireless access points installed in classrooms; or cell phones in learning environments on LAUSD properties. There is evidence that is sufficient to warn against chronic use of wireless devices near or worn on the body related to reproductive organs in both males and females (See Footnote 1).”

Other Submissions

Numerous other individuals submitted written testimony in opposition to the LAUSD WiFi plan including Stephanie and Jeff Austin, Liz Barris, Mary Beth Brangan (Ecological Options Network), Susan Brinchman (Center for Electrosmog Prevention), Merry Callahan, Sue Chiang (Center for Environmental Health), Linda Ewart (Citizens for Safe Technology), C. Gartz, Shane Gregory, Kim Hahn, Joshua Hart (Stop Smart Meters), Kawartha Safe Technology Initiative, Elizabeth Kelley, Barbara Li Santi, Ellen Marks (California Brain Tumor Association), Kiki Iwata and Gail Nicol, Garril Page, Ray Pealer, Sharon Phillips, Deb Rubin, Victoria Siever, Toni Stein (Environmental Health Trust), K. Sundmark, R. Paul Sundmark, and Diane Whitmire.

The testimony in opposition to this policy is available at:  

FCC finally opens review of cell phone safety standards

FCC finally opens review of cell phone safety standards

Nine months after the FCC said it would take a closer look at its standards for cell phone safety to see if the agency needs to revise the 15-year-old guidelines, it finally opened the official inquiry
 March 29, 2013 3:39 PM PDT
Chairman Julius Genachowski circulated a notice of inquiry last June that looked at a series of questions surrounding whether the current standards need to be updated or whether the agency's testing practices should be altered. But it took nine months for the notice of inquiry to become an official part of the FCC docket.
Now that the notice of inquiry is officially registered, the FCC can begin its review and receive comments from the public and industry about its testing process.
When it first discussed reviewing the testing process, the FCC noted that the review was a standard procedure. And there is a chance that the agency may not change the rules at all.

There has been concern from some scientists and consumer advocates that energy absorbed from cell phones could cause cancer and other potential health problems. In 2011, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer reviewed several studies and
 listed mobile phones as a possible carcinogen, putting them in the same category as lead, gasoline engine exhaust, and chloroform.The current standards have not been updated since 1996. These guidelines set a maximum radiation exposure level that is based on how much heat is emitted and absorbed by mobile phones. And the original guidelines for this test were based on behavioral studies on the effects of cellphone radiation on animals in the 1980s.
Still, the National Cancer Institute, which is part of the U.S. government's National Institutes of Health, acknowledges on its website there is some concern over the safety of cell phones. But the group says that studies of cells, animals and humans haven't produced evidence that cellphone radiation can cause cancer.
Even though the FCC hasn't changed its standards for evaluating the safety of cell phones, it has provided consumers with information about how to minimize the risk of exposure to cell phone radiation. For example, the FCC recommends people use the speakerphone feature or an earpiece when talking on the phone, since increasing the distance the device is held from the body greatly reduces exposure.
But the agency has not advocated for stricter warnings nor has it even endorsed these safety measures as necessary. The current review of the standards could change that as the agency will look at its testing procedures as well as the educational information it provides to the public about cell phone safety.
The wireless industry maintains that cell phones are safe. But in a statement on Friday, John Walls, vice president of public affairs for CTIA, said that his industry group "welcomes the FCC's focus on cellphones and health effects."
And he added that the group is confident that the FCC will be guided by science in finding that cell phones and the current testing practices keep consumers safe.
"As the GAO stated in its July 2012 report, 'Scientific research to date has not demonstrated adverse human health effects of exposure to radio-frequency energy from mobile phone use, but research is ongoing that may increase understanding of any possible effects,'" he said in a statement. "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health have reached similar conclusions about the state of the science."
"As this review proceeds, it is important to recall the FCC's Director of Communications has said, 'We are confident that, as set, the [FCC's] emissions guidelines for devices pose no harm to consumers.'"

Urgent: California 6409(a)/Shot Clock Law Floated in Sacramento

Urgent: California 6409(a)/Shot Clock Law Floated in Sacramento

california 6409 Urgent: California 6409(a)/Shot Clock Law Floated in SacramentoCalifornia Assembly Bill 162

