May 13/13 Operations Policy and Planning Committee: The Record, Off the Record: If We Don’t Measure It, It’s Not There

“The Panel recommends against the use of cordless phones (DECT phones) and other wireless devices, toys and baby monitors, wireless internet, wireless security systems, and wireless power transmitters in SmartGrid-type connections that may produce unnecessary and potentially harmful EMF exposures”.

The Record Off The Record is my personal record of and commentary on Board and Standing Committee meetings in School District 61 (Esquimalt, Oak Bay, Victoria, View Royal and a portion of Saanich and Highlands ). “Official” approved minutes of Board  and Standing Committee  meetings are posted on the SD61 website under the “Board of Education” menu, (Education Policy Development Committee is posted as “Education Meetings”; Operations Policy and Planning Committee is posted as “Operations Meetings”) generally one month after the meeting. The meeting schedule is posted on the District CalendarTrustees are referred to by last name only for brevity; “the Board of Education of SD No. 61 (Greater Victoria) is referred to as “the Board [etc]”. No audio recordings are made of Standing Committee meetings, only of Board meetings. (No record of how the audio recording decision was made, or any debate on proposed uses of and storage of the record appears to exist.)

In Camera meeting before the public meeting:6:30 – 7:30.

Recognition of Songhees and Esquimalt Nations Traditional Territory.

Operations Policy and Planning Committee: Chair Leonard
Absent: McEvoy, Alpha

1. Approval of Agenda: Approved
2. Approval of Minutes: Minutes of April 8, 2013: Adopted (Official minutes on SD61 website)
3. Business Arising Out of the Minutes: None.

4. Presentations:

A. Kerry Crofton, PhD  / Martin Blank, PhD: Radiation Exposure

  • Kerry Crofton is a co-founder of Doctors for Safer Schools. The site has a wealth of information on non-thermal effect electromagnetic / microwave frequency radiation from cell phones and towers, power lines, laptops, tablets, and more.
  • “I’m asking you to look and see if there is enough evidence to make a decision based on the Precautionary Principle.”
  • Non-thermal effects are well below Health Canada’s standards [cellular and DNA effects that don’t involve destructive heating of body tissue, which is what the Heath Canada, IARC, and WHO standards are based on – thermal effects.]
  • “All beings are negatively affected whether we experience it directly or not.” Hans Scheiner, MD
  • The heart is electrical in nature and is particularly vulnerable. Are we dealing with the new tobacco? We are probably dealing with the new asbestos.
  • The Bioinitiative Report and the Seletun Statement present convincing research and conclusions.
  • The Sage Report on the Seletun Statement From the Seletun Scientific panel. “The Panel recommends against the use of cordless phones (DECT phones) and other wireless devices, toys and baby monitors, wireless internet, wireless security systems, and wireless power transmitters in SmartGrid-type connections that may produce unnecessary and potentially harmful EMF exposures”.
  • Seletun Statement: Oslo, Norway, 2011: World Health Urgently Needs Lower EMF Standards, International Scientists Say: “The International Electromagnetic Fields Alliance (IEMFA) today announces a new published report and scientific Consensus Statement concerning health hazards of electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Led by Olle Johansson, PhD of the Karolinska Institute, the report published by a consortium of international scientists urges global governments to adopt significantly lower human exposure standards for electromagnetic fields. The recommendations are based on the latest body of evidence in biological sciences, and the public-health implications of the unprecedented global exposures to electromagnetic fields from telecommunications and electric power technologies. The scientists recommend specific exposure limits for different frequency fields, including microwaves, used in wireless communications, and ELF electric fields and magnetic fields. According to the international scientists, called the Seletun Scientific Panel, it has become obvious that new, biologically-based public exposure standards are urgently needed to protect long-term public health worldwide. Current public-safety EMF-exposure guidelines used world wide, based on physics models and calculations, currently only protect for damage generated by a heating effect. With respect to prolonged, low-intensity exposures that nowadays frequently occur, but do not have a heating effect, the guidelines, say the scientists, are inadequate and obsolete.”
  • Health Canada  standards are based on research supported by their staff person Dr. James McNamee, and take into account only thermal effects, ie levels that heat and destroy tissue function.

