Below is the next in a series of Guest Blogs on BRHP. The opinions expressed in this Guest Blog are of Don Maisch himself. Publication of these opinions in BRHP does not imply that BRHP automatically agrees with or endorses these opinions. Publication of this, and other Guest Blogs, facilitates an open debate and free exchange of opinions on wireless technology and health.

This guest blog, by Don Maisch, the publisher of the EMFacts Consultancy, is the follow up to the earlier published Guest Blog and the author continues to ask questions about the 5G and Brillouin precursors.


An important question:

Can 5G phased array antennas generate Brillouin precursors?

by Don Maisch

In early 2002 the New York based technical publication, Microwave News published an examination of a rather arcane topic: Brillouin precursors. The issue at that time was non-ionising radiation from the phased array PAVE PAWS radar facility at Cape Cod , Massachusetts, USA.  A Brillouin precursor is a very fast pulse of radiation, which when it enters the human body, may generate a burst of energy that can travel much deeper than predicted by conventional models.

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In a Microwave News interview with Professor Kurt Oughstun he explained how Brillouin precursors are generated by phased array radar antennas. When asked, “Are Brillouin precursors unique to PAVE PAWS radiation?”, Oughstun replied:

“No – not at all. As data transmission rates continue to increase, wireless communication systems will approach closer to and may, at some time in the not-too-distant future, exceed the conditions necessary to produce Brillouin precursors in living tissue.”

On April 15, I sent an email to Oughstun and asked if there was a possibility of Brillouin precursors being created by 5G technology. His detailed reply, dated May 5, said, in part:

 “ This condition is likely not met, but again is close. A 10 Gbps (gigabits per second) data rate or higher would, however, be sufficient [to create Brillouin precursors], and that would be worrisome.”

In November 2018, GSMA the industry organization representing the interests of mobile operators worldwide, published its policy position on the 5G spectrum. To quote, in part from page 3:

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“5G will be defined in a set of standardized specifications that will be agreed by international bodies- most notably the 3GPP and ultimately by the ITU in 2020. The ITU [International Telecommunications Union] has outlined specific criteria for IMT-2020 – commonly regarded as 5G – which will support the following use cases:

1. Enhanced mobile broadband: Including peak download speeds of at least 20 Gbps…”

It must be pointed out that no research has been carried out on Brillouin precursor creation with 5G phased array antennas – but it looks like a distinct possibility, considering the download speeds, which are implicated with the creation of Brillouin precursors.


  • Dr. Kurt Oughstun is a professor of electrical engineering and mathematics at the University of Vermont, Burlington. He has done extensive work on the propagation of extremely short electromagnetic pulses through different types of materials, and is the author of more than 50 published papers, as well as the textbook Electromagnetic Pulse Propagation in Causal Dielectrics with G.C. Sherman (Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1994)
  • Slesin, L., Brillouin Precursors 101 with Professor Kurt Oughstun, Microwave News, Vol 22, No. 2, March/April 2002, pp. 10-11,
  • Email from Kurt Oughstun, May, 5, 2019

Between a Rock and a Hard Place – Dariusz Leszczynski