Follow-up petition on adequate warnings to Canadians about the effects of radiofrequency and microwave radiation from personal and household wireless devices

Petition: 398B

Issue(s): Compliance and enforcement, human / environmental health, other, science and technology

Petitioner(s): Canadian organization

Petitioner Location(s): Oakville, Ontario

Date Received: 8 December 2017

Status: Completed—Response(s) to petition received

Summary: This petition is a follow‑up to petition 398. The earlier petition raised concerns about the potential health risks posed by excessive exposures to radiofrequency and microwave radiation from common personal and household wireless devices, such as cell phones, baby monitors, cordless phones, and Wi‑Fi Internet routers. The petition asserted that Canadians were not aware of safety measures, including the recommended minimum distances that Canadians should keep between their bodies and such devices.

The follow‑up petition seeks further clarification on previously asked questions about Safety Code 6: Health Canada’s Radiofrequency Exposure Guidelines. The petition raises questions about the scientific evidence and the processes to evaluate the evidence that supports Safety Code 6. The petition asserts that Health Canada has not followed “international best practices” in its weight‑of‑evidence analysis. The petition also suggests that some cell phone models being sold in Canada breach certain Safety Code 6 standards.

The follow-up petition references a document provided by Health Canada in its response to the earlier petition: Safety Code 6 (2015)—Rationale. The follow-up petition requests further information on the processes used to develop the document. The petition refers to several scientific sources that it would like Health Canada to evaluate and consider. The petition also asks Health Canada to reconcile its position—that Safety Code 6 is sufficient—with the opposing viewpoint presented by a group of international scientists.

The follow‑up petition also raises concerns about the precautionary principle and acceptable safety margin for electromagnetic radiofrequency emissions. The petition asks about the threshold of safety for radiofrequency radiation versus the level that led Health Canada to insist on precautionary warnings on cigarette packaging. The petition repeats its earlier questions about the non‑thermal effects of radiofrequency radiation and the conclusive levels of evidence supporting Safety Code 6.

The follow‑up petition requests information on how Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada enforces compliance with Safety Code 6 standards and what happens when a standard is breached. The petition asserts that the Department is not meeting its internal requirements for ensuring that warnings about the risks of improper use of cell phones are prominently displayed. The petition questions why the Department has not made it mandatory for manufacturers to prominently display warnings on personal and household electronic devices, on packaging, and at point of sale, as it has done for cigarette packaging.

Federal Departments Responsible for Reply: Health Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada