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Health check: Is 5G really bad for you? Debunking some 5G-related myths and fake news

5G connectivity promises a better future, but it might hide some health hazards as well (Source: H2S Media)
5G promises a better future, but it might hide some dangers as well (Source: H2S Media)
As 5G networks go live in more and more markets with each month, some questions regarding the health hazards that might come with this new technology remain unanswered. However, most 5G dangers that some websites have been warning us about for years are nothing more than myths that can be easily debunked.

Foreword

Before anything else, I think that — due to the controversial nature of the topic and all the heated exchanges that are usually ignited by such articles — this article must start with a disclaimer: This is not a sponsored piece and is not endorsed in any way by any company involved in developing 5G-related products. Obviously, there is a lot to say about 5G radiation and its allegedly harmful effects, so we will surely get back to this topic next year when 5G networks — and the 5G-capable handsets and other devices, such as IoT/smart home/smart city hardware, of course — will be able to reach much more users than today.

Why is upgrading to 5G so important?

Earlier this year, we talked about the reasons behind the need of a fast internet connection and not much has changed ever since — except the ever-increasing number of 5G-capable handsets available on the market and the fact that, despite quite vocal opposing forces here and there, global 5G coverage continues to increase (click here for an interactive global 5G coverage map that is currently being updated on a weekly basis).

A few myths in quick succession

1. 5G radiation damages your DNA: Ionizing radiation, such as X and Gamma, can damage DNA — this has been proven already. However, 5G networks have nothing to do with that, since the low frequency radio waves they use are non-ionizing. While some non-ionizing wavelengths can be quite dangerous, 5G radiation is far below that generated by a microwave oven. 

Those who come up with various studies that claim to have proven that 5G radiation can, in fact, damage one's DNA, should check before if that particular study/report has not been debunked yet by multiple other scientific sources. 

2. 5G radiation also produces oxidative damage, disrupts cell metabolism, decreases melatonin production, and it can even alter one's mood to induce anxiety and depression: Thousands of studies conducted in the past concluded that these effects can be attributed to low-level wireless radio frequency radiation exposure. However, no solid real-life study has managed to prove otherwise so far. Obviously, concerns exist and it is always good to be aware of the potential hazards around you.

3. 5G radiation can disrupt weather forecasts: At first sight, this looks like a rather bad effect, although without a direct impact on our health. In the end, it seems that this side-effect of 5G implementation in a certain area has already been proven wrong.

4. 5G networks generate electromagnetic pollution: Since most power lines — and even electric cars (YouTube clip) — generate this kind of pollution, before these next-gen networks get to cover wide areas and relevant real-life tests can be conducted, we are only talking about a bone for the conspiracy theorists to chew on and nothing more.

5. Some of the posts regarding alleged 5G-related hazards that keep being shared on social media also claim that this technology causes various skin diseases, vision impairment, neurologic problems, and sleep disorders. Obviously, the real-life studies are still nowhere to be found, but there is one logical question that surfaces here: Why would a company sell you a subscription-based service that can render you unable to use it in the long run?

6. 5G radiation causes cancer: If knowing that mmWave 5G devices comply with the same safety standards as the existing Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and 4G LTE products, there's something even better than just that. A study that was made available to the public back in 2015 (direct link to the PDF file here) revealed that a 60 GHz mmWave outputting no less than 50 W per square meter of power — above the threshold imposed by the aforementioned safety standards raises skin temperature by 0.8 °C, while the limit mentioned for mmWave radiation in the IEEE standards is 1 °C.

Back in 2011, the World Health Organization classified radio frequency radiation as a possible 2B carcinogen. However, the list of Group 2B agents also includes things like pickles or caffeine, so... 

One last thing that should be taken into account is that, according to official documents, the number of recorded cancer cases has been slowly dropping since 2007 in the US while the amount of cellular subscriptions has been steadily increasing since the first half of the 1990s.

5G-related fake news stories: Who might be behind them and why

Some of these stories look quite worrying at first sight, but all were proven wrong. One of the most popular ones that kept showing up again and again claims that 5G tests have been killing birds in multiple locations. However, a careful analysis of all these reports has proven them to be nothing more than fake news.

That being said, we should take a closer look at the source of such fake stories, which turns out to be Russia. Why? Economic warfare, apparently — at least according to The New York Times.

Conclusion

With a very wide range of applications, 5G technology is definitely a big step ahead for the global communications network. Thanks to it, many IoT/Smart City/VR and AR solutions that were not possible before can be easily implemented. On the other hand, its impact on our health remains a very interesting topic that should be fed more ammo by the studies that will surely be conducted over the months and years to come.

In the meantime, be sure to sleep away from your phones, turn off your routers at night, use wired hands free solutions as often as possible, and feel free to drop your comments below. The ball is now in your court, so pass it on.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2019 07 > Health check: Is 5G really bad for you? Debunking some 5G-related myths and fake news
Codrut Nistor, 2019-11-12 (Update: 2019-11-13)
Codrut Nistor
Codrut Nistor - News Editor
Although I have been writing about new software and hardware for almost a decade, I consider myself to be old school. I always enjoy listening to music on CD or tape instead of digital files and I will not even get into the touchscreen vs physical keys debate. However, I also enjoy new technology, as I now have the chance to take a look at the future every day. I joined the Notebookcheck crew back in 2013 and I have no plans to leave the ship anytime soon.