Dechen Wangdi

06 24, 2023

Is 5G harmful to human health?

On top of high speed mobile network, 5G is also expected to revolutionize and strengthen e-Health such as remote surveillance, telemedicine, telesurgeries etc. However, recently there have been claims of 5G having adverse health-related concerns. According to the WHO, to date, and after much research, no adverse health effects have been causally linked to wireless technologies. Common health-related conclusions are drawn from the studies performed across the entire radio spectrum, but so far, only a few studies have been carried out at the frequencies to be used by 5G.

What is 5G?

5G, or fifth generation, first widely deployed in 2019, is the latest wireless mobile phone technology. 5G is expected to possess speed and performance ten times faster than 4G networks. 5G is not very different from previous networks, such as 3G and 4G. The only difference with 5G is that we would be exposed to something called millimetre waves for the first time.

Millimetre waves

Both mobile phones and telecom antennas emit non-ionising electromagnetic radiation and the same are also emitted by microwave ovens and power lines. On the other hand, ionising radiation includes X-rays and nuclear radiation, which has proven harmful effect on human health. Millimetre waves are also non-ionising radiation, and all that is known is that they don't penetrate the skin like other lower-frequency waves currently being used. More research is needed to find out about millimetre waves, and till then, like all new technology, we can only partially rule out millimeter wave’s adverse effects on human health.

What are the existing effects on health?

Interestingly, studies showing that exposure to electromagnetic radiation can be carcinogenic also put aloe Vera leaves in the same category, and the research place the workers in barber shops exposed to hairdressers' chemicals in a higher risk category. Thousands of scientific research has proven that there are no health risks from exposure to low levels of radio frequency EMF from cell phones, antennas and 5G devices. The only adverse health effects that can occur at levels of EMF higher than permissible are:

  1. Tissue heating, such as skin warming
  2. Nerve stimulation, which can result in a tingling sensation in your skin.

These effects depend on a combination of the following:

  1. The intensity of radiotherapy EMF exposure
  2. How long you are exposed to radiofrequency EMF
  3. The distance of your body from the source of radiofrequency EMF

For instance, the electromagnetic field emitted is much higher by cell phone towers and antennas than by your cell phones. So the exposure to high-level radiation is considerably lower since the locations of the towers and antennas are usually on rooftops and at points far away from a cell phone user. Despite the science that proves that 5G has no harmful effects, for your peace of mind, you can reduce exposure to electromagnetic radiation by:

  1. Texting instead of calling
  2. Using hands-free devices such as Bluetooth headphones
  3. Limiting the length of cellphones calls
  4. Making phone calls from a location with good network connections

So, is 5G harmful to human health? The answer is not entirely a no; researchers say it's complicated. Although many social media claims have pointed to research confirming the harmful effect of 5G on human health, none meet the criteria required to establish the scientific evidence for adverse health effects. The existing studies point to no adverse harmful effects of low-frequency EMF. Since 5G is a new technology, there still needs to be more research to rule out any health concerns completely.

For more information on 5G, check out these sources:

Radiation: 5G mobile networks and health

5G technology, cell phones, cell phone towers and antennas

Is 5G bad for your health? It’s complicated, say researchers


Dechen Wangdi


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