Switch Off – Centre for Confidence and Wellbeing

switch off

Mon, February 3, 2020

7:00 PM – 9:30 PM GMT

Deeprose Lecture Theatre, Govan Mbeki building (Glasgow Caledonian University), Cowcaddens Road, Glasgow G4 0BA

This event in Glasgow aims to help you to learn about and discuss one of the most important issues for the health of Scotland’s children. Register for Tickets at EventBrite

About this Event

Many countries around the world are taking action to reduce infants’, children’s and young people’s exposure to the type of radiation which comes from WiFi, mobile phones and masts. Some are also advising pregnant women to try to minimise their exposure to protect the unborn child. (See list below.)

What evidence is there that this type of radiation, even at permitted levels, may be dangerous to young people’s health and to unborn children?

These are the questions that we shall explore at this information-giving event which will provide a range of different views and opinions.


Dr Erica Mallery-Blythe : Electromagnetic Radiation, health and children (Dr Mallery-Blythe’s contribution to the event may be via video.)

Professor Tom Butler: On the Clear Evidence of the Risks to Children from Non-Ionizing Radio Frequency Radiation – The Case of Digital Technologies in the Home, Classroom and Society

Professor John Frank: Early life exposure to EMFs: – Unanswered questions


Professor Phil Hanlon

Who should attend?

Parents, grandparents, teachers, headteachers, pre-school workers, childminders, doctors, midwives, politicians and anyone involved in the care or education of children.


For over twenty years a growing number of scientists and doctors have been telling governments that the permitted exposure level for the type of radiation from mobile phones, masts etc (non ionising radiation) is set too low. They believe that Radio Frequency Electro Magnetic Fields (RF-EMFs) can have significant ‘biological effects’ on human beings and other organisms at levels much, much lower than the standards permit. Groups of doctors in particular have been petitioning governments and asking them to take action. For example, in 2002 ‘the Freiburg Appeal’ to the German government was signed by 2000 doctors. This was followed in 2012 by ‘the International Appeal’ signed by 20,000 doctors. Many more letters, appeals and petitions have followed. One petition to the EU on the potential dangers of 5G is signed by 253 scientists and doctors from 36 nations. Another to the United Nations to stop 5G has over 166,000 signatures. This support mainly comes from doctors, scientists and environmental organisations.

Many of these scientists and doctors are particularly concerned about the health of unborn babies, infants and children as they have thinner skulls and are more vulnerable to the effects of this type of radiation, even at current levels. Some peer reviewed studies suggests that miscarriage may be more common in pregnant women with high EMF exposure and that developmental disorders in children, and behavioural problems may be related to the ever increasing radiation in our environment from phones, Wifi and other devices. Research has also shown that adolescents’ cognitive function can be compromised by high exposure to telephone masts adjacent to school buildings.

Some countries have already taken action. For example:

• France, Israel, Cyprus, Russia and some regions of Spain have banned WiFi in nursery schools. • In France schools have been advised only to turn on WiFi if it is needed for a lesson. Israel and Italy are recommending schools reduce children’s exposure to wireless radiation.

•France now requires that the radiation level of phones (SAR) be made available for consumers. French law also requires that all mobile phones are sold with a headset and bans mobile phone adverts aimed at children and adolescents under 14. Phones specifically made for children under 6 are also banned in France. Belgium also bans mobile phones aimed at children under 7. French students of all ages are not allowed to use mobiles in schools, playgrounds or colleges. Israel has also banned mobile phones in school and all new phones carry the warning: ’Heavy use of this device or carrying it close to your body can increase the risk of cancer. Especially amongst children.’

• The Cyprus health department has financed a video aimed at pregnant women which gives advice on how to protect their unborn child by minimising their exposure to EMFs. Turkey’s health department has also produced a brochure which specifically advises pregnant women to limit their exposure.

• Taiwan has banned parents from allowing children under two from playing with mobile phones, iPads or television. Those who do can be fined £1000.

• The Israeli Ministry of Health has initiated a major public awareness effort to reduce wireless. This includes advice not to install the base of cordless phones in ‘a bedroom, work room or children’s room’. The Italian State Parliament of South Tyrol has also started an awareness campaign particularly featuring how to protect, the unborn, infants and children. Many other countries are now issuing advice to citizens about how to limit their exposure to mobile and cordless phones, and WiFi.

• The Greek government has strict rules forbidding the installation of mobile phone base stations around schools, kindergartens, hospitals or eldercare establishments. They also have much lower exposure levels than many other countries.

• Governing authorities in the cities of Brussels, Rome and Florence have said that they will not permit 5G being installed in their cities until its safety has been proven.

What’s happening in the UK and in Scotland

Scotland takes its lead from England’s Health Protection Agency and it follows the standards set by the International Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) for exposure to this type of radiation. This standard is accepted by the World Health Organisation. However, this level has been robustly criticised by many scientists and doctors for being far too high. Russia, China, Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Luxembourg, for example, have set their maximum peak exposure at 6 volts per meter (vpm) whereas the ICNIRP allows 58 vpm. This exposure level allows the UK to be relaxed about children’s exposure to non-ionising radiation from WiFi in schools or from masts, for example, as inevitably it is much, much lower than permitted ICNIRP levels. The UK Government does, however, advise that as a precaution young children should not make regular use of mobile phones.

In Scotland currently there is no debate on the issue of children’s exposure to RF EMFs and local authorities are encouraging schools to install or extend WiFi. Scotland’s national tests (SNSAs) in primary schools mean that children as young as five complete a test on an iPad connected to the internet. Indeed the Scottish Government describes these tests as ‘online standardised assessments’ and report that they take on average 45 minutes to complete. Some schools are now buying iPads to give children practice time for the tests. In 2019 Scottish authorities agreed to a 5G phone mast being installed on a small primary school building in Stronsay, Orkney.

Speaker biographies

Dr Erica Mallery-Blythe is a UK trained medical doctor and has worked in hospitals in various countries. Emergency trauma medicine is her main area of experitise but she has also worked in obstetrics, paediatrics and intensive care (both neonatal and adult). In 2008 she began to research the biological effects of non-ionising radiation. She gave up her medical role in 2015 to concentrate on research. She founded PHIRE (Physicians’ Health Initiative for Radiation and Environment) to facilitate education on this topic on a larger scale. She is a trustee for the Radiation Research Trust.

Professor Tom Butler is a Professor in Business Information Systems at University College Cork and a former IRCHSS Government of Ireland Research Fellow. Tom is the Principal Investigator of Ireland’s Governance Risk and Compliance Technology Centre. In February 2019 he published a paper called ‘On the Clear Evidence of the Risks to Children from Smartphone and WiFi Radio Frequency Radiation’. He is also unconvinced of the benefits of digital technology in schools as is clear from his recent paper ‘A Critical Review of Digital Technology in Education that should give Policy Makers and Educators Pause for Thought’.

Professor John Frank is Chair, Public Health Research and Policy, University of Edinburgh.

Professor Phil Hanlon was formerly professor of Public Health at the University of Glasgow. He is Chair of the Board at the Centre for Confidence and Well-being.

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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