The price of progress?
There’s always something. Every form of progress has a price, evidently. Thus, inevitably, the promise of faster Internet and improved cell phone coverage in the Far East of Ontario is tempered by the potential health problems associated with electronic devices.
“5G installation with no informed consent: Faster Wi-Fi but with implications for the health of plants, livestock, insects and people” is the title of a talk Dr. Magda Havas, a professor at Peterborough’s Trent University, will give at an information session to be held August 6 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Char-Lan Recreation Centre in Williamstown.
The meeting is organized by Martintown businesswoman Kathleen Szirtes who notes that certain people are affected by Internet tower signals and installations can have adverse impacts on property values.
Before you roll your eyes at what seems to be just another “Not In My Back Yard” whine, try to keep an open mind.
On her bio page on the Trent web page, Dr. Havas says, “My research deals with the health effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic energy at the extremely low frequency range associated with electricity (60 Hertz) and at the radio frequency range commonly associated with wireless telecommunication.”
Noting that since children are more sensitive than adults to the potentially harmful effects of EMFs, “I have been trying to encourage school boards to measure magnetic fields within their schools as part of their health and safety program. I also provide information to people who are concerned about antennas, power lines or transformers being built near their residence and am currently trying to help with a Private Member's Motion that will establish guidelines and standards that re
flect recent scientific studies and will truly protect public health.”
On the other hand, the World Health Organization observes that, “Considering the very low exposure levels and research results collected to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects.”
Some of these fears are fanned by bogus “science.” The WHO points out, “Some people perceive risks from radiofrequency exposure as likely and even possibly severe. Several reasons for public fear include media announcements of new and unconfirmed scientific studies, leading to a feeling of uncertainty and a perception that there may be unknown or undiscovered hazards.”
Other factors are “aesthetic concerns and a feeling of a lack of control or input to the process of determining the location of new base stations.”
Education and effective communications and involvement of the public and other stakeholders at appropriate stages of the decision process before installing RF sources can enhance public confidence and acceptability, the WHO says.
As long as they are not close to any homes, new communications installations would be easy to sell in a region that has lagged behind urban centres for decades when it comes to services.
But it is never a bad idea to be vigilant and to obtain as much information as possible on any issue that involves our health. Besides, no knowledge is ever wasted.