5G network Controversial debate on radio radiation


The new fifth generation (5G) cellular network is planned for 2020. Industry and users are eagerly awaiting it. Nevertheless, there are also uncertainties about the effects the 5G network expansion will have on our health.

Controversies about the 5G network

Why is the 5G expansion being discussed controversially at all? So far, the frequencies of the G networks were between 700 megahertz and 6 gigahertz. The 5G network uses higher frequencies between 28 and 100 gigahertz. These higher frequencies can transmit more data per time. The networks in comparison:

  • 4G is ten times faster than 3G
  • 5G is a thousand times faster than 4G

EXTRA: 5G for everyone ?! Consumer advice center calls for complete expansion

It should be noted that the range decreases with increasing frequency. As a result, the nationwide 5G network needs more transmission masts. So far, transmission masts have been mounted on cell phone towers or roofs. In the future, they would be increasingly mounted on:

  • Road signs
  • Mailboxes
  • Lanterns

By increasing the number of transmission masts, one is more exposed to the influence of radiation. This worries many people, because so far there are no results from long-term studies that have investigated the effects of 5G radiation.

However, there are numerous scientific studies that have examined the influence of 2G, 3G and 4G radiation on the human body. A warming of the tissue could be determined in these – more on this later.

However, scientists point out that the results of previous studies cannot be transferred to the 5G network.

The 5G network cannot be compared with the other networks, as the radiation is distributed differently in the radio cells. The 5G network uses beamforming. Beamforming is a signal processing technique that uses sensor arrays to send or receive directional signals. This procedure allows your WiFi signal to be focused. Put simply, when your router sends out a WiFi signal, the signal just keeps getting wider and wider. This makes the router lose less and less performance in exchange for coverage. This process ensures fast and efficient data transfer.

The active mobile phone users are thus exposed to a risk. In the future, research will have to deal with the question of how to measure radiation exposure despite fluctuating intensity.

Are there any health risks?

Cell phones emit electromagnetic radiation, which is part of high-frequency radiation. A distinction is made between:

  • ionizing radiation (X-rays and radioactivity)
  • non-ionizing radiation (cell phone radiation, microwave radiation, etc.)

Although the energy from mobile phone radiation is insufficient to change our genetic make-up, harmful consequences cannot be ruled out.

EXTRA: How harmful is cell phone radiation really?

How does cell phone radiation work?

Cell phone radiation makes water molecules vibrate. The movement of the molecules creates frictional heat, which heats our tissue and cells when it penetrates our body. The following applies: the radiation penetrates our body as soon as the cell phone sends or receives. Depending on the frequency, the radiation penetrates the body to different depths and influences different tissues. The lower the frequency, the deeper the radiation penetrates. As a result, 5G radiation penetrates less deeply than radiation from the 2G, 3G or 4G network.

But when is the radiation harmful? The specific absorption rate (SAR) is a measure of the speed with which energy is absorbed by the human body when it is exposed to cell phone radiation. In Germany, the guideline value for radiation exposure was set at 2.0 watts by the Federal Office for Radiation Protection. This is to prevent a dangerous temperature increase of more than 1 ° C in the tissue. However, this benchmark is controversially discussed in science.

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Is cell phone radiation carcinogenic?

The answer to the question of whether cell phone radiation is carcinogenic is complicated. The debate on the topic was fueled by the research results of the American National Toxicology Program (NTP), which were published in November 2018. During the tests, mice and rats were exposed to cell phone radiation of 900 megahertz. The male rats then developed tumors on the heart. In addition, increased cell death was found in the rodents. In addition, changes occurred in the following body regions:

  • Nervous system
  • brain
  • heart
  • Testicles

The irradiation of the laboratory animals was high: the rodents were irradiated nine hours a day for two years with 1.5 to 6.0 watts per kilogram of body weight. However, this exceeds the BfS guideline value of 2.0 watts.

As early as 2011, cell phone radiation was classified as possibly carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The IARC is an organization of the World Health Organization (WHO). This assessment only means that cell phone radiation can in principle cause cancer. It does not take into account how much radiation is actually present in everyday life. For this reason, studies that investigate real everyday stress play a more important role.

There are now more than 1,500 studies that have dealt with the effects of radio radiation. If you need an overview during your research, the EMF portal of the RWTH Aachen is a good help. Three major studies in particular are given worldwide:

  • The Interphone Study
  • The Danish study
  • The Million Woman Study

These studies include more than 1.5 million subjects. So far, all three studies have only been able to determine that cell phone radiation warms our body tissue.

In the studies, no consistent correlation between cell phone radiation and brain tumors could be found over a period of more than ten years.

Conclusion: what are the consequences?

So far, experts have not panicked, but there is reason for caution. For this reason, it is worthwhile to reduce exposure to cell phone radiation.

4 tips on how to reduce exposure to cell phone radiation

These four tips will help you limit your radiation exposure:

  • Switch your phone to airplane mode before going to sleep
  • Get away from your cell phone and carry it as far from your body as possible
  • Turn off your cell phone frequently
  • Frequently use the hands-free facility

These simple tips alone can help to minimize radiation, as the radiation decreases after a short distance.

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