Nearly every other school in Israel is exposed to excess levels of cancerous electric radiation, it was revealed during a discussion of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on Tuesday.
The discussion was held in collaboration with Life and Environment - The Israeli Union of Environmental NGOs as part of World Environment Day being marked in the Knesset.
“The security of life for all citizens also includes our responsibility for the welfare of our children in their educational institutions from noise hazards, radiation and pollution. We must aim for official, fixed and uniform policies on the matter, and appoint one state body to handle all pollution,” said MK Moshe Mizrahi (Labor), acting committee chairman.
According to Mizrahi, despite the approval of a NIS 5 million radiation monitoring program in schools, the funds had yet to be transferred to the relevant bodies. He called on Finance Minister Yair Lapid to address the issue immediately and transfer the funds.
Hilik Rosenblum, chairman of Malraz: Council for the Prevention of Noise and Air Pollution in Israel presented findings indicating that every second school in the country is in deviation of safe levels of radiation due mostly to electric cabinets and power lines, which exceed standards.
“Many schools, because of air-conditioning, have placed high generating electrical cabinets along numerous walls. Many students are exposed to electric radiation during most of their hours and most of their developing years,” he explained.
According to Rosenblum, the Education and Environment Protection Ministries are aware of the problem but “deal mainly with the prevention of electric shock and not the prevention of radiation.”
He noted that the Education Ministry initiated a conference for safety officers to promote awareness of the issue, adding that in Petah Tiqvah and in Netanya the issue had been addressed. Rosenblum further called on the Committee to establish transparency in conducting these tests, requiring all schools and kindergartens to display a certificate of propriety of radiation.
Baruch Weber, director of the Tel Aviv office at the Environment Protection agency challenged the findings and said "the situation is not as hysterical as shown." "Even when there is excess radiation, in most cases students are not exposed to it. What concerns us much more is the exposure of many education institutions to major transportation routes - and the air pollution derived from them,” Weber said.
Gilad Ben Ari, head of the emergency unit at the Environment Protection Ministry told the committee that "it is a routine part of our activities to close an educational institution because of pollution, hazardous material, radiation, or asbestos.” While, Rotem Zehavi, director of Safety Services at the Education Ministry added that the two ministries work closely together and that there are clear guidelines on how to act in the event of contamination.
MK Dov Henin (Hadash) added at the hearing, "The state requires them [children] to spend many hours in kindergartens and schools, so we need to maintain the environment at particularly strict levels. We will not achieve this goal at once - but we should strive for it.”