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Turns out 5G is safe – yay

Updated guidelines from experts on this sort of thing show that, even at millimetre wave, 5G in its current form poses no additional risk to health.

The International Commission on Non‐Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has updated its guidelines for the protection of humans exposed to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. These aren’t so much specific to 5G technology, but to the fact that, as a result of 5G, we’re going to be zapping higher frequencies radio EMF around the place than we had previously.

An important part of the name of the German organisation, which seems to be lost on some of the more unhinged 5G conspiracy theorists, is the ‘non-ionizing’ part. Radio is at the opposite end of the electromagnetic spectrum (see below, credit: NASA’s Imagine the Universe) to ionizing radiation such as gamma rays. That means it’s not mutagenic and any threat it poses concerns local bodily temperature rises, something that increases as you get closer to microwave frequencies.

“We know parts of the community are concerned about the safety of 5G and we hope the updated guidelines will help put people at ease,” said ICNIRP Chairman, Dr Eric van Rongen. “The guidelines have been developed after a thorough review of all relevant scientific literature, scientific workshops and an extensive public consultation process. They provide protection against all scientifically substantiated adverse health effects due to EMF exposure in the 100 kHz to 300 GHz range.”

The main changes to the organization’s first lot of recommendations on radio for mobile, published in 1998, concern frequencies above 6 GHz. They include: the addition of a restriction for exposure to the whole body; the addition of a restriction for brief (less  than  6 minute) exposures to small regions of the body; and the reduction of the maximum exposure permitted over a small region of the body. You can see then summarised in the table below, which was taken from a video you can view here.

“When we revised the guidelines, we looked at the adequacy of the ones we published in 1998. We found that the previous ones were conservative in most cases, and they’d still  provide  adequate  protection  for  current  technologies,” said Van Rongen. “However, the new guidelines provide better and more detailed exposure guidance in particular for the higher frequency range, above 6 GHz, which is of importance to 5G and future technologies using these higher frequencies. The most important thing for people to remember is that 5G technologies will not be able to cause harm when these new guidelines are adhered to.”

Of course this won’t stop some people hearing the word ‘radiation’ and thinking nuclear fallout or being turned into the Incredible Hulk, but for the rest of us this seems to put the matter to rest. Conflating correlation with causation is a common mistake among paranoid types, which is why some nutters are even trying to draw a line between the coronavirus pandemic and 5G. Ignore them.

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6 comments

  1. Avatar Kari Rastas 14/03/2020 @ 2:45 am

    No mention of the National Toxicity program and the Italian Ramazinni institute studies that linked this pulsed radiation to rare tumours and cancers in rats and mice. Short term effects may not show effects but only over time will we know the full story.

  2. Avatar MMGlaser 14/03/2020 @ 6:08 am

    “They provide protection against all scientifically substantiated adverse health effects,” you say. “Scientifically substantiated”–aka “established”–aka “conclusive”…but no definition of what those words mean, and exactly who makes that determination. How about IARC? How about the peer reviewed NTP study?

    It is rare that officials speaking for the industry say, “…provides protection against all adverse health effects,” and the reason they don’t is that half the research shows bioeffects that could be capable of leading to adverse health effects–in fact, most of the non-industry funded studies do show those bioeffects. If the officials don’t insert those qualifier words, they know they would become particularly liable for any injury to health that should ensue from use of their products. So those are legally important words. The reinsurance industry knows better–that’s why they prefer not to cover the wireless industry for health-related claims.

    As you point out, the radiation from phones, and from 5G signals, is all non-ionizing radiation, not ionizing. True enough. But that proves nothing, because the studies on non-ionizing radiation also show biological effects. You’ve got the PR down, but you don’t know the studies.

    My guess is that you are not aware of what the “established” thermal limits are based on—primarily early animal behavior studies, that is, levels of exposure that caused animals to stop performing in experiments. It had little to do with what was going on under the hood in their physiology. We know a lot more about that now. Not everything, but a lot more. That’s why so many scientists are concerned. Not paranoid. Concerned.

    I don’t have much faith in the “thorough review” you speak of. I’ve asked higher up industry people for the 10 most convincing studies that demonstrate to them that there is no evidence of adverse effects, and they never cite such a list. It’s much easier to be vague about a “weight of evidence” than to actually specify which studies you are including, and consider weighty, and why, and which you are leaving out, and why.

    The bottom line is that, wittingly or not, you are participating in a disinformation tradition that goes back decades. You think you are spreading real information, but what you are spreading is the party line.

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 16/03/2020 @ 9:18 am

      If only I’d had a proper expert like you available when I wrote it. Oh well.

  3. Avatar Vadim 18/03/2020 @ 8:41 am

    Studies on mice and rats are not representative of human body. IARC considered that studies on large mammals like dogs and larger should be basis for human exposure levels. Such studies have been done during cold war era extensively, which gave the basis for ICNIRP. Please stop giving examples on mice and rats as a pretext for radiophobia.

  4. Avatar Paul Chaplin 19/03/2020 @ 5:50 pm

    Scott Bicheno Oh well? Has not China switched off 5G and CV cases dive

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 20/03/2020 @ 10:01 am

      You tell me, boss.

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