Will Europe Ban Cellphones in Schools over Radiation Fears?

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How harmful is cell phone radiation? A new report to the Council of Europe isn’t willing to offer a definitive answer, but it does suggest that maybe we should keep cell phones (as well as Wi-Fi signals) away from schools, just in case.

The report, “The Potential Dangers of Electromagnetic Fields and Their Effect on the Environment,” suggests that certain frequencies of electromagnetic fields “be they sourced from extremely low frequencies, power lines or certain high frequency waves used in the fields of radar, telecommunications and mobile telephony, appear to have more or less potentially harmful, non-thermal, biological effects on plants, insects and animals, as well as the human body when exposed to levels that are below the official threshold values.”

In fact, the report goes on, the dangerous nature of cellphone electromagnetism is likened to the danger caused by “asbestos, leaded petrol and tobacco.”

(The effect on insects was most recently demonstrated by research suggesting that cell phone usage may be the cause of the dramatic fall in the world’s bee population.)

There are a number of recommendations made in the report, including taking “all reasonable measures to reduce exposure to electromagnetic fields, especially to radio frequencies from mobile phones, and particularly the exposure to children and young people who seem to be most at risk from head tumors” by introducing new urban planning measures to keep power lines away from houses and, most controversially, banning “all mobile phones, DECT phones or WiFi or WLAN systems from classrooms and schools.”

The recommendations will be discussed at a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Parlimentary Assemble of the Council of Europe this Friday. Although I doubt that the EU will go as far as instituting a “human rights oriented definition” of lowered electromagnetic emissions, it’ll be interesting to see what changes come forth as a result of this report – and whether those changes have any effect on policy here in the US.