Canada Health Official Warns Consumers to Limit Cell Phone Use

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Sounding Circle: Canada Health Official Warns Consumers to Limit Cell Phone Use


Canada Health Official Warns Consumers to Limit Cell Phone USe 0 comments

16 Jul 2005 @ 06:32,
by Raymond Powers

Canada Health Official Warns Consumers to “Limit Cell Phone Use” Especially by Children

The Toronto Star July 12, 2005

Limit cell use: Health officer

Long-term phone risks aren’t yet known, says agency head WHO conference looking at global `precautionary’ approach By TYLER HAMILTON AND ROB CRIBB STAFF REPORTERS

The country’s top public health officer says Canadians should consider moderating their use of cellphones - and their children’s - until science overcomes nagging uncertainties about long-term health effects.

Dr. David Butler-Jones, in opening remarks yesterday to a three-day conference hosted by the World Health Organization, told more than 100 academics, public health officials and scientists from around the world that constantly changing technology has created a moving target, leaving scientists playing a game of catch-up.

“Our technology has passed our ability to understand what biological effects are positive or negative,” said Butler-Jones, who heads the new Public Health Agency of Canada, often described as the Canadian equivalent to the United States Surgeon General.

“What would be the message? The message would be that moderation is a good thing,” he said in an interview after his presentation. “Talking for two hours every night on cellphones, would I advise that? No.” Butler-Jones said use of the devices in childhood could also have an impact on obesity and the way children interact socially with family and friends.

His comments, the first he has publicly made on possible health risks related to cellphones, follow a weekend Toronto Star investigation into the wireless industry’s new marketing focus on children and what some scientists view as potential health effects that might take decades to prove or disprove as a problem.

Among the new crop of child-targeted phones already on store shelves or on their way are devices branded with such popular images as Barbie, Disney characters and Hilary Duff.

The conference, held in partnership with the University of Ottawa, is looking at the merits of what’s often called a “precautionary approach” to public health policy.

The idea is to develop an international framework that member countries can adopt in cases of scientific uncertainty about potential health risks, such as cellphone frequencies or radiation from power lines.

“It’s just good public hygiene to be precautionary,” said Dr. Michael Repacholi, head of the radiation and environmental health unit of the World Health Organization. “Is there something we should be saying that we’re not?”

Health Canada has remained quiet on the issue of children and the potential health risks of cellphones even as several European health experts and authorities have issued precautionary statements and messages to parents.Magda Havas, a professor of environmental studies at Trent University who has studied the impact of low frequencies on human health, said many in the scientific community outright dismiss studies that have shown biological effects on lab animals and cell cultures, effects that may hint at possible health risks.

“I think once again the health authorities aren’t looking at the science, the same way they didn’t with tobacco and asbestos,” she said at the conference yesterday. “My concern is that this is actually going to hurt the cellphone industry. If they don’t clean up their act …, they’re going to produce a generation that’s so sensitive to these frequencies they won’t be able to use the product.”

She said evidence is already growing that certain people have “electrical hypersensitivity.”

Joel Tickner, a research professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and an international expert on the precautionary approach, was scheduled to speak at the conference but backed out, saying the agenda has been watered down.

“Precaution is controversial; the cellphone industry doesn’t want to hear about it,” said Tickner, adding the industry doesn’t want to be constrained from marketing its products. “As long as there’s uncertainty in the science, we wait and don’t do anything, which is unfortunate.”

Peter Barnes, chief executive of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, says his industry’s products are safe, and no links have been proven between the devices and health effects. He says all cellphones sold in Canada “meet or exceed” all emission standards set by Industry Canada, which acts on the guidance of Health Canada experts.

The overwhelming majority of readers who contacted the Star in connection with the series said Health Canada should publicly state the potential risks to Canadians, and industry should back off from its new marketing focus on children.

“Health Canada’s minister and bureaucrats should be in the business of protecting the health of us taxpayers who pay their salaries rather than nesting in the hip pocket of the cellular communications industry, whose primary business is selling mobile phones,” said Jane Holmes, who lives in Brighton, Ont.

Peterborough resident Matt Keefer said the wireless industry is “crossing the line” by marketing to children.

“Government needs to step in and protect the interests of our youngsters by making it illegal for companies to qualify them as consumers.”



