‘Unbalanced assessment’: Australian experts debunk push to stop global 5G rollout

Australian 5G experts have rubbished controversial new claims by a UK researcher that 5G is potentially unsafe and the global rollout of the telecommunications technology should be halted.

In an opinion piece published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, University of Edinburgh researcher John William Frank said that the transmitter density required for 5G means that more people will be exposed to radio frequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs).

Emerging evidence suggests these levels are potentially harmful to health and the global rollout of 5G should be paused until its safety is confirmed, Professor Frank argued.

Despite his concerns about the technology, Professor Frank was keen to distance himself from conspiracy theories linking 5G to the coronavirus saying “the theory that 5G and related EMFs have contributed to the pandemic is baseless”.

Australia’s 5G experts dismiss claims

Leading Australian 5G experts roundly dismissed Professor Frank’s claims that 5G may be unsafe.

“Dr Frank contends that there is lack of clarity regarding the types of technology resulting from 5G rollout. However, in Australia at least, the technologies are well defined and 5G is already being deployed, using the range of frequencies currently in use for 4G,” Swinburne University’s Department of Health and Medical Sciences chair Andrew Wood said.

While it is true that “the so-called ‘millimetre wave’ band will be used, with a frequency around five times higher than those currently in use” by the end of the year, “a higher frequency does not mean higher radiation intensity”, Professor Wood explained.

The public can access free data on exposure levels that are freely available on the Radio Frequency National Site Archive website, he said.

Scientists say 5G is safe, but vocal sceptics are spreading misinformation and fuelling safety fears. Photo: Getty

Professor Wood also took issue with Dr Frank’s claim that there are gaps in knowledge on in vivo and in vitro effects.

“Although there are certainly gaps, since millimetre wave technologies have been in use for several decades there are already several hundred primary studies on possible bioeffects,” he said.

Australian Centre for Electromagnetic Bioeffects Research
chief investigator and University of Wollongong professor of health psychology Rodney Croft dismissed Dr Frank’s claims as an “unbalanced assessment of the radiation safety science related to mobile telecommunications, including 5G”.

“Of particular note is that the views expressed in his essay do not correspond to the scientific consensus, and he does not provide support for these non-standard claims,” Professor Croft said.

Professor Croft systematically debunked Dr Frank’s three main claims.

“It is not true that there is emerging evidence that 5G transmitters are emitting electromagnetic fields at levels that are potentially harmful,” he said.

“There is a substantial body of scientific literature assessing the effect of the physical agent that is relevant to 5G – and the physical agent is the only aspect of 5G that is relevant to health.

“It is not true that there is industry influence on the scientific consensus relating to radiation safety, and accordingly none is provided either in this essay or in the opinion piece that William Frank refers to.”

Professor Croft said there is an “extensive body of science that has evaluated the safety of mobile telecommunications, with the effect of electromagnetic field power and frequency on human health understood”.

“Science has not been able to find any adverse health effects related to the electromagnetic fields emitted by telecommunications technologies such as 4G and 5G technologies,” he said.

Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) assistant director of assessment and advice Ken Karipidis said Dr Frank’s opinions were “not supported by health authorities worldwide, mainstream science, and the total body of available research”.

“The opinion paper by Frank, J. discusses selected research results indicating the possibility of harmful effects from 5G and the recommendation of greater precaution. However, it is important to stress that this opinion is not supported by health authorities worldwide, mainstream science, and the total body of available research,” Dr Karipidis said.

“The radiofrequency (RF) exposure levels from mobile telecommunications sources, including 5G, are much lower than the safety limits set by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) which are considered international best practice.

“Further, ICNIRP provide declarations of Conflict of Interest on their website and a requirement of commission participation is that members are not affiliated with industry.

“The ICNIRP limits take into account all of the research on RF exposure and health effects, including studies reporting effects at non-thermal exposure levels. The limits are precautionary as they are set well below the levels at which established health effects occur to provide additional protection and account for uncertainty.

“Further, the ICNIRP limits account for all modes of RF transmission, such as modulation, pulses, and polarisation.

“When all of the research on RF and health is assessed in its totality, adverse health effects from exposure to RF at levels below the widely accepted ICNIRP safety limits haven’t been demonstrated.”

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