The 21st century has seen numerous technological advancements at a pace that one could never have been able to comprehend. It is surprising how the speed of it still is nowhere near taking a break. We hear of an upgrade or an update on almost everything, and it can all be quite overwhelming.
The internet itself has been among the most revolutionary discoveries, and we are not even down the second decade, and it just keeps growing. It’s exciting, and it’s scary, especially if you’re from the older generation. In this race of keeping up, however, we tend to ignore the health risks all this may impose.
Such is a situation with the latest, ready to launch 5G internet cellular technology set to be made publicly available in 2020. The kind of speed it will provide us is impressive. Imagine downloading movies of a few gigabytes in a matter of a few seconds! That’s what we’re talking about.
What is 5G Technology?
5G is a short and layman terminology for the 5th generation of wireless technology. It will have an average download speed of 1 gigabyte per second (1GBps). If you think your internet is fast at 10 to 20 megabytes per second, imagine accessing the internet at the speed 5G offers.
Now according to PC magazine, each generation of wireless technology has been launched with its own set of capabilities, with each an upgraded version and better performing than the former. The speed, response, ability to carry the load of devices improves with each generation.
We’re talking about ultrafast speed here. Talk about taking only nanoseconds to surf the internet, play games online, open sites, download or open files, stream movies and songs online or on Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu.
How does 5G Operate? A Crash Course
Before we get into the details of how 5G affects health and poses risks, it is important to have a basic know-how of exactly how a 5G works and what makes it different from our good old 4G. A mobile network comprises of two parts – one, the Radio Access Network and two, the Core Network.
The radio access network is based on those cell towers we see physically present, smaller cell towers, dedicated buildings, and home systems that connect the mobile users and wireless devices to the central core. Think of these as the router for your internet, but only bigger and more powerful working at frequency covering large areas.
In 5G networks, these radio waves will we functioning at a different wavelength or frequency. The wavelength is very short-ranged yet powerful (remember it is now carrying gigabytes worth of data as compared to megabytes in 4G).
To keep these short yet powerful wavelengths of 5G’ flowing’ smoothly, they have to install small cells covering shorter distances, all attached to the macro network that covers a larger area. These 5G Macro Cells will use MIMO (multiple inputs, multiple outputs) antennas.
These antennas have been used in 3G and 4G, but the difference is in their altered ability to produce shorter wavelengths at a faster frequency. This will allow 5G to handle multiple connections, receive and send data simultaneously while maintaining a high level of connection.
The core network part of a cellular network manages the network a company provides. The calls, messages, and the roaming data services these networks offer. These core networks work on their systems to efficiently integrate the latest generation of wireless connection into their service.
We saw it happen when 4G came out, and our local networks started providing us with upgraded services while keeping the 3G version compatible, as well. A similar thing will happen when 5G hits the market.
How Will 5G Affect the Public?
Why the hype? Because it is in our nature as humans to want more and more. And believe me, the world is excitedly waiting for 5G technology to release. Why? So that they can do what they’re already doing with a 4G, only much faster.
Judging from the general perception regarding advanced technology, people rarely stop to ponder on the technicalities or consequences. The newer generations are less skeptical about them and far more welcoming.
Speaking of the current global attitude, 5G is being considered quite a technological revolution. The governments and the industries are waiting to upgrade. Other various departments such as finance, medical, health are all going to be affected by it as well.
5G will replace 3G and 4G and make a lot of ventures like online gaming, immersive experiences, driverless vehicles, automated surgeries, large data transfers, and so much more possible. It will significantly reduce latency – the time between receiving a signal by a base station — no more lagging phone or video calls.
There is no doubt that it will slowly and systematically help each and every public and private sector, increase in productivity and outputs. However, as much as these changes will be beneficial from a technology standpoint, but we must also evaluate the concerns expressed by members of the medical and scientific community.
5G Technology Poses Serious Health Risks
This is a controversy, to be honest. There are two sides to the coin, and there are two different belief systems out there. Many people deny any adverse effects on the human body by these radio waves (mostly those with a vested monetary interest) , while there are scientists all over the world that would advise otherwise.
The 5G technology is going to be 100 times faster than 4G. in September of 2017, a couple of doctors and scientists launched the 5G Appeal. It was a petition directed at the European Union (EU) to re-evaluate the sanctioning of 5G installation all over the countries. They believed health risks such as cancer, genetic damage, and cellular stress were possible, if not extremely likely.
The founder and director of the Swiss IT’IS Foundation, Professor Niels Kuster, said, “We have been involved in hundreds of studies about electromagnetic radiation and human health.” He was the project coordinator for ARIMMORA, a research about electromagnetic radiations emitted by power lines and their relationship to childhood leukemia.
In the light of this study and many more that we’ve come across, we have compiled a few established causes for concern and the health risks we might be exposed to if 5G rolls out worldwide.
5G Radiation is No Friend of Yours
This is one thing we are truly afraid of. These small, unseen, unfelt waves can cause damage beyond repercussions. With cancer being a leading cause of death globally and still not a proper cure in sight, radiations are a chief triggering factor for cell mutation.
