Wireless Internet (Wi-Fi) Reports:
To the City Council, City of St. Louis Park, Minnesota
Note: For a list of research citations and articles on the dangers of exposure to Wi-Fi, click here.
To read a report in the January 12, 2006 edition of ITBusiness.ca (Canada) on the decision by Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario to not deploy Wi-Fi on its campus, click on the following link to the article: "Health concerns limit wireless Internet at Lakehead University".
To read the report to the Minnesota Organization, click here.
This page last updated July 7, 2009.
Report to the City Council, City of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, on Proposed Citywide Deployment of Wireless Internet (Wi-Fi)
The City of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, like many other cities nationwide, diliberated on a request to deploy high speed wireless Internet service to residents through a series of wireless transmitters installed on light poles, traffic lights, and water towers throughout the city. [See below for an update - 11/22/05] These transmitters broadcast an Internet data stream to and from "bridge" wireless routers located within homes and businesses in the city. These bridge routers then rebroadcast an encrypted wireless Internet stream to the computers of users who subscribe to the service.
While wireless technology is convenient and in keeping with the growing trend towards wireless communications worldwide, it also has potentially serious health risks. That is the opinion of many scientific and medical experts, primarily in Europe and Russia. Their voices are not often heard in the American media and their opinions are not usually reflected in the recommendations of governmental agencies in this country responsible for oversight of this issue.
To read a downloadable copy of a September 21, 2005 report produced by Oram Miller, BBEI and submitted to the St. Louis Park, Minnesota City Council, click here. (in MS Word format)
To read a downloadable copy of an October 19, 2005 follow-up response to the City Council also produced by Oram Miller, BBEI, click here. (in MS Word format)
UPDATE 11/22/05: The Saint Louis Park City Council voted last night to begin a pilot project in four neighborhoods in February of 2006 to study the feasibility of full implementation of a citywide WiFi system a few months later.
The Council was kind enough to hear input from myself as well as from a small but determined group of local citizens opposed to this initiative, led by Carol Coffey (952-922-8162).
We pointed out the concept of "total load;" that is, the harm caused by long term exposure to low power wireless radiation over time; the growing evidence of illness caused by wireless technologies noted by European and Russian physicians; and steps by European countries to dismantle cell towers, acknowledge "electrical sensitivity" as a government-recognized disability, and document the growing number of citizens reporting health problems from living near wireless towers. I also presented evidence that those governmental agencies charged with protecting the health of citizens have been shown to also have a strong leaning to the very industries they are supposed to regulate.
These points are all covered in the letters you can download above, as well as from an article entitled, "Cell Antennas" Not Worth the Risk" by Karen Stern, the Aptos (California) Times, published January 15, 2003.
In the end, the Council voted to implement the pilot project, with two dissenting votes due to concern over the financial risk to the city with the rapid pace of technological development. We understand the pressures the Council is facing to get on the bandwagon. We also appreciate their willingness to hear and acknowledge our concerns. In the end they felt the health issues were not documented enough nor supported by governmental agencies that they trusted to warrant halting implementation of the project, in spite of evidence presented to the contrary.
We felt it was necessary to educate the Council members on the dangers of human exposure to low power wireless radio frequencies, particularly since the American media is less than thorough in its coverage of this issue, in contrast to their European counterparts who do report more fully on the health hazards of wireless communications. The Council will vote on whether to fully implement the system in the spring of 2006.
George Carlo, noted radio frequency expert on the dangers of wireless technology and founder of the Science and Public Policy Institute in Washington, DC, provides several links on his website, www.safewireless.org, giving details of the health effects of information carrying radio frequencies, such as Wi-Fi.
On one of the links he presents safer alternatives to the planned deployment of a city-wide
Wi-Fi system in Rancho Santa Fe, north of San Diego, California. His proposal includes
increasing the number of towers to reduce the emmissions from any one given antenna, installing
more fiberoptic cables to carry broadband without wireless, and installing noise-field technology that filters and
suppresses the harmful effects of the Wi-Fi antennas.
UPDATE 9/25/07: On Monday, September 24, 2007, I sent an email to Clint Pires, Director of Technology and Support Services for the City of Saint Louis Park (who has been most open and accomodating to our point of view throughout this process), to update him and the members of the City Council on the plethora of articles that have recently come out in the European and Asian press on the dangers of Wi-Fi, as well as the findings of the BioInitive Report from the State University of New York at Albany.
