The next generation of cell phone technology could pose serious cancer risks to the public
You have probably already heard about 5G and the plans to roll out the new technology over the next two years. 5G is the new fifth-generation wireless broadband technology that promises big improvements in bandwidth (projected speeds up to 50 or 100 times faster than current 4G networks), decreased latency (delay) times, energy efficiency, and greater network capacity. While the benefits of 5G have been widely touted by the telecom industry, there are potential downsides that have received scant media attention. The new 5G standard will require a massive investment to build new infrastructure to support the technology. More importantly, numerous studies suggest that 5G could expose the public to increased risks of cancer and other maladies.
The Legacy of Asbestos
The use of asbestos dates back as early as 2500 B.C. Because of its ease of use and desirable physical properties, asbestos was a virtually indispensable material in many different industries. Asbestos has a number of beneficial applications – as a fire retardant, thermal insulator, electrical insulator, and soundproofing material, to name just a few.
It took decades before the evidence was sufficiently compelling for government regulation and massive litigation to curtail the use of asbestos. By the early 1990s, more than half of the 25 largest asbestos manufacturers in the U.S. declared bankruptcy. The United States government and the asbestos industry have been criticized for not acting quickly enough to warn of its dangers and take steps to reduce public exposure.
In the United States, asbestos litigation has been the longest and most expensive mass tort in history, with more than 8,000 defendants and 700,000 claimants. Tens of billions of dollars in damages have been paid to injured workers and their heirs. The total cost of asbestos litigation in the U.S. alone is estimated to eventually reach $200 to $275 billion.
If the studies suggesting 5G’s negative impact on public health are eventually proven true, it could lead to a mass tort event on a scale even larger than asbestos. The pernicious effects of asbestos were largely limited to workers who were repeatedly exposed to the material through their jobs. In contrast, virtually everyone living in moderately to densely-populated areas of the country will be exposed to the potentially harmful radiofrequency radiation (“RFR”) emitted from 5G cell sites, as well as from the cell phones themselves.
5G Technology and the Infrastructure Buildup
Cellular technology transmits data via an electromagnetic signal over radio waves. Frequencies and wavelengths are closely related – the higher the frequency, the smaller the wavelength. 5G will use millimeter wave technology which means that it is wavelength is measured in millimeters, generally defined as between 30 GHz and 300 GHz. Although the full specification for the new 5G standard has not yet been set, there are inherent limitations imposed by the higher frequency spectrum that will be utilized by 5G.
5G will be able to transmit large amounts of data over short distances with low latency. However, 5G signals can be blocked by buildings, and foliage can absorb much of their energy. The waves can also be reflected by metallic surfaces. Although 5G antenna arrays will be much smaller than current cell towers, they will have to be installed in greater numbers and at closer distances due to the inherent physical limitations of the higher 5G frequency spectrum.
In 2018, there were more than 106,000 cell towers in the United States. The telecom industry has estimated that as many as 50,000 new cell sites will be required in California alone. Literally hundreds of thousands of new wireless antennas will be installed in neighborhoods, cities and towns across the country. According to industry estimates, a small cell antenna array or transmitter will have to be installed at distances as close as every two to ten homes.
Potential Health Concerns from Exposure to Radiofrequency Radiation
Despite the lack scientific consensus on the potential health effects of 5G, the telecom industry is moving ahead at full speed and will spend billions of dollars to implement the new standard.
There is, however, consensus on one aspect of human exposure to the type of radiofrequency radiation (“RFR”) used by cell phones: the effects have not been subjected to rigorous long-term testing. Nevertheless, a number of published studies have identified some of the potential risks associated with RFR exposure. The potential negative health are:
• DNA single and double-strand breaks (a precursor to cancer);
• disruption of cell metabolism;
• melatonin reduction (causing insomnia and increased risk of cancer);
• increased blood-brain barrier permeability;
• disruption of brain glucose metabolism;
• generation of stress proteins (creating risk of numerous diseases); and
• oxidative damage (causing tissue deterioration and premature aging)
A Warning Letter to the Federal Communications Commission
In 2016, Dr. Yael Stein sent a letter to the FCC outlining concerns identified by physicists and physicians at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The researchers found that human sweat glands act as helical antennas in the in the extremely high frequency band that will be used for 5G.
“Potentially, if [5G] is spread in the public domain we may expect more of the health effects currently seen with RF/microwave frequencies including many more cases of hypersensitivity (EHS), as well as many new complaints of physical pain and a yet unknown variety of neurologic disturbances.”– Dr. Yael Stein, Hebrew University
Dr. Stein noted that public exposure to millimeter waves, in the sub-terahertz frequency range, will affect everyone, particularly the more susceptible members of the public, such as babies, pregnant women, the elderly, the sick and electro-hypersensitive individuals. Dr. Stein’s letter concluded that “[i]t will be possible to show a causal relationship between 5G technology and these specific health effects. The affected individuals may be eligible for compensation.”
