– by Frank Clegg and Margaret Friesen –
Health Canada’s track record is poor with respect to timely responses to many agents that have proven harmful to Canadians. These include asbestos, bisphenol-A (BPA), cigarette smoking, dioxins, flame retardants, lead, mercury, thalidomide and urea formaldehyde insulation.
Highlighting just two examples, the link between workplace asbestos exposure and cancer was first discovered in the 1930s. Canadian Parliament passed the Prohibition of Asbestos and Products in 2018. The first scientific link of cigarette smoke and cancer was published in 1939. In May 2019, Health Canada announced an “important milestone” in Canada’s tobacco control strategy (cigarettes in plain packages with graphic health warnings) by spring 2020.
Unless Health Canada updates its safety guidelines based on the best available science, we will be adding radiofrequency radiation emitted from wireless devices (e.g. cell phones and cell tower antennas) to this auspicious list. An update has become even more urgent because of the impending widespread rollout of 5G technologies across Canada.
This is a public health imperative with serious health consequences if not fully addressed.
Facts you should know about Canada’s inadequate wireless radiation safety standards
• Health Canada’s Safety Code 6 sets guidelines for the safe human exposure to radiofrequency radiation in commonly used equipment (e.g. small and cell tower antennas) and devices (e.g. cell phones, tablets and baby monitors). Innovation Science and Economic Development (ISED) approves the use of wireless equipment and devices in Canada if they meet Safety Code 6 guidelines. Safety Code 6 has not undergone any major revisions since being established in 1979.
• Health Canada’s Safety Code 6 guidelines are based on the assumption that tissue must be heated to be harmed. There is substantial peer-reviewed evidence that this assumption is not valid.
• During the last revision of Safety Code 6, Health Canada ignored the requests of over 100 international scientists and Canadian medical doctors to set more protective safety guidelines.
• Canadian and other scientists have clearly laid out the scientific evidence that radiofrequency radiation should be classified as a known human carcinogen (as are asbestos and cigarette smoking).
• China, Russia, and parts of Italy and Switzerland have guidelines that are 100 times safer than Canada’s.
• Health Canada has never completed a proper review of the scientific evidence that meets international standards.
• Well over 200 peer-reviewed studies have been published since the last revision of Safety Code 6 (2015), showing that radiofrequency radiation is harmful to human health below Safety Code 6 limits. The studies show evidence of brain and colorectal cancer, impact on children (development, eye and brain cancer), DNA and sperm damage, and oxidative stress which can lead to cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
• Some international scientists maintain that this type of radiation has been proven to be harmful to humans and the environment. Appeals for more protective standards from radiofrequency radiation have been made by 252 world-recognized scientists from 43 nations.
• Canadians are concerned and they need to be informed. The investigative program CBC’s Marketplace “The Secret Inside Your Cell Phone”, with over 2.8 million views, reports that 81 percent of Canadians have not seen the warning message in their phone or manual, 67 percent of Canadians say they carry their phones in their pocket or directly against their body, and some cell phone models emit radiation three to four times above Safety Code 6 limits when held against the body.
Facts you should know about 5G technologies and health
• With full 5G roll out, industry forecasts millions of small cell antennas across Canada, resulting in cell antennas, functionally equivalent to “towers”, as close as 50 meters to homes, offices and schools. Any “non-tower structure” such as a lamp post or hydro pole is a candidate to host one, and perhaps more, small cell antenna(s).
• The installation of these cell antennas does not require notification or public consultation.
• There has been no health safety testing on long term exposures to radiation from 5G technologies. Furthermore, we know that no such studies are being planned in the USA and we are not aware of any planned for Canada.
• Brussels (Belgium), parts of Italy and Switzerland have put a halt to the roll out of 5G until more is known about possible adverse effects.
• At a May 2019 symposium, hosted by the Environmental Health Clinic, Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, Canadian scientists and physicians publicly stated that full 5G roll out will expose Canadians to an unprecedented increase in radiofrequency radiation from antennas and our personal devices themselves. They expressed concern that our health care costs will rise – without our medical professionals understanding why or having the necessary information for making accurate assessments.
Wired is better than wireless
• Wireless networks are inferior to wired networks for a number of reasons: they continue to be about 100 times slower than wired systems; they are unreliable, and more prone to both latency and delay issues; they consume significant amounts of energy – more than wired – and are not sustainable; they increase the points of vulnerability; and they increase the security and privacy risks to personal and business data.
• Wireless networks are energy hogs. In a recent article, the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) states, “Wireless technologies will continue to consume at least 10 times more power than wired technologies when providing comparable access rates and traffic volumes.”
Canadian safety Code 6 should be updated based on the best science
• Canadians should have the safest guidelines based on the best science available. The gold standard for such an approach is to have a systematic review of the literature conducted according to international best practices. This must be done by scientists independent of industry and in a transparent manner with the opportunity to have input from the public.
We have an excellent opportunity to appeal to our MPs recently elected to Canada’s 43rd Parliament to ensure we have the safest standards. Contact your Member of Parliament and ask what they can do to ensure Health Canada updates Safety Code 6. Until that happens, MPs should also be asked to implement a moratorium on any further 5G roll out.
Frank Clegg is a former president of Microsoft Canada and founding CEO of Canadians for Safe Technology (C4ST), a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan, volunteer-based coalition of parents, citizens and experts. Frank also co-chairs the Business Advisory Group of the US based Environmental Health Trust. Margaret Friesen is a retired federal government research biologist and science advisor of Canadians for Safe Technology. To find out how to become a C4ST Riding Representative, email Wendyc@c4st.org. For more information visit:
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