The email update follows:
"Clint and members of the Saint Louis Park City Council,
The following letter was prepared at the request of an electrically-sensitive client who frequents an organization that announced it would be installing Wi-Fi in its builidng. My client was concerned about her own exposure to Wi-Fi (which she knew bothered her), as well as potential harm to the general public that would also enter the building:
"March 2, 2009
"I am writing on behalf of ___________, who is a member of your organization. She informs me that you are planning to install wireless Internet (Wi-Fi) in your building. I would respectfully recommend that you consider not doing so for the following reasons:
"There is an overwhelming abundance of evidence of harm from exposure to technologies such as Wi-Fi as reported by news organizations and governmental regulatory agencies in Europe. Officials are taking Wi-Fi networks out of libraries in Paris, out of schools and hospitals in Salzburg Province in Austria, and out of schools throughout England and Sweden. Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario has chosen not to deploy Wi-Fi on its campus ("Health concerns limit wireless Internet at Lakehead University").
"The European Union voted 522 to 16 this past September (2008) to further restrict human exposure to cell phones and cell towers. The European Union's Environmental Agency, their equivalent of our EPA, issued a warning to its citizens to avoid use of Wi-Fi in September of 2007, just two weeks after the release of the BioInitive Report in August of 2007. The German government did the same only one week after the report's release.
"These and other countries around the world are already warning their citizens about the dangers of long term exposure to low-level, non-heating information-carrying radio waves used in wireless communications, such as cell phones and Wi-Fi. As a result, citizen groups, school boards, hospitals and even governmental regulatory agencies are not waiting for further studies before taking action to remove this influence. Some are taking the step to not deploy it in the first place. Countries and municipalities are being proactive by following the "precautionary principle," long honored in Europe. The precautionary principle says that if there is evidence that a new technology could be harmful, it is not deployed until the technology is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be fully safe.
"In the United States, on the other hand, government allows industry to deploy technologies that are known in private, internal, industry-sponsored research to actually be harmful. This is because the regulatory agencies that are supposed to protect the public from harm are headed by political appointees that favor industry and allow deployment to happen, even when research shows there to be harm. Once the technology is in the marketplace, industry reaps as much profit as it can before class action lawsuits surface and the companies are forced to pull the technology and pay settlements. This is considered a cost of doing business, a part of the plan. The companies have made their profit, but at the expense of human health. This pattern has been repeated again and again in this country.
"The American public does not yet know about the dangers of wireless communications, at least among those that follow only mainstream media. Why is that so? Because the corporations that own the media reap large advertising dollars from cell phone carriers, and media conglomerates that own networks and newspapers also have business ties with cell phone companies and carriers. Wireless technologies are now a multi-billion dollar industry, and cell phone and Wi-Fi manufacturers and carriers have invested a great deal into technology and infrastructure. They stand to lose a great deal if use of their technologies was curtailed for any reason and vigorously fight any attempts to do so.
"So far, the FCC and EPA have been industry-leaning. This should change with the Obama administration because the FCC, which as of this writing has a 3-2 Republican majority, will see a change in the balance when the term of one of the Republican commissioners expires and he or she is replaced with a Democrat. Time will tell if the new appointee is less industry-leaning than his or her Republican predecessor.
"Likewise, studies up until a year or two ago on the link between cell phone use and brain (and other) and other cancers have included subjects who have used cell phones for less than ten years. That has allowed the cell phone trade industry and regulatory agencies to say there is no conclusive proof that wireless technologies cause cancer because the results were indeed inconclusive. Yet it generally takes ten years or more for cancer to develop in the general public. Now that cell phones have been in use for that long and studies are now being completed that include subjects that have used them for more than ten years, the cause and effect relationship between the use of wireless devices and cancer is now being established in study after study. The link is no longer equivocal.
"Furthermore, researchers in England are now seeing teenagers who have used cell phones for more than ten years who have enough cognitive impairment that they cannot hold a job. Swedish researchers are seeing a five-fold increase in the risk of brain cancer in children who use a cell phone, and they now say that if a child uses a cell phone as the only phone in the home (which is commomplace in most homes worldwide and in a growing number in this country), these children stand a good chance of developing Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia by the time they reach their thirties. Researchers are concerned that we will have a sudden mushrooming of an epidemic of young and middle-aged people unable to work in the prime of their life, needing institutionalization, throughout society in twenty to thirty years from now. When you add Wi-Fi, cordless telephones and wireless video games to the mix, the effect is accentuated.
