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Additional Information - 5G Health Debate

As a potential 5G Internet Service Provider we began a review of the health concerns raised by community activists. Additional Information Blog posts will appear here on our site. We curated our posts from organizations that follow formal news media editorial standards or publish content under disciplined peer review process. We appreciate your review of the content we have shared here and hope you continue to follow us on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/thevitalportalaw3/ and Twitter https://twitter.com/TheVitalPortal

Enjoy ths article from Scientific Amercian.

5G Is Coming: How Worried Should We Be About the Health Risks ?

Credit: Gabriel Bouys Getty Images

 

Judging from the enthusiastic reception of 5G technology by governments and industry, we are on the verge of a technological revolution. Initially introduced to help wireless networks cope with ever-increasing data traffic on their networks, 5G will (its proponents claim) lead to game-changing innovations such as remote surgery, control of driverless vehicles and much more.

5G, eventually slated to replace present-day 3G and 4G cellular telephone networks, promises to speed up the rate of data transfer by 100 times or more, greatly reduce latency (time between receipt of a signal by a cellular base station and its response) and allow cellular networks to manage far more wireless-connected devices than presently possible.

5G, however, has become intensely controversial in many locations, with citizens' groups, and a few scientists, expressing concerns about the possible health effects of radio-frequency (RF) energy transmitted by 5G base stations. Public opposition appears to focus on two characteristics of 5G networks:

 

First, 5G systems will operate in several frequency bands, including one that is slightly below (and will eventually extend into) the millimeter-wave part of the RF spectrum that extends from 30 to 300 GHz. While millimeter waves have not heretofore been used for cellular communications, they have been used for many other applications, including airport security scanners, anticollision radar for automobiles, and to link present-day cellular base stations.

Public discussions appear to conflate 5G with millimeter-wave communication. In fact, many 5G networks will operate at frequencies close to those used by present cellular networks, and some may use millimeter waves to handle high data traffic where needed.

Second, 5G systems will rely on a multitude of "small cells" mounted close to subscribers, often on utility poles running along public streets. These small cells will incorporate "smart" antennas that transmit multiple beams (up to 64 with present designs, eventually more), which can be independently steered to individual subscribers. They operate at much lower power levels than "macro" cells used by present systems, which are typically located on tops of buildings in urban areas.

In the long run, these will be supplemented by pico cells that are mounted inside buildings, operating at still lower power levels. The prospects of a dramatic increase in the number of sources transmitting RF signals is undoubtedly disquieting to many citizens, regardless of the actual health risks as understood by health agencies.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has made the introduction of 5G a high priority, paring back some regulations and giving local communities less control over the placement of small cells (although the issue has been in litigation and this may change somewhat). Thus, communities are facing the introduction of new infrastructure incorporating what is, to the public, new and unfamiliar technology. Engineers, for their own part, are inclined to regard 5G as an extension of present (3G, 4G) cellular technology.

 

The possibility of harms from environmental exposures to radio-frequency signals has been a long-standing concern of many citizens, leading to public opposition to wireless base stations, broadcasting facilities, cell phones and other commonplace technologies. In a 2017 survey of 2,450 residents of six European countries, Peter Wiedemann, then at the University of Wollongong in Australia, found that 40 percent of the respondents had some concerns, with 12 percent describing themselves as "enduringly concerned"—that is, frequently thinking and talking about electromagnetic field exposure.

 

Their concerns chiefly focused on "involuntary" exposures to RF signals from environmental sources, including cellular base stations. Activist groups, supported by an echo chamber of Internet Web sites, have protested the installation of Wi-Fi in schools, wireless-enabled electric utility meters, cellular base stations, and other infrastructure that transmits RF energy into the environment.

While levels of public exposure to RF fields from future 5G networks have not been surveyed in detail (few such networks are in operation and the technology is evolving rapidly) it seems unlikely that they will be very different than those from existing cellular networks because the fundamental imperatives of the technology are the same: to provide a signal that is strong enough to communicate with an individual subscriber but not strong enough to cause interference to users in adjoining cells.

Even now, cellular networks are undergoing "densification" (adding many small cells) to manage their ever-increasing data traffic. By allowing faster transmission of data and steering beams toward individual users, 5G may, in fact, work to reduce the overall levels of RF signals in the environment—but that will eventually be offset by the rapidly growing data traffic on cellular networks and by the eventual flood of wireless-connected devices that 5G will make possible.

 

A 2019 review of environmental levels of RF signals, however, did not find an increase in overall levels since 2012 despite the rapid increase in use of wireless communications, in part because of "improvements in efficiency of these technologies and improved power controls of all emitters."

 
 

Beginning in the 1960s many studies have examined possible biological and health effects of RF exposure, and several thousand papers on the topic now exist (see Figure 1). Initially, these studies were motivated by occupational health concerns for workers exposed on the job to high levels of RF energy from industrial heating and other equipment. More recently many studies have been undertaken to examine potential health risks from environmental exposures from communications systems. There has recently been an upsurge of research using millimeter waves, although none at the precise (and, for the most part, still undetermined) frequencies to be used by 5G systems.

