Should Australians Be Worried About 5G Radiation?
Australians are concerned about the 'cost' the 5G network could have on public health -- but is this really something people need to be worried about?
A Change.org petition is calling for the rollout of the 5G network to be postponed and a Senate inquiry to be launched to review the safety of this new mobile phone frequency.
The petition, started by self-described 'truth seeker' and blogger Jessie Reimers, has drawn nearly 45,000 signatures.
Reimers has garnered the attention of social media users by stating that 5G technology could come at a "great cost to public health and safety".
She also asserts that independent tests have not been carried out to assess the health impacts on ourselves "children, animals, the environment and insects".
The petition details the limits of exposure to radio frequency in Australia, noting that it is substantially higher than that of other countries.
The petition also describes studies related to radio frequency and microwave radiation that "show many adverse health effects and health hazards."
So, do Australians really need to be worried about 5G?
Short answer: not really.
5G has basically been designed to accommodate the growth in data demand, so it will be faster, more reliable, and able to host massive machine to machine connections.
It will work in tandem with the old 4G network, providing more cells in the network, including 5G macro cells, which use multiple antennas so they can send and receive data simultaneously.
The range of radio frequencies that 5G use are higher than 4G but not drastically -- the main difference will be a much wider application of these frequencies.
Professor Andrew Wood, a research director from the Australian Centre for Electromagnetic Bioeffects Research (ACEBR) at Swinburne University of Technology, told 10 daily that the 5G network is going to use radio frequencies that are actually already out in the world.
"You wouldn't think there'd be a catastrophic change in the way these radiations interact with people, particularly since these frequencies have been used in things like radar for half a century," Wood said.
Wood also noted that the new phased array of antennae are designed to pinpoint radiation so it may actually decrease the amount of radio frequency absorbed by the human body.
Is radiation from mobile phones harmful?
The Change.org petition discusses the testimony of Doctor Sharon Goldberg whilst speaking at a hearing for 5G in Michigan Senate.
In her statement, Goldberg says that wireless radiation has "biological effects. Period."
"These effects are seen in all life forms; plants, animals, insects, microbes. In humans we have clear evidence of cancer now -- there is no question."
However, the link between radio frequency and cancer is absolutely disputed in the scientific literature and dubbing it an outright carcinogen is misleading.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is directed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) list the electromagnetic fields caused by radio frequency as a 'possibly carcinogenic'.
There are four rankings of carcinogenic status listed by IARC, with 'possibly carcinogenic' being the third ranking down -- for reference, alcohol is listed in the first group: 'carcinogenic to humans'.
Woods admits there have been some "curious results" in laboratory experiments with radio frequency.
U.S. studies conducted over 10 years by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) in rats and mice have found that mice are unaffected and male rats alone appear to develop cancer from radio frequency exposure.
However, Wood believes that the amount of radio frequency the rats were exposed to in these experiments would be unrealistically high if the model was applied to humans.
The ACEBR have even released a position statement relating to the NTP studies stating that the data "does not contain sufficient information to enable adequate review" and outlining a number of methodological issues with the research.
Wood said that the main concern with 5G is likely "just because it's new."
The primary concerns about the development of brain cancer through absorption of radio frequency will, in fact, be less likely with 5G because the waves are a slightly higher frequency than 4G and therefore do not penetrate as far into the human body, Wood said.
"I think it's just that people need some sort of assurance that some sort of due diligence process has been gone through and I think that it just takes a while".