[…The below presented brief opinion is not a comprehensive review of the issue but opinion pointing towards few of the important issues associated with the deployment of the 5G technology…]

The currently ongoing deployment of the 5th generation of the wireless communication technology (5G) is being met with great enthusiasm by the telecommunication industry and national governments and general public. However, there is also some resistance from the part of the population in various locations around the globe. The opposition towards deployment of the 5G is caused by the uncertainty whether radiation emitted by the 5G networks and devices will have any health effects on human health and environmental impact on fauna and flora.

Author of this ‘Brief Opinion’ considers the rapid deployment of the 5G technology as premature, in the context of the very limited scientific research on effects of low level exposures to sub-millimeter- and millimeter waves, as expressed e.g. in final points of conclusions of the invited lectures:

  • Key-note lecture at ARPS 2017 in Australia
  • Key-note opening lecture at Korean EMF Workshop 2018, South Korea

The health effect of ‘worries

By the WHO Definition of Health, the resistance against 5G deployment, caused by the worry of the possible health effects caused by 5G-emitted radiation is, by itself, the health effect of the 5G.

WHO Definition of Health states:

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Therefore, in accordance with this WHO definition, persons that are stressed by the ‘worry’ that the safety measures implemented to protect health are inadequate = the experienced ‘worry’ is a health effect.

The larger the ‘worried’ population is, the larger is the scale of this worry-caused health effect and the more concerned should be authorities responsible for the public health policies.

The part of population, worried that the wireless communication technology causes health effects, is concerned that the evaluation of science and interpretation of the health outcomes is arbitrary and incorrect. As a consequence, the ‘worried’ population considers the currently used safety limits, used when manufacturing and deploying wireless communication devices and networks, as insufficient to prevent and protect from a diverse variety of potential health effects. Some of the published scientific research supports this notion of the insufficiency of the current safety limits to protect human health.

ICNIRP, the matter of trust in the ‘safety guidelines’

Internationally, the most common guidelines for the safety limits for the radiation emitted by the wireless devices and networks have been developed by ICNIRP. These safety limits are world-wide recommended for use by the WHO. These guidelines are based on the ICNIRP-interpretation of the current scientific knowledge.

The major problems causing distrust towards ICNIRP, and reflecting in the distrust towards ICNIRP-interpretation of science, are:

  • ICNIRP is considered to act as a “private club” where the current members and own uncontrolled discretion, elect new members; there is no need or requirement to justify the selection of new members to anyone
  • there is a complete lack of accountability of ICNIRP actions and activities before anyone
  • on the contrary to ICNIRP claims, there is a complete lack of transparency of their activities and their decisions in matters of the interpretation of the scientific evidence
  • there is a complete lack of supervision of its activities that is being purported by the self-claim of the scientific independence
  • ICNIRP evaluation of science is likely skewed because in this ‘private club’ all members have a close similarity of the opinions; this applies to all members of the Main Commission and all of the scientists selected as advisors to the Main Commission;
  • ICNIRP achieves consensus opinions by shutting off any dissenting opinions
  • No scientist with opinion suggesting that cell phone radiation has health effects was ever elected to the membership of the Main Commission of ICNIRP
  • While ICNIRP provides guidelines concerning health effects of radiation, there are no physicians elected to the membership of Main Commission of ICNIRP

What is concerning, is that the European States follow whatever advice they receive from the ICNIRP, trusting the group of self-appointed experts, without critically evaluating what kind of NGO ICNIRP is, what might be its Conflicts of Interests, stemming from industry lobbying, and what is its accountability for the recommended safety limits.

