Health guidelines concerning the allowable level of radio frequency (RF) radiation emitted by cellular towers in Toronto will remain in place despite a recommendation from the city’s medical health officer to drop the existing safety policy.
The recommendation by Dr. McKeown, medical officer of health for Toronto to cancel the city’s Prudent Avoidance policy regarding wireless RF emissions from cell towers in the municipality, failed to garner the needed majority votes when the Toronto Board of Health voted on the matter last week, according to the Canadians 4 Safe Technology (C4ST), a not-for-profit volunteer organization focus on bringing awareness about the dangers of radiation from technology.
City Council adopted Prudent Avoidance (PA) in 2008. Under the PA policy providers installing new cellular towers in the city are requested to keep wireless RF emissions 100 times below Safety Code 6. Safety Code 6 is a the exposure guideline used puts in place by health Canada since the 1980s that governs emissions from cell phones, cell towers, Wi-Fi, smart meters and other consumer goods including baby monitors.
Compliance with PA is voluntary.
“It took conviction for the board members to keep this visionary policy in place,” Frank Clegg, CEO of C4ST, said in a statement today. “When the largest city in Canada thinks that Health Canada is not doing enough to protect Canadians, that is significant.”
The Toronto Board of Health also passed two other recommendations which encourage Industry Canada to:
Conduct regular monitoring for radio frequencies arising from telecommunications structures in Toronto, and to make this information publicly available and accessible
Ensure that information regarding the location and estimated emissions of all cellular phone antennas is publicly available and accessible
“The Board of Health encouraged Health Canada to continue to use prudence and to actively review health evidence including most recent scientific research and studies to allow public and expert consultation pertaining to human exposure to RFs and to revise Safety Code 6 wherever appropriate to protect human health,” the board said.
The issue of health risks posed by RF emissions from cell towers is a contentious issue.
In recommending the removal of PA since it is no longer needed, McKeown cited several points including:
TPH claims that radiation levels in Toronto have not increased since 2002 and are well below Safety Code 6 levels
Several international studies from 2009 to 2013 by scientists and public health agencies which found that there is no conclusive evidence linking RF emissions from wireless telephones, antennas or Wi-Fi facilities have hazardous effects on humans
Toronto has no real jurisdiction over cell towers.