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5G: Technology born to kill?

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EARLY this month the media reported that a wireless tower was set ablaze in Birmingham. England. A similar incident happened a day after the incident when a fire was reported at a telecommunications box in Liverpool. An hour later, an emergency call came in about another cell tower in Liverpool that was going up in flames.

  According to police reports, more than 120 acts of arson and vandalism have taken place against wireless towers and other telecom gear in Britain, across the country, telecom technicians have been harassed on the job. The 5G technology link with the spread of the coronavirus fuelled the attacks. The incident playing out in Britain may not have led to attack on telecommunication facilities elsewhere, but the same notion of the danger of the 5G technology is attached to it.

  Before the advent of any new technology, people have always displayed some fear for such emerging technology. Recall that in the 1830s, the city of London wanted to install street lightings but were met with strong resistance from people who believed that the government wanted to interfere with God’s original plan of separating night from day. Some argue that it would affect human sleeping patterns and cause sleeping disorder, mental health issues, among other health issues.

  The problem has always been people who are not well-informed and believers in unfounded reasoning fuelled today mostly by social media. Yet funny enough, at the beginning of this century critics kicked against the emerging internet of its potential rendering many people jobless and print media going extinct. Today, the internet has not only offered millions of people job opportunities, besides connecting people, but it has also made life more comfortable.    

  Basic knowledge of 5G is essential. 5G is the 5th generation mobile network. It is a new global wireless standard after 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G networks. 5G enables a new kind of network that is designed to connect virtually everyone and everything, including sensors, computers machines, objects, and other devices with ultra-low latency.

  Wireless technology has enjoyed a long history with fears based on vague accusations that it causes health issues. 5G has re-ignited health fears in some circles when linked with coronavirus.

  Why is 5G a cause for concern and does 5G pose health risks?  All wireless technology functions by sending and receiving signals using electromagnetic radiation (or EMF), – transmitted between an antenna or mast and your phone. At the root of all concerns about cell phone networks is radiofrequency radiation (RFR).

  The RFR is anything emitted in the electromagnetic spectrum, from microwaves to x-rays to radio waves to light from your monitor or light from the sun. But the radio spectrum is already crammed full of signals. 5G seeks to use a completely new spectrum to allow for more traffic.  How worried should you be about 5G technologies transmitting a virus, lowering the immune system or posing other health risks?

  It would also be impossible for 5G to transmit the virus, Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol, adds.

  “The present epidemic is caused by a virus that is passed from one infected person to another. We know this is true. We even have the virus growing in our lab, obtained from a person with the illness. Viruses and electromagnetic waves that make mobile phones and internet connections work are different things. As different as chalk and cheese,” he says.

  Dr. Steve Novella, an assistant professor of neurology at Yale and the editor of Science-Based Medicine, understands that people generally get concerned about radiation. “Using the term radiation is misleading because people think of nuclear weapons—they think of ionizing radiation that absolutely can cause damage.

  “It can kill cells. It can cause DNA mutations.” But since non-ionizing radiation doesn’t cause DNA damage or tissue damage, Novella says that most concern about cell phone RFR is misplaced. “There’s no known mechanism for most forms of non-ionizing radiation even to have a biological effect.”

  Dr. Steve Novella, an assistant professor of neurology at Yale and the editor of Science-Based Medicine, understands that people generally get concerned about radiation. “Using the term radiation is misleading because people think of nuclear weapons—they think of ionizing radiation that absolutely can cause damage.

It can kill cells. It can cause DNA mutations.” But since non-ionizing radiation doesn’t cause DNA damage or tissue damage, Novella says that most concern about cell phone RFR is misplaced. “There’s no known mechanism for most forms of non-ionizing radiation even to have a biological effect,” he says.

  Neil Derek Grace, a communications officer at the FCC (the agency responsible for licensing the spectrum for public use), said, “For 5G equipment, the signals from commercial wireless transmitters are typically far below the RF exposure limits at any location that is accessible to the public.” The weight of scientific evidence has not linked cell phones with any health problems.”

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