5G communication technology has been mainly discussed in the context of high-tech benefits it will bring, or business rivalries it will generate. However from the point of view of the welfare of human beings and indeed of all life-forms, a much more important issue, indeed an issue of very far-reaching implications, relates to the very serious adverse environmental and health impacts of this technology. Compared to the great importance of this issue, this issue should receive much more importance.
In an appeal to the European Union, more than 180 scientists and doctors from 36 countries (EU 5G Appeal) have warned about the danger of 5G, which will lead to a massive increase in involuntary exposure to electromagnetic radiation. These scientists have urged the EU to follow Resolution 1815 of the Council of Europe, asking for an independent task force to reassess the health effects. This appeal has stated,
“We, the undersigned scientists, recommend 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 by scientists independent from industry. 5G will substantially increase exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) on top of the 2G, 3G, 4G, WiFi etc. for telecommunications already in place. RF-EMF has been proven to be harmful for humans and the environment.”
One of the initiators of this appeal is Prof. Dr. L. Hardell, Professor of Oncology at Orebro University in Sweden. He has stated: “The fifth generation (5G) of radio frequency radiation is now being developed. This is done without dosimetric determination or study of the possible health effects. The media praise in particular all the possibilities that this technology promises to offer, such as the self-propelled car and Internet of Things (IoT). The consequences for the health of humans, plants and animals are not discussed at all. Politicians, governments and the media are responsible for unbalanced information. Ordinary people are not informed of conflicting opinions about this technological development. Health effects from radio frequency radiation are a non issue in the media…”
In fact several scientists had started protesting against 5G at a very early stage of the technology. Another Appeal by concerned senior persons including senior scientists ( International Appeal –IA Appeal —Stop 5G on Earth and in Space) has documented early warnings,” Even before 5G was proposed, dozens of petitions and appeals by international scientists, including the Freiburger Appeal signed by over 3,000 physicians, called for a halt to the expansion of wireless technology and a moratorium on new base stations.”
In 2015, 215 scientists from 41 countries communicated their alarm to the United Nations (UN) and World Health Organization (WHO). They stated that “numerous recent scientific publications have shown that EMF [electromagnetic fields] affects living organisms at levels well below most international and national guidelines”. More than 10,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies demonstrate harm to human health from RF radiation.Effects include:
Alteration of heart rhythm, Altered gene expression, Altered metabolism, Altered stem cell development, Cancers, Cardiovascular disease, Cognitive impairment, DNA damage, Impacts on general well-being, Increased free radicals, Learning and memory deficits, Impaired sperm function and quality, Miscarriage, Neurological damage, Obesity and diabetes and Oxidative stress.
Effects in children include autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and asthma.
Damage is certainly not confined to human beings, as there is abundant evidence of harm to diverse plant- and wildlife and laboratory animals, including ants, Birds, Forests, Frogs, Fruit flies, Honey bees, Insects ,Mammals, Mice, Plants Rats, Trees.
References of research papers which pointed towards these various health problems and harm to various health forms have been provided in the original appeal documents.The IA Appeal has recommended, “’Immediate measures must be taken to protect humanity and the environment, in accordance with ethical imperatives and international agreements” keeping in view the fact that 5G will result in a massive increase in inescapable, involuntary exposure to wireless radiation
Further this appeal points out that in order to transmit the enormous amounts of data required for the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G technology, when fully deployed, will use millimetre waves, which are poorly transmitted through solid material. This will require every carrier to install base stations every 100 metres in every urban area in the world. Unlike previous generations of wireless technology, in which a single antenna broadcasts over a wide area, 5G base stations and 5G devices will have multiple antennas arranged in “phased arrays” that work together to emit focused, steerable, laser-like beams that track each other.
The IA appeal states that each 5G phone will contain dozens of tiny antennas, all working together to track and aim a narrowly focused beam at the nearest cell tower. The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted rules permitting the effective power of those beams to be as much as 20 watts, ten times more powerful than the levels permitted for current phones. Each 5G base station, the appeal states, will contain hundreds or thousands of antennas aiming multiple laser-like beams simultaneously at all cell phones and user devices in its service area. This technology is called “multiple input multiple output” or MIMO. FCC rules permit the effective radiated power of a 5G base station’s beams to be as much as 30,000 watts per 100 MHz of spectrum, or equivalently 300,000 watts per GHz of spectrum, tens to hundreds of times more powerful than the levels permitted for current base stations.
