How dangerous is 5G?

The new mobile phone standard 5G is in the starting blocks. It is already available in China, South Korea and the USA. There are also test projects for 5G in Germany. These include the first closed networks in the port of Hamburg, in Darmstadt and downtown Berlin as well as test networks in Munich and Aldenhoven. Doubts about the new technology and its harmlessness to health are growing steadily. The most important questions on the subject are therefore answered below.

What is 5G?

The LTE successor 5G stands for the fifth generation of mobile networks and is to be established as the new mobile communications standard. The new technology enables download speeds of ten gigabits per second and real-time transmissions. 5G is the basis for the automation of production processes, autonomous driving, Industry 4.0, and the Internet of Things. The first 5G contracts will be available as of 2020. By the end of 2022, 98 per cent of households are supposed to be connected.

What network expansion is necessary for 5G?

A fast network with a wide range is aimed for. It is worth noting that the lower the frequency, the better the radio waves propagate and penetrate resistors such as house walls, but less data is transmitted. Networks with a high frequency, above seven gigahertz, are more powerful, cover less area and penetrate obstacles less well. For 5G, frequencies from 3.6 to 100 gigahertz are used, which means faster data rates but a shorter range. As a result, a large number of new radio masts will have to be erected in addition to the 2G, 3G and 4G masts already in place and still in use. According to Achim Berg, president of the industry association Bitkom, about 800,000 radio masts and more than 130 billion Euros are necessary for a nationwide coverage of Germany.

Legal limits only protect against thermal effects

First published in 1996, the 26th Ordinance to the Federal Immission Control Act is intended to protect the population against the dangers of high-frequency electromagnetic radiation by setting limit values. The valid limit value is based on the radiation intensity that heats an inanimate body by 1°C within 30 minutes (thermal effect). Long-term effects and the much greater physiological sensitivity of the heads of children are not taken into account.

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Bernhardt, adviser to the Minister of the Environment and member of international radiation protection committees: “We have only understood beyond doubt that radio waves only have a thermal effect, and it is only on this basis that we can currently set limit values. There are also indications of cancer-promoting effects and disturbances at the cell membrane.” However, these notes are ignored when setting the limit values. These values are supposed to remain unchanged under 5G – despite the greater health burden and lack of long-term studies on the new technology.

Science & research on 5G

Is mobile phone radiation carcinogenic?

Health effects of electromagnetic high-frequency radiation such as

  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • insomnia
  • lack of energy
  • lack of concentration

are to be associated with mobile radio and have been proven by studies.

Are there also non-thermal life-threatening effects such as cancer?

These have been denied so far, although the World Health Organization announced in 2011 that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies high-frequency electromagnetic radiation as “potentially carcinogenic”. This revises the previous statement that radio waves are only capable of heating tissue. Cancer has been shown to be a non-thermal effect. Dr. Lennart Hardell, brain tumor specialist and professor at the University Hospital of Orebro, Sweden, confirms that brain tumors normally develop within 15 to 20 years. The use of mobile phones can cause them to appear after only ten years. A summary evaluation of all studies on brain tumors shows a 200 per cent higher risk on the side of the head where the phone is regularly held.

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Studies prove non-thermal effects of mobile radiation

The Bioinitiative Working Group, an international association of scientists, researchers and public health policy experts, has concluded after evaluating over 2,000 studies: “The existing limits do not provide protection for public health. It is recommended to introduce new, biologically based limit values […].” In response, the European Environment Agency issued a warning against the use of mobile phones. The following selected studies prove the existence of biological non-thermal effects:

Salford Study, 2003

Four groups of eight rats each were constantly irradiated with different power levels using a mobile phone (GSM standard). The result: the blood-brain barrier, a membrane that protects the brain, was opened. At an SAR value of 2 megawatts per kilogram and a two-hour irradiation, this can still be detected for 50 days. The certainty of proof, i.e. the evidential value, is over 99.8 per cent. The brain cell damage is irreversible. Since humans and rats have a comparable blood-brain barrier, the findings can easily be transferred to humans.

REFLEX Study, 2004

In a double-blind test, it was investigated whether GSM radiation has health effects on human and animal cells. The result: mobile phone radiation destroys cell nuclei. This has a carcinogenic effect.

Naila Study, 2004

In a long-term study (1994-2004), a private medical initiative in Naila (Upper Franconia, Germany) dealt with the health consequences of continuous radiation from transmission masts. They determined the number of new cancer cases in two groups of persons living in different radii to a mobile phone transmitter: radius 1: max. 400 meters, radius 2: 400 to 1,000 meters. The results:

  • Proportion of new cancer cases has tripled in radius 1, compared to radius 2.
  • New patients in radius 1 were on average 8.5 years younger.

NTP Study, 2018

This was a long-term study on mice and rats to identify potential hazards from mobile phone fields. The result: it is certified that there is a clear connection between cancer and mobile radio. There is highest evidence for the occurrence of heart tumors and moderate evidence for brain tumors and diseases of the adrenal medulla in male rats.

Doctors and scientists sound the alarm

Leading scientists, doctors and environmental protection organizations from all continents are urgently warning: “Stop 5G on earth and in space”. This appeal is addressed to the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the European Union, the Council of Europe and the governments of all nations. Over 180 doctors and researchers from 35 countries have signed a petition calling for a halt to the expansion of 5G technology until the potential health risks have been clarified.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Use headsets or hands-free kits when making calls.
  • Do not check your e-mails while on the phone.
  • Make sure you have good reception and minimize call duration.
  • Keep a sufficient distance from the phone or tablet when surfing the web.
  • Use different shielding materials, such as special paint, fabric, wallpaper or radiation protection clothing.

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Did you like this article? Follow the latest news on the subject of electrosmog in our Waveguard blog.

Sources (German)

EMF PROTECTION FOR YOUR OFFICE
Free: Checklist for EMF protection in your workplace

Electrosmog can often trigger health related problems, such as headaches and poor concentration.

What you’ll discover:

  • What is electrosmog and why it is so harmful to health;
  • How to mitigate EMF exposure in your workplace;
  • Easy and effective protective measures to promote wellbeing of every employee in your workplace.

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Anne Usadel

Anne Usadel

Anne Usadel M.A. studied literature and linguistics. Since then, she has worked as a freelance editor in the fields of art, culture and health. She has been researching the topic of electrosmog for Waveguard since 2015.

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