Millimeter waves are absorbed within about 0.5 mm of the skin surface, unlike RF energy at lower frequencies that can penetrate deeper into tissue. Its obvious potential hazards—thermal damage to skin or cornea of the eye—have been examined by numerous studies including many sponsored by the U.S. Air Force beginning in the mid-1990s (the present author participated in several of these) and also studies on ocular effects of millimeter waves by a group at Kanazawa Medical University in Japan. One of these studies was a long-term cancer promotion study on mice, involving periodic exposures to intense pulses of millimeter waves, that found no effects of exposure; the study has unclear relevance to communications signals however.

Apart from a relatively few studies that are directly relevant to safety, the literature contains a great many studies looking for biological effects of millimeter waves pursuing endpoints that cannot be related directly to possible health risks. Most of these studies reported some kind of biological effects of exposure. They vary widely, however, in approach, endpoint, exposure characteristics, and quality. Many of these studies are exploratory in nature, and lack elementary precautions to ensure reliable results.

Most countries around the world have adopted RF exposure limits that are roughly similar to present FCC limits. FCC and similar limits are designed to avoid established hazards of RF energy that result from excessive heating of tissue. A few countries (for instance Italy, Belgium and India) and cities (such as Paris) have adopted lower limits on "precautionary" grounds (roughly described by the rubric "better safe than sorry").

These are, in part, a political accommodation to concerned citizens, and in part a hedge against the possibility that low level or "nonthermal" hazards might be demonstrated in the future. Russia and some of its former Warsaw Pact allies also have much lower exposure limits, an inheritance from the old Soviet Union.

 
 

This confusion has been present for many years, but there has been little change in the assessments by health agencies. In its 2018 review, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority concluded that "despite the lack of established mechanism[s] for affecting health with weak radio wave exposure there is however need for more research covering the novel frequency domains, used for 5G." In August 2019, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced that the commission proposes to maintain its current RF exposure safety standards (adopted in 1996), quoting a statement from the Director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Devices and Radiological Health that "[t]he available scientific evidence to date does not support adverse health effects in humans due to exposures at or under the current limits."

 

In contrast to the cautious and generally reassuring assessments by health agencies, a few scientists have warned loudly about possible hazards of 5G. Martin Pall, a retired professor of biochemistry at Washington State University, is the most visible scientist in the public arena on this issue. In numerous public presentations and in his online book on 5G, Pall has made a number of sensational claims—for example that 5G will cause an "almost instantaneous" crash in human reproduction "almost to zero."

 

Other groups, particularly in Europe, have pressed for a moratorium on rollout of 5G. An appeal, signed by245 scientists as of August 2019, recommended "a moratorium on the roll-out of the fifth generation, 5G, for telecommunication until potential hazards for human health and the environment have been fully investigated." In a response to the appeal, in late 2017, Vytenis Andriukaitis (head of the Cabinet of Commissioners of the European Union) reiterated reassuring advice of expert reports and indicated that the request to "stop the distribution of 5G products appears too drastic a measure. We first need to see how this new technology will be applied and how the scientific evidence will evolve." He indicated that the commissioners would keep abreast of future developments.

To "fully investigate" potential hazards of 5G (or any other technology) is an open-ended program without a clear stopping point. With cellular communications systems there is a potentially unlimited number of exposure parameters (frequency, modulation, intensity) to be explored. (In contrast, absorbed power, which determines temperature increase in tissue, is much easier to quantify.) Moreover, "5G" refers to a set of specifications for operation of a cellular network, not to any particular source or frequency of exposure. Many initial rollouts of 5G networks, in fact, transmit frequencies at power levels that are similar to those of present cellular networks.

Apart from Martin Pall and a relatively few additional scientists, health agencies have not concluded that exposure to RF fields at ordinary environmental levels carries any health risks. Given this situation, Andriukaitis' response seems reasonable: see how the science develops. If a clear rationale develops for changing exposure limits, governments and the communications industry will have to adapt.

 
 

Because of the scattered literature on bioeffects of  millimeter waves and the projected increase in use of this part of the spectrum, more studies on possible health and safety implications of millimeter waves are surely needed. There have already been too many fishing expeditions, however; high-quality research is needed, and also continued monitoring of the scientific literature by health agencies.

Because an individual's greatest exposure to RF energy is when he or she uses a cell phone, a concerned individual could simply refrain from using one.

Additional Information Cnet 5G Network

Additional Information Cnet 5G Background Information

5G Background Information

Fixed 5G that replaces your Wi-Fi router: It's slowly begun

5G hubs that work like Wi-Fi for your for home are already here. One example of fixed 5G is the HTC 5G Hub with Sprint, a device that plugs into your router to deliver home broadband in the form of the mmWave flavor of 5G, which has potentially higher peak speeds than sub-6, a different part of the wireless spectrum that carriers use to deliver 5G. The goal here is to compete with the dominant cable provider, a potential boon if you live in an area with few home broadband options.

Fixed 5G uses a different part of the network than your mobile phones (it isn't the same as hotspotting your phone to power a device), but it's designed to deliver the same dramatically high speeds, say between 500 megabits per second (Mbps) to over 1 gigabit per second (Gbps), with perhaps faster speeds down the road.