People concerned with the correctness of the ICNIRP guidelines for the safety limits are concerned that the ICNIRP-interpretation of the science is not credible because it is:

  • inadequately considering the so-called non-thermal effects
  • arbitrarily disregarding numerous biological effects as insufficiently proven
  • arbitrarily disregarding cancer risk evidence from the replicated case-control epidemiology studies
  • relying solely on scientifically inadequate psychology provocation studies when examining the individual sensitivity to wireless radiation
  • refusing to advocate for the physiology/biochemistry studies of individual sensitivity to radiation
  • not considering the significance of the ‘research that has not been done’ in formulation of the safety limits and health protection recommendations

Policies concerning human health and radiation emitted by the wireless communications are based solely on ICNIRP-interpretation of ‘what we know’. This comes out clearly from reading e.g. ICNIRP Statement: General approach to protection against non‐ionizing radiation (Health Physics 82(4):540‐548; 2002). The authors of this Statement clearly specify that they solely evaluate only the published peer-reviewed studies in search of the adverse health effects:

“…The exposure guidelines developed by ICNIRP are intended to protect against the adverse health effects of NIR exposure…”

“…For an actual estimate of risk in the general population or in a specific group, the selected studies should provide additional information, including

    • the definition of the biologically effective quantity, which may vary with organ;
    • exposure-effect relationship, and identification of a threshold, if any;
    • exposure distribution and identification of sub populations with high exposure; and
    • differences in susceptibilities within a population

This information in whole or in part also in principle forms the necessary background for the development of advice including guidance on limiting exposure.…”

In the whole ICNIRP Statement there is not mentioned at all the existence or the significance of ‘research that has not been done’. ICNIRP does not provide any advice of how to consider ‘research that has not been done’ in the context of the validity/reliability of science-based safety standards and science-based public health policies.

The problem of not discussing the significance, including potential impact on the safety guidelines, of the ‘research that has not been done’ is especially important for the current deployment of the 5G, where the frequencies of millimeter-waves will be used without a proper human and environment health testing and assessment.

The significance of ‘research that has not been done’ for developing health protection policies

The knowledge is not only a set of facts that we know but it is also enigma of this what we do not know. It was well presented by Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defense in his NATO Briefing on June 6, 2002:

There are things we know that we know.

There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don’t know.

But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.

This description of the knowledge, or ‘what we know’, applies not only to military but also very well applies to science in general. This statement, explains that our knowledge is not only the set of facts that we know because we have researched them but also it underlines the significance of the knowledge of uncertainty, knowledge of what we do not know and what are the limitations of our knowledge.

Continuing his response to a question from a journalist, Donald Rumsfeld said:

“…So when we do the best we can and we pull all this information together, and we then say well that’s basically what we see as the situation, that is really only the known knowns and the known unknowns. And each year, we discover a few more of those unknown unknowns…”

It means that in our decision-making process we should use not only the knowledge at hand but also information what knowledge we are still missing or knowledge about what we might be not aware of, at this point in time.

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Awareness of this missing knowledge is important for the defining and understanding of the scientific limitations of our health protection policies. However, this ‘missing knowledge’ is also often ‘missing’ in our decision-making process. This applies also to decisions on public health safety for the wireless communication-emitted low-power radiation.

While the guidelines need to be based on published studies, the knowledge of what are the gaps in the knowledge is of great importance. Knowing the gaps allows determining whether the published scientific literature is of sufficient quality and quantity to be the basis for a reliable safety guidelines. Lack of studies, or very limited number of studies, in certain areas might be scientifically undermining the reliability of the ICNIRP guidelines. Whether and how ICNIRP deals with this problem, if at all, is not specified at all in ICNIRP publications and recommendations.

This matter of the lack or insufficient number of published studies is of importance for the ICNIRP revision of the guidelines that will cover not only spectrum of the currently used, and being taken into use, frequencies of 100 kHz – 6 GHz but also spectrum of the millimeter-waves (30 – 300 GHz).

As shown below, the number of scientific studies that examined effects of millimeter-waves on living matter is extremely limited and insufficient to provide scientific database to support any science-based guidelines for human, and any living organism, exposure.

