Just about everything in life is now interconnected. From modern Smart TVs, to home virtual assistants – and even as far as our kettles. The Internet of Things (IoT), the network between hardware, software and humans, is waiting to explode, but currently there isn’t anywhere near enough bandwidth to cope with its increasing demand. Enter 5G (fifth generation mobile networks) promising people uninterrupted use of their smartphones, tablets and other connected devices with super-fast download speeds.
Got you interested? But, are you prepared to pay the price this development may bring with your health? Links have already been made between extended mobile phone use and increased cancer risk with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) having classified electromagnetic fields (EMFs) as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’. With such predictions leaning towards a negative impact on human, animal or environmental health, 5G is surely set to dramatically change the electromagnetic map of the world. The big question: is there enough safety and efficacy data to warrant implementation?
5G is touted to take digital connectivity to the next level by utilising never-before used higher frequencies within the 600 MHz to 71 GHz range. What sets this jump in technology so far apart is the use of millimetre waves (mmWaves) – the name being drawn from the wave size (typically 1-10mm). Whilst these mmWaves can handle huge amounts of data, they have one enormous drawback: they can’t travel easily through buildings or other obstacles and can be absorbed by foliage and rain. This means we will need more antennas than ever before. In reality, it’s likely to require thousands, in fact, millions more transmitters everywhere. Both inside and outside of connected devices. Utilising small cell technology it will be possible to install units almost anywhere in order to boost signals.
Other technologies likely to be used include Massive MIMO (multiple-input, multiple-output arrays), Beamforming (directional signal processing) and full duplex (transmission of data in two directions simultaneously) to ensure full coverage.
Human guinea pigs
With increased coverage comes the risk of increased exposure to EMFs and, subsequently, avoiding that exposure will become more and more difficult. So concerned are scientists about the health risks associated with EMFs, more than 230 worldwide are demanding a moratorium on the increase of cell antennas for planned 5G expansion, extending their previous 2015 appeal in regards to the safety (or otherwise) of EMFs.
A particularly controversial factor in mmWaves lies in how they can penetrate human skin. The main safety concern relates to the heating of the eyes and skin caused by the absorption of mmWave energy in the human body along with strong concern that sweat ducts will act as antennas, increasing the signal and heating effects. In fact, so good are mmWaves at heating human skin, they’ve been used to create a military grade ‘pain’ ray called Active Denial System (ADS) used for crowd control and in war zones! With advancing knowledge of how the fluid-filled space between the skin and the internal organs (the interstitium) functions, it’s easy to see how mmWaves once absorbed could then travel through the body.
Rather importantly, where does this leave our children? It’s already been shown that our young ones are more susceptible to EMFs due to the higher water content in their tissues. This may also put them at higher risk from mmWave penetration. However, once again, safety data appears to be lacking so we may be entering into an even bigger human experiment with even higher stakes.
Source: Alliance for Natural Health International
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