[Updated March 28, 2013]
[Updated March 24, 2013]
[Updated March 23, 2013]
[Original March 22, 2013]
[Update/Heads-Up: I've received a copy of Assembly Member Holden's Fact Sheet on AB 162, which has been christened the "Broadband Expansion Act." I've rechristened it the "Wireless Industry Gift and Public Exclusion Act of 2013." In the next day or two I'll be posting the Fact Sheet, and my point-by-point analysis, rebuttal and corrections to the Fact Sheet.]
The wireless industry has quietly dropped an awful bill, Assembly Bill 162, into the hopper in Sacramento to impose severe new rules requiring mandatory and lightning fast wireless collocation approvals by California local governments.
Assembly Bill 162 is a combination Super Section 6409(a) coupled with a Super Shot Clock.  To add icing to the wireless industry’s cake, the bill would effectively eliminate any consideration of whether the applicant has a significant gap in its service, and would define its key terms so broadly as to make nearly every component part of a wireless tower or site (including components not now considered to be either).
Well, really, there’s nothing super about this bill if you’re either a concerned citizen or a local government.
Assembly Bill 162, sponsored by Assembly Whip Chris Holden D-41, started as a housing bill in January.  It was gutted yesterday, on March 21, to become an 8-figure gift to the entire wireless industry.
In its now-morphed form, Assembly Bill 162 would add Section 65964.5 to the Government Code to do the following:
1.  Parrot the opening of Sec. 6409(a) of the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2012 by saying,
(a) Notwithstanding any other law, and pursuant to Section 6409 of the federal Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (47 U.S.C. Sec. 1455), a local government shall approve and may not deny any eligible facilities request for a modification of an existing wireless telecommunications facility that does not substantially change the physical dimensions of the wireless telecommunications facility.
2. Then the next section would make the failure of a Local Government to act on such a request within 45 days result in the project being deemed approved.  
(b)The failure to act on an eligible facilities request within 45 days of receipt of a request shall be deemed an approval of the request. The 45 days shall be tolled if the request is determined to be incomplete. If the request is determined to be incomplete, the local government shall comply with subdivision (c) of Section 65943 of the Government Code.
Section (b) would effectively eliminate any possibility of public hearings in advance of mandatory approvals.  The 45 day shot clock would cut in half the time determined by the FCC to be adequate to process collocations.  The effective result would be that wireless collocation projects would take priority over virtually every other project considered by a local government. 
Section 65943(c) of the Government Code provides for a formal appeal process for projects deemed incomplete by a local government.   Since this is already state law, it seems redundant here.
3.  Forget about coverage gap proof for collocations.  Subsection (c) of Assembly Bill 162 would kill that:
(c) A local government shall not require proof of gap in coverage as part of the approval of an eligible facilities request.
4.  Next, the proposed legislation goes on to define key terms:
(d) For purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:
(1) “Eligible facilities request” or “request” means any request for modification of an existing wireless telecommunications facility that involves any of the following:
(A) Collocation of upgraded transmission equipment.
(B) Removal of transmission equipment.
(C) Replacement of transmission equipment.
(2) “Substantially change” means any of the following:
(A) The mounting of the proposed antenna on the wireless telecommunications facility would increase the existing height of the wireless telecommunications facility by more than 10 percent, or by the height of one additional antenna array with separation from the nearest existing antenna not to exceed 20 feet, whichever is greater, except that the mounting of the proposed antenna may exceed the size limits set forth in this subparagraph if necessary to avoid interference with existing antennas.
(B) The mounting of the proposed antenna would involve the installation of more than the standard number of new equipment cabinets for the technology involved, not to exceed four equipment cabinets, or more than one additional equipment shelter.
(C) The mounting of the proposed antenna would involve adding an appurtenance to the body of the wireless telecommunications facility that would protrude from the edge of the wireless telecommunications facility more than 20 feet, or more than the width of the wireless telecommunications facility at the level of the appurtenance, whichever is greater, except that the mounting of the proposed antenna may exceed the size limits set forth in this subparagraph if necessary to shelter the antenna from inclement weather or to connect the antenna to the wireless telecommunications facility via cable.
(D) The mounting of the proposed antenna would involve excavation outside the current wireless telecommunications facility site, defined as the current boundaries of the leased or owned property surrounding the wireless telecommunications facility and any access or utility easements currently related to the site.
(3) “Wireless telecommunications facility” means equipment and network components, including towers, utility poles, transmitters, base stations, and emergency power systems that are integral to providing wireless telecommunications services.
The definitions in Assembly Bill 162 are so broad as to encompass nearly every portion of a wireless system, including DAS networks.  Moreover, the definitions are in conflict with the plain words of the proposed statue as to what constitutes a substantial change in the physical dimensions of the wireless telecommunications facility.
The definitions (and in part the lack of definitions) would also open the door to the conversion of fully camouflaged sites to morph into ugly monopoles or visible sites.  Moreover, the definitions would allow for the mandatory installation of any type of emergency power system (including diesel powered generators and hydrogen fuel cells) at any cell site.
Assembly Bill 162 is one of the worst bills that would essentially kill public input into wireless siting process for collocations in California.  It would speed up the process to the point where the public would be denied any effective opportunity to have any meaningful review, much less input, on proposed wireless collocations (which seem to be the bulk of wireless projects in California now).
The sponsor of Assembly Bill 162 is one of the most powerful members of the Assembly, and the owner of CHMB Consulting Firm (a real estate consulting firm in Pasadena).  No doubt Mr. Holden’s goal is to promote the rapid deployment of more wireless service in California, but Assembly Bill 162 in its current form is anti-constituent and anti-government.  As it is now set out, the Bill amounts to a massive gift to the wireless industry at the expense of the public and local governments.
Members of the public will need to directly communicate with Assembly Member Holden about Assembly Bill 162, as well as their own local governments and elected representatives, if there is to be any chance to maintain meaningful community and local government involvement in wireless tower collocation siting matters in this state.
To read the original housing bill, now struck, with the replacement wireless industry gift language, click to open the PDF: AB 162 Assembly Bill – AMENDED
Here is a link to the current version of Assembly Bill 162 making its way through the California Legislature:
To express your views about Assembly Bill 162 directly to Assembly Member Holden, you can use his web site’s comment form:
Check back here often to find out what’s happening with Assembly Bill 162.  Share this post with your friends and your local elected officials (who I hope are also your friends).