While you might be able to subscribe to home 5G if you live in the right place, it's still extremely early days. The devices and coverage areas are few and far between. Data plans are expensive, and if you blow past the data cap (which is easy to do when you're streaming movies, games and music), you'll drop down to much slower data speeds -- about 3Mbps if you use Verizon's 5G hotspot and 2G speeds with Sprint's HTC 5G Hub. 

Additional Information - BBC News Reality Check

Does 5G pose health risks?

  • 15 July 2019
Woman looking at her smart phone
Image copyright Getty Images

The 5G mobile network has been switched on in some UK cities and has led to questions about whether the new technology poses health risks.

So what are the concerns, and is there any evidence to back them up?

What's different about 5G?

As with previous cellular technologies, 5G networks rely on signals carried by radio waves - part of the electromagnetic spectrum - transmitted between an antenna or mast and your phone.

We're surrounded by electromagnetic radiation all the time - from television and radio signals, as well as from a whole range of technologies, including mobile phones, and from natural sources such as sunlight.

5G uses higher frequency waves than earlier mobile networks, allowing more devices to have access to the internet at the same time and at faster speeds.

These waves travel shorter distances through urban spaces, so 5G networks require more transmitter masts than previous technologies, positioned closer to ground level.

5G equipment in Seoul
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption South Korea now has a nationwide 5G network

What are the concerns?

The electromagnetic radiation used by all mobile phone technologies has led some people to worry about increased health risks, including developing certain types of cancer.

In 2014 the World Health Organization (WHO) said that "no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use".

However, the WHO together with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified all radio frequency radiation (of which mobile signals are a part) as "possibly carcinogenic".

It has been put in this category because "there is evidence that falls short of being conclusive that exposure may cause cancer in humans".

Eating pickled vegetables and using talcum powder are classed in the same category.

Alcoholic drinks and processed meat are in a higher category because the evidence is stronger.

A toxicology report released in 2018 by the US Department of Health, and pointed to by those expressing safety concerns, found that male rats exposed to high doses of radio frequency radiation developed a type of cancerous tumour in the heart.

For this study, rats' whole bodies were exposed to radiation from mobile phones for nine hours a day every day for two years, starting before they were born.

No cancer link was found for the female rats or the mice studied. It was also found that rats exposed to the radiation lived longer than those in the control group.

A senior scientist on the study said "exposures used in the studies cannot be compared directly to the exposure that humans experience when using a cell phone", even for heavy users.

Dr Frank De Vocht, who helps advise the government on mobile phone safety says "although some of the research suggests a statistical possibility of increased cancer risks for heavy users, the evidence to date for a causal relation is not sufficiently convincing to suggest the need for precautionary action".

However, there is a group of scientists and doctors who have written to the EU calling for the rollout of 5G to be halted.

 
Graphic shows 5G's frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum - within the non-ionising band at the lower end of the scale.

Radio waves are non-ionising

The radio wave band - used for mobile phone networks - is non-ionising, "which means it lacks sufficient energy to break apart DNA and cause cellular damage," says David Robert Grimes, physicist and cancer researcher.

Higher up the electromagnetic spectrum, well beyond those frequencies used by mobile phones, there are clear health risks from extended exposure.

The sun's ultra-violet rays fall within this harmful category, and can lead to skin cancers.

There are strict advisory limits for exposure to even higher energy radiation levels such as medical x-rays and gamma rays, which can both lead to damaging effects within the human body.

"People are understandably concerned over whether they might elevate their risk of cancer, but it's crucial to note that radio waves are far less energetic than even the visible light we experience every day," says Dr Grimes.

"There is no reputable evidence," he says "that mobile phones or wireless networks have caused us health problems."

Should we be worried about 5G transmitter masts?

5G technology requires a lot of new base stations - these are the masts that transmit and receive mobile phone signals.

But crucially, because there are more transmitters, each one can run at lower power levels than previous 4G technology, which means that the level of radiation exposure from 5G antennas will be lower.

The UK government guidelines on mobile phone base stations says radio frequency fields at places normally accessible to the public are many times below guideline levels.

What about heating dangers?

Part of the 5G spectrum permitted under international guidelines falls within the microwave band.

Microwaves generate heat in objects through which they pass.

However, at the levels used for 5G (and earlier mobile technologies) the heating effects are not harmful, says Prof Rodney Croft, an adviser to the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

"The maximum radio frequency level that someone in the community could be exposed to from 5G (or any other signals in general community areas) is so small that no temperature rise has been observed to date."

Limits to exposure

The UK government says "while a small increase in overall exposure to radio waves is possible when 5G is added to the existing network, the overall exposure is expected to remain low".

The frequency range of the 5G signals being introduced is within the non-ionising band of the electromagnetic spectrum and well below those considered harmful by the ICNIRP.

"The exposure that 5G will produce has been considered in great depth by ICNIRP, with the restrictions set well below the lowest level of 5G-related radio frequency that has been shown to cause harm," says Prof Croft.

The WHO says electromagnetic frequency exposures below the limits recommended in the ICNIRP guidelines do not appear to have any known consequence on health.

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