The Government of Canada’s rigour and transparency in evaluating the science regarding localized exposures to 5G technologies in its update of Safety Code 6

Petition: 456

Issue(s): Human/environmental health; Science and technology

Petitioner(s): A Canadian organization

Petitioner location(s): Oakville (Ontario)

Date received: 18 June 2021

Status: Completed—Response(s) to petition received

Summary: The petition concerns radiofrequency radiation emitted from cell tower antennas and wireless devices, such as baby monitors, smartphones, tablets, and wireless printers, including some 5G-enabled devices. It expresses concern about the degree to which Canadians are protected by Safety Code 6, Health Canada’s guidelines for human exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. The petition refers to Health Canada’s January 2021 publication, Notice: Localized human exposure limits for radiofrequency fields in the range of 6 GHz to 300 GHz. The petition seeks clarification on the relationship between the January 2021 notice and the 2015 Safety Code 6 guidelines. It maintains that there was a lack of public consultation or notification prior to the release of the January 2021 notice.

The petition is concerned about the recommended limits defined in the January 2021 notice, which had been developed at the request of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada to support new compliance requirements for wireless devices that will operate in this frequency range. The petition asserts that there is no research on the limits that were established for exposure to radiofrequency radiation from devices covered in the notice or on the effects of long-term exposure on humans and the natural environment. The petition maintains that no consideration was given to the effects of these frequencies on the natural environment and asks about Environment and Climate Change Canada’s role in reviewing the environmental impacts of radiofrequency radiation.

The petition seeks clarification on the science-based evidence and peer review used by Health Canada to assess the uncertainty margin and the level of radiation permitted from devices covered by Safety Code 6. The petition is concerned that localized limits for 6 GHz to 300 GHz are being exceeded, as Canadians are exposed to more technology and wireless devices in their daily lives, a trend that is expected to continue in the future. It maintains that Health Canada’s analysis reported on this radiation’s effects on rodents, but that these findings were not adequately reflected in its conclusions regarding the effect of this radiation on human health.

The petition asks Health Canada to provide the peer-reviewed, published evidence and the methodology and data that were used to determine the limits of safe exposure outlined in Safety Code 6. The petition asks what type of notification was provided to the public for the revision of Safety Code 6 and when public consultation was conducted prior to the release of the January 2021 notice. Additionally, the petition requests information on the human exposure limits and the recommended separation distance for humans from these types of wireless devices.

Federal departments/organizations responsible for reply: Environment and Climate Change Canada; Health Canada; Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada