5G Radiation The Fear of Cancer – There are two types of radiation: ionizing and non-ionizing. Ultra-high-frequency ionizing radiation — which includes gamma-rays, UV rays from the sun and X-rays — is harmful to humans because it penetrates the body at the cellular level and causes electrons and atoms to break apart. Ionizing radiation can cause cancer, which is why you’re supposed to wear sunscreen outdoors and avoid unnecessary medical X-rays.
Non-ionizing radiation does not cause cancer, and runs the gamut from FM radio waves to visible light. In between the two is 5G, which operates at a slightly higher frequency than 3G and 4G.
The FCC requires all electronic equipment sold in the U.S. to meet the agency’s safety standards for acceptable radio-frequency (RF) energy by determining the device’s specific absorption rate (SAR), or the rate by which the body absorbs RF energy. The FCC recently reevaluated its standards, which were created in 1996, when determining the safety of 5G. The recommended RF exposure limits remain unchanged.
“The scientific consensus is that there are no known health risks from all forms of RF energy at the low levels approved for everyday consumer use,” a spokesperson for CTIA, a trade group for the wireless communications industry, said in an emailed statement. “The FCC regulates RF emissions, including millimeter waves from 5G devices and equipment, and has adopted the recommendations of expert scientific organizations that have reviewed the science, including dozens of studies focused specifically on millimeter waves, and established safe exposure levels.”
What’s driving the fear of 5G?
There are a few factors contributing to the concern or outright fear of 5G’s effects. The first is scientific research that has been interpreted by some to support concern about cellphone radiation.
For instance, a 2018 study released by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) found that when rats and mice were exposed to radio-frequency waves like the kind that emanate from cellphones, they developed malignant tumors.
This particular study looked at 2G and 3G phones. However, that doesn’t mean 5G will cause cancerous tumors in humans. Skeptics, like the University of California, Berkeley’s Joel Moskowitz, are calling for a halt to 5G’s rollout.
“The exposures used in the studies cannot be compared directly to the exposure that humans experience when using a cellphone,” John Bucher, a senior scientist for the NTP, said when announcing the findings.
“In our studies, rats and mice received radio-frequency radiation across their whole bodies. By contrast, people are mostly exposed in specific local tissues close to where they hold the phone. In addition, the exposure levels and durations in our studies were greater than what people experience.”
The NTP has said it plans to develop thorough studies to evaluate the safety of 5G.
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has categorized RF waves from cellphones as a possible carcinogen, which is another factor contributing to the concerns over 5G.
But, for context, an ingredient in coffee is also considered a possible carcinogen. Red meat is categorized as a probable carcinogen, which means it has a stronger link to cancer than cellphones do.
The New York Times reported earlier this year that one of the primary 5G fearmongers is Russian propaganda spreading on YouTube, Facebook and blogs across the internet. Videos and news articles filled with misinformation are scaring U.S. consumers even as Russia proceeds with its own 5G plans.
Local governments & 5G development?
Prior to the FCC’s 5G safety determination, city and state regulators were hearing from residents who were concerned that not enough was known about 5G. Specifically, people are concerned that the density of small cell sites required to build out mmWave-based 5G networks would emit dangerous amounts of radiation.
The FCC’s 5G FAST Plan, which requires municipalities to approve 5G cell sites within 60 to 90 days, has caused concern. Carriers are moving quickly to build out infrastructure without giving residents notice, The Wall Street Journal reported, and local legislators are pushing back.
Some 90 cities and counties have filed suit against the FCC in a case currently pending in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Homeowners may not want new antennas outside their homes for aesthetic reasons, or because they want advance notice when changes occur in their communities, but the FCC, industry trade groups and many scientists maintain there is no proven health risk.
“Typical exposure to 5G devices — such as small cells attached to phone poles or the sides of buildings — is far below the permissible levels and comparable to Bluetooth devices and baby monitors,” the CTIA spokesperson said. “The FCC continues to monitor the science to ensure that its regulations are protective of public health.”
Or, as NYU’s Chris Collins put it:
“One thing that we know can cause cancer is sunlight. People would generally do better to worry about that than the exposure levels we’re talking about with cellphones. If you’re more concerned about the base station on your building than you are [about] spending an hour in the noonday sun without any protection, you might want to think about your priorities.”