From ScienceForSustainability
Jump to navigation Jump to search

There are claims that the "5G" mobile phone network could or would have all sorts of environmental and social effects. Most of these seem to have no scientific basis but to be conspiracy theories, many of which previously circulated around purported dangers of 4G mobile, wifi, smart meters and electrical power lines.[1]

5G Wikipedia article

5G networks are digital cellular networks, in which the service area covered by providers is divided into small geographical areas called cells. Analog signals representing sounds and images are digitized in the phone, converted by an analog to digital converter and transmitted as a stream of bits. All the 5G wireless devices in a cell communicate by radio waves with a local antenna array and low power automated transceiver (transmitter and receiver) in the cell, over frequency channels assigned by the transceiver from a common pool of frequencies, which are reused in geographically separated cells. The local antennas are connected with the telephone network and the Internet by a high bandwidth optical fiber or wireless backhaul connection. Like existing cellphones, when a user crosses from one cell to another, their mobile device is automatically "handed off" seamlessly to the antenna in the new cell.

There are plans to use millimeter waves for 5G. Millimeter waves have shorter range than microwaves, therefore the cells are limited to smaller size; The waves also have trouble passing through building walls. Millimeter wave antennas are smaller than the large antennas used in previous cellular networks. They are only a few inches (several centimeters) long. Another technique used for increasing the data rate is massive MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output). Each cell will have multiple antennas communicating with the wireless device, received by multiple antennas in the device, thus multiple bitstreams of data will be transmitted simultaneously, in parallel. In a technique called beamforming the base station computer will continuously calculate the best route for radio waves to reach each wireless device, and will organize multiple antennas to work together as phased arrays to create beams of millimeter waves to reach the device.

The new 5G wireless devices also have 4G LTE capability, as the new networks use 4G for initially establishing the connection with the cell, as well as in locations where 5G access is not available.

5G can support up to a million devices per square kilometer, while 4G supports only up to 100,000 devices per square kilometer.

Health Risks

Does 5G pose health risks? Reality Check team; BBC News; 15 July 2019

The 5G mobile network has been switched on in some UK cities and has led to questions about whether the new technology poses health risks.

So what are the concerns, and is there any evidence to back them up?

What's different about 5G? As with previous cellular technologies, 5G networks rely on signals carried by radio waves - part of the electromagnetic spectrum - transmitted between an antenna or mast and your phone.

We're surrounded by electromagnetic radiation all the time - from television and radio signals, as well as from a whole range of technologies, including mobile phones, and from natural sources such as sunlight.

5G uses higher frequency waves than earlier mobile networks, allowing more devices to have access to the internet at the same time and at faster speeds.

These waves travel shorter distances through urban spaces, so 5G networks require more transmitter masts than previous technologies, positioned closer to ground level.

How Worried Should You Be About the Health Risks of 5G? DAVE JOHNSON; HowToGeek; 6 Jun 2019

5G, the next generation of cellular technology for the next generation of smartphones, is imminent. And with it, there’s concern about the health risk of this new, more powerful network. How worried should you be about the coming 5G healthpocalypse?

By now, you may have seen articles on Facebook or alternative health websites. The gist: 5G is a dangerous escalation of traditional cellular technology, one packed with higher energy radiation that delivers potential damaging effects on human beings. Some 5G pundits contend that the new network generates radiofrequency radiation that can damage DNA and lead to cancer; cause oxidative damage that can cause premature aging; disrupt cell metabolism; and potentially lead to other diseases through the generation of stress proteins. Some articles cite research studies and opinions by reputable organizations like the World Health Organization.

It sounds worrisome, but let’s take a look at the actual science.

NTP study on rats

Cell Phone Radio Frequency Radiation NTP web page

Cell phones are currently used by 95% of American adults. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nominated radio frequency radiation (RFR) used by cell phones for an NTP study because of widespread public use of cell phones and limited knowledge about potential health effects from long-term exposure.


Methods We exposed groups of 90 male and 90 female mice to 2.5, 5, or 10 W/kg RFR that was modulated in the same manner in which signals are emitted from cell phones and other similar wireless communication devices. Other groups of male and female mice housed in the same type of chamber without any exposure to RFR were used as the controls. Animals were exposed to RFR for approximately 9 hours a day, 7 days per week, for 2 years. Tissues from more than 40 sites were examined for every animal.

