Is 5G bad for you?

The number of people calling for a halt to 5G is growing, pending hard data on human health effects. The risks, especially in our country, are limited

Who is afraid of 5G? The list, at the moment, is quite substantial, although within it we don't find who we would expect to find. There aren't the telephone operators who were left out of last year's race to assign frequency bands, nor any company proposing a different communication standard (also because, in the latter case, there aren't any).

The proudest opponents of 5G are a small group of municipal administrations, which have issued an ordinance to prohibit the installation of new antennas on their municipal territory, and some consumer protection associations, which have forwarded letters and recommendations to the Public Prosecutor's Office and to the 8 thousand Italian mayors to put a brake on the experimentation of the new standard of mobile telephony. The main fear is that 5G can hurt people's health, exposing them to a too high amount of radiation.

To understand if 5G is bad for health it is first necessary to understand how it works, then evaluate the scientific studies available today and analyze in detail the Italian legislation in this regard. From this information it will be possible to derive the necessary data to understand which are the dangers related to the installation of new antennas and radio links on our territory and if the new cellular standard "fries" us or not.

How 5G works

The major concerns are related to the functioning of the new cellular communication technology. Compared to previous standards, 5G works on completely different frequency bands, with obviously different physical properties. In particular, the 5G standard plans to use the 700 mHz band (freed from the digital terrestrial signal), the band between 3.6 gHz and 3.8 gHz and the band between 24 and 28 GHz.

These last bands, in particular, are necessary to ensure two of the most interesting features of 5G: data transfer rates higher than 5 gigabits and ultra-wide communication band, capable of supporting the simultaneous connection of thousands of devices. These are the so-called millimeter wave frequencies, capable of carrying data at speeds far superior to previous standards. At the same time, however, the millimeter waves "suffer" from an important physical limitation: they can not penetrate into objects too thick (or made with shielding materials).

To get around this limitation, the standard approved worldwide provides for the installation of smaller antennas (the small cells), but spread in a more widespread manner. In this way it is possible to cover the whole territory with a strong and constant signal, without any worries. The proliferation of antennas, therefore, has triggered a sort of domino effect that has led local administrators and consumer associations to call for the stop of 5G, waiting for the scientific community to have certain data on the effects on human health.

5G is bad for you: the state of the art of scientific research

At the moment, there are no studies and scientific research that clarify in a definitive way what are the effects of 5G on human health. The various research organizations involved in this field have been able to evaluate only the short-term effects, while for the long-term effects we still have to wait a long time.

In the first case, scientists have found that exposure to the waves of small cells causes a slight increase in body temperature (the waves that pass through the body are transformed into heat), but without causing damage in the short, medium and long term. In the case of long-term effects, as mentioned, it is necessary to wait for the results of tests and scientific research still in progress, whose outcome cannot be predicted. As the Istituto Superiore di Sanità points out in a research published during 2019, the activation of 5G antennas (perhaps at the expense of 3G ones) could lead to the reduction of the average emission powers of each individual transmitting equipment. In short, 5G could even reduce our average exposure to radio waves.

5G in Italy: the legislation on radio waves

Another element to be taken into consideration concerns the legislation that regulates the emission of radio waves from the single plants located in the territory. Telephone operators, as well as television operators and others who exploit the radio wave spectrum for wireless telecommunications, are required to respect precise emission limits. Specifically, the Italian law imposes rather low limits for each radio station present on the territory.

The limits to electromagnetic emissions in Italy are one hundredth of those recommended in the guidelines of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), in turn 50 times lower than the SAR value for which effects on human health have been observed. In short, every radio station present in our country has electromagnetic emission values 5,000 times lower than those that could cause health problems.