Markham (Canada) Economist & Sun  [Printer-friendly version]
May 18, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: Considerable evidence now suggests that
electromagnetic fields may cause biological effects in humans, so it
makes sense to limit the exposure of children as a precautionary

By Serena Willoughby, Staff Writer

They're closing hallways, moving the basketball net and putting up
fences at St. Monica Catholic School in Markham, all to protect
students from a threat federal and provincial health authorities
aren't sure exists.

An independent test ordered by the York Catholic District School Board
found EMF levels as high as 10 milligauss near a transformer at St.

Some research links prolonged exposure to "dirty electricity" at
levels higher than two to leukemia, as well as chronic fatigue
syndrome, fibromyalgia and attention deficit disorder.

But other research on EMFs, which are created wherever electricity is
generated such as in cellphones, computers and power lines, indicated
the link to health problems is unsubstantiated.

The board fenced off the transformer and closed other areas with high
EMF readings at St. Monica, although spokesperson Chris Cable wouldn't
speculate on whether similar precautions would be taken at other

"Regardless of whether you believe (the research) or not, we at the
board are following a precautionary principle," Ms Cable said.

Dr. Magda Havas, a professor of Environmental Sciences at Trent
University, believes EMFs in schools are a major problem because
schools use several kinds of equipment that emit EMFs such as older
model computers, fluorescent lighting and public address systems.

Children are particularly susceptible to the effects of EMFs, she

But Gloria Rachamin, a toxicologist with the public health division of
the Ontario Ministry of Health, denied the connection in a report to
York public health, the school board and parents.

"Overall, the scientific evidence does not support casual association
between EMF exposure and human health risks," she said.

"According to Health Canada.... there is no conclusive evidence of
any harm caused by exposures at levels normally found in Canadian
living and working environments. It further indicates that, at
present, there are no Canadian government guidelines for exposure to
EMF at extremely low frequencies since the scientific evidence is not
strong enough to conclude that typical exposures cause health

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