In addition the IA appeal draws attention to high hazards of space based 5G. The appeal documents says that at least five companies are proposing to provide 5G from space from a combined 20,000 satellites in low- and medium-Earth orbit that will blanket the Earth with powerful, focused, steerable beams. Each satellite will emit millimetre waves with an effective radiated power of up to 5 million watts from thousands of antennas arranged in a phased array. Although the energy reaching the ground from satellites will be less than that from ground-based antennas, it will irradiate areas of the Earth not reached by other transmitters and will be additional to ground-based 5G transmissions from billions of IoT objects. Even more importantly, the satellites will be located in the Earth’s magnetosphere, which exerts a significant influence over the electrical properties of the atmosphere. As the IA appeal emphasizes,”the alteration of the Earth’s electromagnetic environment may be an even greater threat to life than the radiation from ground-based antennas.”
Questioning the entire decision-taking process this document states, “Stakeholders thus far in the development of 5G have been industry and governments, while renowned international EMF scientists who have documented biological effects on humans, animals, insects and plants, and alarming effects on health and the environment in thousands of peer-reviewed studies have been excluded. The reason for the current inadequate safety guidelines is that conflicts of interest of standard-setting bodies due to their relationships with telecommunications or electric companies undermine the impartiality that should govern the regulation of Public Exposure Standards for non-ionizing radiation”.
The IA appeal regrets that “in their haste to implement 5G and to encourage the unconstrained use of outer space, the European Union, United States and national governments worldwide are taking steps to ensure a “barrier-free” regulatory environment.] They are prohibiting local authorities from enforcing environmental laws, and “in the interest of speedy and cost-effective deployment”, removing “unnecessary burdens… such as local planning procedures [and] the variety of specific limits on electromagnetic field (EMF) emissions and of the methods required to aggregate them”.
This appeal expresses serious concern that governments are also enacting laws to make wireless facilities a permitted use in all public rights-of-way. To date, most wireless facilities have been located on private property at some distance from homes and businesses. “In order for them to be spaced less than 100 metres apart as required by 5G, however, they will now be located on the sidewalk directly in front of homes and businesses and close above the heads of pedestrians, including mothers with babies.” Finally the IA Appeal has made the following recommendations to the United Nations, WHO and all governments—
(a) To take immediate measures to halt the deployment of 5G on Earth and in space in order to protect all humankind, especially the unborn, infants, children, adolescents and pregnant women, as well as the environment;
(b) To follow the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and Council of Europe Resolution 1815 by informing citizens, including teachers and physicians, about the health risks (to adults and children) from RF radiation, and why they should and how they can avoid wireless communication and base stations, particularly in or near day-care centres, schools, hospitals, homes and workplaces;
(c)To favour and implement wired telecommunications instead of wireless;
(d) To prohibit the wireless/telecommunications industry through its lobbying organizations from persuading officials to make decisions permitting further expansion of RF radiation, including ground- and space-based 5G;
(e) To appoint immediately—without industry influence—international groups of independent, truly impartial EMF and health scientists with no conflicts of interest, for the purpose of establishing new international safety standards for RF radiation that are not based only on power levels, that consider cumulative exposure, and that protect against all health and environmental effects, not just thermal effects and not just effects on humans;
(f) To appoint immediately—without industry influence—international groups of scientists with expertise in EMFs, health, biology and atmospheric physics, for the purpose of developing a comprehensive regulatory framework that will ensure that the uses of outer space are safe for humans and the environment, taking into account RF radiation, rocket exhaust gases, black soot, and space debris and their impacts on ozone, global warming, the atmosphere and the preservation of life on Earth. Not only ground-based but also space-based technology must be sustainable for adults and children, animals and plants.
Bharat Dogra is a freelance journalist who has been involved with several social movements and initiatives. His recent book on survival issues and people’s response titled Planet in Peril has been published by Vitasta, Delhi.