Mark Goldberg

The Canadian Telecom Summit

The Canadian Telecom Summit

Fox Group Dispatch

Is wireless safe enough?

The Royal Society of Canada released its Expert Panel Report on the Review of Safety Code 6: Potential Health Risks of Radiofrequency Fields [pdf] earlier today.

The panel was established in response to a request from Health Canada to examine five key questions to determining whether Health Canada’s proposed changes to Safety Code 6 provide adequate protection from adverse health effects:

  • Do the basic restrictions specified in Safety Code 6 (2013) provide adequate protection for both workers and the general population from established adverse health effects from Radiofrequency (RF) fields?
  • Are there any other established adverse health effects occurring at exposure levels below the Basic Restrictions in Safety Code 6 (2013) that should be considered for revising the Basic Restrictions and Reference Levels in Safety Code 6 (2013)?
  • Is there sufficient evidence upon which to establish separate Basic Restrictions or recommendations for the eye?
  • Do the Reference Levels established in Safety Code 6 (2013) provide adequate protection against exceeding the Basic Restrictions in Safety Code 6 (2013)?
  • Should additional precautionary measures be introduced into the human exposure limits in Safety Code 6 (2013)? If so, what is recommended and why?

In 1998, Health Canada first commissioned the Royal Society to examine Safety Code 6 to assess consistency with the scientific literature in setting limits to protect the public from adverse health risks. This led to a Expert Panel report in March 1999. While there have been changes made to Safety Code 6 over the past 15 years, public concerns continue to be raised in respect of RF exposure that fall within the limits of the code. So, in 2013, Health Canada once again commissioned the Royal Society to strike an independent expert panel.

At nearly 120 pages plus appendices, it is a hefty read.

The bottom line? A single statement in the Public Summary says it best: “the Panel has concluded that the balance of evidence at this time does not indicate negative health effects from exposure to RF energy below the limits recommended in the Safety Code.”

However, recognizing that research on many of the health effects is ongoing the Panel recommends that Health Canada should continue to monitor the literature and further, that Health Canada should “aggressively pursue scientific research” to clarify the RF energy-cancer issue and further investigate the question of electromagnetic hypersensitivity.

How did the Society answer the questions?

  • Yes
  • Unable to identify any
  • No
  • Not quite
  • Health Canada should expand its risk communication strategy and incorporate suggestions on practical measures that Canadians can take to reduce their exposure around cell phone use

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