“… Dr. James McNamee , research scientist, Consumer & Clinical Radiation Protection Bureau, Health Canada, is the new EMR specialist on the editorial board of Radiation Research. He has published three negative papers on microwave genotoxicity in Radiation Research. McNamee also has written a review paper … on cell phones and cancer….. Dr. McNamee is on the Board of Directors for the Bioelectromagnetics Society, with his term ending 2008. This Society’s newsletter is funded by Motorola, and its editor is Dr. Mays Swicord, director of EMR research for Motorola. (Microwave News, July 2004).” ( S Noble in WEEP News)

  • The World Health Organization has classified non-ionizing frequency radiation as a possible 2B carcinogen. “Cell phones, cell towers, wi-fi, smart meters, DECT phones, cordless phones, baby monitors and other wireless devices all emit non ionizing radio frequencies, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has just classified as a potential carcinogen. “
  • We need technology but we want the users of technology to be secure and protected.

A. 2 Martin Blank, PhD:

  • Electromagnetic fields are ubiquitous but we don’t generally sense them. Well-known demonstration of their reach shows  fluorescent bulbs lit by only holding  a bulb or bulbs  under a power line are graphic examples. [Terrible quality video but illustrative: Bristol University Physics Department video, 2006. Better quality is Ben Prince’s 2011 Architecture Masters Degree project video.]
  • The Greenbank, West Virginia astronomical site is wife-free. Any wifi at all interferes with the radio telescope. “At Green Bank Elementary Middle School, which is in direct line-of-sight of the telescope, students actually talk to each other instead of texting.“
  • Children are resilient, generally, and bounce back from many challenges. But studies have shown that in utero exposure to EMR can lead to obesity, learning difficulties, broken DNA..
  • Nature Magazine published a study on child and parental DNA in Iceland (Iceland has a long-standing DNA history, more or less isolated). Baby girls are born with all their eggs. Boys are not born with all their spermatocytes; they are manufactured in the testes. The DNA of fathers accumulates damage over time. Henry Lai‘s work at the University of Washington has shown DNA breaks that are connected to RF and wifi. Even very low levels bring on DNA reactivity.”

Naomi Ishikara in Seattle Magazine, January 2011: “A greeting card on bioengineering professor Henry Lai’s office wall at the University of Washington contains this quotation from Ralph Waldo Emerson: Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” This philosophy could well sum up Lai’s work on the effects of low-level radiation on DNA, as well as what he believes should be the guiding principle of science: independent investigation and research leading to discovery for the public good. Yet the soft-spoken scientist’s steadfast belief in that principle has placed his research at the center of a persistent global controversy and created powerful enemies that tried to get him fired and essentially succeeded in drying up the source of funding for the type of research he was doing.….. To the layperson, the science behind Lai’s work, which was largely funded by the National Institutes of Health, and  industry-funded research to contradict it is mind-numbingly complex. Virtually every assertion of risk has a counterassertion of no risk. For every independent study showing damage to DNA and memory, there is a study showing the opposite.Lai, 61, says this phenomenon could be a direct result of the way science is now funded around the world. “[The U.S. was on] the cutting edge of this whole area for the last 30 years. [But] right now, we’re the Third World country. We’re not doing research at all,” Lai says. With government funding all but nonexistent, the bulk of scientific research is funded by private industry. “The mechanism is funding,” Lai says. “You don’t bite the hand that feeds you. The pressure is very impressive.”

