Is 5G radiation going to kill us? - Tech | 5G, SDN/NFV & Edge Compute


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Is 5G radiation going to kill us?

A few months back, I was talking about 5G in one of our employees' all-hands meeting. One employee stood up and asked, "Is 5G radiation going to kill us?". He added, "There are reports speculating a number of birds dying in Netherlands because of the radiations from 5G trials. What is your view on that?". I told him "New technologies such as 5G always throws a conundrum for humans to choose between evolution and existence. We exist as an organization not just to make money - we also have an obligation to our society. We should take necessary precautions when embracing new technologies and ensure that it doesn't challenge our very own existence". 

In the last two months, whenever I bring the topic of 5G during my conversations with people, this is a standard question that gets asked - "Is 5G radiation going to be harmful?". This article captures some credible research data available regarding the health impacts of 5G radiations. 

In US alone, close to 800,000 small cells are going to be deployed to support the various 5G usecases. That is equivalent of deploying one small cell in almost every street corner. There are at least two dozen lawsuits filed against FCC's ruling to accelerate 5G deployments in US. 

Independent Research

In 2010, a study funded by World Health Organization (WHO) reported that "Our review does not indicate an association between any health outcome and radio frequency electromagnetic field exposure from mobile phone base stations at levels typically encountered in people’s everyday environment" (Source: WHO)

In 2015, European Commission Scientific Community, published its findings on the impacts of RF radiation on humans. They said "Overall, the epidemiological studies on mobile phone RF Electromagnetic Field exposure do not show an increased risk of brain tumors. Furthermore, they do not indicate an increased risk for other cancers of the head and neck region." (Source: European Commission Scientific Community)

In 2018, National Toxicology Program (NTP) did a research and published their findings. They reported that "High exposure to radio frequency radiation (RFR) in rodents resulted in tumors in tissues surrounding nerves in the hearts of male rats, but not female rats or any mice". However, a senior scientist from NTP added a disclaimer "The levels and duration of exposure to RFR were much greater than what people experience with even the highest level of cell phone use, and exposed the rodents' whole bodies. So, these findings should not be directly extrapolated to human cell phone usage". (Source: National Institute of Environment Health Sciences).

In 2018, American National Cancer Institute (NCI) did some studies on wireless radio frequency and reported that "A limited number of studies have shown some evidence of statistical association of cell phone use and brain tumor risks, but most studies have found no association". NCI website says non-ionized radiations, such as the ones used in wireless cell phones, are not as impactful as the ones caused by ionized radiations such as X-Rays. (Source: American National Cancer Institute)

Data from Organizations Developing & Deploying 5G

Hans Vestberg, the CEO of Verizon, when responding to an interviewer, confidently said that he hasn't seen any impacts of radiations, so far. He also mentioned that his previous employer did a lot of research in this area and hasn't found any impacts due to radiations emitted by the mobile towers. 

Hans Vestberg's previous employer, Ericsson, is one of the leading vendors - carrying 40% of mobile traffic across the globe. Ericsson is also a key player in developing 5G radio technology. Ericsson claims to have done over 100 studies on the impacts of radiations. They published a report sharing details from the research done on 5G radiations. The report says, "The power levels of the radio signals transmitted by 5G radio equipment will be of similar or lower magnitude as those used in previous networks." Ericsson also says "5G devices will be designed and tested to comply with established radio wave exposure limits". 

Is 5G radiation going to kill us?!

If you are wondering "Did 5G really kill those 297 birds in Netherlands?", Well!, it turned out to be a false report. It looks like those birds died due to poisoning. 

So far, no study has clearly established a direct correlation between the radiations emitted by cellphone towers and the health impacts on humans. However, in pockets research confirmed that excessive exposure to radiation isn't good for human health. So, the farther you are from the antennas (cell phone towers, small cells and mobile devices), the better it is for you. Unfortunately, 5G's reliance on millimeter wave requires the small cell towers to be deployed closer to the users. We've to wait and watch, to understand the real health hazards caused by the 5G deployments. 

Also read: 5 misconceptions about 5G