What are the health and safety risks connected to 5G?

Steve Bilton looks at the impact of smart cities.

The new 5G network, which is expected to be available to the public in 2020, is set to bring with it a whole range of benefits. It’s a fundamental part of the much-heralded Internet of Things and marks a major milestone in technological advancement.

It will help deliver a fully connected network of devices including everything from your mobile phone to your car and even more, meaning they will be able to communicate in harmony, creating a free flowing world of ease for consumers.

But, as with most advancements, it has not been without its detractors. A bizarre conspiracy theory broke recently in Gateshead, claiming trials of small cells (the hardware needed to realise the 5G network) were emitting radiation that was causing headaches, nosebleeds and even miscarriages.

This may just be a strange case in the growing phenomenon of fake news but, legitimacy aside, it got me thinking about whether there’s a realistic – if less extreme – threat to public health when 5G is rolled out.

5G will allow for interconnected devices that can communicate efficiently and with razor sharp precision.

Are you concerned? Well, worry no more as you learn everything you need to know about the health and safety risks of 5G.

What is 5G?

It feels like a long time ago but it all started with 1G, which allowed us to make phone calls. Fast forward a few years, passed the introduction of 2G, and 3G brought us mobile Internet, closely followed by 4G, which was driven by the demand for more mobile data. 5G, the latest development, will allow for interconnected devices that can communicate efficiently and with razor sharp precision.

As part of making this possible, small pieces of kit (known as small cells) will be deployed on lampposts, buildings and other street furniture. These are what were mistakenly identified in the aforementioned story regarding Gateshead.

What will 5G deliver?

One of the big things expected to be heralded by 5G is called smart cities. By connecting all devices and wirelessly linking everything from cars to buildings to mobile phones into the Internet of Things it will allow for a regular and controlled flow of traffic, real time updates on city centre activity and much more. All of this allows us to be better informed.

The widespread deployment of small cells will also improve signal, even in areas surround by very tall buildings, known as urban canyons.

How does it work?

It uses millimetre waves (MMW’s), which are high frequency energy waves with a short wave length. They are easily absorbed by our surroundings including buildings, trees, and even rain, snow and people. This is why the widespread installation of small cells is important, in order to give the signals a broad enough reach.

Are there any health risks with 5G?

As yet, the exact effects of 5G are unknown and it’s highly likely that further research will be conducted to come to a more accurate conclusion before anything is rolled out in full.

However, there have been concerns around the effects this unseen pollution, sometimes referred to as electrosmog, can cause. Namely how it affects the skin, eyes, heart and immune system amongst other things.

There have also been concerns raised around its effect on the planet and plant life.

So, it’s fair to say that 5G will revolutionise the way the world works and bring with it a whole host of new uses for existing technology, as well as inspiring the invention of new devices. There are some concerns around its safety but it’s likely that any issues with the latest technology will be sufficiently investigated and remedied before the public is put at any risk.


About the author

Steve Bilton is IT director of SHEilds.





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