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How worried you should be about 5G's health risks?

  5G logo over a city at night
areebarbar / Shutterstock.com

5G, the next generation of mobile technology for the next generation of smartphones, is imminent. There is concern about the health risk of this new, more powerful network. How worried should you be about the upcoming 5G health spokalypse?

In the meantime, you may have seen articles on Facebook or alternative health program websites. The essence: 5G is a dangerous escalation of traditional cellular technology that is filled with more energetic radiation and has potential harmful effects on humans. Some 5G experts claim that the new network creates high-frequency radiation that can damage DNA and cause cancer. cause oxidative damage that can cause premature aging; disturb the cell metabolism; and possibly lead to other diseases through the generation of stress proteins. Some articles cite research studies and opinions from respected organizations such as the World Health Organization.

It sounds disturbing, but let's take a look at the current science.

What is 5G?

5G has been hyped for some years, but this is the year in which carriers begin with the introduction of the new wireless standard. AT & T, Verizon and Sprint all started providing their networks in the first half of the year, though widespread availability is still at least a year away. 5G will take root in little more than a handful of cities this year.

This does not prevent equipment manufacturers and service providers from jumping on the 5G train. For example, the new Samsung Galaxy S1

0 and Galaxy Fold (the phone that unfolds into a tablet) are both suitable for the 5G format, along with models from LG, Huawei, Motorola, ZTE and others.

  LG V50 ThinQ 5G
] The LG V50 ThinQ 5G is one of the first available 5G phones. LG

5G provides at least a 10x improvement in network performance. The last major network upgrade was 4G, which debuted in 2009 (the year of the Colorado Balloon Boy Hoax) with a top speed of around 10 Mbps. By comparison, 5G can deliver peak speeds between 10 and 20 Gbps. The network latency will decrease from 30 ms to about 1 ms. Ideal for streaming video games, online video, and the Internet of Things, 5G is designed to connect sensors, computers, and other ultra-low-latency devices.

RELATED: What is 5G and how fast is it?

A Development of Concerns

Before looking at 5G, it should be noted that the latest health concerns about radiation do not occur in a vacuum (there is certainly some physics in it). Concerns about 5G are the recent reiteration of decades of headlines about the dangers of electromagnetic radiation. We've seen controversy about all the health risks from Wi-Fi to smart gauges.

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity, for example, is a hypothetical condition in which certain individuals have debilitating symptoms in the presence of radiation such as cell phones and Wi-Fi. Fi – so yes, Michael McKean's bizarre behavior on "Better Call Saul" is a real thing. Despite claims that people have been struggling with such sensitivities for at least 30 years, systematic scientific research has shown that blinded victims can not tell when they are in the presence of an electromagnetic field, and the World Health Organization now recommends a psychological assessment Affected by the people.

Similarly, decades of studies have found no association between mobile phones and cancers, such as brain tumors, though communities such as San Francisco were not deterred from enacting laws that require the display of radiation emitted by cell phones through stores – which implies, in the opinion of Consumers, risk.

How dangerous is radio frequency radiation?

  5G Mobile Base Station
kriangphrom / Shutterstock.com

The reason for all concerns over mobile networks is radio frequency (RFR) radiation. , RFR is everything that is emitted in the electromagnetic spectrum, from microwaves to X-rays and radio waves to light from your monitor or light from the sun. Obviously, RFR is not inherently dangerous so the problem is discovered under what circumstances it might be.

Scientists say that the main criterion determining whether a particular RFR is dangerous is the question of whether it falls into the environment category of ionizing or non-ionizing radiation. Simply put, any non-ionizing radiation is too weak to break chemical bonds. These include ultraviolet, visible light, infrared, and anything that has a lower frequency, such as radio waves. Everyday technologies such as power lines, FM radio and WLAN fall into this area. (Microwaves are the only exception: they are non-ionizing but capable of damaging tissues, they are precise and intentionally tuned to resonate with water molecules.) Ionize frequencies via UV, such as X-rays and gamma rays.

Dr. Steve Novella, assistant professor of neurology at Yale and publisher of Science-Based Medicine, knows that people are generally worried about radiation. "The term radiation is misleading because people think of nuclear weapons – they think of ionizing radiation that can do absolutely harm. It can kill cells. It can cause DNA mutations. "However, since non-ionizing radiation does not cause DNA damage or tissue damage, Novella believes that most of the RFR concerns about mobile phones are out of place. "For most forms of non-ionizing radiation, no mechanism is known that even has a biological effect," he says.

