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5G confusion - clarification one step at a time

Opinion Piece

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.

Mary Redmayne

  1. Tom Whitney, Ontario, Canada says:

    Mary is a scaremongering anti-wireless activist spreading misinformation!

    Consult MoH, ARPANSA, ICNIRP and WHO for authoritative information on the safety of wireless.

    1. M.M. Glaser, USA says:

      Can you verify that none of the people on those committees… MoH, ARPANSA, ICNIRP, and WHO… have connections to the wireless industry – as consultants, researchers funded by industry, expert witnesses on behalf of the industry, or anything else? I doubt it. I seriously doubt it. They are a hall of mirrors that merely echo the industry PR. If you don’t know that already, then you might consider looking into it and studying the history.

      1. Tom Whitney says:

        As you know, it is not possible to prove the absence of something that does not exist. So, I cannot cannot verify the non-existence of anything.

        Can you provide documentary proof the existence of the conflict of interests – or do you just deal in unsubstantiated accusations? The burden of proof rests on the plaintiff!

          1. Tom Whitney, Ontario, Canada says:

            This article simply repeats the accusation – without any substantiation!

            Repeating the claim over and over again is not the same thing as providing rigorous proof. Give me the names, dates, places and details of the conflict of interest and collusion.


        1. Sue Pockett says:

          For everybody’s information, here is Tom Whitney’s Linked-In profile – popped right up when I asked Mr Google about “Tom Whitney Ontario”. I quote:


          May 1963 – Sep 2018 55 years 5 months

          Graduated from the RCAF Radar and Communications School in 1963, and served as a technician in Cold Lake, Alberta and Ottawa. After serving, I worked as a Radio Technician at Motorola and then at General Electric. I later worked in Sales and Marketing at GE and RCA. Next, I had a one year stint as a Communications Advisor for the Ontario Police Commission. My next and last employer was LeBlanc Communications, where I sold towers, antenna products and turn-key telecom site construction services – which transitioned into Project Management. After being down-sized at 59, I worked freelance on several telecom projects as a Site Acquisition Specialist or Project Manager. Now I’m retired!”

          It’s tough being made redundant, Tom. I do feel for you. But maybe you’ve found a new source of income doing this sort of thing? I must admit, I’m a bit surprised you’re this keen to defend the military-industrial complex that treated you so shabbily. But, needs must when the devil drives, I suppose.

  2. Murray May, Canberra says:

    I think Mary’s comments are measured and informed. Anyone who looks into this issue in depth will find that the official sources Tom Whitney names are heavily compromised by industry influence and conflicts of interest. The wireless industry has penetrated far and wide with its lobbying activities. Moreover, the paradigm subscribed to by official bodies is out of date. Much relevant peer-reviewed published research on the adverse effects of EMR is simply ignored.

    1. Tom Whitney says:

      Misinformed activists frequently make the claim that government bodies and independent experts are corrupted by industry influence and conflicts of interest. But, they have yet to provide any credible evidence of this. Perhaps you, Murray May, will provide some examples from your own personal experience, along with some proof. Not rumour, innuendo or anecdotal stories – just actual evidence please!

      1. Adrienne Jeunette, Canada says:

        The problem with the radiofrequency (RF) radiation standards (by ICNIRP, ARPANSA, FCC, or Health Canada) are very simple: they are based on thermal effects only. The assumption is that if human skin is not heated by a certain amount, then the technology is safe. It has been shown that RF radiation can have biological effects at thresholds well below the thermal limits. These effects can be good (RF being used for pain relief and healing) and bad (cancer, DNA damage, neurological issues, fertility problems, etc) but biological effects have been shown undeniably in numerous studies and real life examples. Adequate safety guidelines must therefore consider other effects in addition to heating.

        Moreover, the guidelines are based on acute (immediate) harm. Today, we are bathed in RF radiation 24/7. Should there be different limits for chronic exposure? If something does not burn me immediately, could it harm me after days, years, or decades of exposure?

        The guidelines also do not consider the effects of pulsations and modulation, which have been shown, in addition to frequency, to have a variety of biological effects, where the effects are not necessarily proportional (i.e. higher frequencies are not necessarily more harmful).

        Tom, please get informed on this topic. You are either funded by industry or very ignorant.

