Researcher warns 5G may be bad for health
A Canadian toxicology researcher is urging the island to hang up on any plans to start a 5G cellular network.
Advocates of 5G, which has been called the network of the “near future”, have promised everything from quicker downloads to greater network reliability. Paul Heroux, McGill University associate professor of medicine, is not impressed.
“My worry is that we are impairing the health of huge populations by increasing exposure to electromagnetic radiation,” Dr Heroux told The Royal Gazette.
“What is particular about the laboratory research I do is that it compares current exposures to the exposures that existed in the environment before power and telecommunications systems were deployed, over the last 100 years,” he said.
His research suggests that electromagnetic energy from power lines and cellular telephone systems produces a slow damage to living materials, which can result in, or amplify, chronic diseases.
He said other scientists, such as Lennart Hardell of Sweden, have found a connection between electromagnetic radiation and the growth of certain cancers such as glioblastomas of the brain.
“We have evidence that electromagnetic fields do cause disease and death,” he said.
He said research done in his own laboratory had confirmed the benefits of lowering exposure to electromagnetic fields.
He spoke last month in Bermuda at Generation Zapped, an event organised by Bermuda Advocates for Safe Technology, and the Bermuda College Eco Club, to raise awareness of electro pollution.
The talk came a month after the Regulatory Authority announced plans for a radio frequency study to determine whether cutting-edge technology, such as a 5G network, would be appropriate for Bermuda.
“I think 5G is the wrong direction to go at the engineering level,” Dr Heroux said. “In Bermuda, there is an impressive list of places that say they won’t have wireless. Optical fibres are the preferred means to upload or download large amounts of data. 5G promises to take the data from one gig per second to ten. This is an obvious improvement but mainly important if you are downloading movies.
“Optical fibre allows ten million gigabytes per second. It is a billion times faster. We can have all the data we want more safely.”
He wanted to see mobile phones used for what they were originally intended — communicating.
“Mobile phones have proven their value in society, but adding 5G will increase the number of cell towers immensely,” he said. “Is this necessary? Do we need this extra layer and can we balance the radiation we are exposed to with the health impacts? We need to steer technological development in directions that are less dangerous to humans.”
He alleged that the telecommunications industry claims there is no evidence of a link between electromagnetic radiation, because they really aren’t looking for it.
“They have stock holders who are not interested in the overall picture,” he said. “They do not want to explore the health impacts of their products; they want to expand. From their point of view, they will always deny it. They use very simple science to convince the public not to believe that the impacts exist.”
He said the rates of acceptable levels of electromagnetic radiation were set in the US to meet the needs of the US military during the Cold War in the 1960s. Later mobile phone companies chose to maintain those levels because it suited their needs.
Dr Heroux said he had a mobile phone, but did not use it much.
“It’s often out of charge,” he said. “I sympathise with people who are mobile users who have to use it. Avoid putting it against your head.”
He thought that in primary schools wi-fi should only be turned on for a limited period during the day.
“It needs to be turned off when not in use,” he said. “Children are very vulnerable to this very radiation.”
He thought the focus should be on investing in better teaching rather than better gadgets.
BAST is planning to screen the movie Generation Zapped at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute next year, to coincide with 5G Global Protest Day on January 25. They showed a trailer for the film at the event that Dr Heroux spoke at. The screening date has yet to be announced.
The World Health Organisation has examined scientific research on links between electromagnetic fields and human health.
It concludes: “Current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low level electromagnetic fields. However, some gaps in knowledge about biological effects exist and need further research.”
On its website, the WHO adds: “The long-term health effects of mobile telephone use is another topic of much current research. No obvious adverse effect of exposure to low-level radiofrequency fields has been discovered.
“However, given public concerns regarding the safety of cellular telephones, further research aims to determine whether any less obvious effects might occur at very low exposure levels.”
One of the key findings of the WHO research review was: “There is no doubt that short-term exposure to very high levels of electromagnetic fields can be harmful to health. Current public concern focuses on possible long-term health effects caused by exposure to electromagnetic fields at levels below those required to trigger acute biological responses.”
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