Results There were higher rates of survival in males at the low (2.5 W/kg) and mid (5 W/kg) exposures to CDMA- and GSM-modulated RFR, respectively. Body weights in the exposed groups of animals were similar to their controls. In both studies (GSM and CDMA), there were higher incidences of malignant lymphoma in all groups of female mice exposed to RFR compared to controls. However, the incidences in all of the exposed females were within the range historically observed in this strain of mouse in other NTP studies. There were higher incidences of skin and lung tumors in males exposed to the highest two levels of GSM-modulated RFR (5 and 10 W/kg), and of liver tumors at the mid-dose (5 W/kg) of CDMA-modulated RFR.

Conclusions For GSM-modulated RFR, we conclude that exposure to RFR may have caused tumors in the skin and lungs of male mice and malignant lymphomas in female mice. For CDMA-modulated RFR, we conclude that exposure to RFR may have caused tumors in the liver of male mice and malignant lymphomas in female mice.

Report of Partial Findings from the National Toxicology Program Carcinogenesis Studies of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Radiation in Hsd: Sprague Dawley® SD rats (Whole Body Exposures) 19 May 2016

Meteorological sensing

Global 5G wireless networks threaten weather forecasts Alexandra Witze; Nature news; 26 Apr 2019

Next-generation mobile technology could interfere with crucial satellite-based Earth observations. The US government has begun auctioning off blocks of wireless radio frequencies to be used for the next-generation mobile communications network known as 5G. But some of these frequencies lie close to those that satellites use for crucial Earth observations — and meteorologists are worried that 5G transmissions from cellphones and other equipment could interfere with their data collection.

Unless regulators or telecommunications companies take steps to reduce the risk of interference, Earth-observing satellites flying over areas of the United States with 5G wireless coverage won’t be able to detect concentrations of water vapour in the atmosphere accurately. Meteorologists in the United States and other countries rely on those data to feed into their models; without that information, weather forecasts worldwide are likely to suffer.

5G likely to mess with weather forecasts, but FCC auctions spectrum anyway Jon Brodkin; Ars Technica; 4 Apr 2019

FCC auctions 24GHz spectrum despite likely interference with weather satellites. A US Navy memo warns that 5G mobile networks are likely to interfere with weather satellites, and senators are urging the Federal Communications Commission to avoid issuing new spectrum licenses to wireless carriers until changes are made to prevent harms to weather forecasting.

The FCC has already begun an auction of 24GHz spectrum that would be used in 5G networks. But Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) today wrote a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, asking him to avoid issuing licenses to winning bidders "until the FCC approves the passive band protection limits that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) determine are necessary to protect critical satellite‐based measurements of atmospheric water vapor needed to forecast the weather."

Wyden and Cantwell said that the "ongoing sale of wireless airwaves could damage the effectiveness of US weather satellites and harm forecasts and predictions relied on to protect safety, property, and national security." They chided the FCC for beginning the auction "over the objections of NASA, NOAA, and members of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). These entities all argued that out-of-band emissions from future commercial broadband transmissions in the 24GHz band would disrupt the ability to collect water-vapor data measured in a neighboring frequency band (23.6 to 24GHZ) that meteorologists rely on to forecast the weather."

The internal Navy memo on the topic, written on March 27 by Capt. Marc Eckardt, a Naval oceanographer, was made public by Wyden and Cantwell today.

Operational impacts from potential loss of NOAA/NASA METOC satellite data resulting from the FCC spectrum auction for 5G CAPT Marc Eckardt; 27 Mar 2019


  • Remotely sensed observations (water vapor) may be degraded or lost due to growing interference from the broader adoption of 5G; specifically, in the 24 GHz bands.
  • Naval operations will continue but with a probable degradation of weather and ocean models, resulting in increased risk in Safety of Flight and Safety of Navigation, and degraded Battlespace Awareness for tactical / operational advantage.

  1. Bird-killing, cancer-causing 5G is the internet's new favourite conspiracy theory SABRINA WEISS; Wired; 12 June 2019
    Anti-5G activists claim the upgrade to mobile networks will cause cancer, infertility and autism, but there's no proof. And the level of misinformation is growing
    Seven years after the arrival of 4G, EE has finally switched on the UK’s first 5G networks in six UK cities – and more are coming. The upgrade promises much faster data connections but conspiratorially-minded online activists are convinced that the new technology will bring with it something much more sinister than an end to video buffering.
    On social media, forums and online blogs, anti-5G activists are attributing a bewildering range of maladies to 5G, including cancer, infertility, autism and Alzheimer’s. In November 2018, a viral Facebook post blamed a 5G test mast for the mysterious death of 300 birds in the Netherlands (the test actually took place months earlier), while people in anti-5G groups share tips on how to smash down telephone masts. But how did an incremental upgrade in mobile networks turn into the internet’s favourite new conspiracy theory?