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5G - is it really worth all the hype?

Updated: Jan 15, 2021

I have been interested in the topic of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) for years. In search for answers and solutions for my declining health, I found out that these EMFs along with many other things, like nutrition and exercise have an effect on our health. Since 5G is a very hot topic at the moment, I figured I should write down what I have discovered of the science so far.

I have also been gathering studies regarding EMFs and their health effects in an Excel file. If you're interested in the subject, you can find it here.

So, a lot of controversy has been stirring around the roll out of 5G. It has been suspected that 5G might lead to a rise in cancer, chronic and non-communicable diseases [16, 17] whereas the wireless industry and government officials have been assuring its safety.

The European Parliament has stated in its report that “Significant concern is emerging over the possible impact on health and safety arising from potentially much higher exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation arising from 5G.” [18]

In 2015 “The International EMF Scientist Appeal” was submitted to the United Nations. In the time of writing this, it has been signed by 253 scientists that have experience in electromagnetic fields (EMFs). [28]

In 2017 an appeal, calling for the EU to halt the roll out of 5G due to serious potential health effects from it, was submitted to the European Commission. As of May 18, 2020, 377 scientists and medical doctors have signed the appeal. [26]

5G cell towers

In Belgium, some 400 doctors and 900 health care workers have signed a letter to the government in hopes of delaying the roll out of 5G until enough research is done on its health effects. [14]

There is also an ongoing appeal called “Stop 5G on Earth and in Space” which has been signed by almost 300 000 people from 218 different nations. [27]

Multiple countries, like Switzerland [30], Slovenia [19], Russia [31] and Australia [20] as well as cities and counties [32] in many Western countries have put 5G to a halt. It is also worth noting that Brussels, the home of the European Parliament, was the first major city to stop the 5G roll out on its territory. [34]

Non-health related issues regarding 5G

5G technology has been criticized of its heavy energy consumption. It is estimated that 5G base stations will consume three times the energy that 4G network base stations use. 5G requires also more base stations to cover the same area. In a time where energy saving is highly called for this seems a bit counterintuitive. [22]

Meteorologists and instances like NASA, NOAA and US Navy have also raised a warning that 5G will negatively affect the accuracy of weather forecasts as 5G uses similar wavelengths that weather satellites use to track the weather. [23]

There’s also big concern on the privacy and data security of 5G. it has been feared that 5G will be especially susceptible to hackers and cyberattacks. The amount of data that is gathered in 5G networks could also very easily be misused for surveillance and tracking. [24]

They are installing it everywhere so it must be safe

Majority of people tend to think that if some new chemical or technology is approved by the government to be used in public, it has been proven safe. This precautionary principle is unfortunately not followed in many cases. Just think about the decades of hard work from scientists and organizations to convince the governments and the public about the negative effects of tobacco, DDT or asbestos to our health.

In 1996 Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act which states that no health or environmental concern can interfere with the placement of telecom equipment such as cell towers and antennas. [25] It should then be no surprise that adequate research regarding the safety of 5G has never been conducted. [3, 7, 8, 16, 17, 21]

So, is all this stirring around 5G just some anti-tech conspiracy fearmongering or is there a point to it?

Illustration of small 5G cells in a street

The health effects of 5G

The common argument on 5G’s safety is that it does not penetrate deep enough into the body to cause any significant effects. It is shown, though, that millimeter waves penetrate the human skin deep enough (0,65 mm at 42 GHz) to affect most skin structures located in the epidermis and dermis. [6]

It has been also noted that the sweat ducts in the human skin work as a helical antenna thus amplifying the incoming radiation and causing high absorption rates. [7, 10] This high absorption of 5G radiation has been correlated with physiological stress measured in the pulse rate and the systolic blood pressure. [10] An effect on the nervous system has also been observed. [11]

The short bursts that 5G uses to transmit data have been shown to cause temperature spikes in the skin. These spikes have been shown to cause permanent damage after just short exposures even when operating under the international safety limits. [1]

5G systems have been shown to generate significantly higher power density (PD) and specific absorption rate (SAR) than the previous generations of wireless systems. [8, 15] It is also worth mentioning, that 5G systems are not going to replace the previous 3G & 4G systems, it comes as addition to them.

One of the most frightening possible effects of 5G is its effects on oxygen / oxygen absorption. Up to 98 percent of the transmitted energy from 60 GHz has been shown to be absorbed by the atmospheric oxygen. [13] How this affects living beings is unknown. There could be a possible effect on oxygen absorbtion in the body or oxygen in the body working as an antennae absorbing the 60 Hz radiowaves. I want to point out here that I’ve heard a lot of anecdotal evidence of “feeling of running out of oxygen” and complaints of ventilation not working properly in areas where new 5G antennas have been installed. More research on 60 GHz is highly called for.

