By Florence Waters
Six years ago, Dr Erica Mallery-Blythe moved to the country, stopped carrying a mobile phone and sacrificed a successful career in emergency medicine to focus on a new medical interest – radiation emitted by Wi-Fi, mobiles and other wireless devices.
She is now one of the country’s few professional advisers on medical conditions related to radiofrequency (RF) radiation and other electromagnetic fields (EMFs).
“I was using wireless devices before most people I knew – I loved it,” says Mallery-Blythe, who was ahead of the tech trend even in 1985 when she was handed her first mobile phone, aged 10.
“But as soon as I started digesting the literature on EMFs it was a no-brainer,” she says of her decision to relinquish wireless gadgets.
“I wasn’t willing to take that kind of risk for something that was purely convenient.”
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Her interest in EMFs started in 2009 after she began noticing increasing trends in certain symptoms – headaches, insomnia, fatigue and palpitations, but also more serious conditions including brain tumours in young people, fertility problems and accelerating neurological diseases such as early onset Alzheimer’s and autism. As yet there is still no scientific proof that relates these diseases to radiation, but Mallery-Blythe is among a not insignificant number of scientists and practitioners concerned by those studies that do highlight cause for more precaution.
Dr Erica Mallery-Blythe discusses the effects of Wi-Fi radiation with a class of schoolchildren [PHOTO: GEOFF PUGH]
Over the past few years, as Wi-Fi, laptops and iPads have become increasingly prevalent in classrooms, Mallery-Blythe says “hundreds” of families have sought her help with what they believe to be EMF-related diseases and health issues.
One such case is that of nine-year-old Jessica Lewis’s family. In the autumn term of 2011, Jessica started to complain that she was getting bad headaches at school. She was also feeling overly tired, developed rashes on her legs and her parents said she looked “completely washed out” after school, particularly on Mondays. A quick internet search threw up a forum where parents had written that their children complained of similar symptoms after installing Wi-Fi.
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“I ignored it. We didn’t know anything about Wi-Fi then,” says Jessica’s father, Paul Lewis. “We didn’t think her school had it.”
Later that term, at a parents’ evening, he noticed a Wi-Fi router near Jessica’s desk in her new form classroom. As it turned out, Monday was the day of the week the whole class worked on laptops.
When a local GP backed up Lewis’s suspicions about Wi-Fi being the probable cause of Jessica’s headaches, he went to some lengths to try to convince Spotbrough Copley Junior School in Doncaster to use wires instead of Wi-Fi, even offering to pay for the school building to be wired with cables.
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The school pointed out that a government report advised that Wi-Fi exposures were well within internationally accepted standards. Guidelines were reviewed in 2011 and still stand today. “We do not think the balance of available scientific evidence on radiofrequency has shifted and, as such, our position remains that PHE [Public Health England] sees no reason why Wi-Fi should not continue to be used in schools and in other places,” says Dr Simon Mann at PHE, the Department of Health’s agency in charge of health protection.
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As well as founding the Physicians’ Health Initiative for Radiation and Environment (PHIRE) to inform doctors of the issues and advise on best health practice, Mallery-Blythe gives talks to teachers around the country, in which she presents scientific studies that reveal both short and long-term effects of EMF exposure. One of the talks (below) has had more than 15,000 views on YouTube since last November. It’s an engaging summary of the issues that concerned scientists are discussing. “I try to present the facts the authorities aren’t highlighting,” says Mallery-Blythe.
Wi-Fi at home: Dr Erica Mallery-Blythe’s advice
Try to keep your mobile switched off and don’t use it unless you need to. Keep it in flight mode when it is on and never carry your mobile close to your body, even on standby.
Don’t use Wi-Fi for internet. Instead use an Ethernet cable and buy a router with no wireless capacity or disable it. Disable Wi-Fi on your computer or tablet by disabling the wireless card via the control panel or putting it into flight mode.
Replace cordless landlines with corded ones. Most cordless telephones give off radiation whether they’re in use or not. iPhone Android Application Design and Development in Kuwait