"For a retailer or organization such as yours to decide to not deploy Wi-Fi in your building because this would protect your customers or members for health reasons would take courage. You would face resistance from members who want the convenience of the technology and have no idea that it is unsafe. They have never heard that from our media or our government. We should all be able to trust our government and media to tell us the truth and protect us from harm, but research from Europe is showing otherwise.
"Some customers or members would undoubtedly think your organization to be unscientific and out of step with others who have already adopted Wi-Fi. 'Everyone else is doing it,' they would think, 'so it must be safe, and it is certainly convenient. I can get Wi-Fi wherever I go now, so why not here?'
"What is a management that wants to be conscientious and pro-active to do? It's a tough choice. They would really need to be convinced that the information presented in this letter is true and then take the bold step to decide to take the position, alone at first, that deploying this technology presents a real, cumulative potential health risk.
"But they would have help. Newspaper articles in Europe give support of this position. The scientific evidence exists. Organizations of scientists, such as BioInitive Working Group and The International Commission for Electromagnetic Safety exist to disseminate information informing the public on the dangers of exposure to wireless communications and EMFs (Electro-Magnetic Fields) in general. They would need to bypass the blockade of information perpetrated by our corporate-owned mainstream media and tell their members what citizens in Europe already know. You can access the many links to articles on this topic on my website, Create Healthy Homes by clicking on the page entitled, "Cell Phone and Radio Frequency Risks". These links represent only a few of the many articles already available this topic, and the list is growing every week.
"I understand the predicament you are in. When I presented similar information to the St. Louis Park, Minnesota, City Council two years ago, the members had a difficult time looking me in the eye. They wanted to deploy their Wi-Fi on a city-wide basis as other cities were doing. They thought they were providing a good service to their residents, and I understood that. They were not prepared, however, to deal with the information I presented. One of the Council members told me that after I first presented my information, he had checked the website of the Minnesota Department of Health as well as that of the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. He informed me and the Council that both websites said that Wireless communications, including Wi-Fi, were safe. The Council's technical advisors echoed that sentiment.
"I countered in a letter to the Council that the Minnesota Department of Health's website had information on Wi-Fi that was taken verbatim from the FCC's website. I presented information that scientists on an FCC Interagency Task Force of non-thermal experts had presented fourteen points of concern to the heads of the FCC that they felt needed to be addressed before the agency's guidelines could be deemed credible and protective of the public. Nothing was done with these concerns.
"Likewise there is evidence that the World Health Organization in Geneva had as head of its EMF standards-setting committee a man who was known to be pro-industry. This was revealed in a report on Microwave News, where it was reported by insiders that that individual had held a secret meeting in October 2005 with electric utility representatives to update the official EMF-exposure guidelines from the WHO. That meeting was held without the presence of or any input from any others with views counter to those of industry. Thus, I reasoned to the City Council, the word of the WHO could not fully be trusted to be protective of the public.
"This is all detailed in a copy of my letter to the St. Louis Park City Council, available on my website at Wi-Fi Report.
"Again, organizations and businesses in this country have a tough choice to make when it comes to controversial health issues such as this, particularly because awareness of the health effects of wireless technologies is simply not yet widespread on this side of the Atlantic. Watchdogs in Europe, however, where industry does not have the same control of media and government as it does here, are bringing knowledge of the danger of these technologies to the public, and governments there are now taking steps to be protect the public.
"That will happen in this country, too. In fact, a frank and open discussion of the dangers of cell phone and Wi-Fi use is already beginning. Not only is the University of Albany the first American institution to lend its name to a study, the BioInitive Report, that challenges the view that cell phones are safe, Dr. Ronald Herberman of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute is now warning of the dangers of these technologies. Dr. Herbermann appeared at Congressional Hearings last September (2008), to testify on this issue. Larry King had Dr. Herberman and others on his CNN television show last autumn to openly discuss the health risks of wireless technologies.
"An organization such as yours has the potential to be ahead of the curve on this issue and to be a leader. Education of the public is essential. It is by efforts by people such as yourself and your member (my client) that this issue can be brought to the public's attention. That, in turn, can raise awareness of the harms of wireless technologies among those whose job it is to protect the public from technologies that are proving to be harmful, regardless of what industry and regulatory agencies say.
"Oram Miller, BBEI"
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