Letters to the editor June 13

Letters to the editor June 13

Free help available

I enjoyed your article  “JAA speech therapist using iPads to treat their patients” because it underscored the importance of speech therapy in our society. While the article addressed speech therapy in senior citizens, I would like to address the important topic of speech therapy for children.

 I just want to mention to Chronicle readers something that could help your readers with kids in public, private and Jewish schools. Few people know that every child in the U.S. has the right to free speech therapy. All children are eligible as it does not depend on a family’s income. The free therapy encompasses every type of speech problem. It is part of 40-year-old federal legislation and can begin as early as preschool and run through high school. A brochure explaining the free therapy entitled “Special Education Law and Children Who Stutter” is available on the website of The Stuttering Foundation, stutteringhelp.org.

The website of this nonprofit organization is a wealth of free resources and a fountain of information. In terms of stuttering specifically, I also want to recommend the most helpful websites of both The Jewish Stuttering Association jstutter.org; and the Israel Stuttering Association ambi.org.il.


Adam R. Lichter

Springfield, MA

Simple precautions urged

In response to Stephen Fienberg’s May 30 letter, “Where’s the evidence?” I can fully understand Professor Fienberg’s skepticism about the potential health risks of cell phones, because I once shared it.

This week, with the sudden death of Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, the world mourns the loss of a vitally important and distinguished voice on this issue.  When he served as the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute director and associate vice chancellor, Herberman became so concerned about the science on wireless radiation in 2008 that he advised reducing exposures, especially for children.  Subsequent reports from independent groups have only strengthened the case for the Herberman advisory.

Just this past week, the Federal Communications Commission issued a lengthy notice of inquiry, specifically asking whether to change its 17-year-old approach to cell phones.

In 2011, three years after Herberman’s UPCI advisory, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization concluded that cell phone and other wireless radiation is a “possible human carcinogen,” the same category as DDT, lead and engine exhaust.  The only studies in the world to ask whether children face an increased risk find a quadrupled or greater risk of brain cancer in those who start to use cell phones before age 20.  Other evidence accumulated since that assessment led my distinguished colleagues (several of whom have been World Health Organization advisers and leaders of scientific societies) and me to conclude that cell phone and other wireless radiation is a “probable human carcinogen.”

More than 30 nations currently have advisories on cell phones. All smart phones today come with fine print warning such as that which you can find within the iPhone settings or the Convoy 2 phone, which states that a mobile phone is not a toy.  I’m glad to see that Prof. Fienberg agrees that there might still be a link between cell phone use and cancer, but cancer is not the sole issue we need to be concerned about, especially with the widespread use of these devices by young developing brains and bodies.  

If we had acted sooner to rein in tobacco and asbestos, millions might of been spared largely preventable deaths and disease.  And that is why the director of the IARC joined the voices of Herberman and many others in urging simple precautions be taken now to reduce exposures to cell phones and other wireless devices.

In fact, it’s not hard to reduce your exposure to cell phones and other wireless devices and it’s very important to do so.

Devra Davis


(The author is an epidemiologist, writer, founding director of the Center for Environmental Oncology of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and co-founder and president of the Environmental Health Trust.)