Thanks to J.D. for his help making this post even better!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Your Phone vs. Your Heart

Your Phone vs. Your Heart

Published: March 23, 2013
CAN you remember the last time you were in a public space in America and didn’t notice that half the people around you were bent over a digital screen, thumbing a connection to somewhere else?
Kristian Hammerstad
Most of us are well aware of the convenience that instant electronic access provides. Less has been said about the costs. Research that my colleagues and I have just completed, to be published in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science, suggests that one measurable toll may be on our biological capacity to connect with other people.
Our ingrained habits change us. Neurons that fire together, wire together, neuroscientists like to say, reflecting the increasing evidence that experiences leave imprints on our neural pathways, a phenomenon called neuroplasticity. Any habit molds the very structure of your brain in ways that strengthen your proclivity for that habit.
Plasticity, the propensity to be shaped by experience, isn’t limited to the brain. You already know that when you lead a sedentary life, your muscles atrophy to diminish your physical strength. What you may not know is that your habits of social connection also leave their own physical imprint on you.
How much time do you typically spend with others? And when you do, how connected and attuned to them do you feel? Your answers to these simple questions may well reveal your biological capacity to connect.
My research team and I conducted a longitudinal field experiment on the effects of learning skills for cultivating warmer interpersonal connections in daily life. Half the participants, chosen at random, attended a six-week workshop on an ancient mind-training practice known as metta, or “lovingkindness,” that teaches participants to develop more warmth and tenderness toward themselves and others.
We discovered that the meditators not only felt more upbeat and socially connected; but they also altered a key part of their cardiovascular system called vagal tone. Scientists used to think vagal tone was largely stable, like your height in adulthood. Our data show that this part of you is plastic, too, and altered by your social habits.
To appreciate why this matters, here’s a quick anatomy lesson. Your brain is tied to your heart by your vagus nerve. Subtle variations in your heart rate reveal the strength of this brain-heart connection, and as such, heart-rate variability provides an index of your vagal tone.
By and large, the higher your vagal tone the better. It means your body is better able to regulate the internal systems that keep you healthy, like your cardiovascular, glucose and immune responses.
Beyond these health effects, the behavioral neuroscientist Stephen Porges has shown that vagal tone is central to things like facial expressivity and the ability to tune in to the frequency of the human voice. By increasing people’s vagal tone, we increase their capacity for connection, friendship and empathy.
In short, the more attuned to others you become, the healthier you become, and vice versa. This mutual influence also explains how a lack of positive social contact diminishes people. Your heart’s capacity for friendship also obeys the biological law of “use it or lose it.” If you don’t regularly exercise your ability to connect face to face, you’ll eventually find yourself lacking some of the basic biological capacity to do so.
The human body — and thereby our human potential — is far more plastic or amenable to change than most of us realize. The new field of social genomics, made possible by the sequencing of the human genome, tells us that the ways our and our children’s genes are expressed at the cellular level is plastic, too, responsive to habitual experiences and actions.
Work in social genomics reveals that our personal histories of social connection or loneliness, for instance, alter how our genes are expressed within the cells of our immune system. New parents may need to worry less about genetic testing and more about how their own actions — like texting while breast-feeding or otherwise paying more attention to their phone than their child — leave life-limiting fingerprints on their and their children’s gene expression.
When you share a smile or laugh with someone face to face, a discernible synchrony emerges between you, as your gestures and biochemistries, even your respective neural firings, come to mirror each other. It’s micro-moments like these, in which a wave of good feeling rolls through two brains and bodies at once, that build your capacity to empathize as well as to improve your health.
If you don’t regularly exercise this capacity, it withers. Lucky for us, connecting with others does good and feels good, and opportunities to do so abound.
So the next time you see a friend, or a child, spending too much of their day facing a screen, extend a hand and invite him back to the world of real social encounters. You’ll not only build up his health and empathic skills, but yours as well. Friends don’t let friends lose their capacity for humanity.
Barbara L. Fredrickson is a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the author of “Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become.”