'Gas leak! Empty the school!' 'No need – we only have disabled children.' Report of Interconnections Appeal to 20 CEOs in England Phase 2

twophonessmall2The Interconnections Appeal to the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of twenty major children's organisations in England is in its fourth month and this is the second progress report to be put into the public domain on teamaroundthechild.com 

Report: 'Gas leak! Empty the school!' 'No need – we only have disabled children.' 

The Appeal concerns dangers to foetuses, children and teenagers from long-term exposure to electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones, base stations, wi-fi laptops, cordless phones (DECT) and all the new games and gadgets that use this radiation. There is a growing international body of valid research pointing to cancers and neurological damage. A constant theme is that children, who are introduced to regular use of the technology at ever younger ages, are more vulnerable and that neurological effects will be more profound in the developing brains of foetuses and infants. The American Academy of Paediatrics states: 

Children are disproportionately affected by environmental exposures, including cell phone radiation. The differences in bone density and the amount of fluid in a child's brain...could allow children to absorb greater quantities of RF (radio frequency) energy deeper into their brains than adults.[1] 

I have not asked CEOs to take my word for the harmful effects of this radiation. The Interconnections Appeal is that they will devote proper organisational time to explore the available research and then publish a statement on the stance of their organisation to the dangers – dangers both to the children they support and their female workforce who are pregnant now or will be in the future. 

I have suggested that it is important when reading any research paper to note if the research was funded by any part of the telecommunications industry. I have also suggested that awareness of the damage to children from this environmental toxin will probably, for various reasons, reach the government long after the harmful effects are scientifically established and after there is widespread public concern. As with previous environmental toxins (weed killers, smoking, passive smoking, asbestos, etc) it is this pressure of science and public concern that comes up from underneath to force governments to act.  

My survey of the websites of the twenty children's organisation shows me that they see it is an important part of their role to be a strong influence on government policy on children's issues. The Interconnections Appeal merely urges them to put electromagnetic radiation high on their list of major issues. 

Children in England need champions to stand up for them on this because no one is doing so at the moment. These twenty CEOs are ideally placed for this challenge. What children are exposed to is limitless advertising about how wonderful the gadgets are and social pressure to have as many trendy gadgets as possible. While the telecommunications industry has unrestricted access to children to sell their wares, they also have tremendous influence on government policy – their money talks like no one else's. 

This is the Interconnections Appeal – to persuade CEOs to allocate staff to study the international research and then to step bravely into the breach as children's champions. Taking up this challenge will require bravery, but children have a right to expect no less from organisations funded to protect and support them. 


Establishing contact with CEOs 

I am too long in the tooth to assume each CEO would immediately welcome my approach and eagerly respond to the Interconnections Appeal. I anticipated that I would get a range of reactions including: 

  • CEOs welcoming my approach as a constructive support to their efforts to keep children safe
  • CEOs deciding to ignore my e-mails in the hope that I  go away
  • CEOs requesting that I do not approach them again on this issue

Of course, this is assuming direct contact with each CEO. In actual fact, with some organisations I have no confirmation that my e-mails have been seen by the CEO. 

Below is detail about which CEOs I have been able to contact. The twenty children's organisations are divided into 4 sections according to the level of contact I have been able to make.  Organisations are listed in alphabetical order in each section with the name of the CEO. The information is correct to the best of my knowledge at the time of publishing. 

1. Direct responses from CEO

Children's Society (Matthew Read)

CLIC Sargent (Lorraine Clifton)

Fragile X Society (Tim Potter)

Shine UK (Jackie Bland)

WellChild (Colin Dyer)

2. Responses from someone other than CEO

Action for Children (Tony Hawkhead)

Barnardos (was Peter Brook, now Javed Khan)

Contact a Family (was interim Paul Soames, now Amanda Batten)

Mencap (Jan Tregelles)

Guide Dogs / NBCS (Richard Leaman)[2]

NDCS (Susan Daniels)

NSPCC (Peter Wanless)

Sense (Gillian Morby)

Young Epilepsy (Lisa Farmer)

Young Minds (Sarah Brennan)

3. Requests for me to send no more e-mails

Scope (Richard Hawkes). The request came from people other than Richard and I have had no direct response from him.

4. Organisations that have not responded to date in any way

Down's Syndrome Association (Carol Boys)

Kids (Caroline Stevens)

NAS (Mark Lever)

NCB (Hilary Emery)

I am grateful to the CEOs who have picked up my e-mails and responded directly. I have chosen from the beginning to make my appeal to named CEOs because they carry the ultimate responsibility to be aware of, and to respond to, dangers to children and staff and they have the power to allocate staff time to exploring the effects of electromagnetic radiation. New health and safety policies to protect children and staff and public statements about the dangers must be sanctioned, I would assume, by the CEO. Communications direct from CEOs are therefore appreciated and treated as valuable opportunities for further constructive communication.

