Health Canada’s role is to protect the health of Canadians, so it is the Department’s responsibility to research and investigate any possible health effects associated with exposure to electromagnetic energy, such as that coming from cell phones and base stations. Health Canada has developed guidelines for safe human exposure to RF energy, which are commonly known as Safety Code 6. Some of these guidelines have been adopted by Industry Canada and are included in their regulatory documents on radiocommunication licensing and operational requirements.
Health Canada’s RF exposure guideline document is one of a series of codes that specify the requirements for the safe use of radiation-emitting devices. It sets out safety requirements for the installation and use of RF devices that operate in the frequency range from 3 kHz to 300 GHz, including cell phones and base stations.
The limits specified in Health Canada’s RF exposure guideline document are based on an ongoing review of published scientific studies on the health impacts of RF energy. Using data from these studies, Health Canada set the general public exposure limits 50 times lower than the threshold for potentially adverse health effects. As long as exposures respect these guidelines, Health Canada has determined that there is no scientific reason to consider cell phone towers dangerous to the public.
Health Canada has conducted its own research to determine whether RF energy could cause damage to DNA or changes to certain genes. The exposure levels used in these studies included those that were well above the limits specified in Health Canada’s RF exposure guidelines. Based on Health Canada’s research, no effects from RF exposure were seen.
Cell phones are regulated by Industry Canada. This Department also oversees the licensing and placement of cell phone towers (base stations), considers the effects on the environment and local land use before towers are installed, and ensures that these towers comply with their regulatory requirements. Industry Canada has adopted part of Health Canada’s RF exposure guidelines for protecting the general public and ensures that exposures from cell phones and cell phone towers do not exceed the specified limits.
Health Canada continues to monitor the science regarding RF exposure. If there is convincing scientific evidence in the future showing that exposure from cell phones and cell phone towers is harmful, Health Canada will take immediate action, such as advising Industry Canada to review its policies and regulations with respect to these devices.
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