Sunday, June 6, 2010

18 recommendations

On April 27th & 29th, 2010, the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Health (HESA) heard strong testimony from six accomplished witnesses effectively in condemnation of the permissive regime governing radiation from cell telephony, its infrastructure and allied radiofrequency emissions. Great credit goes to those behind , in particular François Therrien, whose responsible work in Quebec eventually drew enough political attention, for all the public support generated questioning the permissive regime, involving demonstrations and petitions, to have the Bloc Québecois (BQ) party sponsor a request to hold those hearings on the matter of microwaves and health at HESA. One petition was presented to the House of Commons in March, and a Parliamentary press conference was conducted by Mr. Therrien. At that press conference was read the following declaration, composed by myself but signed by many fellow activist-advocates across Canada:


We appreciate the responsible action of Quebec authorities in taking these concerns of their constituents seriously. [launched court action to remove cell masts - another breakthrough development leading to political activity]

Across the country Canadians are being exposed to constant microwave radiation while a great many international experts say this is dangerous. These affairs are regulated by the federal government. There is a near complete lack of information from federal authorities about the dangers. Thus the vast majority of Canadians are unaware of, and cannot be said to consent to, this dangerous situation. We rely on federal regulators who have failed. It is time for political correction, it is time for Parliament to act on this serious matter.

The telecom industry claims safety for their microwave emissions. For this they depend largely on research backed by their own industry. When a very large body of independent research proves the opposite, there is a very big problem. This is the worst example possible of "no scientific consensus" -- industry on one side, independent scientists on the other, while people and animals get injured and worse. This situation is fully exploited by the telecom industry, as federal regulators act in their apparent favour, even while citizens cry out about danger and ongoing suffering. These citizens' complaints are backed by a coalition of international experts, such as came together to publish the Bioinitiative Report referred to in the SEMO petition submitted to Parliament.

This 2007 Report, and very much further research since, has provided the basis for grave concern internationally. Based on this Report, the EU Senate has spoken of its "great concern". In October, the French national health and environment agency spoke in favour of reductions in public microwave exposure. Even little Liechtenstein is far ahead of Canada: their Parliament demanded adhesion to standards put forth in today's petition. Action in other countries worldwide in recognition of the dangers, puts to shame assurances of safety by Health Canada and Industry Canada.

Why should Canada be last to protect its citizens? Canada too often waits for Americans to go first instead of acting on its own. But even in the U.S., Senate hearings on the dangers of cell telephony took place a few months ago. A famous American activist on health issues was involved. There have been multiple international conferences, one just last month in Norway, attesting to the dangers. Yet, around the same time, Health Canada issued its belated update on microwave standards, and it outrageously failed to take to heart the thousands of scientific papers that contradict its position, not to mention the cries of Canadians suffering from electrosensitivity and other ailments related to radiation exposure.

The following paragraph incorporates wording from parts of the Bioinitiative Report's summary:

Human beings are bioelectrical systems. Our hearts and brains work using bioelectrical signals. Exposure to artificially-generated microwaves can interact with fundamental biological processes in the human body. Decades of international scientific research confirm that microwave radiation is biologically active in animals and in humans. This has major public health consequences. Existing public safety standards limiting these radiation levels are thousands of times too lenient.

Any reasonable policymaker should hear alarm bells when learning of things like DNA damage, learning and behavioural effects, major effect on neurological functioning, immune function disturbance, electro-hypersensitivity, blood brain barrier changes, changes in anti-oxidant enzyme activities, decline of animal populations, flawed industry-backed studies, including public accusations of fraud.

Why do Canadians deserve less protection? Other countries have moved to act in a precautionary vein. Are our bodies different? What maybe is different here is too close an alignment between the telecom industry and its regulators. It is high time for there to be political intervention to reset our regulators' priorities in a precautionary vein. In the face of disputatious science, where lives are at stake, it is dangerously irrational to allow microwave radiation to bathe an unwitting public at anywhere near current levels.

We acknowledge the vital importance of telecommunications to Canada. It is for that reason that jurisdiction was maintained as federal. Municipalities across Canada have sought to apply precautionary measures regarding antenna installations, but have not been allowed because of jurisdictional immunity. Local authorities have the constitutional obligation to see to the health of their citizens, but they are prevented by jurisdictional entanglements, and while this goes on for years, Canadians suffer severe health effects.

Judges in Europe have already recently forbidden cell phone tower installations on the basis of the precautionary principle. Some people have already been so hurt by dangerously permissive Canadian standards, that Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guaranteeing "life, liberty and security of the person" has been violated.

We demand Parliament urgently examine, as other legislators have worldwide, and revise drastically downward the allowable levels of public exposure to microwave radiation. We likewise demand that there be clear legal enablement for municipal or provincial authorities to respond in a precautionary manner to citizens' health concerns over installation of microwave antennae in their midst. There is no way that telecom industry worries about adequate coverage or increased costs should trump genuine concerns for public health. There is no way that anyone can reasonably claim that long-term exposure to microwave radiation from cell masts has been adequately studied. We are all an ongoing part of the largest epidemiological experiment ever -- this highly unethical situation demands immediate Parliamentary redress.

