5G network hologram above smartphone

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Scientists blame ‘misinformation’ and ‘activist websites’ for ‘unnecessary public anxiety’ surrounding new WiFi technology.


PHILADELPHIA — There’s no shortage of rumors about the latest generation of wireless networks, better known as 5G. Some of those reports are leaving people unnerved, with claims the signals are extremely bad for your health. A new study is pushing back against those rumors, however, saying many are simply spreading “misinformation.”

Researchers from the Committee on Man and Radiation (COMAR) say the radio waves from a 5G network carry little to no health risks. Although radiofrequency (RF) exposure can heat a person’s tissue with a large enough dose, the study says no one is being exposed to those kinds of levels with 5G or any other wireless signal today.

“[We judge] the likelihood of yet unknown health hazards at exposure levels within current limits to be very low, if they exist at all,” a statement from COMAR says.

The group issuing the report includes doctors, biologists, engineers, and scientists who are all experts on health and safety concerns tied to electromagnetic fields.

What’s so different about 5G?

5G networks are being installed around the world to keep up with the growing demand for wireless service. The new signals can carry more data at much higher speeds than the more common 2G, 3G, and 4G networks.

To do this, 5G uses a greater bandwidth and higher frequency signal which includes the millimeter wave (MMW) band. The networks will also use “beamforming” antennas which focus MMW bands directly at a user’s device. This is different from traditional antennas that broadcast your wireless signal in all directions. Those signals tend to get blocked by objects or often fade over long distances.

Is 5G really causing disease?

The study says the internet has become filled with websites warning about the dangers of MMW; some allegedly making astounding claims about the diseases they may cause.

“This misinformation together with activist websites expressing even more ominous consequences of 5G – ranging from cancer induction to being responsible for the current coronavirus pandemic – has created substantial and unnecessary public anxiety,” says COMAR vice-chairman Jerrold T. Bushberg.

Contrary to those rumors, Bushberg and his team find MMWs do not penetrate deeper than the outer layer of the skin and therefore won’t heat your tissue. COMAR adds these waves are actually less effective at passing through buildings, trees, and your skin compared to lower-frequency signals.

What’s the risk of wireless overexposure?

The study says exposure to radiofrequency waves in public is low. Adding 5G to the mix likely won’t change that. COMAR researchers note that most nations have limits on RF exposure which are far below levels that cause health issues.

“So long as exposures remain below established guidelines, the research results to date do not support a determination that adverse health effects are associated with RF exposures, including those from 5G systems,” the researchers declare.

The committee says more research still needs to be done on the effects of the millimeter wave band. They add more studies have to be conducted on how MMW interacts with human biology. Their current findings were published in the journal Health Physics.

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About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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