The International Commission on Non‐Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), the Germany-based scientific body that assesses the health risks of radio broadcasts, called for new guidelines for millimetre-wave 5G, the most high-frequency version of the telecommunications standard.
The new guidelines, which are based on a review of the latest scientific evidence, state that 5G is safe for both adults and children. This is in line with the conclusions of multiple studies that have been conducted on the health effects of radiofrequency radiation.
The ICNIRP is an independent body that provides advice to both national governments and international organizations on issues related to non-ionizing radiation. Its mission is to protect people from exposure to harmful levels of electromagnetic fields, and its update to the guidelines is a testament to the safety of 5G technology.
Dr Eric van Rongen, the ICNIRP chair, said that the updated guidelines will help to put people at ease regarding the safety of 5G. He explained that the guidelines have been developed after a thorough review of all relevant scientific literature, scientific workshops and an extensive public consultation process, and they provide protection against all scientifically substantiated adverse health effects due to electromagnetic field exposure in the 100 kHz to 300 GHz range. In other words, these new guidelines should help to address any concerns people may have about potential health risks associated with 5G technology.
The radio frequencies 5G uses in the UK are similar to those that have been used for mobile telephones since 1998, when ICNIRP published its first set of guidelines for EMF exposure. Millimetre-wave 5G, and other broadcast connections above the 6GHz band, “were not anticipated in 1998”, according to Dr Jack Rowley, the senior director for research and sustainability at GSMA, the industry body for mobile network operators.
However, millimetre-wave 5G has the potential to provide significantly faster speeds and greater capacity than previous generations of mobile technology. In addition, the small size of millimetre waves means that they can be easily directed and focused, making them well suited for use in high-density urban areas. As a result, 5G is expected to play a vital role in bringing next-generation mobile broadband services to users in the UK.
Since the early days of cell phone use, there have been concerns about whether or not the devices could pose a health risk. Most of these concerns have centered on the idea that the electromagnetic radiation emitted by cell phones could cause tissue damage.
However, recent research has suggested that higher frequencies may actually be safer for human tissue. This is because higher frequencies interact with organic tissue differently, dissipating more energy at the surface and penetrating less. As a result, the new standards take measurements across a smaller cross section, and specifically pay attention to the power absorbed by, rather than simply exposed to, a body. According to Rowley, these changes are designed to ensure that “the fundamental health risk assessment is unchanged.” In other words, the new standards are just as protective as the old ones.