Remember the microwave fiasco where doctors and scientists started advising against microwaving your food. It was because those would replace the nutritional content of your food with carcinogens and destroy the quality at the molecular level.
Just like that, both mobile phones and telecom antennas already emit electromagnetic radiation. Regardless of the wireless generation or network type. They emit non-ionizing radiation of a lower frequency. These radiations are not as powerful as that of nuclear or X-ray radiation, which is very harmful as established by science.
But being less harmful than most harmful is still a cause of concern. They may be less intense but have similar long-term effects. With 5G having a shorter frequency, it will require base stations for every 2 to 8 homes. This means thousands of cells emitting radiations. Talk about living and breathing in a microwave.
The non-ionizing radiofrequency is the actual risk here
All cellular technology is dangerous in the sense that they emit radiofrequency radiations. This is an old debate since the release of earlier wireless networks. It is a follow-up debate on that and only logical to ask and be concerned.
The World Health Organization (WHO), in 2011, classified RF Radiation as a carcinogenic factor. There are hundreds of research papers that link these radiations to life-altering diseases like cancer, DNA damage, and sterility in men. These non-ionizing radio frequencies taken into account are, however, not regarded as solely the ones emitted by wireless networks.
Involuntary Exposure to 5G - A Valid Concern
There are just as many research papers that counter the argument that these radio frequencies are not dangerous or cell altering at all. When installing these technological setups, countries have a safe limit approved for the radio frequencies to make sure the public is safe from hazards, unfortunately the safety limits currently in use are 30 years out of date.
Even if we take the word of the government and other similar organizations that these frequencies are not harmful to humans or pose any health risks, the time period of exposure still remains in question. So what if there are no immediate consequences? What if a lifelong exposure to these radio waves 24/7 does the same amount of damage that a high spectrum non-ionizing radiation would do. Is that still not a cause for concern?
No studies have yet been carried on lifelong exposure of these radio waves and their biological effects due to the fact that these waves have only been a part of our lives for a decade or so.
A vast majority’s cause of concern is the involuntary exposure. The right to self-determination is what the modern world offers to each of us. If all public places are a hub to cells set up for 5G, many people willing to avoid the ‘exposure’ will remain exposed, with no options for escape.
Cancer from 5G – What is The Truth?
Yes. Every little symptom you search on the internet will tell you that it’s a possible cause of cancer. Its almost become ironic now. But the fact that cancer is still something the world fears and is used in all sorts of propaganda to ward off support does not mean we can declare these radio frequencies to be the sole causing factor.
The truth is that radio frequencies generally generated by network buildings, routers, and cell towers are far below the damaging level, at least according to the people making money from them. Yet we are unaware of how much these play as a contributing agent to the situation.
The first scientific research that has interpreted our concern regarding the relationship between cellphone radiation and DNA damage was carried out by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) in a 2018 study. They exposed rats and mice to radio frequencies waves from cellphones that used 2G and 3G technology. They developed malignant tumors.
“The exposures used in the studies cannot be compared directly to the exposure that humans experience when using a cellphone,” said John Bucher, a senior scientist for the NTP. “In our studies, rats and mice received radio frequency radiations across their whole bodies. By contrast, people mostly exposed to specific local tissues close to where they hold the phone. In addition, the exposure levels and durations in our studies were greater than what people experience.”
Even if we take into account the fact that the radiations these mice and rats were exposed to were of higher frequency, the time duration was still limited. The variation of the amount of time required for constant exposure remains a question mark yet.
Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D., Director Center for Family and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of California Berkeley, published an article in February 2019. In this article, he wrote about the harmful effects of 5G radiation along with citing scientific studies to support his claim. One of these studies stated, “The results also show that the peak-to-average ratio of 1,000 tolerated by the International Council on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection guidelines may lead to permanent tissue damage after even short exposures, highlighting the importance of revisiting existing exposure guidelines.”
This defends the concept that perhaps even the existing guidelines do not truly safeguard public health and need to be revised and re-evaluated. These guidelines alone are insufficient to remain the sole basis of allowing and maintaining the current 5G installation procedure approvals process.
If 5G Radiation Affects Us - What are the Environmental Hazards?
While one sole concern remains how the latest 5G radiation may affect human health directly, another much larger concern includes the rest of the living creatures that will be absorbing these radiations. Animals, plants, and trees.
If the potential damage is assessed, you would agree that the environment we share with other organisms gives back to us. Our sustenance, food, and even the air we breathe are all vital for a healthy life. Everything with DNA can be affected just as much as humans are.
Martin Pall, a retired professor who used to teach Biochemistry at the Washington State University, has become somewhat of a figurehead in the public sector, taking a significant stand on this issue. He is quite vocal about his beliefs and in a number of presentations available online and in his online book, Mr. Pall has claimed quite nerve-wracking claims including the emphasis on how these radiations may cause a decline in the human reproduction to “almost to zero.”