Millimeter Waves Used as a Weapon
The U.S. Department of Defense has developed an Active Denial System (“ADS”) that utilizes the same millimeter waves as those slated for use with 5G. ADS is a non-lethal weapon designed for uses such as crowd control and dispersal, checkpoint security, perimeter security, and port protection. The Defense Department describes ADS as a “long-range non-lethal, directed energy, counter-personnel capability that projects a man-sized (1.5 m) beam of millimeter waves (not microwaves) at a range up to 1,000 meters. It will have the same compelling non-lethal effect on all human targets, regardless of size, age and gender.”
“Clear Evidence” of Cancer Risk
In his article Clear Evidence of Cell-Phone RF Radiation Cancer Risk, Dr. James C. Lin described his participation in panel that reviewed draft reports prepared by the U.S. National Toxicology Program (“NTP”) on its carcinogenesis studies of cell-phone RFR in mice and rats. The NTP’s initial report, issued in May 2016, revealed that two types of rare cancers occurred in rats exposed to RFR.
The peer-review panel concluded that there was statistically significant and “clear evidence” that both GSM- and CDMA-modulated RFR led to the development of a malignant, rare type of tumor in the hearts of male rats. The panel made other disturbing observations, such as:
• unusual patterns of cardiomyopathy (damage to heart tissue) in both RFR-exposed male and female rats when compared with a control group;
• a significantly higher occurrence of a specific adrenal gland tumor in male rats when compared with a control group;
• a significantly higher increase in malignant-tumor-like hyperplasia in the adrenal gland of female rats when compared with a control group;
• “some evidence” for carcinogenicity in the adrenal gland; and
• “equivocal evidence” for carcinogenicity in other tissue or organs, such as adenoma of pars digitalis in the pituitary gland and adenomas and carcinomas in the liver of both RFR-exposed male and female rats.
Other studies have likewise found harmful effects on living organisms exposed to RFR. In 2011, the World Health Organization/International Agency for Research on Cancer issued a press release of its findings that cell phone use created an increased risk for a malignant type of brain cancer. Based on these findings, the group classified radio-frequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic” to humans.
Additionally, a Russian study reported in 2002 found that low-intensity, extremely high-frequency electromagnetic radiation caused the immune systems of healthy mice to be severely compromised. A 2016 Armenian study concluded that low-intensity millimeter waves depressed the growth of E. coli and other bacteria and changed certain properties and activity levels of the cells. The study also noted that the millimeter waves interacted with the bacteria in way that could result in antibiotic resistance.
The International Appeal to Stop 5G on Earth and in Space
More than 30,000 scientists, doctors, environmental organizations and concerned citizens have signed a petition calling for a stop to the deployment of the 5G wireless network, including a proposal for 5G space satellites. The petition states that “the evidence that radio frequency (RF) radiation is harmful to life is already overwhelming. The accumulated clinical evidence of sick and injured human beings, experimental evidence of damage to DNA, cells and organ systems in a wide variety of plants and animals, and epidemiological evidence that the major diseases of modern civilization—cancer, heart disease and diabetes—are in large part caused by electromagnetic pollution, forms a literature base of well over 10,000 peer-reviewed studies.”
“The deployment of 5G constitutes an experiment on humanity and the environment that is defined as a crime under international law.”– International Petition to Stop 5G on Earth and in Space
“Those Who Do Not Learn History are Doomed to Repeat It”
Although the United States government recognized the health risks associated with asbestos exposure as early as 1918, no workplace exposure standards were established until more than 50 years later. Even after widespread public awareness of the risk, asbestos can still be found in some products manufactured today.
The legacy of asbestos should be a harbinger of the potential perils of implementing 5G technology without further medical research. Much like asbestos in the early 1900s, the warning signs are present, but the expected benefits of 5G appear to overshadow any public health concerns. The fact that so little has been reported about the potential health effects of 5G can likely be explained by following the money trail.
5G implementation is proceeding straightaway despite serious concerns raised by numerous credible researchers and scientists. The telecom industry has apparently failed to take notice of the parallels with the asbestos industry (or the tobacco industry) that have paid billions in settlements and judgments to unfortunate victims who suffered debilitating and fatal illnesses.
Prudence dictates that more thorough and comprehensive studies be undertaken before 5G is fully integrated into the U.S. infrastructure. Even if only a small percentage of the predicted dangers are realized, it can’t be said that we weren’t forewarned.