B. Katharina Gustavs: RF Meter

  • The French National Assembly on School Reform recommended wired networks be used whenever possible, in March 2013. France: Electromagnetic Waves: The Precautionary Principle Soon to be Applied in Schools http://mieuxprevenir.blogspot.ca/2013/03/france-electromagnetic-waves.html Toward Better Health
  • British Columbia Coalition of Parent Advisory Councils  Resolution carried in a vote: BCCPAC 2013 Resolution: On/Off Switches for WiFi Routers and Protocol for Use of Wireless Devices : Adopted by strong majority votes (140-94) on May 4, 2013. Last year, the two resolutions passed by BCCPAC called for a halt in installing wireless network where other networking solutions are feasible, and for the creation of at least one fully-wired school at each level per school district. This 2013.11 resolution focuses on schools which already have WiFi installed and cannot get it removed right now. The British Columbia Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC) represents 670+ public school PACs and district PACs in the province in 2013.

Resolution: May 3, 2013: Be it resolved that BCCPAC calls on Boards of Education: 1. to provide on/off switches to WiFi routers; 2. to establish a protocol of use that (i) WiFi routers and WiFi/3G functions of computers/laptops/tablets are to be turned on only when they are needed for access to the internet via the wireless network; and (ii) Bluetooth function is to be turned on only if it is needed for accessing other Bluetooth-enabled devices. 3. to observe safety warnings and follow safety instructions in the user manual of iPad by reducing the duration of use under wireless mode and keeping the iPads away from the students’ bodies.

  • Using 2.4 gigahertz wifi networks; know standards.The Austrian Sustainable Building Council includes microwatt limts for EMF exposure in buildings . LEED certification does not have a category for this.
  • In order to minimize student exposure to EMF radiation, 1.Have access points set up away from students and staff (example) 2. Adjust the milliwatt output level  3. Install power on/off switches, use individually programmable technology for adjustable levels, and  fit shielding around routers. “ A wireless router’s job is to emit continuous EMF, enabling communication between computers, home entertainment systems and other devices. Routers can commonly emit between 2,000-8,000 mW/m2. For electromagnetically sensitive people, this can pose real problems. “
  • iPads have 4 antennas. Check settings for Bluetooth, location, and all antennas; only use antenna necessary at any given time. iPads do not have the option of an Ethernet adaptor. PC tablets do have this option.
  • A meter  is needed to measure ambient microwatts  in order to establish precautionary levels of 1000 microwatts / square metre. Router peak levels must be monitored. This could be a project for secondary school physics students.

C. Tammy Jeske, LPN: EMF Radiation

  • Take near field measurements with tablets. Health Canada’s microwave safety guidelines deal with thermal / body tissue heating effects only, not non-thermal biological effects. The safest solution is hard-wired. The iPad User Guide contains statements about radio signals (p 125), and recommends [obliquely] that exposure be minimized: “iPad uses radio signals to connect to wireless networks. For information about the amount of power used to transmit these signals, and about steps you can take to minimize exposure, see Settings > General > About > Legal > RF Exposure.”
  • School District 61 is responsible for providing a safe environment.

The iPad User Guide also addresses interference with pacemakers and other medical devices: “iPad contains radios that emit electromagnetic fields. These electromagnetic fields may interfere with pacemakers or other medical devices. If you wear a pacemaker, maintain at least 6 inches (approximately 15 cm) of separation between your pacemaker and iPad. If you suspect iPad is interfering with your pacemaker or any other medical device, stop using iPad and consult your physician for information specific to your medical device. iPad has magnets along the left edge of the device and on the right side of the front glass, which may interfere with pacemakers, defibrillators, or other medical devices. The iPad Smart Cover and iPad Smart Case also contain magnets. Maintain at least 6 inches (approximately 15 cm) of separation between your pacemaker or defibrillator and iPad, the iPad Smart Cover, or the iPad Smart Case.”

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, author of “Zapped: Why Your Cellphone Shouldn’t Be Your Alarm Clock” and “1268 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electronic Pollution”, referred to in Rodale News,  says switching off the Wi-Fi and 3G transmitters reduces radiation exposure but still allows access to music, movies, apps, and games.“Gittleman suggests putting your iPad on a stand instead of on your lap, especially when using it for long periods of time, such to watch a movie. ”

  • Leonard: This is not the WiFi Committee; this is not going to be a decision about WiFi. Just to clarify.
  • Ferris: Appreciated Ms Gustavs’ clear points.
  • Nohr: Technology has exploded into our schools. Wifi is already in SD61 middle schools and secondary schools. At the 1000 milliwatt / square metre exposure level, would that allow for the effective use of [wireless] technology in our schools?

