This afternoon I was contacted on Twitter by Jon Hendricks at CTV News. They were putting together a story about Health Canada’s public consultation on its proposed changes to Safety Code 6, which regulates radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation.
I have of course written and presented on the subject of EMF and anti-WiFi scares before, so I was happy to provide a sound-bite or two. The coverage aired this evening, and while they cut an eight minute conversation down to a few seconds of talking head and some B-roll (hey, that’s how these things work), I was pleased that Jon Hendricks worked in a few of my talking points for me in his coverage.
In the brief time that I had, I tried to express just a couple of ideas: First, that the proposed guidelines seem to be based on rigorous scientific evidence (which is good). It’s always easy to cherry-pick a poorly-conducted study here or there that seems to show a previously unknown adverse health effect, but it’s important to take the quality of these studies into account, and view their findings in light of prior plausibility and the larger body of scientific literature. If you have small, poorly controlled studies, the results are far more likely to simply reflect the bias of the researchers. That’s something that we have to watch out for in science generally.
Second, the primary concerns here is for those who perceive that they suffer from some sort of electromagnetic hypersensitivity. These people may report headaches, nausea, dizziness, or difficulty concentrating when they perceive that they’ve been exposed to an electromagnetic field. But this has been well studied in double-blind, controlled provocation trials, and the results are very clear: those who report that they’re hypersensitive do experience a negative reaction when they believe that they are in the presence of an electromagnetic field, but that reaction occurs irrespective of whether they actually are. There is no correlation between actual exposure to EMF and the symptoms of electromagnetic hypersensitivity, and Health Canada and the World Health Organization both recognize this.
You view see the coverage for yourself, here (along with shots of my eerily empty office; there was a meeting in the next room).