Mark Goldberg

Supporting junk science

I was disappointed to read an opinion piece in the weekend Globe and Mail entitled “When it comes to 5G health risks, what we don’t know might hurt us“.

The article plays to the anti-vaccination crowd, presenting data out of context and confusing issues to hype “the worry that the radiation from 5G networks could harm you.” The reader is left with the view that this is new, untested and unregulated technology. It isn’t. There are strict safety codes that regulate the placement of antennas and Canadian carriers operate their equipment far below the levels that have been found to be safe.

The Globe piece starts off identifying what the author, Eric Reguly, calls two ‘reality checks’ for the ‘utopian dreams’ that can be enabled by 5G: security; and, safety. The article then goes on to confuse the security issues with the issue of Huawei’s alleged trade sanctions violations. In fact, there are real security and privacy issues that need to be addressed when billions of devices are connected to networks, but the vast majority of those issues have nothing to do with Huawei. These security and privacy issues would exist even if all of the world’s network equipment was sourced from Canadian suppliers. But we’ll save security and privacy for another day – it will be the subject of a session on June 3 at The 2019 Canadian Telecom Summit.

There is considerable safety information available about radio frequency exposure and there have been numerous scientific studies conducted by serious research bodies. I have written about a number of these in the past and I thought the issue was exhausted years ago. For reference, you can look at these previous posts that talk about some of my responses to junk science and references to more credible research.

Also, ISED’s Spectrum management and telecommunications branch has a reference website, “Radiofrequency Energy and Safety” that addresses 5G:

The current Canadian limits already cover the frequency ranges that will be used by 5G devices and antenna installations.

Similar to current wireless devices and installations, 5G devices will need to meet RF exposure requirements before they can be sold in Canada. Antenna systems operators using 5G technology will continue to have the same RF exposure compliance obligations. Furthermore, compliance with RF exposure requirements will continue to be an ongoing obligation.

The failure by the author to present data from Canada’s governmental oversight bodies, including Health Canada’s Safety Code 6 (Limits of Human Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Energy in the Frequency Range from 3 kHz to 300 GHz [pdf, 175KB]) is inexcusable. We should be discussing issues associated with 5G deployment in a serious manner.

As you might expect, we will be examining 5G from every angle at The 2019 Canadian Telecom Summit, taking place June 3-5 in Toronto. Have you registered yet?

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