Updated: Apr 14, 2019
One of the common notions of 'being developed and being advanced' as a society is associated with myriad aspects of our 'wireless lifestyle'. Guided by 'subtle suggestions' through media, advertisements, articles and endorsements, we seem to have inadvertently perceived 'wireless and gadget driven living' as aspirational in all it's 'avatars' without much question. Smart homes, smart classrooms and smart cities are the concepts being sold to us wherein the 'wireless connectivity' is celebrated almost as a new definition of freedom! However, there is another aspect of this reality which is actually quiet 'un‐smart'. And here is why.....
An article written by Alice Thompson for The Times of London in March 2018, “Help Kids to Kick Social Media Addiction”‐
The philanthropist Melinda Gates told me the same. Her children don’t have smartphones and only use a computer in the kitchen. Her husband Bill, the Microsoft co‐founder, spends hours in his office reading books while everyone else is refreshing their homepage. The most sought‐after private school in Silicon Valley, the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, bans technical devices for the under‐11s and teaches the children of eBay, Apple, Uber and Google staff to make go‐karts, knit and cook. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg wants his daughters to read Dr Seuss books and play outside rather than use Messenger Kids. Steve Jobs’s children had strict limits on how much technology they used at home. It’s astonishing if you think about it: the more money you make out of the tech industry, the more you appear to shield your family from its effects.
An independent Swedish research in 2008 reported the following at the first international conference on mobile phones and health.
'It has sprung from a further analysis of data from one of the biggest studies carried out into the risk that the radiation causes cancer, headed by Professor Lennart Hardell of the University Hospital in Orebro, Sweden, that "people who started mobile phone use before the age of 20" had more than five‐fold increase in glioma", a cancer of the glial cells that support the central nervous system.(Source:https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/mobile‐phone‐use‐raises‐childrens‐risk‐of‐brain‐cancer‐fivefold‐937005.html )
Bringing focus on children, 'Smart classrooms' have been the buzz word over past decade. Not many are aware that the invisible force fields (known as EMRs or EMFs i.e electromagnetic radiations or fields), impact the children many times as compared to adults. This is primarily due to the thinner skull thickness of a growing child which offers much less resistance for the EMRs to penetrate the skull. The younger the child, deeper is the penetration of EMRs. The image below shows the depth of absorption of cell phone radiation in a 5‐year old child, a 10‐year old child, and in an adult from GSM cell phone radiation at 900 MHz. Color scale on right shows the SAR in Watts per kilogram.
While U.K., Belgium, Germany, Italy, Austria, France ,Russia and numerous other nations have taken steps to ban, restrict and closely monitor any Wi‐Fi and EMR emitting devices in their schools through stringent legislation, in our country we are quiet unaware of such risks. Infact the irony is that 'free Wi‐Fi' in public places is being encouraged right from government level. This is when WHO had declared in 2011 EMRs as carcinogenic grade 2B i.e Possibly carcinogenic to humans and last year ( 2017) updated scientific research has been submitted to the WHO urging to upgrade and re‐classify the risk to Grade 1 i.e Confirmed to be Carcinogenic to humans! ( Source: http://www.sbwire.com/press‐releases/cancer‐expert‐declares‐cell‐phone‐and‐wireless‐radiation‐as‐carcinogenic‐to‐humans‐849135.htm)
One of the greatest environmental change wrought so far by the human species is the change in the electromagnetic environment of the earth. For billions of years the earth’s electromagnetic environment was virtually quiet and subdued and light itself was the most abundant source of electromagnetic energy. Now, in just a few decades ( especially post 1990 in India), with the explosion of wireless signals of radio and TV broadcasts, radar, military applications, microwave towers and of late the fastest growing cell phones industry, the density of radio waves and microwaves in our environment is many millions of times higher than the natural levels with which all life on earth evolved. We have created and are living in a blanket of 'electrosmog' ( a term coined for the pollution of space with electromagnetic radiations) never before experienced by living species, without having considered the consequences. As a ballpark estimate, today each one of us absorbs as much EMR dosage in 30 seconds as our grandparents absorbed in their entire lives!...and our 'EM dosage' is only going to increase with the expected advent of technologies doling out 5G connectivity and IoT ( Internet of things).
It is surprising that while Air pollution and it's ill effects to our health is being talked about and also acted upon to some extent, yet E‐smog still does not ring alarm bells in our psyche. While we celebrate small victories of banning firecrackers for few days in a year, as a society we, have not even begun to recognise the devastating pollution by this inconspicuous foe. What is even more appalling in dealing with EMRs is that such a prominent force appears so utterly mundane. EMRs are permanently present yet never noticed. We all seem too anaesthetised and technology‐dependent to even recognise these as a possible cause of disease (and perhaps death) in our lives.
There are clear and considerable vested interests of extremely powerful lobbies and industry that is preventing the widespread awareness on the issue and even funding contrary scientific researches to counter the independent research on the subject. It is worth considering that those who have been instrumental in gifting the world this technology and it's gadgets are themselves much aware of it's health hazards. This issue, therefore, deserves not only our immediate action but also an imminent change in
lifestyle at workplace, homes and schools.
Next time a lure of 'smart home' or a 'smart school' or a 'smart city ' comes your way, please make sure that you make a 'truly' smart choice! Truly smart architecture and space design in the next decade will be more about making environment E‐Smog free instead of offering free Wi‐Fi or Internet of things ( IoT) with 5 G technology ! Time has come for the architects and designers to gear up to address this new parameter of space design.
Acknowledgements: Parts of the information in this article have been sourced from net search and published research papers in India and abroad.