5G delivers myriad advancements in network capability and performance, but what are its health risks?
Is 5G really safe? My research for this article has been personal. For some time I have been a proponent of robust IoT ecosystems to business-enable these technologies. IoT Security, IPv6, and 5G are all critically important to business-enabled IoT platforms. These components are key to delivering scalable systems that operate with integrity.
I could not in good conscience promote or even take a passive stance on a technology that would leave collateral damage to children, elderly, or the otherwise vulnerable. I had to learn for myself if there is any legitimacy to the steady drumbeat of 5G health risks.
Right now, every technology company is in a mad dash to benefit or profit from 5G. The Chinese have even bet their future on it with 5G as a primary focus of their hacking, spy, and political influence machines. The question is that, with all the rage, are we letting the 5G excitement distract us from the possible health risks?
Cellular and wifi technologies operate on the 2.4 and 5 Gigahertz (GHz) Ultra High Frequency, or UHF, spectrum. 5G operates at the 30 to 300 GHz frequency range known as Extremely High Frequency (EHF). With over 270 GHz of the spectrum, 5G offers more capacity for a greater variety of use-cases than ever before. However, 5G does not have the coverage range of 4G and LTE technologies, and thus, needs more base stations (towers). The additional towers are also necessary to achieve the density needed to support the prolific increase in IoTs.
The anti-wireless community has been raising concerns about the impact of high-frequency radio waves for nearly two decades. In the year 2000, Broward County Florida asked a consulting physicist, Bill P. Curry, to study the impact of wireless technologies on their near 250,000 students. He reported back that wireless technologies “were likely to be a serious health hazard.” The report included a graph that showed a spike in radiation tissue absorption with the increase in frequency. This report has been fodder for alarmists ever since.
Yet for every report, there are multiple experts and reports that contradict Dr. Curry’s assessment. With degrees in Physics and Electrical Engineering, no one questions his understanding of electromagnets and radio waves. However, it is noted that he lacks the biology pedigree to determine the impact of radio waves on human tissue. Christopher Collins, professor of radiology at New York University and an expert who studies the impact of radio and electromagnetic waves on humans, said that the radio waves at these frequencies just “don’t penetrate the body. Dr. Curry failed to consider the shielding effect of the human skin.”
Collins’ stance is backed up by Dr. Marvin Ziskin, an emeritus professor of Medical Physics at Temple University School of Medicine. Dr. Ziskin has spent decades studying the correlation of radio frequencies and human illness and says that his many experiments have shown no association between high-frequency waves and disease. This conclusion is further backed by assistant professor of Neurology at Yale and the editor of Science-Based Medicine, Dr. Steve Novella. Dr. Novella shared that “non-ionizing radiation doesn’t cause DNA damage or tissue damage”.
In fact, their studies show results that are diametrically opposed to Dr. Curry’s report. They claim that with an increase in frequency at the given spectrum, the radio waves are less apt to get past the human skin and penetrate tissue.
In 2011, the World Health Organization classified Radio Frequency (RF) Radiation as a Group 2B Agent or “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” positioning it in the same category as caffeine or meat. So it’s in the pretty much everything causes cancer category.
In the same year, Dr. Curry was backed by Dr. Carpenter, the Director of the Institute for Public Health and the Environment. Dr. Carpenter is best known for his assertions in the 1980s that high voltage power lines cause Leukemia in children, an assertion other researchers have not been able to validate. Dr. Carpenter was an expert witness and made extensive use of Dr. Curry’s microwave absorption graph in his testimonies. He eventually became the Editor-in-Chief for a quarterly environmental publication and has been noted to seek out alarmist authors on the subject.
In 2018, a toxicology study by the US Department of Health delivered mixed results. Male rats exposed to extremely high doses of radio frequencies developed a form of cancerous tumors in their hearts.
The rats were exposed to RF radiation for nine hours per day for two years, including their time in-utero. Interestingly, no impact was detected in the female rats and all of the exposed rats, including the males, lived longer than the control group. One of the study researchers noted that the radiation applied to the rats was magnitudes greater than even the heaviest wireless users.
Despite Dr. Curry and Dr. Carpenter’s opinions being refuted, many web sites and videos have cropped up aggressively raising alarm bells about 5G’s health risks. Oddly enough, these sites are predominantly Russian or Russia-backed. This includes reports by RT News, a propaganda arm of the Russian government.
The Russian meddling machine has been very effective in taking the highly disputed data of a handful of ideologically driven scientists to plant misinformation and generate fear. Given their success with the 2016 elections and the tepid non-response from the US, Russia is emboldened to sow discord and confusion, especially with American critical infrastructure. Russian meddling is not new. In late 2007, when I exposed the Bush Administrations Warrantless wiretapping mechanism to congress, RT was all over me for interviews to “help me get my message out.” I had enough common sense to know that a Kremlin-backed “news” agency did not have any interest in the truth nor the best interest of the US. I never gave them a single interview, despite their aggressive efforts.
Given the legitimate science and research available, there is no conclusive proof that radio waves have any detrimental impact on the human body. However, I would not put those who are concerned about 5G health risks in the same category as tin-hat wearing, flat earth, never landed on the moon, anti-vaccine, climate-hoax crowd. As far as I’m concerned, the most dangerous part of 5G remains in the lack of proper cybersecurity tools and not what the Russians want you to believe.
About Acreto IoT Security
Acreto IoT Security delivers advanced security for IoT Ecosystems, from the cloud. IoTs are slated to grow to 50 Billion by 2021. Acreto’s Ecosystem security protects all Clouds, users, applications, and purpose-built IoTs that are unable to defend themselves in-the-wild. The Acreto platform offers simplicity and agility and is guaranteed to protect IoTs for their entire 8-20 year lifespan. The company is founded and led by an experienced management team, with multiple successful cloud security innovations. Learn more by visiting Acreto IoT Security on the web at acreto.io or on Twitter @acretoio.