It is fair to state that the following signatories are representative of very many concerned and informed Canadians, speaking for the far greater number of citizens kept in the dark about this ongoing dangerous experiment on themselves.

[signatories from Charlottetown to Victoria]


For the HESA committee's consideration, the following list of 18 recommendations was submitted, composed by myself with assistance from several others. In just a few days using email only, a list of around 150 signatories was amassed from across Canada.


We respectfully submit to Members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health (HESA), that the Committee urgently recommend to Parliament that:


1) In light of information recently brought to its attention via the HESA Committee, Parliament announce in the shortest delay its serious concern about exposure of Canadians to electromagnetic radiation under prevailing Health Canada guidelines;


2) the Government urgently examine possible dangers and remedies in depth and commit to prompt remedial and protective measures;


3) Industry Canada declare an immediate moratorium on new telecommunications installations;


4) Industry Canada order immediate provisional reductions in maximum allowable radiative output of cell mast antennae, such that public exposure levels be at least commensurate with the most stringent guidelines or regulations found anywhere internationally, subject to further revision downward in accordance with continuous monitoring of health effects at even these lower levels;


5) Health Canada issue warnings, particularly regarding more vulnerable segments of the population, recommending minimization of exposure to electromagnetic radiation from all sources;


6) Parliament declare a period dedicated to public awareness of electromagnetic sensitivity, as has been done elsewhere;


7) the Government widely advertise these warnings in non-governmental publications, including enumeration of various types of radiofrequency emitters, in consideration of the general lack of information among the general public about these matters;


8) Parliament amend the Telecommunications Act and Radiocommunication Act to explicitly refer to health and safety, and to admit provincial and thus indirectly municipal ability to affect, on health and environmental basis, the operation and installation of telecommunications equipment;


9) as long as Canadians are afflicted by electromagnetic sensitivity, involving "debilitating responses to [...] electromagnetic radiation" (as described for example in a 2007 report published by the Canadian Human Rights Commission), and provincial authorities feel constrained from dealing with these issues, there be federally arranged establishment of zones of refuge of extremely low presence of electromagnetic radiation for those afflicted, with appropriate support and access to services;


10) Health Canada include in research and deliberation learned adherents of complementary medical traditions, in light of the inability of prevailing conventional biomedical research to sufficiently account for the effects of electromagnetic radiation, and in the expectation that valuable insight from such complementary bodies of knowledge would assist with overcoming this inability;


11) research into the effects of electromagnetic radiation on flora and fauna be conducted under federal auspices;


12) a Joint Parliamentary Committee be created, involving at least members from the Standing Committees on Environment and Sustainable Development, on Health and on Industry, Science and Technology, to address the governance of the effects of electromagnetic pollution in Canada, to possibly arrange for the transfer of such oversight to the Environment Ministry;


13) the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act be amended to prohibit wireless transmissions from most utility meters, such as are deployed throughout Canada adding to electromagnetic pollution;


14) a Royal Commission examine the dangers of too close participation of commercial and military interests in biomedical research, in light of such close association having led to dismissal or neglect of well-established deleterious bioeffects of electromagnetic radiation, as well as to influence against such comprehensive research;


15) privileged federal funding be provided for research and development of safe alternatives, some already in existence, to all existing possibly dangerous microwave technologies;


16) a significant new federal levy on all telecommunications goods and services involving possibly dangerous electromagnetic radiation be raised, to help offset the continual and steady increase in provincially-borne health care costs since the mass deployment of such technology in the late 1990s;


17) the Government ban public advertisement with intent to induce acquisition or use of such technologies, whereby vulnerable segments of the population would be encouraged to expose themselves to possibly dangerous forms and levels of electromagnetic radiation;


18) this list of recommendations be not considered exhaustive in general description of action required by the Government of Canada to perform the utmost service of protection of its citizens from the potential harms of exposure to electromagnetic radiation.


The following signatories support all or most of the above recommendations: [available upon request, submitted to HESA; French version available as well]


The above list was deliberately left in largely general terms. Certain items deserve more immediate priority. A number of signatories requested attention of HESA members be drawn to particular matters, such as the dangers of wifi in seniors' facilities, compensation for those harmed, warnings for children, etc. I very much would like to elicit comment and discussion here on specifics, argument for or against prioritizing certain recommendations, and so forth.

At a HESA meeting last week, BQ MP Luc Malo was heard to say to the effect that we should unfortunately not expect a draft report on the Apr. 27-29 hearings until fall. The committee Analysts prepare this for committee consideration, for discussion or debate on what to report to the House of Commons. The matter is so serious and pressing, something evident to anyone who looks into it all with clear vision, that HESA's delayed examination is to be very much regretted. It is possible that the sheer mass of material submitted to HESA related to the hearings is the primary cause of the delay. It is hoped that these webpages can further contribute, directly or indirectly, to assisting the MPs before they get around to figure what to recommend to Parliament.