Wireless technology in schools may lead to a global epidemic of brain damages
Professor Rainer Nyberg is al vele jaren werkzaam als leraar/trainer op het Faculty of Education. In deze functie heeft hij zich intensief bezig gehouden met de ontwikkeling van e-learing en andere IT- integraties in het schoolwezen zoals het "online leren".
Na jarenlang voorstander te zijn van deze IT-integratie is hij nu een fervent tegenstander geworden van alle draadloze IT-toepassingen.
Tot eind 2012 was Professor Nyberg een grote voorstander van nieuwe leermethodes zoal e-learning. Echter ,naar aanleiding van een artikel in de krant waar de mogelijke schadelijke uitwerkingen werden besproken, heeft hij een uitgebreide analyse gemaakt van de wetenschappelijke studies aangaande dit onderwerp.
Zo stuitte hij op vele wetenschappelijke onderzoeken die schadelijke uitwerkingen constateerden. De aard en de hoeveelheid van deze studies heeft hem doen besluiten om het gebruik van deze nieuwe IT-toepassingen in het onderwijs ten strengste af te raden. Ook zet hij zich nu actief in om te waarschuwen voor het gebruik van draadloze apparatuur als tablets en smartphones.
Hij waarschuwd dan ook: "Draadloze technologie in scholen kan leiden naar een epidemie van hersensbeschadigingen"
Interview met professor Nyberg:
Finnish education professor's warning: Wireless technology in schools may lead to a global epidemic of brain damages.
"Professor Rainer Nyberg changed his opinion of wireless technology in March 2013. At that time he had been lecturing in Finland and Sweden for many years and had written books about the uses and benefits of online learning. In this interview, for TV-Finland’s Channel, he explains how he found out about the health risks directly linked to wireless emissions from the technology he had assumed would only have positive effects."
What started your interest in wireless technology and its effects on health?
It actually began with my deep interest and involvement in new technology. As a teacher-trainer at the Faculty of Education I also started projects on IT-pedagogy and e-Learning. This resulted, among other things, in two books. One was How To Teach Online Education, another was a 350 page Research Guide, with 120 pages on how the Internet can be used to search for scientific information.
So your starting point was about the benefits, and not about the harmful effects?
Yes, definitely. I could only see the benefits then. I had been using cellphones for a long time and wifi-gadgets too. While I was working intensively on the fifth edition of the Research Guide I used both a wireless keyboard and mouse, but started getting a prickling sensation in my fingers. I wondered, why is this happening? Around that time, just before Christmas 2012, I read my grandchild’s letter to Santa Claus, “Please, please Santa, most of all I want to have an iPad.”
How did you react to that wish?
I thought it was great, really great that my grandchild wanted to use computers. At that time I had no idea there could be problems too. I just wanted to promote it, so I bought her an iPad.
Now you have explored the research available in this field, and learned about the injurious health effects. Are you surprised about what you found out from different research studies?
Yes, very surprised. Actually it started with my sister sending me a newspaper article from Sweden about how cellphones and iPads may be harmful to health. That’s silly, I thought. How could that be? Everyone’s using them. But I also thought, I may as well look into it. So in March 2013 I spent three weeks researching. I had been teaching information retrieval and had just written 120 pages in the Research Guide, so I knew how to do online research. We have easy access to fantastic tools at the university, the NELLI portal, where we can search many large scientific databases for free, as well as retrieve and print articles very fast.
What was your first impression? What did you find?
The first thing that really made an impression on me was the warning by the Council of Europe. In 2011 they called on all of the member states of the European Union by basically saying: you must warn all your citizens that there is a danger to cellphone technology and wireless internet. Children especially need to be warned, because they are particularly sensitive. Their cranium is thinner and more susceptible because they’re still growing. I got the message. Yes, protect the children. The warning from the Council of Europe also made it clear that if we don’t do something now, it could lead to devastating human and economic costs.
So you became absorbed in this new knowledge. What happened then?
I became quite concerned and continued looking deeper into scientific reports. The recommendation from the Council of Europe is from a socio-political standpoint but based on science. So I thought I’d better read up on the science. Among many findings I read the new BioInitiative Report of 2012 that included 1800 reviewed studies. The scientists concluded: If we don’t do something now, we may soon see a global epidemic of brain damage. Children are most vulnerable to the effects of pulsed electromagnetic radiation. And of course I thought of my grandchild, to whom I had just given an iPad.
I take it that’s quite challenging for a senior educator to hear?
