Following Carlow Mayo Township council’s Aug. 8 vote to concur with a cell tower siting on Kuno Road in Boulter, despite some residents’ objections based upon potential adverse health effects from the tower, Canadians for Safe Technology is weighing in on this issue. They expressed disappointment Carlow Mayo approved the tower so close to residences, citing numerous studies that they say prove RF emissions from cell towers are harmful to human health, despite Rogers citing Health Canada scientific studies to the contrary. Marg Friesen, environmental health advisor with C4ST, Jenny Snider, CAO/clerk-deputy treasurer of Carlow Mayo, Maryse Durette, senior media relations advisor, communication and public affairs branch for Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada and Hans Parmer, ISED media representative, all comment on this issue to The Bancroft Times.
A national, not-for-profit organization concerned with the health and safety risks of unsafe wireless technology, C4ST is a volunteer based coalition of parents, citizens and scientific experts who are educating and informing Canadians and policy makers on their assertions to potential dangers of exposure to unsafe levels of RF emissions from technology, including cell towers, and how to use these devices in a safer manner and they work with all levels of government to accomplish their goal of creating healthier communities for children and families. To help mitigate wireless connectivity that releases these potentially harmful RF emissions, C4ST would like to see cell towers farther away from residences and fibre optic cables replacing them, as they have improved connectivity and no potentially harmful RF emissions.
Regarding C4ST’s push for fibre optics versus cell towers, the provincial government is rolling out fibre optic cables across Ontario as part of its Accelerated High-Speed Internet Program, to connect Ontarians to high-speed Internet by the end of 2025. Last year, the program allocated $1.25 billion to eight service providers to connect just over 266,000 locations, with Rogers getting the third largest grant at $171 million to connect nearly 90,000 locations across Ontario.
Frank Clegg, CEO of C4ST wrote a letter to Carlow Mayo council on July 10 advising them of the potential dangers of RF emissions from cell towers and other wireless technology that he has found over the years researching and speaking with experts in the field. The former president of Microsoft Canada, Clegg told them that he realized 10 years ago that the improper use of RF radiation technology could adversely impact a large proportion of the population with resulting potential enormous costs to health care. This led him to co-found C4ST in 2013.
Friesen told The Bancroft Times that C4ST usually gets involved in proposed cell tower sitings as residents who’ve heard about them will reach out to them for assistance, which was what happened in this case, when Carlow Mayo residents Trudy Bruyns and Madeline Austen reached out to C4ST for help with this specific cell tower siting.
Like many other Ontario municipalities, Carlow Mayo didn’t have a minimum setback bylaw in place other than zoning bylaw setbacks that pertain to all structures. Consequently, Rogers was able to site the Kuno Road cell tower within 400 metres of some residences, with three of these residences closer than 100 metres from the tower.
Kuno Road residents got an information package from Rogers on June 23, informing them of the tower’s location as they lived within 345.3 metres of it. Through ISED’s default protocol, Rogers was compelled to let the residents within that distance know about the tower. Through ISED, the federal government regulates the siting and construction of cell towers under the Radiocommunication Act.
Carlow Mayo will ultimately have five cell towers built, including the Kuno Road tower, under the EORN Cell Gap Project. This initiative will expand wireless cell and Internet service in eastern Ontario to achieve access to high-speed Internet and cell service in all regions of the province by 2025. With regard to the other four cell towers that are proposed for Carlow Mayo in the next two years under the EORN Cell Gap Project, Friesen reiterates they’ll get involved if the community around the proposed towers reaches out to them.
Friesen believes that Carlow Mayo Township council made a premature vote on concurrence with the Kuno Road cell tower and alleges they didn’t consider all the evidence at their disposal, especially Clegg’s letter that advised them they were not powerless in negotiating with Rogers to move the Kuno Road cell tower to an alternate location due to these potential negative health effects.
However, Snider tells Bancroft This Week that the township did receive Clegg’s letter on July 10 and that a paper copy of the letter was distributed to council for their review and consideration the following day.
“Council made an informed decision [of concurrence to the cell tower on Aug. 8] based on their role as land use authority and on what they felt was in the best interest of the community as a whole,” she says.
Friesen, a biologist and former scientific advisor with the federal government, alleges no studies by Health Canada have been done on the adverse affects of people living close to cell towers, while she cites dozens of studies showing adverse health affects. C4ST also feels that Health Canada’s Safety Code 6, which sets RF emissions limits for wireless technologies to protect human health, is outdated and does not consider current scientific findings when assessing the potential dangers of RF emissions to human health. She says Safety Code 6 considers the only adverse effect tissue heating and if that does not occur from RF emissions then they are deemed safe. However, she asserts there are other non-tissue heating adverse effects from RF emissions. One of the studies C4ST cites, a 2019 Frontiers Public Health article “Risks to Health and Well-Being from Radio-Frequency Radiation Emitted by Cell Phones and other Wireless Devices,” written by multiple authors, points to cell towers and other wireless technologies’ RF emissions as a possible carcinogen and that they damage DNA, especially in children, and that exposure should be limited. Johns Hopkins University researchers published a study in 1978 on the long-term effects of RF emissions and found it led to several serious health problems, including eczema, psoriasis, allergic and inflammatory reactions, neurological and reproductive problems, tumours, and depression, irritability and lack of concentration. The rollout of 5G is also very much a concern as the emissions from 5G cell towers and devices may have even more serious health effects with steady and prolonged usage as the millemetre waves from these emissions more easily penetrate human skin.
