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Is 5G safe? Are 5G masts and networks dangerous?

Is 5G safe? 

That’s a question that’s been asked since the technology was first announced. Whenever a new form of Wi-Fi or internet connectivity emerges, the world is left wondering whether the frequencies emitted by masts and towers are really as safe as it seems.

With 5G masts already installed around the UK, and more set to roll out in the immediate future, many people are looking for answers about what they can expect. Questions range all the way from whether 5G had anything to do with the 2020 pandemic to whether it’s more dangerous to live near 5G towers. 

Here’s what you need to know.

Are there health risks from 5G?

5G promises to deliver incredible connections, faster internet speeds, and lower latency around the world. However, many people want proof that it is really as safe as companies claim before they consider exploring 5G for themselves.

The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), which sets limits on exposure to radiation, performed an extensive review and confirmed in March 2020 that there are no adverse effects of 5G on our health. It issued updated guidelines to reassure people, but the advice remains much the same as it did in 1998 when the first guidelines were published.

Is 5G linked to COVID-19?

One of the most recent concerns about 5G towers and their health impact has been linked to the Coronavirus of 2020. Because both 5G and the pandemic seemed to start arriving simultaneously, many people started making the connection between the two.

However, there’s absolutely no evidence linking 5G, or any other mobile technology, to COVID, which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Can 5G cause cancer?

Concerns about certain frequencies causing cancer go back a lot further than 5G. Fortunately, cancer research groups and other bodies advise that there is no evidence phones cause cancer, based on the scientific studies conducted so far. When it comes to cancer, proven risks such as smoking, UV light, and obesity should concern us a lot more.

Like all mobile technology, 5G connectivity relies on radio frequency, or RF, energy to link base stations to mobile phones. This is a form of energy known as non-ionising radiation, similar to heat or FM radio waves. There’s no evidence that non-ionising radiation causes any damage to DNA, which would be required for it to cause cancer. The same cannot be said of ionising radiation, like UV light.

What frequencies are used for 5G?

As mentioned above, 5G frequencies are a form of non-ionising radiation, which is in no way dangerous to the human body. 5G frequencies, just like the frequencies emitted from antennas for previous generations of 4G and 4G, are covered by the international exposure regulations and guidelines for electromagnetic fields. 

The frequency bands for 5G networks actually come in two different forms. The first Frequency Range, FR1, runs between 450MHz and 6GHz, including the LTE frequency section. The second frequency range is from 24.25Ghz to 52.5Ghz. 

What is mmWave? Is it a health risk?

Millimetre wave, or mmWave, is one of the technologies in 5G handsets that many consumers have been concerned about.

These frequencies fall between the 24-86Ghz range and are often used for point-to-point radio links and satellite connections. The mmWave frequencies can provide rapid links to network deployments in various locations, like urban areas, but they have a shorter range so require more base stations, which has concerned some people since they are going to be widespread in order to make use of mmWave.

However, there is no evidence that mmWave poses any threat to our health. The biological impact of millimetre wave on the human body has been the subject of various studies, and more are currently underway. The international guidelines in place today still determine that these waves are safe. At these frequencies, radio energy can be absorbed by the body, but not at the power used for mobile networks. The millimetre waves from 5G towers cannot easily penetrate even thin surfaces, and reflect off the skin.

Is 5G more or less dangerous than 4G and 3G?

As mentioned above, the 5G frequencies of today are covered by the same set of international guidelines and regulations issued for both 4G and 3G. This means that none of these radio waves is deemed dangerous in the eyes of the EMF and RF committees that regulate them. The only known biological impact that RF has on humans is the heating of the skin.

The majority of regulators say that everything we do carries a certain level of risk, but the risks of 3G, 4G, and 5G have all been examined according to the same high standards. The first medical studies into the possible health effects of EMR and RF started over 60 years ago, and thousands of studies have since reported no significant health problems. 

What can I do if a 5G mast is installed near my home?

You don’t need to worry if 5G masts are installed near your home. 5G masts are subject to the usual planning laws, so you have the same right to object to their installation like any other construction. There is no evidence that they pose a health risk.

Some experts agree that the closer you are to 5G towers and other sources of radiation or radio frequencies, the more likely it is that you’ll experience side effects. However, as reported by Forbes, there are about 4,500 people working close to RF radiation in the UK, and they receive exposure five times greater than that of a regular person. Despite being close to the 5G towers at all times, these individuals have not shown any higher rates of health problems, including cancer.

What do safety and health authorities say about 5G? 

The World Health Organization says: 

“To date, and after much research performed, no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies.”

Ofcom says that:

“Public Health England (PHE) is responsible for advising on EMF emissions exposure and we take their recommendations into account in how we manage radio waves. They have found no evidence that 5G poses any new health risks compared to previous mobile technologies”

Public Health England says:

‘It is possible that there may be a small increase in overall exposure to radio waves when 5G is added to an existing network or in a new area. However, the overall exposure is expected to remain low relative to guidelines and, as such, there should be no consequences for public health.”

Public Health England is also continuing their research into 5G to ensure the safety of the technology going forward as it rolls out in the UK. 

Meet the author:
Rebekah Carter

Rebekah is a dedicated author, news reporter, and all-around content creator with years of experience in the technology, business, and health industries.

She's worked with some of the biggest brands in technology exploring all kinds of innovative technologies, from VPNs to artificial intelligence.

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