Saanich Voice Online  reported that according to the November 2, 2010 minutes  of the Arbutus School Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) meeting, it was agreed to spend $10,000.00 on converting Arbutus School to wireless in order to meet the school district’s one-time offer of matching funds for a wireless system. The minutes continue, “that the teachers would have laptop and, potentially, iPad access in classrooms” and that the school district believed the wireless technology was “safe”. The minutes also indicate that a decision had to be made by the PAC before the end of November or risk forfeiting the matching funds.Many parents and staff have urged the Arbutus PAC to reconsider their support for installing the wireless system and to exercise the “Precautionary Principle”, which states that, “when science has not yet determined whether a product is safe or unsafe, policy should prohibit or restrict its use until it is known to be safe.”

  • Gustavs: The minute you turn on a laptop or tablet the milliwatt exposure is much higher than that. This is why I recommend wired connection. For short-term mobile use, it is important to teach students not to hold devices close to their bodies.
  • Nohr: Do router installation companies comply with safety ?
  • Gustavs: Yes, but only with the thermal level considerations. a student sitting close to a WiFi laptop is exposed to 40,000 milliwatts. Placement of the access points is critical. A meter could test radio frequency radiation of cell / smart phones as well. The beacon signal is emitted every few minutes. A smart phone has  6-8 transmitters;  if they are all on, you have up to 3,000 milliwatts / square metre.
  • Loring-Kuhanga: Saanich School District 63 did use the Precautionary Principle re WiFi.   Are there any schools that have policy regarding near-field exposure and the Precautionary Principle?
  • Crofton: Israel, France, India have restricted use of cell phones by children, in an effort to minimize exposure to RF radiation in children. Health Canada’s Safety Code 6 is irrelevant to wifi. Expectation of class action suits within 5 years. Negative health effects are preventable; why not use the safer option?
  • Gustavs: Healthy Schools Building Standard in France states that low EMF exposure is the best practice.

Schools in BC that have removed WiFi  include Winlaw Elementary, Roots and Wings Montessori (Surrey), Lucerne K-12 New Denver, and North Cariboo Christian School.

Roots and Wings Pledge of Allegiance
Roots and Wings Pledge of Allegiance
  • Rob Paynter, parent: Which routers are in use? There was a reference to “industrial routers” vs the usual home ones. Are there routers that can operate at 1000 microwatts /square metre?
  • Gustavs: Schools can design spaces where there is no exposure. Switches can be used to power on and off. iPads should be used at 1 or 2 feet distance from the student. Every inch away from the body counts.
  • Carol Brown, SD61 teacher: Hoping for a decision that supports health and safety of staff and students.
  • Vasana Spogliarich, member of public: Concerns about iPads, even at 2 feet away, Personally uses hard wired connections.
  • Clint Lalonde, parent: Health Canada, BC Ministry of Health, Ontario Health and Alberta Health all say iPads and WiFi idevices are ok. Why haven’t you been able to convince them that there is a danger?
  • Gustavs: Everything can be explained about the thermal effects but not everything can be explained about the non-thermal effects yet.
  • Blank: In “Doubt is Their Product”, by David Michael, 2008: Michael wrote about tobacco; a similar discrediting of science around EMF radiation is occurring now. DNA damage is being done. Do we have to know how before engaging the Precautionary Principle? Humanity should not lose evolutionary advantages to random DNA breaks. We knew that radar causes blood-brain barrier breaks. [For example, Oscar and Hawkins, 1977, cited in Nerve Cell Damage in Mammalian Brain: Salford, Brun, Eberhart, Malmgren, Persson, Environmental Health Perspectives, June 2003] The blood-brain barrier is penetrated with short exposure. Alan Frey did the research and was told to stop. Melatonin production nearly stops with exposure to low frequency EMFR. We do know some of the mechanics. “Microwave click” affects cilia and hearing. Columbia University EMF and stress protein research has been well publicized and replicated.

