5G—Don’t Worry About It
Roopinder Tara posted on October 31, 2019 |
5G networks could tie us all together and connect all our devices. However, fear and uncertainty spread by its detractors has spread and is preventing its adoption in the U.S. and Europe.
5G networks could tie us all together and connect all our devices. However, fear and uncertainty spread by its detractors has spread and is preventing its adoption in the U.S. and Europe.

You might have heard all the reports of 5G networks causing brain cancer, infertility, autism and more. Should you be worried? Not really, say almost all reputable experts.

It looks as if we may have been the victims of widespread medical and scientific misinformation about 5G.According to the New York Times, the fear of 5G, or 5th generation broadband networks, has been stoked by RT America, a Russian television network that transmits just blocks away from the White House. RAND Corporation calls RT America a “Firehose of Falsehood.” While RT America was telling stories about the dangers of 5G, Russian leaders were welcoming 5G in Russia, where it is being used to treat wounds and skin cancers. You can get 5G radiation for skin regeneration in Moscow salons.

Way behind the U.S. and China in technology and sensing that 5G would only give China and the West further economic advantage, the Russians may have seized on an opportunity to spread misinformation on the technology to slow down the implementation of 5G technology abroad. While difficult to carry out in China with its state-controlled media, Russia’s misinformation campaign has proven all too easy in Western countries. Free speech and very active anti-technology factions don’t seem to tire of the theme of profiteering companies that don’t give a damn about public safety.

Where 5G fits in the electromagnetic radiation spectrum. (Image courtesy of SCAMP/Imperial College London/EBU.)
Where 5G fits in the electromagnetic radiation spectrum. (Image courtesy of SCAMP/Imperial College London/EBU.)

But these claims are entirely false, say almost all experts. In one case, RT America insisted that the higher the frequency, the more dangerous the radiation. 5G networks are built on higher frequencies than 4G ones. Higher frequencies carry more information. Higher frequencies are not in of themselves dangerous until you reach the UV range on the electromagnetic spectrum, which starts deionizing, and continues to X-ray and gamma ray range.

The article reveals how RT America has amplified the messages of a few 5G detractors, reporting on their dubious and often discredited research as well as offers its stories about the dangers of 5G to U.S. media outlets that run them as their own, with no mention of the source.

Hitting Home

Protests have erupted like little wildfires across the U.S., including in the author’s hometown in Marin County, just north of San Francisco. While the residents have not marched down to the local Verizon and AT&T stores with lit torches brandishing pitchforks, they have been quite vocal and successful in delaying or shutting down 5G implementation.

Anti-5G sentiment across the nation cites unproven or debunked pseudoscientific theories and health risks that haven’t materialized, sowing the seeds of doubt and creating hysteria. Faced with a concerned public, who can fault local government that takes a path of least resistance, errs on the side of caution, and puts the issue off while they “study the situation.”

How Did This Happen?

The roots of the anti-5G movement, which RT America promotes, are a few isolated “experts” who cling to each other when the rest of the scientific and medical community has looked for problems, found none, and moved on, according to “The 5G Health Hazard That Isn’t,” also in the New York Times.

In 1978, investigative journalist Paul Brodeur published The Zapping of America. The book set off alarms but presented no real evidence of the maliciousness of wireless communication.

Dr.David Carpenter, a scientist and Harvard medical school grad, made a connection between high voltage lines and leukemia in his 1989 book Currents of Death.

Bill P. Curry, a physicist with no biological or medical expertise, suggested in 2000 that radio waves at higher frequencies cause brain cancer. However, most experts on the biological effects of radiation believe radiation becomes safer at higher frequencies (until the X-ray band). Curry bombarded and damaged organ tissue in samples with high frequency radiation. However, our organs are protected by skin. None of that radiation will reach our brains.

Nevertheless, Dr. Carpenter used Curry’s suggestion of brain cancer from high frequencies in a civil trial against Portland, Oreg. public schools, brought on by a worried parent, to disassemble the school’s wireless network. The suit was dismissed, but the brain cancer claims were introduced again in a fight against cell phones, where now the radiation was much closer to the brain. Carpenter’s 1,400-page report damns 4G networks. It was discredited by a consensus of knowledgeable scientists. Carpenter kept up his resistance, and after he became editor in chief of an environmental health magazine, he published a series of articles about the danger of higher frequencies. Carpenter gave an interview to RT America, which gladly broadcast his warning.

But after brain cancer rates stayed flat, even after cell phone use took off, Carpenter was forced to concede that cell phone radiation may not be able to penetrate skin and skull to reach the brain, much less damage it.

Is It Safe?

5G signals will require more towers than those used for earlier networks because they don’t travel as far as 3G and 4G signals. It’s the same reason the signals have more trouble penetrating objects such as skin—that’s how it works when you have higher frequencies.

Many types of radiation can cause damage with high energy, just as many substances can poison with high dosage. Consider the legend[i] of microwaves, their cooking potential discovered after a chocolate bar melted in the back pocket of an engineer near a device emitting radiation in the microwave range. Science has not completely exonerated 5G from any form of damage in any situation. At high enough powers and in close enough proximities, a 5G signal could melt a chocolate bar, if not worse. However, given enough distance, with power diminishing by an inverse square of distance, a safe distance should be easily established and cordoned off, keeping the public safe.

For technological advancement, 5G is a highly desirable enabling technology. Its delay further postpones other emerging technologies such as autonomous vehicles, IoT, digital twins, AR/VR and smart cites, to name a few. Vehicle-to-vehicle communication cannot be practical with 5G, for example. Wearable devices will soon saturate the existing 4G network. AR and VR headsets may take off if they could be untethered from their computers with 5G.

In short, communication between us all and our devices in an increasing connected modern world makes adoption of 5G a technical imperative.



1.      Edward Percy, a non-degreed engineer for Raytheon, discovered that a peanut cluster melted in his back pocket near a military grade magnetron in 1946. Chocolate has a melting point of about 80°F. Every child discovers that it melts in their back pocket all on its own.


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