Raise awareness of environmental health issues in order to better protect our children and future generations.

02 June 2018

Switzerland: What Frequency for 5G?

Thank you to the journalist and consumers' group in French-speaking Switzerland, Bon à Savoir (400,000 readers) for having published this excellent article in their magazine, "Ma Santé".  We are glad that this message will reach a large part of the Swiss population.

What Frequency for 5G?
by Laurent Hêche, bonasavoir.ch, 23 May 2018 (translaiton)

COMMUNICATION The forest of antennas required for deployment of 5G worries Swiss doctors.  The Council of States has heard them but not the operators or Doris Leuthard.

Broadband is not a meaningless word.  3G, which has taken off at the same time as the twenty-first century, grew at a steady pace.  4G, which followed ten years later has plunged us directly into the immediate at home and in the street via our smartphones: sending photos, videos and selfies all over the world, streaming sound and music nearly without interruption, conversing just about everywhere via Facebook or WhatsApp, access to services like Uber and Airbnb etc.  - to such an extent that it has tried our patience and made us look with envy at the following generation, 5G announced for 2020 and supposed to be 100 times faster.  This will not only allow the connection of billions of devices (farming, appliances, industrial sensors...) but also open up  a safe route to autonomous cars, telemedicine, real-time energy management, etc.

This revolution comes however at a considerable price:  it requires adding thousands of new antennas to the some 36,000 which radiate Switzerland.  In addition, these new antennas will transmit at very high frequencies, between 30 and 300 GHz, that is to say, at a much higher level than today, with certainly the effectiveness already described, but also at reduced range and an increased sensitivity to certain obstacles, in particular the humidity of the air."'''.

Potentially carcinogenic

Two sufficient reasons for the many health providers to fear the worst, such as the Swiss Association of  Patients, the Federation of Swiss Doctors (FMH) and Doctors for the Protection of the Environment (Mfe).  "Suspicions are growing," explains Martin Forter, Mfe's director. "When they published the first results of a large study currently being conducted on animals in the United States, the experts stressed that the doubt about the danger of this radiation cannot be ruled out. And an Italian study of the same size, published last March, reached identical conclusions, explicitly asking WHO to reassess the cancer risk classification."

Technology without a future

In 2011, WHO had already classified radiation emitted by mobile telephony antennas in the group "potentially carcinogenic", which does not seem to impress either the operators or OFCOM [Federal Office of Communications] or the Federal Council which applied pressure to try to reduce the restrictions regarding the matter (see below).  "With, in addition, an approach which is not the way to go as it will become quickly out of date," comments Martin Forter "because of the sensitivity of 5G radiation to all kinds of obstacles.  The solution is not to increase the power of the big antennas but to create a network of smaller antennas, more numerous but emitting with greater power.  The problem is that this will be very expensive.  The operators thus prefer to stand their ground, even if this means continually radiating the persons living nearby.

Policy: The limits of radiation

It required only one vote for the Council of States to accept relaxing the protection against radiation of mobile telephony antennas.  This did not stop on 5 March for the second time in 15 months, the senators from refusing to cede to the lobbying of the operators and Economiesuisse.

Apparently however, the Federal Council, in any case Doris Leuthard, did not want to know anything since a week later she suggested an adaptation of the measurement and calculation of radiation of these antennas which would allow "a moderate increase in capacity" of the existing installations without relaxing the limit values.

A stunning trick that the Federal Office of the Environment, responsible for measurements, does not dismiss, suggesting that certain points could indeed be reviewed, for example, the extent to which certain building materials could reduce the radiation seems to be underestimated.

For Martin Forter, Director of Doctors for the Protection of the Environment, it is nothing other than obstinate revenge:  "Mrs. Leuthard seeks simply to get around the problem by modifying not the limit values but the way of measuring them, without taking into account the reticence of the elected officials of the people.  The least one can say is that her approach is not very democratic."

Laurent Hêche

Original article in French:

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