Responses from people other than CEOs are appreciated also. However, I feel that this important issue of child protection deserves the direct and personal attention of each CEO.  There is something of a dilemma for me here. When a CEO's PA (personal assistant) or another member of staff tells me the CEO has seen my correspondence I do, of course, have to accept this in good faith. But I am also aware that part of the valid function of an organisation's staff members is to filter incoming correspondence and to protect the CEO from irrelevant or inappropriate items. 

Considering the organisations in sections 2, 3 and 4 above, it is possible that some CEOs have not seen my correspondence while others have seen it but perceive the issue as too big a hot potato and are anxious not to pick it up or to be known to have picked it up. They might feel it is in their best personal interests to be able to assert in the future this issue of child and staff protection was never brought to their attention.

The Interconnections Appeal is to named CEOs because they carry the responsibility to protect children and staff and because, to put it bluntly, the buck stops with them. For this reason I shall continue my efforts to make direct contact with the CEO of each organisation.

What I have done since publishing the report of Phase 1

In mid-May I wrote to the CEO of each organisation to urge them that, whatever else they were doing in the longer term in response to the Interconnections Appeal, they could immediately adopt a precautionary approach to protect children and female staff. The skeleton version of this letter is in the appendix at the end of this report. My suggestion was that they purchase an electromagnetic radiation monitor and explore the different levels of radiation (or absence of radiation) in the settings they provide for children and the workplaces they provide for their staff.  I further suggested that concerned staff members be allowed to borrow the monitor to survey their own homes.

Such monitors are not expensive and by using them the silent, invisible, odourless electromagnetic radiation can be seen, heard and measured. Using the monitor the CEO could easily observe changes in levels when they switch off wi-fi routers, cordless (DECT) phones, etc and could then develop health and safety policies about replacing some wi-fi equipment with wired versions, cordless (DECT) phones with landlines and, in the meantime, keeping children and pregnant staff away from places with high levels of radiation. 

Responses to this third Interconnections Appeal letter

There are three types of response I want to highlight here. The first is about an organisation's remit, the second is about the probable outcome in referring this Appeal to an organisation's health and safety department, and the third is about an organisation's resources. 

1. 'This issue of electromagnetic radiation falls outside our remit.' Obviously, I do not want to accept this narrow view of the remit of any children's organisation – hence the playful title I have given this Report. 

I am pretty sure that the philosophy and practice of each of the twenty children's organisations includes seeing the child and not just the disability – acknowledging that the blind or deaf or deaf/blind child is a child first and foremost and is not, and should not be, defined by the disability or impairment.  Each of the twenty organisations is supporting children and must cater for the whole child with consideration of mental health, physical health, freedom from unnecessary pain, etc – and freedom from environmental toxins. 

A child with autism can get cancer if the daily journey to school is in a car with a driver who smokes. A teenager with cerebral palsy can be made ill by weed killer being sprayed on a field next to the house. The tailpiece in Interconnections Appeal Phase 1 report tells of a girl with Down's syndrome who had very disturbed nights when the router in the room below was left switched on at night.  Having one disabling condition does not mean a child cannot acquire another. Nor does it mean the child does not deserve protection from electromagnetic radiation. 

A second aspect of this remit discussion is about additional dangers the organisation might be inadvertently inflicting on the children it is supporting. Obvious examples are giving wi-fi gadgets to children in nurseries, imposing wi-fi on school children and using a wi-fi laptop when visiting a child at home. This exposure might be adding to each child's problems. 

The third aspect is that the 'not in our remit' argument ignores the dangers to which female staff are exposed. The research shows damage to ova and foetuses. A very valuable survey of the research is the book I mentioned in my third Appeal letter, An Electronic Silent Spring. (See the link in the skeleton letter in the appendix.) 

2. 'We have referred your e-mails to our health and safety people'. There is a frustrating circularity here. The Interconnections Appeal asks CEOs to position their organisation ahead of government policy and at the same time to apply pressure on the government to produce up-to-date legislation and guidance. Yet it seems inevitable that health and safety managers must quote and follow the existing government view – that this radiation poses no problems to anybody. 

Each and every one of the twenty children's organisations I have appealed to takes opportunities that arise to lobby the government for change, for better support for the children and families in their remit. Responding to the Interconnections Appeal with an assertion that they have to fall in line with the government is a little disingenuous. 