Letter to Commission of Public Sector Integrity

Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2008 10:04 PM
Subject: Letter to Commission of Public Sector Integrity

Dear Dr. Martin MP

Please find attached a letter I wrote to the Commissioner of Public Sector Integrity, who, I have been told, has the responsibility for overseeing public civil servants. As I said in the letter, I have received no adequate response to my petition to the Auditor General. Health Canada and Industry Canada have shown nothing but contempt to the public and for the public's health. I ask you to do whatever you can to ensure that the Commissioner follows through with a thorough investigation into these departments and their relationships with the telecommunications industry. It is long overdue.

Sharon Noble

Victoria, BC V9C 3V5

December 2, 2008

Commissioner, Public Sector Integrity Canada
60 Queen Street, 7th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5Y7

Dear Sir or Madam,

In June of this year I submitted a petition to the Auditor General regarding Health Canada and Industry Canada, asking about Health Canada's use of industry-funded research regarding electromagnetic radiation from telecommunication transmitters. I have tried for more than 2 years to obtain information explaining why Health Canada's Safety Code 6, which regulates the amount of radiation to which the general public can be exposed, allows levels higher than those allowed in many other countries. Also, I have asked why independent studies from credible international scientists are not considered when establishing these levels.

In the petition, I provided evidence of direct associations between researchers both within Health Canada itself and the various professional panels, such as the Royal Society, and the telecommunications industry which they are authorized to monitor. I gave specific examples of industry funding for research used to justify the current public exposure limits. It is a widely acknowledged that funding can and often does influence the outcome of research. But Health Canada chose to ignore the evidence. It chose, instead, to respond, in virtually all instances, with the phrase "Safety Code 6 is safe."

Meanwhile, people are suffering the consequences with skin problems, neurological disorders including memory loss, and, even, cancer. These health disorders are shown in numerous studies to be the effect of prolonged exposure to non-thermal levels of radiation far below those allowed under Safety Code 6. Even though the WHO and ICNIRP, another investigative body, both acknowledge that Safety Code 6 standards are for thermal radiation only, and not non-thermal, Health Canada, for reasons of its own, maintains that they apply to non-thermal radiation as well.

As more cellular transmitters and Wi-Fi are being brought into schools and residential neighbourhoods, people, especially children, are being exposed to ever increasing amounts of electromagnetic radiation. Dr. Martin Blank, Associate Professor of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics at Columbia University, and co-author of the BioInitiative Report, 2007, has said this is a monumental epidemic waiting to happen.

And Industry Canada, which is empowered with enforcing the out-dated Safety Code 6, is not performing its job. In June, 2008, Dr. Magda Havas, Associate Professor of Environmental and Resource Studies, Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, measured radiation levels at my home and found that they exceeded Safety Code 6 maximum allowable limits by more than 200%. When, at Dr. Havas’s urging, I subsequently asked for a test of FM transmitters 100 meters from my home, I was told Industry Canada does not test the output of transmitters to determine if the level of radiation is within Safety Code 6, even though, under Industry Canada’s mandate, one of its prime responsibilities is the regular monitoring of telecommunication antennae. The explanation I was given by the Regional Director of Industry Canada on Vancouver Island was that there are too many transmitters so they only test if there is reason to suspect a transmitter of not being in compliance. When I asked what would cause a suspicion of non-compliance if no testing were done, the Director did not reply.

It appears as if no one is watching out for the public's welfare -- neither Health Canada which sets the regulations nor Industry Canada which is charged with enforcing them. Prior to the testing which was done on July 30 as a result of my request (the results of which are still being kept from us), the power of the transmitters was reduced drastically. This was confirmed by meters and by reduction in levels of harmful interference with telephones, electrical equipment, etc. experienced by neighbours as far away as 2 kilometres. Certainly it appears as if collusion between Industry Canada and the broadcasters is occurring, with the officials giving forewarning of testing to the very people they are supposed to be monitoring.

Many members of the public, including doctors and scientists, have been asking Health Canada and Industry Canada for years to reconsider the radiation levels, only to be ignored. Given the magnitude of evidence that Safety Code 6 levels of non-thermal radiation are dangerously high, and the fact that both Health Canada and Industry Canada are being negligent in performing their jobs, it is high time that action be taken. Could your department investigate the officials and researchers in these departments, including the members of the panels to whom they look for advice, for conflicts of interest?

My petition to the Auditor General contains over 20 pages of detailed evidence. If you feel that it might assist you in considering my plea, I would be most happy to send it to you.

Yours respectfully,

Sharon Noble

Informant: Martin Weatherall



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