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e-2424 (Health)

E-petition
Initiated by Justine Parco from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

Whereas:
  • It has been proven by L.Lloyd Morgan, Santosh Kesari and Devra Lee Davis in their study “Why children absorb more microwave radiation than adults” that children are more vulnerable to the effects of exposure to radiofrequency/microwave radiation due to their thin skulls and developing brains;
  • No laws currently prevent the installation of cell towers near schools and playgrounds;
  • Safety Code 6 has not had a major update in the last 30 years despite the number of new technologies created during this time; and
  • MWR from wireless devices has been declared a possible human carcinogen.
We, the undersigned, Citizens (or residents) of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to:
1. Update Safety Code 6 to restrict the installation of cellular towers/antennas within 305m of all schools and playgrounds; and
2. Request a buffer zone for playgrounds and schools.

Response by the Minister of Health

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Darren Fisher

The health and safety of Canadians is our top priority. Canada’s standards for cellphone and antenna safety are some of the toughest in the world. These rules use limits on human exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF EMF) for various devices, which are far below the threshold for potential health effects.  Based on the available scientific evidence, there are no health risks, including to children, from exposures to the low levels of radiofrequency EMF emitted by cell phones and antenna installations. Health Canada continually monitors the situation and will not hesitate to take action to protect Canadians.

The latest scientific evidence shows that our existing measures on RF EMF protect our most vulnerable. Health Canada’s Safety Code 6 human exposure limits are designed to provide protection for all age groups, including infants and children, on a continuous basis (24 hours a day/seven days a week). This means that if a person, including a small child, were to be exposed to RF EMF from multiple sources for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, within the Safety Code 6 limits, there would be no adverse health effects.

Health Canada’s mandate regarding human exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF EMF) from wireless devices includes carrying out research into possible health effects, monitoring the scientific literature related to such effects on an ongoing basis, and developing RF EMF exposure guidelines. These guidelines, known as Safety Code 6, recommend limits for safe human exposure to RF EMF in the frequency range of 3 kHz to 300 GHz. The limits established in Safety Code 6 incorporate large safety margins to provide a significant level of protection for all Canadians, including those working near RF sources.

Regulation of wireless communication equipment, including the location of cellular towers, is the responsibility of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) under the Radiocommunication Act. To ensure that public exposures fall within acceptable guidelines, ISED has developed regulatory standards that require compliance with the human exposure limits outlined in Safety Code 6.

It is misleading to say that Canada’s guidelines have not been updated. Rather, Safety Code 6 was updated as recently as 2015, to take into account recent scientific data from studies carried out worldwide. When developing the exposure limits in Safety Code 6, our top scientists considered all peer-reviewed scientific studies and employed a weight-of-evidence approach to evaluate possible health risks from exposure to RF EMF. Canada’s Safety Code 6 limits are among the most stringent science-based limits in the world.

The exposure limits and the conclusions of Health Canada are in line with international comparators. Our limits compare to those of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks, and the World Health Organization (WHO). The exposure limits and the conclusions of Health Canada are consistent with the science-based standards used in other parts of the world, including the United States, the European Union, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. While few jurisdictions have applied more restrictive limits for RF EMF exposures from cell towers than Canada, scientific evidence shows that the limits in Safety Code 6 are effective, and do not require further restrictions.

No single scientific study, considered in isolation, can prove or disprove the existence of an adverse health effect.

Health Canada continues to monitor scientific research on this topic on a continuous basis. If new scientific evidence were to demonstrate that exposure to RF EMF below levels found in Safety Code 6 is a health concern, Health Canada would take appropriate action to help protect the health and safety of Canadians.

Response by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Navdeep Bains

Radiocommunication and broadcasting services are important for all Canadians and are used daily by the public, safety and security organizations, all levels of government, wireless service providers, broadcasters, utility companies and other businesses. Antenna systems are an essential component in providing these wireless communication services and must be installed on towers, buildings or other antenna-supporting structures.

The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians from environmental risks, including those posed by overexposure to radiofrequency (RF) energy. Health Canada developed Safety Code 6 guidelines, which recommends limits for safe human exposure to RF electromagnetic energy. These limits incorporate large safety margins to provide a significant level of protection for Canadians of all ages, including children, on a continuous (24 hours a day/seven days a week) basis. This means that if someone, including a small child, were to be exposed to RF energy from multiple sources within the Safety Code 6 limits for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, there would be no adverse health effects.

Safety Code 6 (SC6) is reviewed on a regular basis and was revised by Health Canada in 2015. Health Canada scientists monitor and review scientific literature and studies on an ongoing basis and contribute to international projects such as

the World Health Organization's (WHO) International Electromagnetic Fields Project https://www.who.int/peh-emf/project/EMF_Project/en/, which aims to assess the scientific evidence of possible health effects from exposure to electromagnetic fields.  Health Canada scientists have concluded, on the basis of current scientific data, that no adverse health effects will occur from exposure to RF energy at the levels permitted by SC6.

Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Canada requires all antenna systems, including cell towers, meet strict limits on the amount of energy that can be present and has adopted Health Canada’s SC6 as the Canadian RF exposure limit for wireless devices and their associated infrastructure. The frequency bands being utilized by current radiocommunication technologies as well as those to be utilized by emerging technologies, such as 5G, are already considered within SC6 limits.

Due to the different designs and purposes of antenna installations, their RF energy levels can vary significantly. As a result, establishing a buffer zone at an arbitrary distance around them would be counterproductive to SC6. While there is no federal law specifying a minimum distance within which an antenna installation may not be installed relative to schools and playgrounds, all antenna installations in Canada must comply with Safety Code 6 at all times. Compliance is an ongoing obligation and ISED conducts regular audits to ensure antenna installations, are compliant with Health Canada’s SC6.

Moreover, ISED has a collaborative and consultative antenna siting policy that ensures land-use authorities (LUAs)¹ have a say in the location of towers in their communities. Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Antenna Systems https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf08777.html (CPC-2-0-03) sets out the procedures to be followed by all radiocommunication operators, including wireless service providers. These procedures include the requirement for the proponent of an antenna system to respond to all reasonable and relevant concerns received during the public consultation process. Working together, LUAs and proponents can find solutions that address reasonable and relevant concerns or point the way to alternative antenna system siting arrangements. Cooperation between LUAs and proponents through clear and reasonable protocols can result in the development of new and enhanced wireless services in a community-friendly manner.

Additional information:

 

 

¹ An LUA means any local authority that governs land-use issues and includes a municipality, town council, regional commission, development authority, township board, band council or similar body.

Open for signature
February 26, 2020, at 11:44 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
May 26, 2020, at 11:44 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Ron McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
June 3, 2020 (Petition No. 431-00231)
Government response tabled
July 20, 2020
Photo - Ron McKinnon
Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam
Liberal Caucus
British Columbia
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