I can guess at two modes of thinking here, the first of which I respect more than the second. The first is that some CEOs and senior managers will genuinely want to refer to the people in the organisation who know much more than they do about health and safety issues. The second is merely an anticipation that the health and safety people will respond with the comfortable reassurance that the organisation is complying with all legislation and government guidance. While the first mode can keep discussion open, the second is a too-easy way to drop a hot potato. 

3. 'We have limited resources.' Of course, every organisation does – except the telecommunications industry! But it is never because there are no resources. It is always because decisions have been made to devote the resources to A, B, C and D and not to E. It comes down to priorities and each CEO can adjust the organisation's priorities as circumstances change. 

In my third appeal letter I asked CEO's to purchase an electromagnetic radiation monitor to survey the radiation in the organisation's premises and then apply a straightforward and common sense precautionary approach. The monitor (which can also be hired) will cost about £300 to buy. I am not going to suggest this is an insignificant sum but it might only amount to one day's pay for a CEO – a small investment for a big return for children and female staff. 

But I entirely respect the limits on resources when it comes to allocating proper staff time to fully explore the international research.  I shall address this in the fourth letter of the Interconnections Appeal in June. 

Autism and depression

These two conditions in children have been in the news recently (and, of course, there is no reason why the same child cannot have both). News from the US is that 1 in 68 children has autism[3] and that the environment is a bigger causal factor than previously thought[4].

In the case of depression we have the Children's Commissioner for the English government telling us three children in an average classroom have a mental health difficulty – many with anxiety and depression.[5] And we have YoungMinds claiming that children and young people are growing up in a 'toxic climate' and calling for better mental health for children and young people.[6]

It does not take long in surveying the international research to see long-term exposure to electromagnetic radiation quoted as causal factors in both autism and depression in children. Even if the causes were other than radiation, putting these children in wi-fi environments is likely to make things worse. There are some dots to be joined up here. If I worked with children with depression or autism and I started hearing about possible links to electromagnetic radiation I am sure I would embark on learning as much as I could. My curiosity would be intense. 

The four organisations who have not responded yet

As I near the end of this progress report on Phase 2 of the Interconnections Appeal I cannot help wondering why four organisations – DSA, Kids, NAS and NCB, have not responded yet to any of my communications about protection of children and health and safety of their staff.

It seems very improbable that their CEOs – Carol, Caroline, Mark and Hilary have not been told by their PA or other staff of my communications to them and postings on teamaroundthechild.com. I doubt that they are each totally unconcerned about dangers to foetuses and children from long-term exposure to electromagnetic radiation and I doubt that they are aloof from repeated communications sent to them via their PAs.

If I have to guess, it would be that there is a policy decision at the top of each of these four organisations organisation to remain blind and deaf to the Interconnections Appeal and that the motivation is fear. 

But all the Appeal is asking them to do is allocate staff time to explore the international research (and while doing that buy a monitor to see how much radiation they have in their premises). There is nothing to be afraid of in becoming properly aware of dangers and facing up to them. Dangers and threats that we do not address become ever more fearsome. 


During the weekend of writing this there was a story in the Telegraph Newspaper (UK) about Neil Whitfield who has banned his children from using mobile phones.[7] Quoting from the first part of the story: 

When Neil Whitfield was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of 44, he left the consulting room in shock.

He had been struggling with debilitating headaches, short-term memory loss and fatigue for months, and faced a brutal choice between risky surgery or leaving the tumour where it was and coming to terms with the fact that it would kill him within five years.

But what also shocked him was his doctor's theory about what had caused the tumour.

'He said he was absolutely convinced it was my mobile-phone use,' said Mr Whitfield, from Wigan, Lancashire. 'He told me that mobile phones were going to be the smoking gun of the 21st century in terms of cancers.' I hadn't even thought about it before.

At the time of his diagnosis in 2001, Mr Whitfield was working as a sales manager and had been a regular user of mobile phones since 1995. He never used one again.

Later in this balanced article Denis Henshaw, Emeritus Professor at Bristol University and honorary scientific director of the Children with Cancer UK charity, is quoted as asserting: 

The dangers are being seriously underplayed....We are seeing a rise in brain tumours in adults and children. And because brain tumours are relatively rare, we are talking small numbers, but the increase is there.

Why should it come as any surprise that holding the equivalent of a small microwave oven to your ear should be a health risk? 

I am not offering this news story as scientific evidence but as part of the groundswell of everyday experience of, and deep concern about, this technology. I feel sure if CEOs put their ear to the ground they will find similar stories in their own organisation – from staff members about themselves and about staff members' family and friends. 

