Claims Of 5G Health Risks Are Frequently Based On A Single, 20 Year Old Flawed Graph

from the ill-communication dept

If you’ve spent any time on Twitter, you’ve probably seen a rising tide of folks expressing worry about the health impact of 5G.

To be clear, the widespread, long term impact 5G (especially millimeter wave) will have on human health hasn’t been adequately studied yet, which makes absolutist claims on either side of this argument shaky from the start. As such, a lot of the recent health concerns being spread about 5G aren’t based much on actual science, if they rely on actual science at all. Numerous news outlets (like RT) have similarly proclaimed that 5G will “kill you,” without providing much in the way of hard evidence. Their recent segment on the “5G apocalypse” is just one of several the outlet has been running over the last few years or so:

This week however, the New York Times penned a report noting that one of the key bits of “evidence” used by those insisting 5G will be harmful wound up not being evidence at all. Since 2000, those professing that wireless signals can cause brain cancer have relied on a chart by physicist Bill P. Curry, proclaiming to show that tissue damage increases with the rising frequency of radio waves:

Curry’s data was widely used to justify removing wireless communications from many schools, reposted repeatedly online by purported health experts, and even laid the foundation for several lawsuits alleging negative wireless health impacts. It wound up as the foundation for other, broader, but equally shaky theories. The only problem: it was never true. The graph failed to acknowledge that human skin tends to block higher frequencies, making the entire chart inaccurate:

“It doesn?t penetrate,? said Christopher M. Collins, a professor of radiology at New York University who studies the effect of high-frequency electromagnetic waves on humans. Dr. Curry?s graph, he added, failed to take into account ?the shielding effect.? You Make the Call: ?Moving Forward With the American Dream? in New Jersey Dr. Marvin C. Ziskin, an emeritus professor of medical physics at Temple University School of Medicine, agreed. For decades, Dr. Ziskin explored whether such high frequencies could sow illness. Many experiments, he said, support the safety of high-frequency waves.”

Having reported on this subject a few times, I will say that this is a seedier, deeper rabbit hole than you might think. While Russian news outlets do seem to be enjoying amplifying fear on this subject, there’s plenty of home grown folks pushing 5G health risk claims as well. I’ve found a long line of academics happy to go on the record claiming 5G could pose a health risk. I’ve also found plenty of others proclaiming any health concerns are fluff and nonsense. But pretty uniformly you’ll find one consensus buried under the mess: far, far more study is necessary before anybody engages in absolutism one way or the other.

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Comments on “Claims Of 5G Health Risks Are Frequently Based On A Single, 20 Year Old Flawed Graph”

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Ishan says:

Re: Re: Re: REAALLLY ????? Everything you can't stomach is Stupid ??

outright rejection of clear and present danger of 5G = "Pathetic Path of Least Resistance" / "Blatant-Denial-ism-Feels-So-Good-Nurturing-My-Sick-Ego" / "Ignorance is Bliss’ — but, hay the end Its illusive bliss and rooster WILL come to your home in terms one or other medical illness due to 5G …but alas ..horses have already left stable !!!

Dpot says:

Re: somewhere in the middle

If you choose two extremes and they’re physically and/or logically impossible, then, by definition, the real effects must be "somewhere in the middle"!

The range we are interested in is from "possibly some risk but nothing to be concerned about" and "definitely unacceptably high risk". That’s a very different matter and there’s no reason to assume that the risks of 5G lie somewhere in the middle of such a range.

SirWired (profile) says:

The basic physics here aren't that hard.

Skin attenuates radio signals. Period. End of Story. There is no conceivable mechanism by which 5G could cause health issues at any dose a consumer would be exposed to. The only effects on tissue would be due to simple heating, which are not going to be significant at the small fractions of a watt smartphones run at. I’m not sure what there is to study.

There might be separate considerations for workers maintaining live transmission towers, which are already accounted for in existing occupational-health requirements.

(And the strange fixation on brain cancer makes even less sense! If, for the purposes of argument, we pretended that 5G phones emitted, say, x-rays, there are cancer-susceptible organs that would be much more affected than your brain; notably the skin, salivary glands, and thyroid. Your brain is on the other side of your skull, and bone attenuates radiation quite well.)