        Here are some studies for your review:
        Risks to Health and Well-Being From Radio-Frequency Radiation Emitted by Cell Phones and Other Wireless Devices

        National Toxicology Program (NTP) Carcinogenesis Studies of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Radiation

        Report of final results regarding brain and heart tumors in Sprague-Dawley rats exposed from prenatal life until natural death to mobile phone radiofrequency field

        Electromagnetic Radiation Due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Technologies: How Safe Are We?
        Retracted – we can speculate on reasons why but still available for PDf download

        Our daily exposure to RF radiation has increase by 1000 fold since the 1980s. This alone should have us questioning diseases with environmental factors, such as autism and cancer in children.
        Planetary electromagnetic pollution: it is time to assess its impact

        A link to over 100 studies:

        1. Tom Whitney says:

          Your belief that ICNIRP guidelines only protect against thermal effects is not well founded. The guideline limits protect against ALL adverse health effects caused by RF-EMF exposure. The limits are indeed set to – and measured against – thermal effects. But, this is only because these limits represent the lowest levels of RF-EMF exposure capable of adversely affecting health – according to empirically-driven research. Research has found that RF-EMF exposure can cause biological effects; but biological effects are not the same thing as adverse health effects. This fact is not well understood by misinformed activists, and scientists commenting on topics outside their field of study. Curing ignorance starts at home – check out these websites for authoritative information:





          The international scientific consensus is that there are no known health risks from RF energy at or below the ICNIRP or FCC maximum permitted exposure levels. This includes the expert opinion of the World Health Organization, the American Cancer Society and the Food and Drug Administration. There is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF signals from cellphones, wireless networks, Wi-Fi, etc cause adverse health effects.

      2. Murray May, Canberra says:

        On conflicts of interest, you could start with oncologist Prof. Lennart Hardell’s paper as follows, though I don’t get the feeling you have an open mind.
        World Health Organization, radiofrequency radiation
        and health – a hard nut to crack (Review)
        Lennart Hardell
        Department of Oncology, Faculty of Medicine and Health, Örebro University, SE-701 82 Örebro, Sweden

        1. Tom Whitney says:

          Look into the background of your hero – and find information about the Expert Witness Test in the Newman versus Motorola case back in 2002. See the reasons why the court did not believe Hardell’s (bought) testimony: https://casetext.com/case/newman-v-motorola-inc-dmd-2002
          Could there be a better example of false testimony in exchange for money?

          Still waiting for your proof of conflict of interest claims!

      3. Sue Pockett, Auckland says:

        Dear Tom – Do you regard your own life-time of service to the telecommunications industry, proudly documented by your good self in your Linked-In profile, as evidence of a conflict of interest on your part?

        1. Tom Whitney says:

          Are you the Susan Pockett mentioned in this Retraction Notice?


          Wow! I feel so honoured to be mentioned by a real pseudo-scientist.

          1. Sue Pockett says:

            Yes, I am indeed that Sue Pockett. You will no doubt have observed that this notice gives no reason for the retraction. That’s because I answered the complaints sent to the journal by some anonymous troll to the complete satisfaction of the editors, so when they retracted the paper anyway, they had no reason to give. Guess they just got leaned on by some entity that didn’t like what the paper says. Well, you can understand that — it tells some not very complimentary truths about the 2018 Report to Ministers of the NZ Government, written by … yup, you got it … an anonymous Ministry of Health spokesperson!

            Meanwhile, how about answering my question, Tom? Do you regard the fact that you have spent your life in the service of the radar and telecommunications industries as evidence of a conflict of interest on your part?

          2. Tom Whitney says:

            The reason for the retraction: “The Editorial Board have re-examined the paper post-publication and found that it contains no scientific contribution and that Magnetochemistry is not the appropriate forum for this kind of “opinion” publication. Magnetochemistry is devoted to magnetic studies to which the subject of the paper does not relate.”

            Your polemic against mainstream thinking is a reflection of your ideology rather than a reflection of science. It’s hard to do real science with a $200 RF meter! BTW the answer to your question is NO.

            There is no substantiated evidence of adverse health effects at exposure levels below the ICNIRP/FCC limits & no evidence of a mechanism that would predict adverse health effects from RF-EMF exposures below the ICNIRP/FCC limits.