That’s when I became very troubled about the technology I had been promoting in my books and lectures. I now understand that wired connectivity causes fewer problems and wireless creates many kinds of problems. Millions of people are affected.
Injuries to the brain’s blood vessels have been discovered as well. In our brains we have about 600 km of blood vessels. They have to feed 60-100 billion nerve cells with oxygen and glucose. Even if each nerve cell is extremely small, every nerve cell has many microscopic branches. The longest branch from each neuron (nerve cell), which includes axons (nerve fibers), is between one millimeter and 20 cm. The average is less than a millimeter. However, if we were to connect all these neurons and use only the longest branch from each one and put all neurons in a line, it would reach four times around the equator. Each neuron can have contacts (synapses) to more than thousands of other neurons.
With this context I started to understand why the brain was particularly sensitive. The blood vessels in the brain are far-reaching and extremely thin, and that’s where one problem lies. As it turns out, the thin blood vessels in the brain have walls that are even thinner. When someone is exposed to a cellphone or other wireless radiation, the walls of the blood vessels start to leak. A protein from the blood (albumin) can also leak out to the brain cells and has the potential to kill nerve cells. This has been shown in pictures in research reports from Sweden, published by professors Bertil Persson and Leif Salford in Lund. They studied the effects of active cellphone radiation in close vicinity to a box where rats ran freely. They found that even weak radiation causes damage to the blood vessels and the brain cells in the rats after only 2 hours of exposure. Imagine what can happen to children and adults who hold cellphones close to their ears and brains for several hours every week for years?
Your lecture today is about health consequences from staying too long in wireless environments. What steps have you personally taken to solve this problem?
Nowadays I keep the cellphone in flight mode 99% of the time to reduce emissions. I don’t use this ’smart’ technology much anymore, even though I always had my phone with me and on me for many years. Now I mostly leave it at home, or have it turned off, but check for messages. At home I use wired internet and a wired keyboard and mouse. I also replaced the wireless DECT phone with a traditional wired phone, and I avoid places with high levels of electromagnetic radiation.
As a guest lecturer, what will your key message be today?
First of all I will give a brief overview of how important an instrument our brain is. It’s the most complex structure in our world. It is more complex than any aircraft and so on. It’s very sensitive to electromagnetic pulses. All communication in our brains and bodies is also dependent on electric pulses, which are much weaker than man-made digital electromagnetic pulses. In airplanes you are not allowed to use cellphones because it might disturb the electronic equipment on board. Yet most people still think that a cellphone could not harm the brain, which is much more complex than an airplane and runs on much weaker electric pulses. I will also talk about various damages caused by wireless gadgets, but above all how to protect yourself and how to avoid being exposed to too much electromagnetic radiation.
Based on what you have said so far, your recommendation is that it pays to use traditional cable connectivity and just use wireless networks when we have no other choice. Is that about right?
Yes, it’s much better to use cable internet whenever possible, but you can’t use cable for cell phones, tablets and iPads, because they only function on wireless networks. All digital communication uses high frequencies. Tablets are not held to the ear, but you sit with them in your lap, maybe even while holding a child. Boys and men often keep their smartphone in their pockets. Research shows that sperm die from such exposure, and the sperm that survive is of less quality.
One experiment (by A. Balmori) found a marked difference between two containers of tadpoles placed 140 meters from a celltower. One container was shielded by a Faraday cage. In that container only 4% died, but 90% of the tadpoles died in the unprotected one, and deformities were found among the remaining 10%. No wonder then that sperm die or are damaged if you carry a smartphone in a pants pocket. Frogs, people and birds have also been studied, and the results show that they were also negatively affected by celltowers. This is not just about cancer. Immediate injury is noticeable on EEG, brain activity changes, and also damages to the DNA.
So there are many different types of damage. That’s why it’s so important to protect children and not install wireless networks and iPads in the schools. The worst scenario is when many tablets are in use at the same time and in the same room, as in schools, because they continually search to connect to the same wifi-modem. It’s like every iPad is shouting at the same time to the modem and this electromagnetic smog just gets louder and louder. That’s when it becomes particularly harmful. How would kids know if their teachers do not understand the risks?
Lots of important issues to talk about today. Thank you so much for this interview, and
I wish you all the best with your lecture.
Thank you too.
Website: Rainer Nyberg http://users.abo.fi/nrnyberg/ (Swedish-Finnish-English)
Forskning om hälsa, trådlös teknik och pedagogik (Research on health, wireless technology and pedagogy).
Over a hundred useful links.