5G Vs 4G Radiation Safety

This is a good article from E&T editorial staff. It was published Monday, July 13, 2020. I though I would share!

A new IET report has confirmed that 5G is very similar to existing mobile technologies in terms of radio wave exposure and pulsed signals, and will be held to the same safety standards as 4G, 3G, and the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM).

The next-generation mobile standard is being rolled out across the UK. 5G will support the explosion in data consumption associated with an increasingly-connected world through faster download speeds, greater capacity, and lower latency than previous generations.

A new report published by the IET, Allaying health confirms regarding 5G and exposure to radio waves, has confirmed that 5G communications are just as safe as existing technologies.

5G uses higher-frequency radio waves than earlier standards, but these waves remain within the lowest-frequency section of the electromagnetic spectrum and are non-ionising (not energetic enough to cause cellular damage). The waves used in 5G communications are far less harmful to human health than sunlight.

The report finds that 5G technology is very similar to 4G in terms of radio wave exposure and its pulsed signals are the same as GSM, Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) phones, and a version of 4G. A review of safety standards governing how 5G must be deployed confirmed that there are no exemptions for 5G. This means that operators deploying 5G will have to meet the same safety standards as have been required for 5G, 3G, and GSM. These safety standards incorporate a “substantial margin of safety”.

Ofcom, the UK telecoms regulator, has already carried out independent measurements on some deployed 5G base stations to ensure that they meet safety standards.

The IET explained that reducing exposure to radio waves in the future will require building more many base stations to improve coverage, such that smartphone and base station power levels can be reduced. This would also help preserve battery life.

“Every time a new mast or small cell is added, the distance the signal has to travel reduces,” the report said. “Therefore, from the laws of physics, the power needed at the smartphone and base station for a reliable connection is much less […] more masts or 5G small cells will lead to a reduction in the overall radio wave signal strength an individual smartphone user is exposed to.”

The report acknowledged the difficulty in finding Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) values – a measure of how much energy is absorbed by an exposed human body – on 5G smartphones. However, as the SAR values gathered for a number of commercially-available 5G smartphones were all fully compliant with safety standards, this could be considered a consumer choice issue rather than a safety issue.

The IET recommended that the smartphone industry makes SAR values for handsets more accessible to alleviate concerns among consumers.

During the coronavirus pandemic, misinformation and disinformation associating 5G technology with the pandemic has spread into the mainstream. Research by Ofcom revealed that at least half of Brits have so far been exposed to this family of conspiracy theories. Although it has historical precedent – with previous iterations of wireless communications being accused of causing public health catastrophes – 5G disinformation has largely sprung from conspiracy theorist David Icke, and been shunted into the mainstream through support of celebrities like Novak Djokovic, Jack Cusack, Woody Harrelson, and Amanda Holden.

The report gave consideration to an element of 5G which has sparked some concern: slightly higher-frequency mmWave 5G mobile antennas, which could support much higher data capacities. The report found that these antennas are not currently being deployed in the UK and none are currently planned, due to the very high cost of coverage.

“In recent months, 5G has been subject to an “infodemic” of misinformation and conspiracy theories that has reached such a crescendo – and when this happens, it becomes a real challenge to get to the root of what started it all and separate fact from fiction,” said Professor Will Stewart, who chairs the IET’s Digital Communications Policy Panel. “This IET report aims to separate the hoaxes from sincere concerns expressed that 5G might be harmful and to investigate those concerns.”

“Having done that, we have found 5G to be just as safe as 4G, 3G, and GSM, and hope to have cleared up substantial misunderstandings.”

Image credits: Dreamstime

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