P.S. (If you want to read up on the literature about the topic, ignore any text entirely that does not specify frequency, dose, and duration. And if they do specify those three crucial items, actually pay attention. If you do pay attention, you’ll see that the research shows a glimmer of an effect at well-in-excess of consumer doses for days. If you don’t pay attention, it’ll be like proclaiming "Driving past an asphalt plant is bad for you" after reading a study about people cleaning out tanks full of exotic volatile petrochemicals at an oil refinery for years on end.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The basic physics here aren't that hard.

And the strange fixation on brain cancer makes even less sense!

It’s because you’re holding your phone to your head, I guess. Never mind that these days people seem to be texting and using apps more than calling (especially those who are inclined to use 5G.).

nasch (profile) says:

Re: The basic physics here aren't that hard.

Skin may attenuate them, but the 5G waves will go straight through through your eyeballs and into your brain and then bounce around in there. So keep your eyes closed around 5G towers or you will get brain cancer! Also don’t forget that the sound of windmills causes cancer too though I’m not sure what type.

OGquaker says:

Re: The basic physics here aren't that hard....

…. No, not that hard. Human ear cilia in the cochlea and semi-circular canals (human balance) are eighth, quarter or half wave at 5G. Not that we ever put our cell phones up to the ear.
With a little training and discrimination, we won’t need any telco device, like learning to sight read QR code. We aren’t Cretins.

ECA (profile) says:

Do abit of physics.

Anyone ever read how the Engineers USED to get warm, while building.monitoring the MW(microwave antenna’s) that Coned from, they would wonder out to would Cook them abit and let them get warm in winter. That is hte Focused system..and 5G is in that Bandwidth. And the idea of setting a device in that High range, next to my Body parts, isnt really a nice thought.

Also, your pacemaker wont like it either..

Dank710 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

It’s going to connect even more devices than 4G currently does. More devices connected means they will be able to track you even more. Think Internet of Things. Whether it’s your devices or the person living next you; 5G will allow them to be used to invade your privacy even more than already do.

We will soon wish were living the novel 1984, as things will be even worse than that novel.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Who says 5G is harmless ? Based on what ?

If you think that article is hoax – what stops you from analyzing each technical point and prove it wrong in logical, scientific manner – rather than making ridiculous rejections out rightly without any grounds ?? Are you like troll hired by Cell Phone Industry ?

MetalAnon (user link) says:

C'mon people... do some research!

The concern that the use of 5G technology is harmful to humans is based completely on incorrect and flawed reports in 2000 that were ignorantly peddled by media and fear monger types. See the following article.

5G is no more harmful than 4g or any other RF (radio frequency) already in use.

Misinformation is a disease… DO NOT become infected! Check your sources and share only verifiable truth. Speculation, half-truths and lies helps none of us. Knowledge is free… understand it… THEN share!


Re: C'mon people... do some research!

Common sense will tell you if, something like 4 g is already seen as harmful by may people in healthcare than using 5 g isn’t going to make many to believe it’s any better!

History is full of examples of misguided or even intentional use of substances and technologies that were later found to be a health hazard ! GLSYSOPHATE IN ROUNDUP ! ASBESTOS IN MULTIPLE USES IN INDUSTRY AND AS INSULATION IN HOMES!

Enough said!

NARTE Engineer says:

Don't believe woo

1) 5G has low, mid and high bands.
2) Your microwave oven has only one frequency, in the ISM band which is not authorized for communications because it would interfere with radio astronomy. It’s a frequency that is efficient at heating water and fat molecules.
3) “microwave” is any frequency between 300MHz and 300GHz, although common RF engineering usage is 1GHz ~ 30GHz.
4) 5G above 30GHz can be referred to as millimeter wave, corresponding to the approximate wavelength.
5) Microwave transmissions have been common since the development of radar in WWII. Telephone relay towers, police speed radar and even automatic door openers used them for decades now.
6) Telecommunications RF radiation is NON-IONIZING. “Radiation” is a scary word to the uninformed but it also describes “healthy” sunlight and all forms of electromagnetism.
7) Exposure is proportional to distance squared. Your phone at 5mW and 1 inch from your head is equivalent to a base station @ 7.2kW and 100ft. But 5G base stations are limited to about 20W, and are most likely going to be MORE than 100ft from you.
8) The pseudo-science “industry” profits from page clicks, crystals and “orgone” generators.
9) Conspiracy “enthusiasts” need to have their importance validated, like gossips.
10) Electromagnetics is a complex topic and understanding takes more than reading fringe web sites. There are plenty of reliable sources: accredited universities, FCC, FDA and state Departments of Health, IEEE etc.

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