Mobile telephone radiation guidelines from 1998 only required minor updates for 5G

Fierce opposition to the deployment of the 5G infrastructure has been popping up all around the world, from California to South Africa to Sweden. Small cell towers, which must be frequently placed, are necessary for 5G deployment, but they are being met with hesitation by residents and tribal and environmental groups who at best, consider the towers an eye sore and at worst, consider them a serious health risk. Last week, however, a panel of international experts announced that, after extensive research, 5G was found to be safe for the public.

The International Commission on Non‐Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), the Germany-based scientific body in charge of setting limits on exposure to radiation, called for new guidelines for mmWave 5G, the first guideline update in more than 20 years.

Those guidelines, however, only required minor updates to make them fit for 5G.

The ICNIRP’s initial set of guidelines for EMF exposure were developed in 1998 for mobile telephones, and according to the commission, the radio frequencies 5G uses today in the UK are similar to those frequencies from the 90’s.

However, as Dr. Jack Rowley, the senior director for research and sustainability at GSMA, pointed out, mmWave 5G, and other broadcast connections above the 6 GHz band, “were not anticipated in 1998.”

Rowley stated, though, that the 1998 radiation limits from mobile telephone frequencies are still protective today, and in reality, during the conventional operation of a mobile network, both the old and new limits are unlikely to be surpassed.

And so, while the commission did rule that some precautions should be taken against 5G frequencies at 6 GHz and above, it also confirmed that the high-frequency 5G used in the U.S. and in Europe still has output levels well below the new maximum described by the updated guidelines.

Dr. Eric van Rongen, ICNIRP Chairman commented, “We know parts of the community are concerned about the safety of 5G and we hope the updated guidelines will help put people at ease.”

He added that the commission thoroughly reviewed “all relevant scientific literature, scientific workshops and an extensive public consultation process” before establishing the new guidelines.

“They provide protection against all scientifically substantiated adverse health effects due to EMF exposure in the 100 kHz to 300 GHz range,” he said.

Confirmation of the safety of 5G might, as Rongen hopes, put some people at ease. However, it will remain to be seen if the new ruling and the overwhelming evidence that 5G, like earlier mobile standards, is safe, will truly put an end to the public’s fears, especially as new claims about 5G causing coronavirus begin to spread.

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