RF-EMR in CEPA

Help Protect Our Birds, Bees and Trees from Wireless Radiation.

Take Action Today!

There are no protections for plants and animals from wireless radiation a.k.a. radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). Canada’s most important environmental law.

The Canadian Parliament is currently working on amendments to CEPA.

Please tell our senators and members of Parliament that CEPA must be brought into the 21st century: It must include RF-EMR.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

RF-EMR, also called wireless radiation, includes radiation such as that emitted from cell tower antennas and other telecommunications infrastructure.

“Biological effects have been seen broadly across all taxa and frequencies at vanishingly low intensities comparable to today’s ambient exposures. Broad wildlife effects have been seen on orientation and migration, food finding, reproduction, mating, nest and den building, territorial maintenance and defense, and longevity and survivorship. Cyto- and geno-toxic effects have been observed.”[1]

— Levitt, B. B., Lai, H. C., & Manville, A. M. (2021)

The authors of this authoritative three-part scientific review recommend regulation by governments of EMR originating from human activity (anthropogenic) as pollution.

And they are not alone.

Hundreds of scientists specialized in the field have been warning governments that this type of radiation is harmful to humans and the environment.

According to a report published in The Lancet in 2018, a recent evaluation of 2266 peer-reviewed studies on EMR (including in-vitro and in-vivo studies in human, animal, and plant experimental systems and population studies) found that most studies (n=1546, 68.2%) demonstrated significant biological or health effects associated with exposure to anthropogenic electromagnetic fields.[2]

It was once thought that the energy of non-ionizing EMR was too weak to cause harmful biological effects. There is now ample evidence to the contrary. Although ionizing radiation (e.g., X-rays) can directly damage DNA, non-ionizing radiation such as that from wireless devices and cell antennas, can act indirectly through mechanisms such as oxidative stress to damage DNA and cause other adverse effects.

There are no guidelines or regulations in Canada to protect wildlife or any forms of non-human biota from wireless radiation such as that emitted by cell tower antennas.

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) – “An Act respecting pollution prevention and the protection of the environment and human health in order to contribute to sustainable development”[3] – is the cornerstone of Canada’s environmental legislation aimed at preventing pollution and protecting the environment and human health. Unlike toxic substances, RF-EMR from modern technologies is not addressed as a risk to the environment under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), or other national laws.

    • While Health Canada has guidelines (Safety Code 6), that set maximum limits for human exposure to radiofrequency radiation, these were not developed to protect our flora and fauna. In addition, there are hundreds of peer-reviewed studies showing that the safety limits in Safety Code 6, which are based on the obsolete assumption that tissue must be heated to be harmed, are not protective.

And that’s not all.

No Canadian federal department or agency conducts research, assesses exposures, or monitors impacts of EMR with the aim of protecting the Canadian environment against potential biological harms from EMR.

Twenty years ago when CEPA came into force, there were very few cell towers.

Today, there are approximately 50,000 cell towers in Canada with more than 850,000 cell network antennas[4]The latest generation of wireless technology (5G) will require a vast additional infrastructure, including more towers and hundreds of thousands of small cell antennas in urban, rural and wilderness areas.

Life on Earth developed in an environment of natural geomagnetic fields and weak, natural electromagnetic fields.  The cells of all life-forms normally communicate within and among themselves with exquisitely low intensity natural electromagnetic and chemical signaling.

In the past 20 years, RF-EMR that originates from human activity (called “anthropogenic”) has increased dramatically.  Ambient levels of RF-EMR in some areas are now estimated to be a quintillion times higher than the natural background levels (a quintillion is 1 with 18 zeros).[5]

Exposure to wireless radiation has serious implications for biodiversity and ecosystem health.

The dramatic worldwide decline of populations of birds, insects and other biota makes this an urgent issue. According to scientists who specialize in this field, exposure to wireless radiation at ambient levels may well be a co-factor, along with pesticides, habitat loss and climate change.

Wireless radiation is clearly an environmental agent that is potentially harmful, as a pollutant. Cumulative and synergistic effects may occur with wireless radiation plus chemical substances.

The 2017 report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development — Healthy Environment, Healthy Canadians, Healthy Economy: Strengthening the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 – included a recommendation that EMR should be studied:

Recommendation 62:

The Committee recommends that Health Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada conduct studies on the effects of electromagnetic radiation on biota, review the adequacy of the current guidelines provided in Safety Code 6 and report their findings back to the Committee.