A study of millimeter waves on rats found a wide array of negative health effects. These effects consisted of dysfunction of blood flow to the heart, liver, kidneys and spleen; disruption of cell membrane permeability; premature cell death; tissue degeneration; reduction of red and white blood cells; changes in the bone marrow; increased levels of cortisol and adrenaline as well as weakened reflexes. Some of the changes were still observed 10 days after the exposure. [4]

Another study of 60 GHz on rabbits found irritation and damage to the eyes. The observed effects after only 6 minutes of exposure consisted of eyelid edema, drying of eyes, elevation of the corneal surface temperature, corneal edema and epithelial cell loss, excessive pupil constriction, eye infection, an increase in flares, iris vasodilation and vessel leakage. [12]

A 2002 study on mice exposed to 42 GHz showed a 50 % suppression of neutrophil – a type of white blood cell - activity. The activity returned to normal three days after the exposure. [9]

In a 2019 review on wireless radiation, Kostoff presents negative effects of 5G on the nervous system, heart, and immune system [3] and a 2020 study presents evidence that “the 5G mobile networking technology will affect not only the skin and eyes, as commonly believed, but will have systemic adverse effects as well.” [5]

2018 review notes that “available findings seem sufficient to demonstrate the existence of biomedical effects, to invoke the precautionary principle, to define exposed subjects as potentially vulnerable and to revise existing limits.” [16]

European Parliament discusses a wide range of possible health effects of 5G in its 2020 report and urges more research on the biological effects as well as revising the current safety standards. [17]

A 2019 review found a wide array of biological effects, including cancer, developmental defects, inflammation, oxidative stress, blood pressure and changes in the immune system and brainwaves. [29]

5G could also lead to changes in insect behavior, physiology, and morphology over time. [2]

So what do you think? Should 5G roll out be put to halt until more research are done on its safety?

EDIT 3.1.2021: The paragraph about 60 Hz and oxygen was reworded to distinguish the writers own conclutions from the scientific evidence. The sentence about 60 Hz affecting the form of the oxygen molecule was removed.


1. Neufeld & Kuster. (2018). Systematic Derivation of Safety Limits for Time-Varying 5G Radiofrequency Exposure Based on Analytical Models and Thermal Dose.

2. Thielens et al. (2018). Exposure of Insects to Radio-Frequency Electromagnetic Fields from 2 to 120 GHz.

5. Kostoff et al. (2020). Adverse health effects of 5G mobile networking technology under real-life conditions.

6. Alekseev et al. (2008). Millimeter Wave Dosimetry of Human Skin.

7. Betzalel et al. (2018). The human skin as a sub-THz receiver – Does 5G pose a danger to it or not?

8. Nasim & Kim. (2018). Mitigation of human EMF exposure in downlink of 5G.

9. Kolomytseva et al. (2002). Suppression of Nonspecific Resistance of the Body Under the Effect of Extremely High Frequency Electromagnetic Radiation of Low Intensity.

10. Feldman et al. (2008). Human Skin as Arrays of Helical Antennas in the Millimeter and Submillimeter Wave Range.

11. Pakhomov et al. (1997). Role of field intensity in the biological effectiveness of millimeter waves at a resonance frequency.

12. Kojima et al. (2009). Acute Ocular Injuries Caused by 60-Ghz Millimeter-Wave Exposure.

13. Hakusui. (2001). Fixed Wireless Communications at 60GHz Unique Oxygen Absorption Properties.

14. The Brussels Times. (2.5.2020). Health workers call for caution over 5G roll-out.

15. Seungmo & Imtiaz. (2020). Human Electromagnetic Field Exposure in 5G at 28 GHz.

16. Ciaula. (2018). Towards 5G communication systems: Are there health implications?

17. European Parliament. (2020). Effects of 5G wireless communication on human health.

18. European Parliament. (2019). 5G Deployment: State of Play in Europe, USA and Asia.

19. Environmental Health Trust. (18.3.2020). Slovenia halts 5G to Investigate Health and Safety.

20. Yahoo! Finance. (2019). TPG says community health fears stopped its 5G rollout in Australia – as experts blame disinformation campaigns on social media.

21. Connecticut Senate hearing on 5G. (2019). At Senate Commerce Hearing, Blumenthal Raises Concerns on 5G Wireless Technology's Potential Health Risks.

22. IEEE Spectrum. (24.7.2019). 5G’s Waveform Is a Battery Vampire.

23. Space News. (14.6.2019). FCC dismisses studies of potential 5G interference with satellite weather observations.

24. The New Yorker. (26.4.2019). The terrifying potential of the 5G network.

25. US Federal Communications Commission (FCC). (2.6.2020). Telecommunications Act of 1996.

26. 5G appeal webpage. (3.6.2020).

27. Stop 5G on Earth and in Space webpage. (3.6.2020).

28. The International EMF Scientist Appeal webpage. (3.6.2020).

29. Simkó & Mattsson. (2019). 5G Wireless Communication and Health Effects—A Pragmatic Review Based on Available Studies Regarding 6 to 100 GHz.

30. Global News Wire. (11.3.2020). Switzerland calls halt on 5G amid radiation health fears.

31. Russia Business Today. (6.3.2020). Russia Delays Launch of 5G Networks.

32. Smombie Gate. (5.6.2020). List of Cities, towns, Councils and Countries that have Banned 5G.

33. Euronews. (16.1.2020). Brussels pauses 5G rollout due to lack of proof mobile phones don't cause cancer.

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