CoViD a hoax? 5G a killer?

Conspiracy theories about 5G networks 

have skyrocketed since COVID-19 … 

The Conversation

The advent of 5G has raised many concerns among people, to the extent that anti-5G movements have emerged in various countries in recent months. Some extreme right-wing groups have even developed conspiracy theories linking 5G to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The false news concerning 5G spread at lightning speed on social networks, relayed by influencers and celebrities and reinforcing the fears of people who were already suspicious of 5G’s potential health effects.

These conspiracy theories argue, for example, that the spread of the virus from the epicentre of the pandemic in Wuhan, China, is linked to the large number of 5G towers in the city. Other theories falsely claim that the waves emitted by the 5G infrastructure would weaken our immune system.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has had to warn the public about misinformation related to 5G telephone networks.

What Is 5G?

The radiofrequency 5G uses is higher than the previous iterations of wireless communication, including 4G and 3G. That’s what sets it apart. But otherwise, he says the technology works the same way, by producing electromagnetic waves for information to be sent and received.

Safety of 5G technology … Statement from Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy:

There is no evidence telecommunication technologies, such as 5G, cause adverse health impacts. This position is supported by health authorities in Australia – such as the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) – and around the world, such as the World Health Organization (WHO).

Mobile phone networks and other wireless telecommunications emit low-powered radio waves also known as radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic energy (EME). This is different to ionising radiation associated with nuclear energy or use in medicine. The radio waves to which the general public is exposed from telecommunications are not hazardous to human health.

However, the WHO together with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified all radio frequency radiation (of which mobile signals are a part) as "possibly carcinogenic". It has been put in this category because "there is evidence that falls short of being conclusive that exposure may cause cancer in humans.” Eating pickled vegetables and using talcum powder are classed in the same category. Alcoholic drinks and processed meat are in a higher category because the evidence is stronger.

5G EMF Waves and Radiation

Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are invisible areas of energy caused by electromagnetic radiation being emitted. There are ionizing and nonionizing EMFs. The latter describes low-level radiation, or emission of energy through space and objects. Sources that transmit these waves include phones, computers, Bluetooth devices, power lines and even microwaves. Meanwhile, ionizing EMFs have much higher radiation, with sources including sunlight and x-rays.

The difference between the two matters greatly in terms of health and safety. “In human tissues, ionizing radiation at high enough doses is associated with an increase in cancer, most often skin cancer from the ultraviolet energy in sunlight.”

5G operates on two frequencies, the highest of which ranges from 24.25 GHz to 52.6 GHz notes Frontiers in Public Health. “It is at those frequencies that the big gains in speed of data transfer are really expected,” says Collins. But he adds that the frequency in which electromagnetic radiation starts to ionize and becomes dangerous is about 3 million GHz, nowhere close to 5G.

Still, you may have heard electromagnetic fields can cause tissue heating, where the skin absorbs electromagnetic energy and elevates body temperature. That much is true. “Electromagnetic radiation in the communications bands is absorbed by tissues in the form of heat,” Collins says, but emphasizes that this occurs at such a low level it may not impact health.

“The electromagnetic radiation is limited to levels that could not cause more than a small fraction of one degree Celsius increase in tissues,” he explains. To put it in perspective, “when you walk outside on a sunny day, you can feel your skin heat up a few degrees very rapidly, and over the course of one day your core body temperature can vary by about one degree Celsius. Also, when you feel your cell phone getting warm, it is because of the electronics in the phone getting hot, not from the wireless radiation to your skin.”

5G Fact vs. Fiction

The World Health Organization (WHO) and FDA declare 5G safe. And, according to Collins, “all wireless communications use nonionizing electromagnetic radiation to transmit energy and information through space without the need for wires.” For 5G, he says, “the electromagnetic waves have a higher frequency, which allows it to carry more information. It also has a smaller wavelength and does not penetrate the body as far as lower-frequency energy.”

Belief: 5G Causes COVID-19 … verdict: Fiction

Claims state 5G weakens the immune system, making it easier to contract COVID-19, or that it directly causes the virus. Simply put, research emphasizes that the belief that 5G causes or can spread COVID-19 isn’t true; neither does 5G cause headaches, migraines or dizziness.

Should we be worried about 5G transmitter masts?

5G technology requires a lot of new base stations - these are the masts that transmit and receive mobile phone signals.  But crucially, because there are more transmitters, each one can run at lower power levels than previous 4G technology, which means that the level of radiation exposure from 5G antennas will be lower. The UK government guidelines on mobile phone base stations says radio frequency fields at places normally accessible to the public are many times below guideline levels.