In this post I talk about 5G, the benefits of this technology, the alleged health risks, and some of the conspiracy theories.
I’m a network engineer and I’ve worked in the IT industry since the early 1990s. So I know a little bit about configuring, maintaining, and troubleshooting networks and keeping them secure, but I’m not an electronics research scientist. Like you I rely on the information provided by others on this subject and if you’ve delved into it yourself you’ve probably already found out that there are plenty of opinions and rumours.
Let’s begin by defining 5G and how it’s different from 4G. A cellular or mobile network is one in which areas are divided into cells containing up to three masts which transmit and receive data wirelessly. 2G, 3G, and 4G use microwaves whereas 5G uses millimetre waves. Due to this short wavelength 5G masts and antennae will be required every 100-200 metres to create the network so the number of masts will be quite dense in urban areas.
5G promises to provide super fast connectivity over the cellular network enabling the Internet of Things (IoT) to become a reality. For reasons of lower cost and higher productivity many would welcome this, particularly now that some companies have discovered the advantages of having at least some of its workforce working from home.
With 5G you could have faster connectivity than your home broadband and certainly a lot faster than 4G. To give you an idea, it has been estimated that 5G will provide speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps as opposed to an average of 45 Mbps with 4G.
What are the health risks of 5G?
There was research into the risks of 2G and 3G, and there was some into 4G conducted in the 1990s, but there’s been no proper funding into the health risks of 5G.
The conclusion of some of that research is that “there could be some risk” of wireless radiation (450–3800 MHz and 24–80 GHz in 5G) being carcinogenic (International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)) but that further research is needed. The concern among scientists is that the rollout of 5G, which will run alongside 4G for some time, will expose millions of people to RFR (radio frequency radiation) and its possible risks to health.
An article in the Scientific American blog published in October 2019 entitled “We Have No Reason to Believe 5G Is Safe” quotes from the International EMF Scientist Appeal. This was signed by 240 scientists who have published no less than 2,000 peer reviewed scientific papers on the subject of EMF in scientific journals.
The appeal asserts:
Numerous recent scientific publications have shown that EMF affects living organisms at levels well below most international and national guidelines. Effects include increased cancer risk, cellular stress, increase in harmful free radicals, genetic damages, structural and functional changes of the reproductive system, learning and memory deficits, neurological disorders, and negative impacts on general well-being in humans. Damage goes well beyond the human race, as there is growing evidence of harmful effects to both plant and animal life.https://emfscientist.org/
Before you go and set fire to the nearest 5G mast let’s review that statement in context of all the other risks we take each day.
Risks & Mitigation
There are risks that we can mitigate in some way and there are others which perhaps we can do little about but with which we live because they are outweighed by the advantages.
The chances are that you’re a regular user of a cell phone and WIFI networks. If someone told you that peer reviewed scientific papers confirmed that there is a risk to your health by being so, would you stop? Probably not. Like millions of others you would continue to live with the risk because you want and enjoy all the advantages of a superfast network.
However, it is vitally important that more research is done in order to determine the level of risk from RFR. We then might be able to mitigate any risks, protecting both humans and the natural environment.
What are the conspiracy theories about 5G?
With such statements like the one above it’s easy to see how conspiracy theorists can extrapolate the evidence out into something far more sinister, a process often called ‘joining the dots’ or ‘putting 2 and 2 together’.
Of course, some conspiracy theories turn out to be true, but if a person is right about one theory it doesn’t follow they’re right about all those they repeat, and it follows logically that if they’re wrong about any then it doesn’t mean they’re wrong about them all.
Having said that, some of the theories that are being circulated with regard to 5G are so wacky that you have to wonder how those repeating them keep a straight face, unless of course they are deliberately fear mongering and spreading disinformation.
One theory I heard being promoted in April 2020 was remarkable in its implications. The theorist started by pointing out the lack of research, into the health risks of 5G, which as we’ve seen is a true concern, but then he goes on to link the rollout of 5G with the Coronavirus pandemic.
He claims that 5G masts are being secretly installed while we’re all at home during lockdown. He goes on to claim that 5G is being used to suck the oxygen out of the atmosphere.
During an interview he said,”It can be done in a very small area. You can target an old people’s home and you can take the oxygen out with 5G and people will die, and you’ll say ‘Covid-19‘”.
The fact that the video of this interview was deleted by YouTube only added fuel to the fire and gave him more ammunition, claiming it was censorship by the shadowy corporations.
Maybe, or maybe they just don’t like people using their platforms to promote fear and distress using bizarre conspiracy theories and fake news.
Another theory is the Chinese government, using the company Huawei, will use the 5G network to spy on the West and take control of our IT infrastructure.
Obviously we have to be vigilant about the competence and motives of any company involved in the supply of hardware, software, and services that are vital to our economies, but I think we should have more faith in our own cyber security experts, engineers, and others who keep watch over our networks.
In conclusion then, yes, more research into the health risks to humans from 5G networks needs to be carried out as soon as possible. No, I don’t think 5G is going to be used as a weapon or for mind control.
You may think otherwise and if you do then please express your opinions in the comments below.