Microwaves, Induction cookers, 3G and 4G networks. The increase in sources of radiation have increased with a ferocious pace in the past 10 years, and while evidence for its causes and effects are slowly being unveiled, it’s becoming a question on many people’s lips: Is all this radiation good for us? Alaka Skinner and Max Chua give us the latest updates and views, also on the latest addition: 5G Networks:
While adopting the latest wireless technology is important to Singapore and its goals of being a ‘Smart Nation’, it is equally important to consider the significant adverse health effects that such technologies can potentially bring. The recent announcement about plans to deploy 5G networks in Singapore – starting from 2020 with full island-wide coverage expected by 2023 – makes it even more critical that we focus on the health hazards that could be associated with this technology. Indeed, the 5G network will be on top of existing, already dense 3G and 4G networks, which means that the public will be faced with a huge increase in the already high radiation exposure levels in Singapore.
What exactly is 5G?
For a start, the ‘G’ refers to the generation of wireless technology. 5G technology brings three new aspects to the table: greater speed (to transfer more data – 10 to 100 times faster), lower latency (to be more responsive), and the ability to connect a lot more devices at once (for sensors and smart devices). 5G uses higher frequency waves (called millimeter waves) than today’s 3G and 4G mobile networks, These waves travel shorter distances through urban spaces, so 5G coverage will require more transmitter towers/antennas than previous technologies and these need to be positioned closer to ground level. For 5G to work, beamforming technology is also being used, which means that the radiation waves will be targeted or beamed at individuals vs the current technology which is more diffuse and radiates an area. The higher density of transmitters and the more focused beams mean that our families would be subjected to unprecedented levels of exposure everywhere we go.
Today 5G has does not have any long-term scientific studies showing that it is safe. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) have already classified all radiofrequency radiation as “possibly carcinogenic.” This is based on animal and human studies which have found significant associations between radiofrequency exposure and an increased risk of leukemia, cancers, tumors, and immune system suppression, neurological damage, just to name just a few. No international safety test has ever been done to prove that wireless radiation is safe for human beings. There are also no universal safety standards with regards to wireless radiation exposure and many countries have developed their own safety guidelines, many of which are at least 100 if not 1000 times lower than the current Singapore guideline So one could pose the question: why are we, as a first-world nation, not following the stricter safety guidelines that a number of European countries such as Itay, Switzerland, and Austria) have adopted?
The research and reactions
Several countries have either halted or delay their 5G deployment due to health concerns. Among these is Brussels, the EU headquarters, which has now stopped the rollout of 5G due to this. Switzerland has also started to delay 5G rollouts and will create a radiation monitoring system. In New Hampshire, lawmakers are considering establishing a commission to study the health impacts of 5G networks. Last year Mill Valley in California banned the building of new 5G wireless cells sites. There is a growing list of countries or cities that are concerned with health risks and are seeking to follow a more cautious approach.
Independent scientific studies such as last year’s National Toxicology Program (NTP) in America (cost: 30 Million USD) and the Ramazzini Institute study from Italy have both shown an increase in the incidence of tumors of the brain and heart in radiofrequency radiation (RFR) exposed rats. These tumors are of the same histotype of those observed in some epidemiological studies on cell phone users. These experimental studies and many others cited in the Bioinitiative Report (2012) provide more than enough evidence to call for the re-evaluation of IARC conclusions regarding the carcinogenic potential of RFR in humans. In fact, a large number of scientists have raised alarm bells over the health impact of RFR in general and 5G in particular. This includes Dr. Anthony Miller, a World Health Organization (WHO) advisor, who is among those calling for the WHO’s IARC to change the classification of RFR from its current 2B ‘potential carcinogen’ category to a higher/clearer risk category.
The 5G Appeal to the European Union was prepared in 2017 by over 180 scientists and doctors from 36 countries warning of the dangers of 5G and urgently calling for the EU to halt 5G rollout due to serious potential health effects from this new technology:
“We, the undersigned scientists, recommend a moratorium on the roll-out of the fifth generation, 5G, for telecommunication until potential hazards for human health and the environment have been fully investigated by scientists independent from industry. 5G will substantially increase exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) on top of the 2G, 3G, 4G, WiFi, etc. for telecommunications already in place. RF-EMF has been proven to be harmful to humans and the environment.”
Is history repeating itself?
Human beings do not seem to learn very well from history. If we did, we would recall the asbestos and tobacco-related health risks which were known by these industries many decades before the information was released to the public. The global health organizations did not act fast then, citing the absence of ‘conclusive’ evidence and many lost their health and lives as a result of this inaction. You could argue that the industry has been good at creating just enough doubts by withholding information as well as funding ‘counter-studies’ to ensure that the global health organizations stall and keep looking for more evidence. Sadly, in our opinion, this is what we see today with the telecommunications industry.
5G is a concern not only because it is hazardous to our health but it also raises concerns about privacy and cybersecurity. Yet there are safer alternatives. The speed and reliability of wireless networks can be achieved with a fiber connection without the need to go wireless everywhere.
Ultimately, factors such as the cost and ease of deployment should not supersede public health and wellbeing. It is crucial that we pay attention to the warnings of the health experts/scientists that are sounding the alarm and adopt a more cautious approach including exploring safer options. The price to pay can be very high for both individuals as well as the nation if the warning from independent scientists and bodies are ignored. National health care expense is already finding it hard to cope with the sudden escalation of many chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, dementia and autism. Yet, there are thousands of peer review studies that point to wireless radiation overexposure as one of the very likely cause. So would prevention and risk minimization not be the most prudent approach?
It is time to take a step back and consider fully what is best for the public. The International EMF Project conducted yearly by WHO is a good starting point for Singapore to start to conduct real research into this area. In this, we should follow the footsteps of some of the European countries that are putting the health and safety of the public as a need above all else.
Alaka Rajan Skinner
Alaka is an international, multicultural writer and consultant who has worked effectively at all levels from CEO downwards as both business partner and consultant in designing and delivering progressive people programs and processes with a particular focus on organizational behavior, talent management, and leadership development. She has a Ph.D. in Strategy, Management & Organizational Behaviour, an MBA and a Masters in Human Resources Management.
Max Chua is the founder of Choizya. Choizya provides wireless safe solutions for families and business owners to enable them to work, to live and to play in a healthy environment. They achieve this through a 2 steps approach of detection and protection against excessive wireless radiation emitted from wireless devices and equipment. Keeping in house “pollution” low and eliminating any high external “pollution” factors is the essence of Choizya protection principle.
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