Dozens of other studies are cited by C4ST also pointing out potential negative health effects from RF emissions. To see them, please go to www.c4st.org. Friesen asserts that Health Canada has not looked into the potential adverse effects of RF emissions on the environment, like birds, bees, and trees, and that these emissions could lead to their decline and ultimate demise, which would be a disaster for our food supply. The Bancroft Times contacted Environment and Climate Change Canada regarding these assertions and if they’d done any scientific studies that proved otherwise, but did not hear back by press time. Durette told Bancroft This Week that at present, Health Canada believes that evidence of a possible link between RF emissions and cancer risk is far from conclusive and that they are full agreement with the World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer that additional research in this area is warranted.
“Based on the available scientific evidence, no health risks were identified from exposure to the low levels of RF emissions which people are exposed to from cell phones, cell phone towers, antennae and 5G devices. Thousands of scientific studies have evaluated the safety of RF emissions and evidence from these studies establishes only two adverse health effects that can occur at levels above the Canadian limits; tissue heating and nerve stimulation. The occurrence of these health effects depends on a combination of the intensity of RF emissions, how long you are exposed and the distance of your body from the source of the RF emissions. The Canadian RF safety requirement provides protection against all established health effects,” she says.
Durette feels that at this time, scientific evidence doesn’t support a link between cancer and exposure to RF emissions at the levels permitted by Canadian exposure guidelines. She says there have been some studies reporting an increase in the incidence of brain cancer among long-term heavy cell phone users, but other studies conducted around the world, including studies assessing brain cancer trends among large populations, do not find increases in brain cancers, despite widespread use of cell phones over the past 25 years.
“There is no established scientific evidence that those who use cell phones are at increased risk of experiencing adverse health effects with the Canadian limits in place. This includes children and teenagers. However, if you wish to further reduce your exposure to RF emissions from cell phones, you can do so by; texting instead of calling, using hands-free devices, limiting the length of cell phone calls, and making phone calls from locations with good reception,” she says.
For more information on Safety Code 6 and the RF emissions limits set by Health Canada to protect Canadians’ health, please visit www.canada.ca/health-canada.
Friesen alleges that ISED is not enforcing its own rules and allowing telecommunications providers like Rogers to bypass processes in Ontario and other parts of Canada while taking in billions of dollars in licencing of spectrum for wireless communications.
Parmer disputes this, and told Bancroft This Week that the health and safety of Canadians is the Government of Canada’s top priority and feels that Canada’s approach to RF emissions exposure safety is among the most stringent in the world.
“The government continuously monitors the research and scientific literature on the health effects of RF emissions exposure to ensure that Canadian limits are consistent with the current scientific consensus to prevent potential adverse health effects,” he says.
Parmar asserts that all proponents of new cell towers must adhere to the consultation process defined on the ISED website (www.ised-isde-canada.ca) under the heading “CPC-2-0-03-Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Antenna Systems,” and that telecommunications companies like Rogers are not excluded from these requirements. He says that if a citizen suspects that the process is being bypassed, they are encouraged to first contact their land use authority with any questions or concerns.
“ISED has adopted Health Canada’s Safety Code 6 as the Canadian radiofrequency exposure limits for wireless devices and their associated infrastructure. ISED’s regulatory framework, including market surveillance, compliance audits and enforcement procedures provides safeguards to protect Canadians against overexposure from wireless devices and antenna installations. The strict limits in Safety Code 6 are designed to protect all Canadians from all scientifically established adverse health effects from exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. This means that if anyone were exposed to RF emissions from multiple sources within the Safety Code 6 limits for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, they would not experience adverse health effects,” he says.
While Friesen and C4ST would disagree with that assessment, Friesen said she’s giving them the benefit of the doubt and doesn’t think that the government initially realized the impact that these RF emissions had on the environment and human health, but she believes that now that the science is coming out showing these adverse effects, it’s putting a glitch in the rollout of this technology.
“So, we’re a bit of an obstacle, an inconvenient truth they’re trying to ignore as much as they can. But there’s just going to be so many people that get sick they won’t be able to ignore us,” she says.
Friesen is adamant that Health Canada and ISED should err on the side of caution with RF emissions and use the “precautionary principle,” used with non-ionizing radiation like RF emissions from cell towers, or ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable), which is used with ionizing radiation like X-rays. While she completely agrees that emergency cell services are necessary, especially in a rural area like Carlow Mayo, they should follow the precautionary principle and the RF emissions should be as low as possible in order to achieve this emergency connectivity, and not what she says are “the ridiculously high levels” in Safety Code 6.
Friesen believes that until she sees what she feels is high quality scientific studies indicating that these RF emissions are safe;
“We should be implementing the precautionary principle or ALARA.”
Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times