Does the 5G network pose health risks?

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — A number of countries have started providing 5G services amid global competition for their deployment. This development is accompanied by many health warnings and fears, which we address in this subject in an effort to uncover the truth from illusion.

5G Network revolutionizes communication

5G technology is a huge revolution in the telecommunications world. It will deliver superior data transfer speeds compared to current 4G technology, allowing faster access to content and billions of data transfers without interruption.

The 5G technology will allow the connection of electronic devices of all kinds, contributing to the spread of future technologies on a wider scale such as autonomous cars, automated factories, remote operations, “smart” robots and others.

In order to increase the volume of data circulation, the 5G network uses a higher frequency band than the current cellular network, starting from 3.4 GHz to exceed 26 GHz in the future.

But the higher the frequencies, the shorter the waves. Therefore, the deployment of the 5G network requires an increase in the number of antennas, which is of concern to some NGOs.

The United States has begun deploying 5G in some cities, and South Korea announced in April comprehensive coverage of its territory.

In Europe, Switzerland, Finland, Estonia and Monaco are the first to start deploying the 5G network, while Germany has provided operators with the necessary frequencies, and will follow suit.

China has been providing 5G services since November 1 in 50 cities, including Beijing and Shanghai.

Radio Frequency and Human Health

There are many sources of radio frequencies around us: cell phones, even televisions, radios, and wireless Internet (WI-FI). “It raises concerns,” she said, “although research has yet to prove that exposure to low-power electromagnetic fields poses a health risk.”

However, some studies suggest that “the long-term risk of cerebral tumor in cell phone users could increase dramatically,” according to the French National Agency for Health Security for Food, Environment and Labor (ANSES).

This led the World Health Organization in 2011 to classify RF as “carcinogenic to humans”, recommending the use of means of use of the phone away from the head.

In the 2016 publication, the French National Agency for Health Security for Food, Environment and Labor estimated that waves of mobile devices, tablets and connected toys could have an impact on children’s cognitive functions, memory and ability to focus and coordinate. It recommended reducing exposure to boys.

Biological effects / health effects

The World Health Organization says that “the main biological effect of electromagnetic fields caused by radio frequencies is a thermal effect,” which means warming in areas exposed to these fields.

Olivier Merkel, an expert at the French National Agency for Health Security for Food, Environment and Labor, said: “Some studies have indicated the presence of biological effects in specific areas such as sleep or stress.”

However, it should be noted that biological effects do not necessarily imply health effects, which is difficult for non-specialists to discern.

Biological effects are a sign that the body is adapting to changes in its environment.

“Stress, for example, raises the rate of adrenaline, and physical effort raises body temperature, and this is a natural physiological reaction,” explains Ibrahim Salmawi of the French Institute for Industrial Environment and Risk.

The question then is whether the accumulation of biological effects exceeds the ability of the human body to cope, which may then have consequences for human health.

Abstracts by 2020

Olivier Merkel says that the frequency band adopted to start deploying the 5G network, about 3.5 GHz, is “very close to the one currently used for 4G or Wi-Fi.” Thus, this does not fundamentally change the scientific questions posed.

However, it will vary with the subsequent change of the band to 26 GHz (this is called the 5G network).

“As of 10 GHz, electromagnetic energy does not enter the body in practice but is concentrated at the skin level: it raises different questions in terms of potential health effects,” says Merkel.

“At the 70 GHz threshold, the brain is never exposed, and the concentration is superficial at the skin and ears level,” Salmawi said.

Information on these issues is currently inadequate.

In 2012, the French National Agency for Health Security for Food, Environment and Labor assessed the use of airfields in millimeter waves, which concluded that “this type of scanner does not pose a threat to human health.”

But waves, although similar in type, are different in terms of their use. With the transition to the fifth generation, people will be exposed to waves on a much larger scale.

According to Olivier Merkel, the French National Agency for Health Security for Food, Environment and Labor is preparing to launch an analytical study on the specific effects of human 5G signals that it hopes to complete by the end of 2020.


This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.

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