It may be the most hilariously misunderstood technology of this generation. Just a few months ago, we were being inundated with stories about how the rollout of 5G was exacerbating the Covid-19 outbreak from sources that were — almost — scientific. First of all, if you haven’t heard this anywhere else, let me be the first to tell you that a virus transmitted through droplets of bodily fluid isn’t making rounds through radio waves.
It comes as no surprise that there’s so much confusion when so many sources are churning out conflicting narratives. Scientific American, for instance, recently posted a blog saying that “more than 500 studies have found harmful biologic or health effects from exposure to RFR at intensities too low to cause significant heating.”
This had a major impact on public perception. A 2020 Deloitte poll found that a fifth or more adults agreed with the statement “I believe there are health risks associated with 5G.”
So, what’s a girl (or guy, or non-binary person) to think? Is it time to burn our laptops and Oregon Trail it to Green Bank, West Virginia? Let’s take a look.
Radiation Isn’t Radioactivity
One of the main issues with public perception of 5G is simply a case of mixed-up terminology. “Radiation” and “radioactivity” aren’t necessarily the same thing. In fact, “radiation” just refers to the emission of energy that travels through a source, passes through a medium, and is absorbed when it reaches its final destination. So, yes, this could be cell phone > outdoor air > and human. But it could also be light > room > table or any other form of energy transference.
Radioactivity, on the other hand, is a spontaneous burst of radiation that stems from a nuclear reaction. Some radioactivity is associated with cancer/illness-causing agents that come from nuclear sites, etc. But here’s the doozy: None of the radiation generated by 5G is radioactive. Not an ion of it. And, in many ways, it carries less risk of harm than a lightbulb.
The FCC’s Take on the Issue
The poor FCC is in the position of trying to dispel 5G panic by referencing scientific studies … without offending anyone or stepping on anyone’s toes. The result is statements like this one:
“Even though no scientific evidence currently establishes a definitive link between wireless device use and cancer or other illnesses, and even though all such devices must meet established federal standards for exposure to RF energy, some consumers are skeptical of the science and/or the analysis that underlies the FCC’s RF exposure guidelines.”
Let me reiterate here that we aren’t disparaging the people who believe rumors about 5G either. There are a whole lot of news sources out there fully dedicated to leading them astray. But all wireless devices in the U.S. are rigorously tested by the FCC to ensure they never cross the very, very low exposure limits.
In closing, let me highlight that 5G actually uses and emits less power than other mainstream iterations of radiofrequency. The radio waves that 5G creates actually fall on the lower end of the electromagnetic spectrum. Do you know what has more radiation than 5G? Visible light. Microwaves. Ultraviolet light.
While 4G, 3G, and the like keep on going like the Energizer bunny even when the device is shut down, 5G goes into sleep mode when it’s turned off. So not only is it safer than a lightbulb, it’s actually safer than many of the older technologies that conspiracy theorists are clinging to in lieu of welcoming the future of connectivity.
So, unless you’re living by candlelight and making your TV dinner in the oven each evening, you’re not going to be exposed to anything you aren’t already being inundated with – in spades. End rant.
Do you still have some qualms about the impact of 5G? Any studies I forgot to mention? Let’s hash it out in the comment section below!