Would parents let their children sleep with cellphones under their pillows or allow wireless devices to be their constant companions if they knew it could increase risk of cancer? Would women tuck their cellphones in their bras if they knew that young women had developed breast cancers precisely where they had carried their phones? Would men, hoping to conceive healthy children, place laptops on their reproductive body parts if they knew of the science showing this type of exposure can cause sperm abnormalities?
I don't think so.
Why is Health Canada not doing its job in telling Canadians about the potential dangers of exposure to wireless radiation being emitted from these devices? It's obvious to many professionals working in this field and some are beginning to speak out. Scientists from around the world are sounding the alarm that Health Canada is falling short in its responsibilities. Recently 53 researchers and specialists in the field of wireless radiation wrote to the health minister, stressing that Canada's current guidelines, Safety Code 6, are "obsolete." They highlight that Health Canada has minimized or disregarded studies on cancer, DNA damage and other adverse health effects, at exposure levels below current limits. Furthermore, 43 Canadian medical doctors are asking Health Canada for resources to deal with the ever-increasing number of patients who report becoming ill from exposure to wireless radiation.
While Health Canada procrastinates over issuing appropriate guidelines and recommending regulations based on the best available science, politicians in Ottawa are considering another approach. Private Members Bill C-648 requiring mandatory health labels on wireless devices, introduced by Conservative Terence Young and seconded by NDP Health Critic Libby Davies, has support from members of all parties. The warnings are nothing new. The bill merely requires labelling with information buried in tiny print in devices' user manuals or in a file in the device — cellphones should be kept at least 10mm (a half-inch) away from your body, and tablets much further. One manufacturer says this includes the "abdomen of pregnant women and the lower abdomen of teen-agers." This is information that we all, particularly parents, must know in order to take precautionary actions.
Some countries have done more than just inform citizens of increased risks of illness. In France, Wi-Fi is banned from daycares, and must be turned off when not in use in elementary schools. Taiwan has banned the use of electronic devices for children under two. Belgium made it illegal to market cellphones to children younger than seven years of age. Austrian physicians have guidelines to diagnose and treat patients reporting wireless radiation related health problems.
Canadians are not helpless as we wait for the feds to catch up with the science and precautionary actions elsewhere. Individuals, school boards, employers and other levels of government can minimize exposures while still enjoying the wonders of the Internet through wired connections. Text instead of talking, keep devices at a distance and turn off connectivity at night.
Safety Code 6 provides guidelines and does not have the force of law or legislation. Many civil servants and elected officials are unaware of this. Winnipeggers — take note. We may want to apply this knowledge when our civil servants soon submit a revised protocol on cell antennae sitings to the City of Winnipeg, Property and Development Committee.
Until Health Canada corrects its deeply flawed review process and updates Safety Code 6 taking the best available science into account, it rests upon us to educate ourselves and take protective measures. It will be this generation of children whose health will tell the story about the so-called "safe" levels to which they are being exposed. Let's take a lesson from our tobacco/cigarette smoking experience and insist on precautionary, protective measures now.
Marg Friesen, a former research biologist with the government of Canada, has more than 5,000 scientific references in her wireless radiation database.