Saturday, August 08, 2015
Ashland woman headed to State House to talk Wi-Fi safety
By Anamika Roy/Daily News Staff
Posted Jul. 27, 2015 at 9:09 PM
ASHLAND - In an effort to have 21st century technology in classrooms, districts are getting tools such as Chromebooks and iPads for students of all ages. For example, Framingham Town Meeting recently voted to appropriate $1 million for laptops and network improvements in the school district.
But for the past few years, an Ashland mother of two has been researching the potential risks of Wi-Fi radiation and is taking her message to the State House today, before the Legislature's Joint Committee of Public Health. Cecelia Doucette, formerly a grant coordinator for Ashland Public Schools and president of the Ashland Education Foundation, said she started researching Wi-Fi radiation in 2013.
“There was just so much evidence of harm out there,” said Doucette. According to the National Institute of Health, the average child spends between five to seven hours a day in front of a screen. Many of those devices have an Internet connection. In a letter submitted to the World Health Organization and United Nations in May, 190 scientists from 39 countries asked the organizations to address risks associated with radiation used in wireless communication. Some doctors in that letter reported documented cases of cancer and reproductive issues attributed to electromagnetic fields (EMF).
Doucette is working with state Sen. Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, to pass legislation to create a special commission to study the health impacts of electromagnetic fields. Doucette first made requests to look into Wi-Fi safety to the School Committee in fall 2013.
“We certainly found evidence out there that there is a concern among many physicians and scientists,” said School Committee Chairwoman Laurie Tosti on Monday. However, there is just as much information that suggests the connection between Wi-Fi radiation and health risks is spotty.
"There were quite a few people who felt that we didn’t have enough info to make a decision,” said Tosti, “There was a lot of opposition.” The World Health Organization has “concluded that current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields. However, some gaps in knowledge about biological effects exist and need further research," according to its website.
After Doucette made her request, the 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. Doucette also thinks people should use wired devices whenever possible. In her own home, Doucette’s children have Ethernet cables plugged into their laptops, she said.