Doubt is our product,” a cigarette executive once observed, “since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the minds of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.” In this eye-opening expose, David Michaels reveals how the tobacco industry’s duplicitous tactics spawned a multimillion dollar industry that is dismantling public health safeguards. Product defense consultants, he argues, have increasingly skewed the scientific literature, manufactured and magnified scientific uncertainty, and influenced policy decisions to the advantage of polluters and the manufacturers of dangerous products. To keep the public confused about the hazards posed by global warming, second-hand smoke, asbestos, lead, plastics, and many other toxic materials, industry executives have hired unscrupulous scientists and lobbyists to dispute scientific evidence about health risks. In doing so, they have not only delayed action on specific hazards, but they have constructed barriers to make it harder for lawmakers, government agencies, and courts to respond to future threats. The Orwellian strategy of dismissing research conducted by the scientific community as “junk science” and elevating science conducted by product defense specialists to “sound science” status also creates confusion about the very nature of scientific inquiry and undermines the public’s confidence in science’s ability to address public health and environmental concerns Such reckless practices have long existed, but Michaels argues that the Bush administration deepened the dysfunction by virtually handing over regulatory agencies to the very corporate powers whose products and behavior they are charged with overseeing.

In Doubt Is Their Product Michaels proves, beyond a doubt, that our regulatory system has been broken. He offers concrete, workable suggestions for how it can be restored by taking the politics out of science and ensuring that concern for public safety, rather than private profits, guides our regulatory policy. Named one of the best Sci-Tech books of 2008 by Library Journal. (Amazon precis)

Christopher Ketcham presents a clearly written summary of Alan Frey’s work in, of all places, GQ, February 2010) : “Frey says his work on radar microwaves and the blood-brain barrier soon came under assault from the government. Scientists hired and funded by the Pentagon claimed they’d failed to replicate his findings, yet they also refused to share the data or methodology behind their research (“a most unusual action in science,” Frey wrote at the time). For more than fifteen years, Frey had received almost unrestricted funding from the Office of Naval Research. Now he was told to conceal his blood-brain-barrier work or his contract would be canceled. Since then, no meaningful research into the effect of microwaves on the blood-brain barrier has been pursued in the United States. But a Swedish neurosurgeon, Leif Salford, [see reference above] recently expanded on Frey’s work, confirming much of what Frey revealed decades ago.

Microwave “click”: “This technology makes use of a phenomenon first described in the literature over 30 years ago . Different types of sounds were heard depending n the particulars of the pulse characteristics. Various experiments were performed on humans and laboratory animals [horrifying] exploring the origin of phenomenon. At this time, virtually all investigators who have studied the phenomenon now accept thermoelastic expansion of the brain, the pressure wave of which is received and processed by the cochlear microphonic system, to be the mechanism of acoustic perception of short pulses of RF energy. One study (in 1975) using human volunteers, identified the threshold energy of microwave-auditory responses in humans as a function of pulse width for 2450 MHz radio frequency energy.” (2006 FOI Request / Reply: Office US Army “Bioeffects of Selected Nonlethal Weapons”, 2006)

Columbia University Stress Protein research: “The stress response is a protective cellular mechanism that is characterized by stress protein synthesis. The stress response, by its very nature, shows that cells react to EMFs as potentially harmful. The stress response is an important protective mechanism that enables cells from animals, plants and bacteria to survive environmental stressors with the aid of heat shock proteins (hsp). “

5.Finance and Legal Affairs (5 was ‘Superintendent’s Report’ last month)

A. Subcommittee on Public Engagement: Information; verbal report from Deputy Superintendent.

[Assuming this is an Ad Hoc Committee  as the District has no Policy or Bylaw that mentions “sub-committees”. It’s not a Community Advisory Committee, either, as no student is on it, and trustees were specifically excluded in the original motion. (Horsman:That the Board [etc] form an Ad Hoc Committee to review Bylaw 9360  to make recommendations for enhancements for public engagement including a structure for a possible Question and Answer period. The Ad Hoc Committee will include one representative from ASA, CUPE 382, CUPE 947, Exempt, GVTA, VPVA, and the Superintendent of Schools. The committee will report to the Operations, [sic] Policy and Planning Committee and will be at no cost to the Board.) The Committee  also includes (via invitation from  the Board Chair), the VCPAC President, former (1990s) School Trustee and BCSTA Chair Donna Jones, and Rebecca Pearson (Van City Credit Union). Trustee Nohr and I have attended as uninvited observers.]

