Tuesday, August 18, 2020

“Not enough research on 5G, “ they say

Is it true that 5G is the big unknown? That there is no research we can build our risk assessment on? That we are facing a completely new type of technology never seen or heard of before? The short answer: no, it’s not true. We have a wealth of research we can build on. In the following a short overview. 


Of course, there is always room for more research and as our knowledge evolves, we come up with more refined approaches in exploring any given subject. In regard to 5G though, we do already know a lot. We have used the frequency ranges the new technology will use for a long time and know how they interact with the human body. And whilst 5G is starting to be  rolled out, the research efforts also continue. 


Research up to now 


Initially, 5G will use parts of the radiofrequency spectrum that has already been used for  other applications (e.g. the 700 MHz band and the 3.4-3.8 GHz band were used earlier for terrestrial broadcasting in different countries). 


Therefore, rather than starting anew, we have more than 60 years of research upon which to rely on. Starting back in the 1950’s with studies into military radar, TV and radio we now have more than 28,000 published scientific articles on the biological and health effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF). These include 2,500 studies on mobile communications.[1]


Among these 2,500 studies, about 350 studies look at higher frequency bands in the range of 24 GHz, often called mmWaves[2], which is another part of the radiofrequency spectrum that 5G is going to be using.


In regard to radiofrequencies and technological use of it, the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated: 
“In the area of biological effects and medical applications of non-ionizing radiation approximately 25,000 articles have been published… Despite the feeling of some people that more research needs to be done, scientific knowledge in this area is now more extensive than for most chemicals.” [3]


Also, as the the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) has stated recently[4] it “is important to note that higher frequencies does not mean higher or more intense exposure. Higher frequency radio waves are already used in security screening units at airports, police radar guns to check speed, remote sensors and in medicine and these uses have been thoroughly tested and found to have no negative impacts on human health".



As an international association of the wireless industry, the Mobile & Wireless Forum (MWF) has actively contributed to this research effort since its creation in 1998. A summary of these research activities can be found in the 2019 publication ’20 Years of Research’. The booklet gives a glimpse at the intensive ongoing research in this area and shows that the mobile and wireless industry continues to build on the solid foundation of scientific knowledge built over decades. 





MWF’s “20 Years of Research’ booklet: 




[2] Although strictly speaking mmWaves begin at 30GHz. 

[3] WHO “What are Electromagnetic Fields” Key Point 6: https://www.who.int/peh-emf/about/WhatisEMF/en/index1.html