      4. Philippa Winkler says:

        Please read the report by two members of the European Parliament on ICNIRP, 2020. The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection: Conflicts of interest ,
        corporate capture and the push for 5G
        Klaus Buchner
        Michèle Rivasi

  3. Antoinette Janssen, Norway says:

    In “key differences” there is one missing, and that one is missing mostly in all articles and papers about 5G: it is “Satellites”.
    These satellites are creating, when all are orbited, a very narrow web of radiation around the earth, in the womb of the weather: the ionosphere. See: Starlink https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Starlink_SpaceX_1584_satellites_72_Planes_22each.png
    There is no limit registered by law. This means that all enterprises are allowed to orbit their satellites. In total already about 50.000 are on the list to be orbited. Elon Musk is orbiting his Starlink satellites already from last year, each month. Nobody knows what will happen when these will be turned on.

    1. Tom Whitney, Ontario says:

      All frequencies and orbital positions require the co-ordination and prior approval of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Nobody can just launch whatever they want into space. ITU knows exactly how each new satellite will perform when turned on long before it is launched. The approval process is lengthy and exhaustive. Sometimes it can take years!

  4. Tom Whitney says:

    Following statement excerpted from the EU 5G-faq website (link bellow):

    “EMF exposure from 5G networks, including through the use of new frequency bands, has to remain below the recommended limits, just like 2G, 3G and 4G networks.
    New ICNIRP guidelines have been released in March 2020. ICNIRP announced that their 1998 guidelines are protective for current applications of Radio frequency EMFs, while their new guidelines incorporate also EMF exposure for frequencies above 6 GHz, where future 5G technologies will operate. This will result in reducing the maximum magnitude of localized exposure that a person can receive. Limits for the exposure to EMFs that are currently recommended at international and EU level were classified by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) at the third level in a scale of five levels of risk as ‘possibly carcinogenic’. It puts such exposure in the same ‘possibly carcinogenic’ category as pickled vegetables. This means that it considers it less risky than eating red meat, night shift work or drinking hot coffee, which are at the second level and assessed as ‘probably carcinogenic’, and even less risky than air pollution, wood dust or alcoholic beverages, which, being at the first level, fall into the ‘carcinogenic’ category More information classifications is available on the IARC website.”


    1. Sue Pockett says:


      The IARC report of their meeting in 2011 was finally published in 2013. (IARC (2013) Non-Ionizing Radiation, Part 2: Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields, vol. 102, World Health Organization). It acknowledges that the majority of the Commission wanted a much stronger classification of radiofrequency radiation, but the rules under which the Commission operated were organised so that a minority of members were able to block a stronger classification. The organisers of the meeting (the WHO) deliberately made it impossible to find out which individuals made up the minority that insisted RF be classified at the same level as pickles and being a carpenter, by (a) making all participants in the meeting sign a non-disclosure agreement and (b) not revealing who voted for what. This is exactly the sort of anonymity that prevents exposure of conflicts of interest.

      The reasons given in the Commission’s report for producing such a weak classification were 1. A few mathematical models produced by three physicists with known conflicts of interest (like being married to someone with a CV similar to Tom’s) said it was IMPOSSIBLE for sub-thermal RF to do anything to biology (and good gracious, we all know how reliable mathematical models of complex systems are, don’t we!) 2. The commissioners were blocked from considering any experiments done by exposing animals to real cell-phone radiation (which is pulsed and variable and does show biological effects) and allowed to consider only experiments done by exposing animals to lab-generated, continuous radiation (which is more easily measured, but doesn’t have such biologically-damaging effects) on the ridiculous grounds that the experiments using real-life radiation had “inadequate dosimetry” 3. The report documents relentless nit-picking about all experiments that did show biological damage and failure to do even basic quality checks on industry-funded experiments that didn’t show biological damage … Need I go on?

      It is impossible to give chapter and verse about what payments were made to whom, because these people (like the Ministry of Health spokesperson responding to Robin’s and my original letters) were protected by their anonymity. But the obvious bias inherent in the IARC report is enough to discredit it, irrespective of any hard evidence of corruption. Unfortunately one needs to know at least a little bit about biology in order to be able to read the IARC report critically, though, and your Linked-In profile suggests that you don’t have the necessary background in biology. Therefore, you have not been able to see through the false story put about by your industry masters. I’m sorry to say it, but you have been conned, Tom Whitney.

  5. Sarah says:

    I have contacted Work and Safety to find their guidelines and information on EMF and was told that the word Electro magnetic frequency, or even the letters EMF, do not show on their data base and they could give no information. I wrote concerning this to NZ Health and Safety and received no reply.