  • Bell (Committee Chair): The Committee on Public Engagement addressed 1. Bylaw 9360 General Meeting of the Board (Motion from McNally, referred to this Committee)  2. Question and Answer period (Motion from Loring-Kuhanga, referred) 3. A speakers list tracking list (Motion from McNally, referred) 4. Recording Board meetings (referred).  The Committee has developed a draft response to these issues. The Committee does not have another meeting scheduled, but may met in June.

6. Facilities Planning (last month 6 was ‘Finance and Legal Affairs’)

A. Oak Bay Replacement Project Update: Facilities manager  verbal report plus memo

  • Oak Bay High School Replacement Project remains on schedule. 3 proponents, all BC companies, received the RFP and have been invited to submit proposals based on the Statement of Requirements.  The new school is planned for completion in the summer of 2015, with demolition of the old building over the following 12 months.

7. Public Disclosure of In Camera Items: None

8. New Business / Notice of Motions:

The Chair refused to place the following motion on the agenda, and stated it would be referred – by the Chair unilaterally – to the Committee on Public Engagement as this Committee, so Nohr’s is the only motion on the agenda.

  • McNally / : That the SD61 IT department research and report back to the Board on costs for purchase, setup and maintenance of live feed cameras in the Board room, the objective being  live streaming and archiving (archive function to include key-word searchable and RSS function ) of Board meetings online. Rationale: Some time ago a query in a Board meeting regarding the purpose of audio recording of Board meetings was answered with a statement that suggested that audio recording was a trial for future streaming video of Board meetings. The City of Victoria is “moving into the 21st Century of civic engagement”, (Victoria News, May 1 2013) and will provide webcasts of all council and committee meetings beginning this summer (2013), reportedly at a cost of $17,000 annually. As the intent of this motion is to stream and archive only one meeting per month, not multiple meetings as is the case at Victoria City Hall, the cost could come in at a point well below the City’s. Many citizens ask what school trustees actually do. It is essential to increase civic engagement with and transparency of public education governance and civic governance at all levels.

If a motion is to be referred, that is a decision for the entire Board, not an individual. If motions to research costs are to be rejected, that rejection needs to take place by majority vote on a motion, not by an individual’s unilateral decision. “Under Robert’s Rules of Order, the chair of a meeting cannot refuse a to put a motion to the body provided the motion is in order at the time. For an order to not be in order, it must be in violation of law or the bylaws.”

A. Nohr: Purchase of RF meter: [As amended by Nohr] That the Board [etc] purchase the RF meter from Gigahertz Solutions to regularly monitor our schools’ RF levels to confirm that all areas with hotspots (access points, routers, cell phones, iPads ) are within limits set to the precautionary level of 1000 milliwatts /square metre to ensure student and employee safety, including averages and peak levels and that this information be reported to the Board. /    Defeated. For: Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Nohr  Against: Ferris, Leonard, Orcherton.

EMF Meter # NFA1000: 3D Professional EMF Meter
EMF Meter # NFA1000: 3D Professional EMF Meter

9. General Announcements (was Adjournment last time): None

10. Adjournment: 9:30 ish (will be on official minutes on SD61 website next month)

Next meetings:
Tuesday May 21, 2013
7 pm, Tolmie Building : Board Meeting
: Monday June 10, 7 pm, Tolmie Building: Education Policy Development Meeting combined with Operations Planning and Policy
Monday June 17, 7 pm Tolmie Building: Final Board meeting for school year: