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Toronto Public Health Prudent Avoidance Upheld by Board of Health

toronto-public-health-3UPDATE: Toronto Board Of Health REJECTS the recommendation from the Medical Officer of Health Dr David McKeown to drop Prudent Avoidance. On Monday November 4th, 2013 The Toronto Board of Health heard deputations from C4ST and concerned citizens regarding this unexplainable recommendation to drop Prudent Avoidance to instead trust in Safety Code 6 and Health Canada which is in the midst of a national controversy.

The Board of Health voted 4-4 (not the majority required) to reject recommendation #1 to drop Prudent Avoidance, and passed the two recommendations seen below.

What is Safety Code 6?

Health Canada’s Safety Code 6 is the exposure guidelines for the cumulative limit of wireless/RF radiation exposure to the human body. It governs the emissions from cell phones, cell towers and antenna, WiFi, smart meters, as well as consumer goods such as cordless phones and baby monitors. It was put in place in the 1980’s, based on tests done to a 220lb mannequin on 6 minutes of exposure, does not take into account children, or biological effects at all and is embroiled in a national conflicted controversy unfolding in Ottawa at the moment. It is one of the worst in world today leaving Torontonians and Canadians at the mercy of industry. Learn more HERE.

What is Prudent Avoidance?

Prudent avoidance is a precautionary principle in risk management, stating that reasonable efforts to minimise potential risks should be taken when the actual magnitude of the risks is unknown. In this case it takes the form of wireless radiation (EMR/RF) dictated in a document called Safety Code 6.

Toronto Public Health Prudent Avoidance

Toronto Board of Health voted on The Medical Officer Of Health’s recommendation to remove prudent avoidance [PA] for human exposure to Microwave/EMF radiation emissions from wireless antennas. Prudent avoidance in Toronto is currently 100 times more protective than the federal standard, Safety Code 6 (SC6), is in line with China and Russia and even tighter restrictions on emissions in Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, Bulgaria, and Luxemburg. 

Medical Officer of Health Dr. David McKeown claimed these points as justification for removing PA:

  1. TPH claims: Radiation levels in Toronto have not increased since 2002/3. TPH sites only one reference, which is a non-public letter between Toronto’s Medical Health Officer, David McKeown, and a Director within Industry Canada. If a proper survey had been conducted [eg. 2002 survey] it would be made public and available. Therefore, it is clear that TPH is making this assertion against global trends and without any real science.
  2. TPH claims: There is no scientific basis to be prudent. The risk from cell towers is low. The science is mounting. Also it is common sense: if we continue to irradiate Torontonians with increasing levels of microwave radiation, how can they remain healthy? TPH’s review methodology is flawed as it only considers older studies [by considering only reviews of primary science rather than the primary science itself]. Some of the most important science has been published in the last 12 months. These studies are ignored by TPH.
  3. TPH claims: Electro-hypersensitivity [EHS] unlikely to exist given current scientific evidence. Odd that TPH takes this approach when the science of EHS has been so flawed and both Ontario Disability Act and Canadian Human Rights Commission recognize this disability. Perhaps it would have helped TPH to consult with leaders in the field [Scientists Dr. Olle Johannson in Sweden and Dr. Belpomme] and environmental doctors across Canada who are treating this disability daily with long waiting lists.
  4. TPH claims: Toronto has no real jurisdiction over Cell towers. While Toronto has little legal jurisdiction, it has worked to contain the RF emitted from cell towers over last 10 years. We would like TPH to continue this work in protection of Torontonians.

Toronto Board of Health Passed These Recommendations

The Board of Health encouraged Industry Canada to:

  1. Conduct regular monitoring for radiofrequencies arising from telecommunications structures in Toronto, and to make this information publicly available and accessible
  2. Ensure that information regarding the locations and estimated emissions of all cellular phone antennas is publicly available and accessible

The Board of Health encouraged Health Canada to continue to use prudence and to actively review health evidence including most recent scientific research and studies and to allow public and expert consultation pertaining to human exposure to RFs and to revise Safety Code 6 whenever appropriate to protect human health.

Toronto Board of Health Rejected the Removal of PA Recommendation

City Council discontinue the prudent avoidance policy wherein the City requests that radiofrequencies from cellular phone base stations are kept 100 times below Safety Code 6 in areas where the public normally spends time;

Click HERE to read the minutes from the November 4th Toronto Board of Health Meeting

Click HERE to read the Full Recommendation to Toronto Council to Remove PA

Click HERE to read the Toronto Public Health Full Report


Recent News & Updates

  • UPDATE: Nov 14, 2013 - Toronto’s Board of Health says the federal government should tell the public where cellphone antennas and telecommunication structures are in the city and what levels of radio frequencies they emit. Please see HERE for more details.
  • UPDATE: Nov 12, 2013 - Canadians for Safe Technology (C4ST) supports the Toronto Board of Health on voting to keep the ceiling for wireless radiation from cell towers at levels 100 times below “Safety Code 6” Health Canada guidelines. The City will continue with the Prudent Avoidance Policy and will not remove this precautionary health stance from the policy books. Please see HERE for more details.



Thank you to all that supported our efforts to retain Prudent Avoidance. Although not enforceable on a municipal level currently, this decision by Toronto Board of Health reconfirms Toronto as a leading City in Canada re concerns around RF exposure. It sends a clear message to Health Canada and Industry Canada that the largest City in Canada wants better regulations to protect its citizens.