However, we are not aware of any study by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) regarding the effects of EMR on biota.

In fact, we have learned directly from the Minister of ECCC in October 2021 that ECCC is doing very little, if anything, about possible harm to the environment from wireless radiation.

In the Minister’s words, Environment and Climate Change Canada:

  • “is not conducting research and monitoring activities on the potential impact of radiofrequency/ microwave radiation exposure to biota to inform Health Canada or other regulatory organizations.”
  • is not usually engaged in review of biological and ecosystem impacts of millimetre wavelength radiofrequency radiation.” [These wavelengths are among those used in 5G technologies.]
  • is not examining energy and resources implications to sustainability and climate change from the use of various alternative technologies for telecommunications.”

This was in response to C4ST’s Auditor General Petition 456 to the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.  Petition 456 Submission and Government Responses can be found here:

https://c4st.org/wp-content/uploads/docs/GovRelations/Fed/Health-Canada/5G_Petition_and_Government_Response.pdf

THE SOLUTION:
Include Wireless Radiation in CEPA

CEPA is Canada’s pollution law. It is supposed to protect against threats to our environment and to our health, such as this new form of pollution called RF-EMR. However, it hasn’t been updated in over 20 years.

All Senators and MPs must work together to make sure that Canada’s biota is protected from wireless radiation; RF-EMR must be included in the amendments.

  • BILL S-5 IS CURRENTLY BEFORE THE SENATE.
    Canada’s Senators have a unique opportunity to close this glaring gap in CEPA.
    To ensure that Canada’s biota is protected from wireless radiation, Bill S-5 must include RF-EMR.
  • THE SENATE’S PROPOSED AMENDMENTS WILL THEN GO TO THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
    We urge the House Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development to initiate an early consideration of the bill while the Senate debates and votes on this legislation to ensure that RF-EMR is included in a strong and modernized CEPA.

Given the clear scientific evidence that RF-EMR can harm living organisms and that there are no protections in Canadian law, we urge the Senate of Canada to take the following action now, before it is too late:

Amend Bill S-5, Strengthening Environmental Protection for a Healthier Canada Act, to create a Section in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, to address RF-EMR.

Proposed Amendments:

7 Section 44 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (4):

Radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation

(5) The Ministers shall conduct research or studies relating to radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation, methods related to its detection, methods to determine its actual or likely short-term or long-term effect on the environment and human health, and preventive, control and abatement measures to deal with it, and alternatives to its use, to protect the environment and human health.

And

6.1 Section 43 of the Act is amended by adding the following after the last definition in the section:

“radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation” means:
radiated energy arising from accelerating electrical charges, having the form of electromagnetic waves and a stream of photons, and travelling at the speed of light in a vacuum. The rate of oscillation of the waves is in the range between 3 kilohertz (kHz) to 300 gigahertz (GHz), which corresponds to the frequency of the non-sinusoidal radio waves typically used in radio communications.

These amendments are contained in the white paper “Protect Birds, Bees and Trees. Include Anthropogenic Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Radiation in Canadian Environmental Protection Act Amendments“, updated April 2022, page 2.  This white paper is a collaborative effort of Prevent Cancer Now and Canadians for Safe Technology.  The authors gratefully acknowledge the advice and drafting of the proposed amendments by Joseph Castrilli, Counsel, Canadian Environmental Law Association, and comments and feedback provided by David McRobert, Barrister and Solicitor, Peterborough, Ontario.

HOW YOU CAN HELP MAKE THIS HAPPEN

All Canadians:

1) Please email and/or phone the Senators who are on the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources (ENEV) Committee as well as the Senators in your province, to ask them to add a section on RF-EMR to Bill S-5 so that RF-EMR will be included in amendments to CEPA.

A simple message such as what is in italics, will do:

 Dear Senator,

Urgent – Please include in Bill S-5, a section on wireless radiation (radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation – RF-EMR) to modernize CEPA to protect the environment. Please see page 2 of this document … “

 

and provide them with a link to the PCN/C4ST’s White Paper Protect Birds, Bees and Trees: Include Anthropogenic Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Radiation in Canadian Environmental Protection Act Amendments. (Updated April 2022)

Then watch this website for next steps.

