WHO’s new classification of RFR: What does this mean for Canada?

June 5, 2011.  The World Health Organization classifies radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic.  What does this mean for Canadians?

After a week-long meeting in Lyon, France, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)—an arm of the World Health Organization (WHO)—classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (otherwise known as radiofrequency radiation or RFR) as a class 2B carcinogen, meaning that it is “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.  Lead and DDT are two examples in the same category, and both are banned for public use in Canada.

PACE calls on governments to ‘take all reasonable measures’ to reduce exposure to electromagnetic fields.  This is an important call to act and becomes even more imperative with the new classification of radio frequencies as possible carcinogenic to humans.  Click here for document.

It turns out that Canada has “observer status” with the Council of Europe as outlined in the following document (click here and here) and as such we are expected to conform with the rules applicable to such agreements. The PACE meets once every quarter-year and the six delegates and/or six substitutes from Canada ARE supposed to attend.  The six representatives and the six substitutes are provided here. Among the representatives are Jean Dorion (Bloc), Percy Downe (Liberal), Michael MacDonald (Conservative), Dean Del Mastro (Conservative) and Massimo Pacetti (Liberal). David Tilson (Conservative) is the chair of this committee.

What does this mean for Canadians?

It means that Health Canada is obliged to go back to the drawing board and revise its guideline for radiofrequency radiation. The current Health Canada guideline is one of the least protective in the world—along with the United States and Great Britain.

It means that medical officers of health need to notify doctors of the potential carcinogenicity of devices that emit radiofrequency radiation: cell phones as well as the neighbourhood cell phone antennas; cordless phones; wireless baby monitors; smart meters for electricity, water and natural gas consumption; WiFi routers in homes, schools, offices and public places including coffee shops, buses, trains, airports, airplanes, hospitals, hotels as well as city-wide WiFi. Broadcast antennas and radar used by airports, marine and military installations also emit radiofrequency radiation.

It means that operation and installation of wireless technology in schools, universities, and hospitals must be halted—possibly reverting to existing wired capability or requiring new wired installations.  Operation and installation of wireless technology in smart meters for electricity and water use also must be halted and redirected to wired technology.

It means that the placement of antennas near schools and homes and on high-rise buildings should be curtailed and, where necessary, shielding be used to minimize public exposure.  Studies show that a minimum distance of 400 meters is necessary to reduce electro-hyper-sensitivity (EHS), which can cause one or numerous symptoms including sleep disturbance, chronic pain, mood and cognitive disorders, dizziness, nausea, heart problems, tinnitus (high-pitched or ringing noises in the ear) and various other symptoms.

It means that people who use wireless technology should reconsider how much exposure they are willing to tolerate.  By altering behaviour and replacing wireless with wired technology, exposure can be significantly reduced.  Shielding products are also available that range from clothing to bed canopies.

Scientists have been calling for a change in the classification of radiofrequency radiation for more than a decade and have been demanding that international and national guideless for radiofrequency and microwave radiation be significantly reduced to protect public health.

Finally IARC has recognized that radio frequency radiation is a possible carcinogen.  The next step is for the World Health Organization to acknowledge that RFR also interferes with the body’s reproductive processes, generates stress within the body leading to many of the chronic diseases of the 21st century and experienced as accelerated aging.

A shortened version of this appeared in the Peterborough Examine , Letter to the Editor, June 2, 2011.