5G wireless technology – a mix of old and new

5G wireless communication technology comprises of parts of the used already 3G and 4G technologies that will be supplemented with new technology employing millimeter-waves for the fast transfer of the large amounts of data. In the beginning the 5G technology will expand into frequencies below the 6GHz. Later, the 5G will use also the frequencies of 6 – 30 GHz, the sub-millimeter-waves and 30 – 300 GHz, the millimeter-waves. Currently, in Europe spectrum of sub-millimeter-waves of 26 GHz (range 24.25 – 27.5 GHz) and 28 GHz (range 26.5 – 29.5 GHz) is being freed for the 5G use.

Therefore, when discussing possible health effects of the 5G technology it is necessary to discuss what we already know about health effects potentially caused by the earlier 2G, 3G and 4G technologies and the new addition to the mix, the 5G’s millimeter-wave frequencies.

However, while the 5G technology itself is being fast developed and commercialized, the problem of the possible health impact of the emitted radiation seems marginalized and outright dismissed.

The serious, undetermined by scientific research, health-related problems of 5G (sub-millimeter- and millimeter-waves) are:

  • Rapidly developing wireless technology is commercialized with health safety based rather on assumptions than on biomedical scientific research
  • Currently given permits for the deployment of technology are based solely on the assumed lack of health hazard and not on the scientifically proven health research
  • The potentially false assumption of safety causes that the human health hazard research is not being funded and performed
  • Research on the impact of the technology on living environment (fauna and flora) of humans is not being performed

The assumed lack of impact of the 5G technology on humans and their environment might be false

In case of the cell phones introduced in 1980’s, the assumed lack of health hazard appeared to be false.

  • In early 1980’s communications technology developed for US Department of Defense was commercialized for civilian use
  • US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permitted cell phones to be sold without pre-market testing for human health hazard. FDA rationale for this decision was the ‘low power exclusion’. The ‘low power exclusion’ meant that it was assumed that the low power electromagnetic radiation emitted by the cell phone will be harmless for human health
  • In 2011, on the basis of the scientific research executed after the cell phones were deployed for civilian use, the group of 30 experts invited by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified cell phone radiation, and any like-radiation, as a possible human carcinogen(category 2B in IARC scale).
  • After the IARC classification made in 2011, several new scientific studies were published that appear to strengthen the notion that the wireless radiation used in 3G and 4G is not only a possible carcinogen but that it might/should be re-classified as a probable human carcinogen (category 2A in IARC scale).

Studies published before (*) and after (the ‘game changers’; **) 2011 IARC classification, which suggest cell phone radiation (1G – 4G technologies) is a probable human carcinogen:

Epidemiological studies are providing the most important evidence concerning the possible human health effects. Four epidemiological case-control studies indicate that long-term avid use of cell phone increases risk of developing brain cancer – glioma

  • European INTERPHONE project (*); INTERPHONE Study Group. Brain tumour risk in relation to mobile telephone use: results of the INTERPHONE international case-control study. Int J Epidemiol. 2010 Jun;39(3):675-94. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyq079. Epub 2010 May 17.
  • Several publications from Hardell group in Sweden (*), for review see e.g.:
    • Hardell L, Carlberg M and Hansson Mild K (2005). Case–control study on cellular and cordless telephones and the risk for acoustic neuroma or meningioma in patients diagnosed 2000–2003. Neuroepidemiology 25: 120–28.
    • Hardell L and Carlberg M (2009). Mobile phones, cordless phones and the risk for brain tumours. International Journal of Oncology 35: 5–17.
  • Study from France (**); Coureau G, et al. Mobile phone use and brain tumours in the CERENAT case-control study. Occup Environ Med. 2014; 71: 514-522
  • Re-calculated results of the Canadian part of INTERPHONE (**); Momoli et al. Probabilistic Multiple-Bias Modeling Applied to the Canadian Data From the Interphone Study of Mobile Phone Use and Risk of Glioma, Meningioma, Acoustic Neuroma, and Parotid Gland Tumors. Am J Epidemiol. 2017 Oct 1;186(7):885-893. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwx157.
  • INTERPHONE derived study showing localization of glioma in the most radiation-exposed part of the brain by Grell et al. (**); Grell et al. The Intracranial Distribution of Gliomas in Relation to Exposure From Mobile Phones: Analyses From the INTERPHONE Study. Am J Epi. Nov. 2016; DOI: 10.1093/aje/kww082

