At a school board meeting in December 2016…

…members of the Palo Alto Unified School Board (PAUSD) agreed that community concerns over wireless health effects are “quite important” and that there would be “significant benefit” for staff and students to explore this topic further. 

PAUSD board member Todd Collins has personal experience with electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS). He contends that EHS “is real and can interfere with learning” and that accommodations should be made for EHS in schools, the same as with other medical conditions. Another board member recommends creating a safety plan for wireless exposures in schools. 

Here’s the video from the board meeting. Please watch from 3:00:42 to 3:13:36.

Why is the school board talking about its’ wireless system?

The board members are discussing upgrades to the school district’s existing WiFi network. PAUSD is considering spending $700K to upgrade their WiFi to one access point per classroom across all district schools. WiFi systems are appealing to schools because the federal government e-rate program is offering them a 40% rebate for implementing wireless only systems in schools.

Members of the community express concern about wireless health effects

The first speaker in the video is Dr. Ann Lee, a physician and parent from Palo Alto, CA. Ann talks about her 7-yr old son who experiences electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) symptoms like chest pain, when he spends time at the local library where WiFi is present. Ann found studies that link exposure to wireless radiation to biological harm in children. 

The second speaker is Peter Sullivan, who has EHS. He is a former software designer in Silicon Valley and founder of Clearlight Ventures, a foundation that supports research of environmental health threats like EMF. Peter discuss options for WiFi that will reduce exposure to students and staff, like Eco WiFi (reduces beaconing frequency), and WiFi enabled with a sleep mode when not in use. Both options reduce power consumption which offer the benefit of cost savings as well as reduced exposure to wireless radiation.

Why this matters

Palo Alto, CA is in Silicon Valley, the most prominent technology hub in the United States. The fact that the school board was open to further discussion about the safety of wireless technology for students and staff is a huge step toward raising awareness about wireless health effects and implementing change in our relationships to our technology. 

While the ideal solution would be swapping the wireless network for wired internet, this is progress that we can all feel good about!