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Schools, Cellphone Towers
and Children's Health

- Dorothy - 7/8/97

For more information on Electromagnetic Radiation, please visit Dr Neil Cherry's website.

Shirley Primary School in Christchurch - appeal to the Environment Court
This school has appealed to the Environment Court against the siting of a cellphone tower next to the school because of its concern about the effects on the health of its pupils. This appeal will be a test case for all schools in New Zealand. It will probably be heard in September or early October.

Funding the appeal
The cost of the appeal will be about $30.000, a huge sum to be raised by a school with 300 pupils. The school is in a low socio-economic area and is having difficulty raising funds. The school is seeking donations. If you see this as a test case on behalf of all schools in the country you may wish to contribute.

Green Bay Primary School in Auckland - possible closure
Staff and parents of children attending the Green Bay Primary School in Auckland have been so concerned about the danger to the children if a cell phone tower is built 90 metres from the school that the board of trustees is planning to find other accommodation for the children or close the school if the tower is built. The school does not have the funds to appeal against Telecom.

Reactions from the Ministry of Education and Telecom
A spokesperson from the Ministry of Education and representatives of Telecom appear to regard the parents as alarmist and their action as ill-considered. The Ministry says that the plans to close the school are not illegal, but they are unrealistic. The board of trustees may be replaced by a commissioner if it remains opposed to the tower. Telecom says that the tower site will go ahead whether the school closed or not as Telecom sees the closure as unnecessary.

What do you think?
Read the following information supplied by Dr Neil Cherry and decide what you would do as a parent of a pupil at one of these schools. Please share your views with us in the Backchat.

Information about the Dangers of Electromagnetic Radiation

Comparison between the risks involved in the use of a microwave oven and proximity to a cell phone tower.
This question was asked by Brendwyn of Timaru, a reader of NZine.
Added to article 'The Electromagnetic Radiation Health Threat - Part III' (features/neilcherry3.html):
I saw a programme on TV about community resistance to the siting of Telecom cell phone towers near two schools in Auckland. The schools in particular were concerned about the effect on learning and the risk of leukaemia. Then a Telecom representative came on and said there was as much risk as from using a microwave oven which was supposed to reassure the public! What is the risk of an ordinary household microwave oven?

Misleading Comparison
The comparison between the effect of being near a microwave oven and living, working or attending school near a cell phone tower is misleading because of the level and different length of time of the exposure.

Length of Exposure
With typical use a microwave oven is on for a short time each day. A child at a school near a cell phone tower is subjected to six hours of radiation each day. If the child lives near the tower it continues for twenty four hours a day.

Strength of Radiation
The electromagnetic radiation from a domestic microwave oven is typically less than 0.1 microwatts per sq cm at one metre from the oven. The oven has shields built in to reduce the impact of the radiation. If the exposure to the oven at 0.1 microwatts per sq cm lasts for ten minutes that is less than 0.02 microwatts per sp cm averaged over an hour, and still less for a six hour day. If attending school less than 100 metres from the tower the child is exposed for six hours to radiation of 0.1 to one microwatt per sq cm, so the total radiation over the day is far more than that from the microwave oven.

Three Significant Studies
There are three studies which show that children who live near transmission facilities have impairment of learning and memory, physical performance and sleep.

Study done in Switzerland
This study shows effects which are evident at down to 0.03 microwatts per sq cm for learning problems and down to 0.004 for sleep problems.

Chinese study
This showed physical and mental differences for school children, including changed white blood cells, in the exposure range up to 4 microwatts per sq cm, and the researchers conclude:
"Data indicate that chronic exposure to EMFs are associated with significant changes in some physiological parameters."

Latvian study
This study published last year concludes: "Motor function, memory and attention, significantly differed between the exposed and control groups. Children living in front of the radar had less developed memory and attention, their reaction time was slower and their neuromuscular apparatus endurance was decreased."

These children were living in exposures lower in the range 0.03 to 0.004 microwatts per sq cm.

The impact of the cell phone beside the bed
That these differences can be related to cell site frequencies is shown by a paper published late last year by the University of Mainz, Germany. This study found that sleep was impaired when a cell phone was on a table next to the bed.

Researchers monitored the brain pattern by EEG signals and they showed that the alteration of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep relates to memory functions and learning processes, which is consistent with all the other studies which showed that actual brain behaviour changed and the biological mechanism which lies behind these effects is the reduction in pineal melatonin.

Risk of leukaemia
The risk of childhood leukaemia is very low but not zero, based on the North Sydney study described in Part 3 of the articles on ' The Dangers of Electromagnetic Radiation' published in NZine a week ago.

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