There are several epidemiological studies suggesting lack of cell phone radiation exposure on the risk of brain cancer. However, these studies appear to have more severe design limitations as compared with the above listed case control studies. These ‘negative’ epidemiology studies are:

  • Danish Cohort update study 2011 – no effect; no exposure data; the length of phone subscription with service provider used as a proxy
  • Million Women study 2014 – no effect; use of cell phone using a too crude scale: ‘never’, ‘less than once a day’, ‘every day’
  • Chapman et al. 2016; Australian study presents misleading claim of 29 years of use and used only 10 years period as possible latency of brain cancer

Epidemiology trend studies, following trend (increase or decline) of cancer in population are not well suitable for determining the correlation between cell phone exposure and brain cancer because of the concomitantly happening fast progress in clinical diagnostic methods and in fast developed clinical treatment methods.

Animal studies provide an important scientific evidence used to corroborate observation of the epidemiological studies. In these studies animals are exposed to radiation doses similar or higher than level encountered by people and variety of physiological functions of animals is examined.

However, the lack of health effects in animals exposed to radiation levels experienced by humans in their everyday life is not a proof that humans are safe from the health effects. On the other hand exposing animals to radiation levels much higher than those experienced by humans does not prove what kind of health effects will happen in humans. It only proves that some health effects are possible and human health policies should consider them.

  • Co-carcinogenicity study from Germany (**); Lerchl A, et al. Tumor promotion by exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields below exposure limits for humans. BBRC 2015; 459: 585-590
  • Toxicology study from the US National Toxicology Program (**); Technical report on the toxicology and carcinogenesis studies in Hsd:Sprague Dawley SD rats exposed to whole-body radio frequency radiation at a frequency (900 MHz) and modulations (GSM and CDMA) used by cell phones. National Toxicology Program; NTP TR 595.
  • Chinese study showing stress-pathway-dependent leakage of the blood-brain-barrier (**); Tang J, et al. Exposure to 900 MHz electromagnetic fields activates the mkp-1/ERK pathway and causes blood-brain barrier damage and cognitive impairment in rats. Brain Res. 2015; 1601: 92-101
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A not spoken about outcome of the NTP study is not only the indication that radiation exposures caused pathological effect in rats but also that the NTP study indicates:

  • That the individual sensitivity to wireless radiation exists,
  • That there will not be epidemic of brain cancer even though billions of people are exposed to wireless technology-emitted radiation.

The animals in the NTP study were exposed to high doses or wireless radiation. However, only very few rats have developed cancer. It suggests that not all rats were equally sensitive to the radiation. Only few of the animals were sensitive and responded to exposures by developing cancer.

Following this NTP-suggested line of thought, it is likely that also within the human population only some, more sensitive individuals, will respond to exposures and develop brain cancer. This might be the reason why, in spite of the increased risk of developing brain cancer, demonstrated in case-control studies, there is no overall dramatic increase in the number of cases of glioma. Glioma remains to be a rare disease, <50 cases per 100.000 people. The reason is an individual sensitivity – only some persons respond to the very low levels of radiation emitted by the cell phones.

In vitro dosimetry study showing that human cells inside human body are exposed to higher SAR values than SAR used in experimental in vitro studies. It means that lack of consistent results in in vitro studies might be caused by inadequate exposures. Selected studies need to be repeated with higher SAR at well controlled temperature (cooling) (**);

  • Schmid G & Kuster N. The discrepancy between maximum in vitro exposure levels and realistic conservative exposure levels of mobile phones operating at 900/1800 MHz. Bioelectromagnetics. 2015; 36:133-148

The new – millimeter-waves

Very limited biomedical research indicates a potentially hazardous outcomes from millimeter-waves for humans and for the environment.

