Business & Politics

5G – Caveat Emptor? A Look Into The Truth Behind 5G’s Supposed Health Threats

5G tower mast

25th July 2020


5G is the newest addition to the evolution of mobile communication technology and has been made increasingly available to the public since late 2018. Corresponding to global growth in demand for data and new technologies, 5G offers a speedier and better-equipped platform for both industrial and consumer-based telecommunications in the 21st Century. This includes global broadband access, the Internet of Things, faster mobile services, autonomous vehicles, smart homes, and much more.


Not only this, 5G’s implementation promises to generate new revenue for technology companies, and the countries in which it is located. With over 9000 deployments worldwide, the top countries to currently have 5G include China, South Korea, the United States, the United Kingdom, as well as many in the EU including France, Germany, Italy, and Ireland.


Despite the fact it seems to be a natural progression in the saga of wireless technology, 5G has been met with significant public backlash, particularly in terms of the health risks it has been speculated to pose. Some are of the opinion that it can weaken the human immune system due to the height of its frequencies and the radiation it expels. This narrative gained a foothold with the idea that electromagnetic radiation may contribute to one’s likelihood of developing cancer or infertility. Moreover, in light of the current pandemic, this theory has now spun off in the direction of COVID-19.


It has been posited that in destabilising the immune system, 5G either heightens one’s likelihood of contracting the virus or on a more extreme note, directly transmits the virus. In retaliation to these conspiracies, an anarchic trend of sorts has begun as people are now targeting 5G towers, as well as those involved in their assemblance and maintenance. Across Europe alone, arson attacks against masts have occurred in countries including the UK, the Netherlands, and here in Ireland; where telecommunication engineers have been on the receiving end of numerous cases of verbal harassment.


“Despite the fact it seems to be a natural progression in the saga of wireless technology, 5G has been met with significant public backlash, particularly in terms of the health risks it has been speculated to pose.”

However baseless it may seem, speculation of such instances requires an analysis of their rationale. Hence, in this case, a look into the science behind 5G is imperative. All wireless technologies are on the electromagnetic spectrum, and each is classified uniquely by the frequency it uses to communicate over airwaves. 4G’s wavelengths operate at up to 6GHz, whereas 5G could reach anywhere between 30GHz and 300GHz. Evidently, the latter has a far greater bandwidth than the former, and the greater the bandwidth, the easier it is for telecommunication providers to handle more online traffic. What we must ask is whether, having been set to reach up to 100 times faster than 4G, such an increase would have any ‘strings’ attached so-to-speak, in terms of public health risks. The short answer is no. Electromagnetic radiation refers to the speed of radio waves. Once this speed passes a certain point, the radiation emitted becomes dangerous. However, most of the electromagnetic spectrum is non-ionising, meaning it lacks enough energy to interfere with matter, including the immune system.


Take nuclear radiation for example, which may be classified as alpha, beta, or gamma radiation. This has enough energy to interact with particles, so it can be harmful to humans as it can strip electrons from your DNA, therefore affecting your body. 5G’s radiation, on the other hand, is non-ionising, cannot interact with particles, and does not affect your body.


A condensed instance of assurance, what this article is highlighting is the danger of hearsay. Conspiracy theories are often inflated and sensationalist contortions of the truth. Their appeal lies in their shock-value and the elating sense of the ‘there’s something they’re not telling us’ phenomenon. However, they can also be dangerous, and should therefore always be taken with both a grain of salt and a heavy dose of investigative intent.




Featured photo Fabian Horst



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