 

2) Please email and/or phone your Member of Parliament as well as the Members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

Urge them to include RF-EMR in the amendments to CEPA if the Senate does not include it.

Here is where to find your Member of Parliament and his/her contact information:
https://www.ourcommons.ca/members/en

Here is a link to the Members of Parliament on the ENVI committee:
https://www.ourcommons.ca/committees/en/envi

VOLUNTEER

If you want to help C4ST with the “RF-EMR in CEPA – Protect Birds, Bees and Trees” campaign, please email shelleyw@c4st.org

Here are just a few examples of what kind of help is needed:

  • Reaching out to groups in your community
  • Social media outreach
  • Editing / writing white papers as well as articles for the general public
  • Organizing webinars and workshops
  • Making short videos for posting on our website and social media
  • Following-up with Senators and Members of Parliament
  • Graphic design
  • Translation

Ideas for promoting the “RF-EMR in CEPA – Protect Birds, Bees and Trees” would be appreciated.

 

CANADIAN ORGANIZATIONS (Environmental, Wildlife Conservation, Health-related) AND SCIENTISTS AND HEALTH PROFESSIONALS

Please show your support by completing this short form, letting us know that you agree that Bill S-5 should include a section to address protections of biota from wireless radiation.


At a time when biodiversity is declining faster than at any time in human history, [6] it is crucial that we act now before it is too late.

 Amending Bill S-5 to include protection of the environment  from wireless radiation would be a big step in the right direction.

The Precautionary Principle

When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.

Wingspread Conference on the Precautionary Principle, Jan 1998, Racine, Wisconsin, USA

For more information:

OTHER INFORMATION: LAWS, REGULATIONS and GUIDELINES…

In Canada, telecommunications fall under federal jurisdiction.  The governing law is the Radiocommunication Act.[7]

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) regulates the use of the radiofrequency spectrum, all cell network antenna siting, and all wireless communication devices and equipment.

  • ISED requires compliance with the recommended human exposure limits from Health Canada’s Safety Code 6.
  • ISED’s requirements for antenna siting (CPC-2-0-03) as far as non-human species  (animals and plants, including wildlife) are concerned, references the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (now the Impact Assessment Act), Species at Risk Act, Migratory Birds Convention Act and Canadian Environmental Protection Act. However, none of these Acts address radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) and its potential impacts on biota. These Acts contain no EMR emissions assessment requirements or recommended exposure limits with the goal to protect flora and fauna, including birds and insects.

Scientific rigour and due process are lacking for human exposure limits.
Health Canada, at the request of ISED to set limits for human exposures to radiofrequencies above 6 GHz for devices held close to the body, recently doubled the permitted power density of EMR emissions for exposures up to 6 minutes in duration. These so-called safety limits for 6-minute exposures are being extrapolated by Health Canada to be indicative of safety for 24/7 exposures to frequencies intended for 5G technology.  This amendment to Safety Code 6 guidelines (published as a Notice) was adopted without consultation.

Other federal Acts, such as the Radiation Emitting Devices Act and the Canada Consumer Products Safety Act, which apply to equipment and devices that emit some EMR frequencies, also reference Safety Code 6 but do not address potential impacts of EMR on plants, animals and other biota.


 

[1] Levitt, B. B., Lai, H. C., & Manville, A. M. (2021). Effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields on flora and fauna, Reviews on Environmental Health.

[2] Planetary Electromagnetic Pollution: It Is Time to Assess Its Impact. The Lancet. (2018): 512–14. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanplh/article/PIIS2542-5196(18)30221-3/fulltext.

[3] https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/canadian-environmental-protection-act-registry/related-documents.html

[4] As of Nov. 2, 2021, there were 873,109 transmitters (48,288 towers) in Canada according to the Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Spectrum Management System database https://sms-sgs.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/sms-sgs-prod.nsf/eng/h_00010.html.

[5] Planetary Electromagnetic Pollution: It Is Time to Assess Its Impact. The Lancet. (2018): 512–14. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanplh/article/PIIS2542-5196(18)30221-3/fulltext.

[6] The Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Economic Services. Summary for Policy Makers. 2019. https://ipbes.net/sites/default/files/inline/files/ipbes_global_assessment_report_summary_for_policymakers.pdf

[7] https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/R-2/page-2.html#h-423843