There are serious limitations of biomedical research on millimeter-waves:

  • The most important problem is the very low number of executed bio-medical studies. Specialized database EMF Portal (www.emf-portal.org) lists ca. 200 studies. The ORSAA specialized database lists ca. 90 studies. Some (few tens) of additional studies are possible to find in the PubMed database.
  • Lack of human epidemiology and animal toxicology studies
  • Lack of studies examining responses of human physiology to exposure (human volunteer studies)
  • Lack of studies on chronic exposures that are likely the most important because the radiation exposure is of low power
  • Lack of studies examining co-effects of chemicals and millimeter-wave radiation

An important problem for the evaluation of the scarce experimental data is not only caused by the limited number of the available studies but also by the fact that the studies come from a very small number of research groups. There is a clear lack of replication studies that would re-confirm the original findings.

Significance of the exposure of human skin

In comparison with 1G – 4G exposures, millimeter-waves used in 5G will penetrate only the depth of the skin deep. This small depth of penetration should be not considered as indicator that millimeter-wave exposures can be automatically dismissed as meaningless for human health. It is misleading assumption, insufficiently considering the knowledge about human skin physiology.

Millimeter-waves penetrating skin may, and likely will, have biological effects on the skin cells as well as on the microbes living on the skin.

Human skin is the largest immune response organ of the human body. Its proper functioning is regulated not only by the diverse variety of human skin cells but also by the diverse variety of microbes living on the skin. Human skin cells and co-existing microbes in concert regulate and modulate not only skin but also the whole body’s physiology, e.g.:

  • The role of the skin as immune defense organ: “The skin as an immune organ” by Salmon JK, Armstrong CA, and Ansel JC; West J Med. 1994 Feb; 160(2): 146–152

The role of the microbes living on/within the human skin is well documented. For example, in the recent review article: “Functions of the skin microbiota in health and disease”, Sanford JA & Gallo RL; Semin Immunol. 2013 Nov 30; 25(5): 370–377:

  • “…The skin, the human body’s largest organ, is home to a diverse and complex variety of innate and adaptive immune functions…”
  • “…the skin immune system should be considered a collective mixture of elements from the host and microbes acting in a mutualistic relationship…”

In 2015 has been published review article under a very suggestive, though misleading title: Safe for Generations to Come. Ting Wu, Theodore S. Rappaport, Christopher M. Collins; New York University (NYU) WIRELESS, IEEE Microw Mag. 2015; 16: 65–84. The article presents the outcome of the Brooklyn 5G Summit in April 2014, sponsored by Nokia and the New York University (NYU) WIRELESS research center.

The authors of this review clearly stated that the knowledge concerning effects of millimeter-waves on human physiology is insufficient to make conclusive statements concerning human health safety:

  • “…Compared with lower frequency bands, relatively little careful research has been conducted evaluating the potential of more subtle long-term effects than tissue damage due directly to heating at mmWave frequencies…”

Further they elaborate on the possible effects of millimeter-wave exposure on human skin:

  • “…Existing measured data of skin permittivity is rare in the mmWave band compared with frequencies below 20 GHz due to technical limitations, such as availability of vector network analyzers, in the mmWave frequency range…”
  • “…Since most mmWave energy is absorbed near the surface of the human body, leading to localized temperature elevations near the skin surface, the study of mmWave heating of the skin is critical to protecting humans from mmWave overexposure…”
  • “…At microwave frequencies, it is widely accepted that antennas placed in close proximity to lossy media, such as the human body, experience strong power absorption into the media, radiation pattern distortion, shift in resonance frequency, and change in the input impedance. In the mmWave band, the electromagnetic coupling between antennas and the human body as well as the possible perturbations of antenna characteristics due to the body require more study…”