Earlier at the announcement of rollout of 5G technology in Europe, an appeal was circulated around by none other than scientists and doctors recommending, “a moratorium on the rollout of the fifth generation, 5G, for telecommunication until potential hazards for human health and the environments have been fully investigated.” As a response to this, the government responded along the lines of completely putting a stop towards establishing the 5G technology would be too drastic of a measure. Instead, they assured the advice and accounting of expert reports on the projects.
Dr. Joel Moskowitz, in his statement for the UK Daily Mail regarding the rollout of 5G, he talked about the dangers it posed. “The deployment of 5G, or fifth-generation cellular technology, constitutes a massive experiment on the health of all species.”
He further said, “Since skin contains capillaries and nerve endings, MMW bioeffects may be transmitted through molecular mechanisms by the skin or through the nervous system.” Since MMWs are weaker than microwaves, they tend to accumulate in the skin only, failing to penetrate deeper into the tissue.
Despite the fact that skin itself protects the innards from the MMWs, it itself remains exposed and at risk of diseases. He also adds, “Millimeter waves can also make pathogens resistant to antibiotics.”
5g Is Literally All About Your Skin
Millimeter waves are like a consolation prize of the 5G technology. These can transfer more information, yet again for a shorter distance. Even though these haven’t even been implemented yet, they are being built in preparation for a 5G world.
The unfortunate things are that there is little research regarding these and their effect on cells. To design an experiment around rats and mice and other small animals is one thing, but to test it on humans crosses the ethical boundaries.
These hindrances already are not allowing the researchers to come up with a final answer to this debate. With the current studies available, we know for sure that these MMWs do not penetrate our skin the way high spectrum radiations do.
Yet they are a risk. While WHO recognizes radio frequency as a causative agent, it fails to recognize the MMWs of 5G as ‘risks.’ In order to prove these risk factors to causing agents, a lot more research and thoroughly designed experiments need to be carried out.
“I don’t claim we need to be concerned about millimeter-wave exposure,” says Professor Kuster. “But it’s irresponsible not to have much data and expose large groups of people to these fields. So there should be more investment into tests about this.”
A Lack of 5G Radiation Research and Lots of Bias?
It is by no means a hidden fact how large businesses and Government oversite groups do not take into account the overall health and wellness factors of any new technology. Whatever industry we point the finger at, it has skeletons in its closet.
One argument remains stagnant among the researchers, whether against or for 5G and its health risks, is that the private sector influences a lot of studies and publicly available information. According to activists, environmentalists and socialists, telecom companies and investors fund researches to support their ventures.
Until now, the EU has funded a few research projects due to the outcry of the general public and the appeal made by scientists that we mentioned earlier. Yet no reliable outcome has been presented while they continue to move towards the launch and distribution of 5G.
Despite the disagreements among scientists of both points of view, what they agree on is that completely banning the technological innovation of 5G would be harsh. Also, there has not been any specific significant rise in brain cancer in the past two decades despite the explosion of cellphone use.
In fact, scientists who conduct private researches and have been making public awareness regarding the health risks have been called ‘fear-mongering’ or ‘crying wolf’ by telecom companies. The controversy has always surrounded this sector, and there is honestly no sure shot way but to research on your own and form a personal opinion.
No doubt, till factual data comes out, this topic will always be open to debate. We cannot help but remain skeptical unless specific testing is done independently of telecom companies and their supporters, and proves the technology is absolutely safe.
Based upon research being conducted since 2011 on both humans and animals, the IARC has sanctioned RFR to review again in the coming years. Whatever studies, no matter how limited, have been conducted, indicate cellular damage in the long run. This is supposed to cause a sense of alarm since the RFR is being reviewed for 5G.
Is 5G Really More Dangerous Than 4G?
When we talk about danger, we keep emphasizing the risk part of it and not the actual damage. Because even scientific study so far only supports the ‘risk’ factor. Both 4G and 5G use the same “radio wave” of the electromagnetic spectrum. These are the same waves that have been in use since the mass production and use of cell phones.
The difference lies in the ‘densification’ of these waves. The ones that 5G uses and will use are shorter, of higher frequency, and are more powerful. The short-range aspect requires the installation of more base stations at short distances to maintain the speed and accuracy, thus exposing us to a far higher levels of these waves than ever before.
This change in the amount and density of waves we are exposed to no doubt causes an elevation in health risks. What exactly and how much? That yet remains to be figured out. What we can do, however, is to remain educated and maintain a balanced form of awareness.
The only possible way to actually get a factual study carried out is when 5G is rolled out and introduced to the masses. The scientists already aware will remain persistent in carrying out their studies.
5G The Bottom Line
It is important to be aware of the risks and hazards that the 5G technology potentially imposes on us, and remain aware of them despite the huge following in favor of 5G and the technological revolution it is about to bring. We need to be genuinely concerned and should remain so.
There are ways to protect ourselves from the harmful radio-waves, but unfortunately, we might not be able to escape them altogether. Continuing to do your own research about the many currently available products to protect against radiation damage to the human body is a Great place to start. If we don’t do the work to protect ourselves and our loved ones, no one else will.