Thursday, July 25, 2024

Precautionary Principle Doesn’t Require Certainty

Letter to the Editor


In your recent editorial re the location of cell towers in urban Meaford (My Tongue Hurts From all of the Biting) you state that “from a personal perspective , Rogers or any other cell company could put a tower in my backyard and I would have zero concern.” You support your point of view by stating that “we don’t know for certain” [ about the health risks] and there “is no provable immanent danger.”

You also state that you “by default always support a precautionary principle when considering things like cell towers or incinerators coming to any community.” The precautionary principle however  does not require certainty or “provable imminent danger.” That’s the whole point. That  principle says that decision makers have a general duty to take preventative action to avoid harm before scientific certainty has been established.

Studies in Germany showed that the proportion of newly developed cancer cases was three times higher among those at a distance of up to 400 m from a cell tower. Similar studies in Israel showed that those living within 350m had a four fold risk .

In 2009 in Norway, a scientific panel discussed the existing scientific evidence and health implications of the unprecedented global exposures to artificial electromagnetic fields. ( EMF ) Their consensus was that “the body of evidence on EMF requires a new approach to protection of public health…and argues for strong preventative actions. New biologically-based public exposure standards are urgently needed to protect public health world wide.”

These are just a few illustrations of the emerging knowledge of the health risks associated with cell towers and of the need to make prudent decisions that err on the side of caution. That is the precautionary principle. Saying no to Rogers and the other telecommunications companies about cell towers but yes to the safer fiber optic alternative is a perfectly reasonable and prudent response by Meaford to Telus, Rogers, and Bell.

But your  unequivocal acceptance of a cell tower in your backyard with zero concern (hypothetical though it might be ) has zero to do with the precautionary principle that  you say you espouse. 

Mike Belec, Meaford 

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