Radiation Concerns Over Toronto 5G Cellphone Tower Prompt Teacher Work Refusal

Several teachers at William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute in Toronto have returned to work after raising safety concerns regarding potential radiation exposure from a nearby cellphone tower.

In a letter addressed to parents, guardians, caregivers, and students, the school’s principal, Cynthia Nguyen, explained that 18 staff members initiated a work refusal process due to health and safety worries associated with the nearby tower.

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) responded to the situation by arranging for a third-party consultant firm to make recommendations on how to proceed, while TDSB’s occupational health and safety team engaged with the affected staff to find a resolution.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation confirmed that the work refusal process commenced on Wednesday, and teachers returned to work on Thursday after the board made commitments to address their concerns.

“18 teachers participated in a formal work refusal process as is their right under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. After voicing their concerns several times to the employer, and after delays on the part of the employer, the teachers felt they had no choice but to engage in the process,” Michelle Teixeira, the president of OSSTF Toronto, said in a statement.

In response to the situation, Education Minister Stephen Lecce emphasized the importance of ensuring the safety of students and staff in schools. He urged workers who feel unsafe to report their concerns to the Ministry of Labour for investigation.

According to Health Canada, cellphone towers and antenna installations are typically situated on rooftops, towers, and utility poles. These towers emit radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (EMF), which are generally considered to have lower exposure levels compared to using a cell phone. The main adverse health effects of low-level exposure listed by Health Canada are tissue heating and nerve stimulation, which can cause a tingling sensation in the skin.

Health Canada further notes that scientific evidence does not indicate an increased risk of cancer from exposure to radiofrequency EMF at levels permitted by Canadian guidelines. They continue to monitor domestic and international scientific evidence on the subject and would take action to protect health and safety if new evidence indicates a health concern at levels below Canadian limits.

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