Peter Limbrick

Date: May 28th, 2014 

End of report


















Appendix: Format of the third letter 

TO CEO (Name of organisation) 

Dear (Name) 

Re: Dangers to children and pregnant staff from electromagnetic radiation 

I am writing to further the Interconnections campaign to alert CEOs of children's organisations in England to the growing body of international evidence about dangers to children and foetuses from long-term exposure to this radiation. I do realise that committing staff time to exploring the evidence is a big demand for you and this letter is about precautionary steps you can take in the meantime while getting a team organised to properly survey the research. 

As with any potential danger to children or your staff, the starting point logically is to assess the situation so that you know what you are dealing with. Radiation from mobile phones, cordless phones, wi-fi equipment/toys is invisible and odourless but it can be made audible and measured on a low-cost monitor which you can see and buy or rent here: http://www.emfields.org/detectors/overview.asp 

With this you can take measurements in your own office, your organisation's workplaces and children's bases. You will see the radiation varies greatly even on the same floor in a building and this gives you a start in taking first precautions. While using the monitor you can try switching gadgets off to see the difference it makes. With this first information you can make decisions about keeping some equipment switched off until needed, replacing some wi-fi equipment with wired versions and keeping children and pregnant staff well away from your radiation hotspots. 

If it falls within your organisation's rules, you could allow concerned staff to use the monitor in their own homes. You could use it in your own home and apply the precautionary principle to your own domestic situation. Here is a useful document you could give to staff members and parents of children you support: http://wifiinschools.org.uk/resources/For+parents.pdf   I am sure you will agree with me that this environmental hazard makes no distinctions between home and workplace and between colleagues and family. 

The document, Bioinitiative 2012 - Summary for the Public (2014 Supplement) serves as a wake-up call to all of us. It can be found here: http://www.bioinitiative.org/report/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/sec01_2012_summary_for_public.pdf  

Here are some short extracts from it: 

1.      Evidence for Fetal and Neonatal Effects: Effects on the developing fetus from in-utero exposure to cell phone radiation have been observed in both human and animal studies since 2006. Sources of fetal and neonatal exposures of concern include cell phone radiation (both paternal use of wireless devices worn on the body and maternal use of wireless phones during pregnancy)... 

2.      Evidence for Effects on Autism (Autism Spectrum Conditions): Physicians and health care practitioners should raise the visibility of EMF/RFR as a plausible environmental factor in ASC clinical evaluations and treatment protocols. Reducing or removing EMF and wireless RFR stressors from the environment is a reasonable precautionary action given the overall weight of evidence for a link to ASCs... 

3.      Evidence for Effects on Brain Tumors: 'There is reasonable basis to conclude that RF-EMFs are bioactive and have a potential to cause health impacts. There is a consistent pattern of increased risk for glioma and acoustic neuroma associated with use of wireless phones (mobile phones and cordless phones) mainly based on results from case-control studies from the Hardell group and Interphone Final Study results'... 

There is a new book on the subject here: http://www.teamaroundthechild.com/allnews/publications/1500-an-electronic-silent-spring-facing-the-dangers-and-creating-safe-limits-new-book-by-katie-singer.html   Quoting Amazon: 'Katie Singer has performed a great public service by assembling compelling scientific studies and personal experiences about the effects of exposure to radiation from man-made electricity and wireless devices on birds, wildlife, and human health...' 

You will see there is no shortage of information for any CEO who takes up the challenge to learn about the risks of long-term exposure to this radiation. Government guidance and legislation lags very far behind what is known internationally of the dangers – but this has repeatedly been the case with successive environmental toxins. It should not surprise us but nor should we let the fact lull us into a false sense of security. It does mean however, that most organisations' health and safety departments will understandably use the default position of adopting our government's present no-danger stance. 

In this endeavour I will help you all I can. For instance, I can put you in touch with people who know a lot more than I do who could guide you through the reports and research papers.



[1] This is a quote from a letter from the Academy to Representative Kucinich, Washington DC. The letter can be found in Singer, K (2014) An Electronic Silent Spring. p 218

[2] After some confusion, I have learned that NBCS lies within Guide Dogs and has Richard Leaman as CEO

[3] http://www.teamaroundthechild.com/allnews/researchsurveys/1495-autism-now-affects-every-1-in-68-people-in-the-united-states-but-you-need-to-read-this-whichever-country-you-live-in.html

[4] http://www.teamaroundthechild.com/allnews/researchsurveys/1498-environmental-factors-have-strong-link-to-autism-claim-scientists.html

[5] http://kidsaid.org.uk/dr-atkinson/

[6] http://www.youngminds.org.uk/news/blog/1830_exclusive_youngminds_poll_reveals_toxic_climate_for_young_people

[7] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/10853688/Do-mobile-phones-cause-brain-tumours.html

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