5G confusion - clarification one step at a time
What a polarising topic 5G has become. This is unsurprising since the information we hear varies greatly from government, telcos, and scientists (industry-funded and independent), through to conspiracy theorists.
Today, I will address just one recent statement from our Ministry of Health: “exposures to 5G signals are similar to, or lower than, those from existing cellsites, and (are) small fractions of the public limit in the standard”.
The statement is misleading, and the topic is complex. Let me explain. The last part of the MoH statement claims that measured 5G exposures “[are] small fractions of the public limit in the standard [2772.1-1999].” This assumes the standard provides safety. Actually, it only seeks “minimal levels of radio-frequency absorption” and to minimise the chance of burns and shocks over short periods.
It clearly does not minimise absorption as a more stringent standard would reduce the permitted maximum. Preventing burns/shocks is insufficient to assure health is intact. Many biological effects occur from “small fractions of the public limit”. Some of these are known precursors to serious diseases.
Now to 5G. Once fully functioning, 5G signals will be different from 2G, 3G and 4G transmissions in key ways. Currently these differences may not apply. Here are some key differences:
1. 5G will transmit power in narrow, high-power beams. Our exposure standard evaluates average exposures. The average may be lower than 2G/3G/4G because the 5G component will only transmit when being used. But during use, the energy in the beams will be high. The beams will interact with people/animals/trees. This is the first time these beams have been intended for public devices used against the body. Increased use, even 5G device ownership, will mean increased exposure.
How energy is delivered makes a difference. For instance, if the energy used in patting a baby to sleep over 30 minutes were delivered in one blow, the outcome could be ghastly. In this analogy, the sustained patting represents averaged radio-frequency exposure; the one blow represents the focused beam.
2. If a transmitting phone is used/stored against the head or body, research indicates that permitted 5G exposures could cause burns. Although the Resource Management Act regulations do not permit exceeding public limits, it seems exposure could cause burns within those limits. This, and other research, demonstrates there are RMA “effects” from phone exposures, so the RMA is not in line with the exposure standard.
3. The user will be exposed to 5G beams when the phone is receiving and sending information. Current phones increase exposure only when sending.
4. Private phones may be used to support telco infrastructure to re-direct others' wireless traffic when there are insufficient public transmitters, further increasing personal exposures.
5. Most 5G energy is expected to be absorbed in the top layers of the skin, deep enough to impact on peripheral blood vessels. This does not seem to have been tested or considered.
Recently, I attended a hearing of Parliament's Regulations Review Committee as an expert witness for the NZ Outdoors Party. It had brought a complaint relevant to 5G and our exposure standard. Subsequently, I submitted supplementary evidence responding to the main question the committee had asked to be addressed. Briefly, this was whether NZ's radio-frequency exposure standard complies with the Resource Management Act 1991. There is strong evidence that it does not.
Additionally, our standard which is based on the 1998 ICNIRP Guidelines is not suitable for fully-functional 5G, and the revised ICNIRP Guidelines may also not be intrinsically safe. For instance, they allow 5C increases in temperature in some organs, including the cornea of the eye, but this is a topic for another article.
■ Mary Redmayne is an adjunct research fellow at Victoria University of Wellington. She is an independent researcher, consultant and educator in environmental health (transmitting technology).
Mary adds: I do not and have not received any funding from the telco industry nor from the NZ Outdoors Party, nor, currently, from the universities with which I am affiliated. My supplementary evidence can be read here, along with my credentials:
The hearing can be viewed here https://vimeo.com/event/86156/videos/425380738
■ See also the letter by Susan Pockett (MSc, PhD) and Robin Kelly (FRNZCGP). and the MoH response, here.