Residents of a building on Nuns’ Island in Montreal believe that cellular antennas on their rooftop are making them sick. Now, they’re fighting to have them removed, even though frequency levels are within the parameters of Health Canada’s guidelines — known as Safety Code 6 — that regulate electromagnetic frequencies, reported Canada’s National Observer.
“I cannot sleep, I have a difficult time working, and I am afraid that I am dying,” said building resident and former Montreal city councilor Michelle Daines.
“Slowly frying like a lobster, irreversible hypersensitization to [radio frequency] radiation because I have been exposed for long durations, all the while being told everything was below Safety Code 6.”
Intensifying the panic, Montreal doctor Barry Breger diagnosed two residents with forms of hypersensitivity — one electromagnetic (EMH) and the other environmental. EMH is controversial since symptoms have not been linked to electromagnetic frequency (EMF) exposure, and it’s not recognized as a medical diagnosis. In addition, Breger’s license to practice medicine in Quebec was suspended in 2016, for treating patients in a way that is “not consistent with scientific findings.”
Armed with Breger’s diagnosis and backed by Paul Héroux, at McGill University’s Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health, residents continue their efforts to have the antennas removed, even threatening litigation. Héroux told residents that he doesn’t agree with Health Canada standards. “It’s a little bit like the canary in the mine, you know. Some people are more susceptible, and sometimes these people can warn us about a present danger,” he said. Now, residents want stricter guidelines enacted until any potential health risks can be ruled out entirely, and are calling for a halt to the rollout of 5G wireless technology, according to the National Observer.
On the flip side, Joe Schwarcz, director of McGill’s Office for Science and Society, says the established science doesn’t support the residents’ concerns. It’s normal for people to look for answers when they are sick and don’t know the cause, Schwarcz said.
“These people really are suffering. There’s no question. The question is, what it is that they’re suffering from?…The nocebo effect is very real. The nocebo effect is sort of the bad cousin of the placebo effect: if you believe that something can do you harm, it can. This can happen to anyone because people make connections,” he added.
According to a written statement by Sarah Schmidt of Rogers Communications, which owns the rooftop antennas, “the health and safety of local residents is of utmost importance to us, which is why we always adhere to all standards and requirements of Health Canada.”
Additionally, Health Canada spokesperson Maryse Durette said in a written statement that evidence of a possible link between RF energy exposure and cancer risk remains inconclusive, but the agency would take action if further studies came to light indicating a valid risk. “With respect to cell phone towers, as long as exposures respect the limits set in Health Canada’s guidelines, there is no scientific reason to consider cell phone towers dangerous to the public,” Durette said.
August 20, 2019
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