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

01 March 2018

Switzerland: 5G Health Risk?

5G Health Risk?
by Helwi Braunmiller, srf.ch, 23 February 2018 (Translation)

Troubling mobile phone antennas. Is easing the radiation limits toying with the health of the population?

Surf faster than before, completely open up new technological possibilities: 5G is the promise of salvation that is supposed to protect against overloading the mobile networks. But the current mobile infrastructure in Switzerland is not enough for this. In other words, in order to meet the increasing demands, transmission towers must be allowed to emit more radiation than before - and therefore the applicable limit values ​​would have to be relaxed.

A technological leap forward - but with risks and undesirable effects for the population?

Visible enemy - the mobile phone antenna

When it comes to electromagnetic radiation, the fears are widespread - especially as far as mobile phone antennas are concerned. The large, visible systems disconcert us more than the small smartphones that most of us have in our pockets. Wrong: "If the connection is of poor quality, the mobile phone held to the ear radiates the body locally up to 100,000 times more than is typically done by antennas," says environmental epidemiologist Martin Röösli from Basel. 90 to 95 percent of our radiation exposure is generated by cell phones or tablets, only five to ten percent comes from so-called environmental radiation. Everybody is in control of most radiation exposure. The rule of thumb is: Mobile devices as far away from the body as possible.

Ambiguous study situation plus 5G as a new unknown

The brain tumor epidemic calculated ten years ago by U.S. researchers due to mobile phone use has failed to materialize. According to the cancer registry, the number of brain tumors has remained roughly the same over the past 15 years. Nevertheless, science has not yet been able to prove that it is completely harmless.

Most of the studies are animal experiments in which rats or mice are exposed to electromagnetic radiation significantly above that of the population. In fact, more malignant tumors were found in brains and hearts. For some, this is not transferable to people, for others it is an indication of a health risk. The discussion of the experts is far from finished.  Mind you: these are studies regarding the use of mobile phones, in which the radiation exposure is much higher than that transmitted by mobile phone antennas.

What do electromagnetic fields do to the body?

The effect corresponds to the microwave model: water molecules and other bipolar particles begin vibrating. This creates frictional heat. However, it is minimal in the body: within the limit values, the body would only increase by 1 / 50th of a degree in the case of total body radiation - locally by 0.1 to 0.2 degrees when using a mobile phone held to the ear.

Studies on the harmfulness of transmitters are even more difficult for a variety of reasons, above all, because de facto the permanent exposure of the individual is so much lower than the limits and therefore no consequences are to be shown.

However, what is now known about electromagnetic radiation, applies to 5G as well, because 5G is planned with similar frequencies. In future, there will also be higher frequencies. "This type of radiation then penetrates less deeply into our body. That's basically positive. However, possible effects on the skin become more significant, "says Martin Röösli. "There are hardly any studies."

Some studies on mobile communications 

Brainwaves and mobile phone use
Study on mobile phones and cancer
Mobile phone radiation and its effects on fertility

Undoubtedly, it cannot be ruled out that 5G can lead to hitherto unknown mechanisms of action - and that will require new research.

Limit is not equal to limit

Stricter antenna limits will lead to a denser antenna network and thus to a better connection quality. And that causes cell phones to radiate less. That would be positive - but it presupposes that providers would have to search for additional locations. Because the radiation exposure from transmission towers is low, relaxation of the limits appears to be the more obvious solution.

At the moment there is a discussion about easing the limit values. This is well below the exposure limit, which indicates the maximum permissible exposure. However,  it would remain unchanged even with a possible easing of the limits.

The installation limit value is, so to speak, the double safety net: this value is more well-defined, more precautionary, and below the levels suggested by scientific evidence. It applies wherever people spend a long time, for example, in homes, schools, offices, playgrounds or in hospitals.  The reason: as long as it cannot be proven (confirmed) beyond any doubt that electromagnetic radiation is harmless, radiation limits should be lowered to (further limited) precautionary emission levels in order to protect the population.

Original article in German:

Google translation.

Our comments:
- Is the Swiss population more worried about the radiation from mobile phone antennas than that from mobile phones?  We are being radiated everywhere by not only antennas and mobile phones.
- Mobile phones are radiating much more than we realize, especially if used or kept in contact with  the body.  The industrial and health scandal of Phonegate reveals that SAR levels (specific absorption rates) of mobile phones are much higher than the manufacturers and the authorities claim because the phones are being tested at some distance from the body.  This is especially dangerous for children whose smaller bodies absorb more radiation than adults.
- Martin Röösli is correct in saying keep "mobile devices as far away from the body as possible".  But he is wrong in saying we can control most of our exposure to radiofrequency radiation.  We cannot:  Our bodies are subject to uncontrolled radiation almost everywhere:  not only from mobile phones, tablets, mobile phone antennas but also Wi-Fi in classrooms, stores, restaurants, movie theaters, apartment houses, public transport, medical offices, hospitals, and all connected objects.
- There are indications that the incidence of brain tumors is increasing.
- 5G technology, using millimeter waves, is different from the previous mobile phone technologies .  We already know that these types of waves can burn the skin. 

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