Canadian Deputy Health Minister questions link between cancer rates and electricity
The Independent (Canada)
August 1, 2005
In three letters to government officials dated July 18, deputy Health minister John Abbott reveals his department takes the potential health risk of overexposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) seriously.
In letters to George Anderson, deputy minister Department of Natural Resources Canada, Morris Rosenberg, deputy minister Health Canada, and Bruce Saunders, provincial deputy minister of Natural Resources, Abbott requests information on “any new research and/or regulatory changes being considered” by government.
“The matter of exposure to EMFs and the potential link to health issues, including cancer, is of public concern in Newfoundland and Labrador,” Abbott writes. “As such, it is important that the provincial government be knowledgeable about the research being conducted and any regulatory change
being considered by the federal government to minimize the impact of EMFs on the health of the population.”
Gerry Higgins, a resident of Norris Arm, has been lobbying government for a study into the effects of EMFs on cancer rates in the province for five years.
Shortly after his wife, Margaret, was diagnosed with breast cancer, Higgins discovered that of the 62 transformers in his town, incidents of cancer were pinpointed close to 60 of them. He has since spoken to thousands of cancer victims, and to support Higgins, Norris Arm mayor Fred Budgell mailed 150
letters to towns in the province, asking for stories of cancer that could be related to transformers – 90 towns responded.
Since beginning his research, Higgins has received support from scientists and experts around the world, including the Sierra Club of Canada, which recently released a paper, calling for a local study to be carried out in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Scientists have been conducting research into the health effects of EMFs for decades.
Reports have shown exposure can increase the risk of childhood leukemia, as well as exacerbate other cancers and chronic illnesses.
Some countries such as Sweden and Switzerland have since tightened their guidelines for recommended magnetic field exposure. Others recommend a precautionary approach.
To date, minimal EMF research has been conducted in Canada, due to poor financial support. Current guidelines rely on a 1998 report by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, which according to the Sierra Club of Canada, are “among the worst (guidelines) in the world.”
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