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Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

5G Technology: Are The Rumours True?

The latest round of supercharged wireless technology, known as 5G, has not yet been implemented in most parts of the world, but already there the media is saturated with reports of the adverse effects it will supposedly have upon human health.

Many in the scientific and medical community worry that the greatly increased volume of microwaves 5G will emit will cause a number of illnesses, including those of a carcinogenic nature. Public concerns are halting the rollout of 5G worldwide, with a number of U.S. states having slowed or stopped 5G installation due to fears of its potential impact upon human health (and property prices) but the U.S. isn’t alone in its rationale. In Brussels last month, the government stopped a 5G test because it was unable to properly measure radiation emissions, and Mill Valley, California, last year actually banned 5G wireless cells altogether. 

Their reasoning?

The word of one scientist and his inaccurate chart. 

Back in 2010, physician and physicist Dr Bill Curry produced a report for a local school that detailed how the radio waves a nearby tower emitted could cause brain cancer in students. His report, inclusive of a large graph entitled  “Microwave Absorption in Brain Tissue (Grey Matter)” revealed the dose of radiation received by the brain together with the increasing frequency of wireless signals. This graph spread far and wide, and eventually to be known by doctors, scientists and governments worldwide. However, long after the graph made its first rounds in the scientific community, it has been found to be entirely incorrect.

According to experts on the biological effects of electromagnetic radiation, radio waves actually become safer at higher frequencies, a fact that completely upends Dr Curry’s claims. It appears Dr Curry also failed to take into account the protective shield provided by human skin, and as a result, a false scientific assumption was spread. 

The negative association society has naturally come to harbour about 5G is thus premised on incorrect findings, leaving a lot of room for interpretation about whether or not the technology truly does pose a health risk to society. 

To date, there have been no conclusive findings that support either argument.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made no conclusion as to the health effects of 5G, reporting on its website simply that:

“Studies have shown that some workers exposed to high magnetic fields have increased cancer rates… But such associations do not necessarily show that [electromagnetic field] exposures cause cancer … . Scientists have looked carefully at all the … evidence, but they disagree about the health effects … except to say that better information is needed.”

The world’s leading authority on health, the World Health Organisation (WHO), likens the potential health impact of 5G to that of other “possibly carcinogenic substances” including coffee and pickles -  if radio-frequency emissions have any effect on humans at all, that is. Officially, the WHO’s stance is: “To date, no adverse health effects from low level, long term exposure to radiofrequency or power frequency fields have been confirmed, but scientists are actively continuing to research this area.” The WHO bases its conclusions on the findings of a working group of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which in 2011 met to assess the risk of developing cancer as a result of exposure to RF-EMFs. Their findings, which were published in The Lancet Oncology concluded that there “a causal interpretation between mobile phone RF-EMF exposure and glioma is possible” and classified RF-EMFs as “possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B).”

Most parties are in agreeance that more research needs to be done, and that the findings up until now are largely inconclusive. But a growing number of scientists ‘in the know’ have come out to say that scientifically, no further study needs to be done: it is impossible for 5G’s electromagnetic radiation to have a more damaging impact than the sun – and humans go outside each and every day, do they not? 

Australia’s Dr Karl Kruszelnicki describes the negative claims about 5G as “not plausible” and most of them as “downright far-fetched”. Why? Dr Karl says that the energy from visible light, AM and FM radio, TV, microwaves, mobile phones and power lines is quite simply too low to damage atoms. According to the well-informed scientific figure, the major source of the disinformation being spread about the 5G network is Russian TV network Russia Today (RT), which claims the 5G network poses risks to society including “brain cancer, infertility, autism, heart tumours and Alzheimer’s disease”. There is, however, no scientific proof to their claims.

So where does that leave us in respect to 5G? Shun 5G for fear of it “possibly” posing a danger to our health, despite it being likely less dangerous than the sun, and alcohol, and slot machines? It seems hypocritical, does it not? Then again, perhaps it might be worth waiting until a few more studies have been conducted before running off to sell your iPhone in anticipation of the newer 5G model.

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