Or, in the less refined but rather visceral words of the author C. Stuart Hardwick, "Radiation is not magic Death Cooties. "

Studies are not unambiguous

Of course, this does not mean that they are safe or have no effect simply because no mechanism for the biological effect of non-ionizing radiation is known. In fact, researchers continue to conduct studies. A recent study was published by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), an agency of the Ministry of Health and Human Services. In this much-cited study of radio frequency radiation from mobile phones, scientists found that high levels of exposure to 3G RFR resulted in some cases of cancerous heart tumors, brain tumors, and tumors in the adrenal glands of male rats.

The study is a good object lesson on how hard it is to do science like this. RealClearScience has found that the number of tumors detected was so small that they might statistically appear random (more likely, as they were only detected in male subjects). In addition, the level and duration of RFR exposure were well above the actual human exposure and, in fact, the irradiated test rats lived longer than the unexposed control rats. Dr. Novella: "Experienced researchers look at a study like this and say it does not really tell us anything."

Estimating 5Gs risks

Apart from the ongoing studies, 5G is coming, and as mentioned earlier, there are concerns as well in terms of this new technology.

A common 5G complaint is that there will be more of them due to the lower performance of 5G stations. The Environmental Health Trust claims that "5G will require the construction of literally hundreds of thousands of new wireless antennas in neighborhoods and cities. It is estimated that every two to ten households a small cell or transmitter will be set up. "

Dr. Novella said," What they really say is that the dose will be higher. Theoretically, this is a reasonable question. "But skeptics warn you not to associate the question with a mere claim of risk, as Novella explains:" We still talk less about power and frequency than about light. They go into the sun and are bathed in electromagnetic radiation much larger than these 5G cell towers. "

It's easy to find online claims that the higher frequency of 5G alone is a risk RadiationHealthRisks.com notes that" 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G use frequencies between 1 and 5 gigahertz 5G uses one Frequency between 24 and 90 gigahertz "and then asserts:" The higher the frequency, the more dangerous it is to living organisms. "

However, it is claimed that the frequency is higher is more dangerous only – an assertion, and there is little real science behind it.5G does not remain ionizing in nature

  Devices that emit electromagnetic fields at home
elenabsl / Shuttterstock.com

The FCC is responsible for licensing the spectrum for public use Neil Derek Grace, communications officer at the FCC, explains: "5G devices have the signals from commercial radio transmitters everywhere they go r is generally well below the limits for RF exposure. "Health risk assessments that employ a direct but cautious approach to managing risks:" The weight of scientific evidence has not linked mobile phones to any health problem . "

In 2011, the World Health Organization weighed and classified RF radiation as a Group 2B compound, which is defined as" potentially carcinogenic to humans ". This too is nuanced. Novella says, "You have to look at all the other things that you classify as a possible carcinogen. They put it in the same class as things like caffeine. This is such a weak standard that it basically means nothing. It's like saying everything causes cancer. "

Part of the problem of the WHO statement is that it focuses on hazards rather than risks – a subtle distinction that is often missed by non-scientists, much like the strict distinction between" precision ". and "accuracy". (Accuracy refers to how closely your data is grouped; accuracy refers to how close that data is to its actual value.) You may have a dozen mismatched thermometers that all display the wrong temperature with a very high degree of accuracy If the WHO classifies coffee or nickel or pickles as a possible carcinogen, there is a risk, regardless of the real risk. Novella explains: "A loaded pistol is a danger as it can theoretically cause damage. However, if you include it in a safe, the risk is negligible. "

Scientists will continue to test new networks as the technology evolves to ensure that the technology we use every day remains secure. In February, US Senator Richard Blumenthal criticized the FCC and the FDA for insufficient research into the potential risks of 5G. As the NTP study shows, research into radiation risks is difficult and often inconclusive, which means that it can take a long time for real progress to be made.

Everything we know about 5G networks, however, shows that there is no cause for concern. After all, there are many technologies that we use every day at a much higher measurable risk. And as Dr. Novella says, "With 5G, the risk is low – but not zero – and the actual risk seems to be zero. We did not receive any signal in the real world. "

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