Letter to the editor: 5G needs new safety standards
Posted at 6:00am Thursday 10 Oct, 2019 | By Emma Conyngham firstname.lastname@example.org
No safety studies have been done to date on 5G's new technology so there are many unknowns. The much higher frequency of microwave radiation in a millimeter bandwidth that 5G will eventually use will substantially increase the manmade radiation around us, needing a new infrastructure on top of what already exists. As this smaller bandwidth doesn't travel as far they'll need antenna every 80-100 metres to facilitate it and they need line-of-sight so pesky things like trees will have to go. The need for 20,000 5G satellites in Space to complete the planned Internet of Things means the planet will be blanketed too. Concerns for all life — most worryingly our precious struggling bees — are very real. Health concerns are not new — experts have been urging caution, particularly regarding children, more protective standards and safety guidelines ever since the rollout of the wireless industry. Thanks to our National Environmental Standards for Telecommunications Facilities the Telcos can put antenna wherever they like without consent (unless higher than 10m).
Our RF safety standard is set on outdated, decades-old guidelines from ICNIRP which only tested for heating in the body over six minutes and disregards the thousands of peer-reviewed studies on the biological effect of very low-level (non-thermal) RF, nor does it factor in more vulnerable groups like children or the erratic rapid pulsing of wireless radiation — which is particularly problematic biologically. NZ's maximum exposure limit to RF, like the U.S, is one of the highest in the world.
Professor Petrie brushes off electrohypersensitivity (EHS) as being in people's heads. Clearly he doesn't know anyone who has been diagnosed with it and trying to live comfortably in our electro smog-filled world. Though few countries recognise it officially yet progressive Sweden does and court cases internationally have awarded ‘damages' to EHS sufferers. The WHO recognise electrohypersensitivity as a medical condition*. It's estimated between five and 10 percent currently have EHS but experts say this will rise with 5G rollout. Common symptoms may be brain fog, fatigue, ringing in the ears, headaches and more.
Yes 5G will bring great advancements in technology but should it be confined rather than blanketed over our children? Should we have a safety standard that actually protects us, considers all the available evidence and long-term effects and uses the precautionary principle rather than favouring industry? Surely yes.
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Editor's note: this is incorrect. WHO has stated: “no scientific basis currently exists for a connection between EHS and exposure to EMF.” They are, however, “identifying research needs and co-ordinating a world-wide program of EMF studies to allow a better understanding of any health risk associated with EMF exposure.”
Dr Keith Petrie responds
Unfortunately these days there is a lot of misinformation spread on the internet and Facebook about threats to health from vaccination and other aspects of modern life. 5G is a new example of this. In spite of an enormous increase in the use of cell phones over recent years there has not been an increase in brain cancers as predicted by earlier alarmists about low-level electromagnetic fields.
There has now been a lot of research on exposure to electromagnetic fields and also on people who believe they are sensitive to such exposure. Here is a fact sheet on this prepared by Kings College London for people who want more information: https://kclpure.kcl.ac.uk/portal/files/84100614/IEI_factsheet301111.pdf
It is not correct to say that WHO recognises electromagnetic hypersensitivity as an illness. There have been dozens and dozens of double-blind studies done with people who report electromagnetic sensitivity. These reliably show that they report symptoms when they believe they are exposed but not when they are actually exposed. I suggest discussing this with your GP if you think you have electromagnetic sensitivity.
The bees have more things to worry about than 5G.
Keith Petrie PhD FRSNZ
Professor of Health Psychology, University of Auckland