The other organ that will be directly exposed to millimeter-waves are eyes. Eyes are particularly vulnerable because of the limited possibilities of dissipation of the heat load induced by the radiation. The authors of the IEEE review commented as follows:

  • “…As with the eyes, however, more work is required to determine temperature increases from higher exposure levels that might be experienced in the near field from specific communication devices with high-gain antennas and to develop and demonstrate reliable mechanisms to ensure that no hazardous levels of energy are transmitted to the skin…”
  • “…More work may be required to determine the possible effects from exposure above 10 mW/cm2 that might be experienced in the near field from specific communication devices with adaptive antennas as well as to ensure that mechanisms are in place to ensure that no hazardous levels of energy are transmitted into the eyes…”

This means that there is an insufficient knowledge about the effects of millimeter-waves on skin itself and on the physiological processes regulated by the skin-derived mediators as well as the eye physiology. Without this information, any judgement claiming the safety of the millimeter-wave exposure is scientifically premature and misleading.

Human studies epidemiology and provocation

There are, with two exceptions, no epidemiological studies that would examine effects of millimeter-wave exposures on any aspects of human physiology, both normal and pathological. The two epidemiological studies in only limited way apply to the 5G exposures:

  • 2007, Preece AW, et al. Health response of two communities to military antennae in Cyprus. Occup Environ Med 64 (6): 402-408
  • 1997, Dolk H, et al. Cancer incidence near radio and television transmitters in Great Britain. I. Sutton Coldfield transmitter. Am J Epidemiol 145 (1): 1-9

There is also no knowledge what could be the health-related end-points for the epidemiological studies. This is because of the narrowness of topics examined in animal and in vitro laboratory studies examining the outcomes of the millimeter-wave exposures.

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There is just a handful of provocation studies that examined effect of millimeter-waves on human volunteers. The processes examined were e.g.:

  • Local skin heating
  • Effect on pain sensation
  • Effect on acupuncture sites
  • Effects on blood flow

Studies on human cells in vitro

Most of the human-related research was performed in laboratory in vitro studies examining human cells, both primary and cell lines. Number of such studies is small, in the range of 200. Some of the studies have shown that exposures to millimeter-waves affect cellular physiology but other studies have shown lack of effects on the same cell properties. Some of the examined parameters were e.g.:

  • Promotion of synthesis of extracellular matrix
  • Induction of apoptosis
  • Promotion of proliferation and G1 to S phase transition
  • Inhibition of NO-dependent apoptosis via p38MAPK pathway
  • Changes in protein expression
  • Effects on NF-KB pathway via TNF-alpha and cyclophosphamide
  • Effects on c-fos expression
  • Lack of effects on Hsp27 and Hsp70

The in vitro effects should be replicated as these observations suggest that biological and potentially health effects, might be caused by the millimeter-wave exposure. However, the to-date collected scientific evidence is insufficient to make any scientifically reliable health-related recommendations.

Human studies on sensitivity to millimeter-wave exposures

Considering human exposures to the radiofrequencies currently used by the 1G – 4G technologies, part of the human population considers themselves as sensitive to the radiation exposures, the so-called self-diagnosed electromagnetic hyper-sensitives (EHS or IEI-EHS). Therefore, it is necessary to ask whether similar sensitivity will be self-diagnosed with the exposures to millimeter-waves of the 5G.

  • At 42 GHz effect on human blood cells depended on the dose radiation and on the “individual peculiarities of donors of the blood cells” (study from 1998)
  • Skin of different people reacts differently to stimuli – will it happen with millimeter-waves? There is no research available.
  • Research on physiological effects of millimeter-waves on skin, and its impact on the physiology of the whole human body, is urgently needed

Specific ‘electromagnetic effect’ on transcriptome by Habauzit et al. PLoS One, 2014, 9:e109435-1-e109435-10:

  • Exposure affected gene expression
  • Seven genes were affected and confirmed
  • Effect was observed when the temperature of cells increased. When temperature was controlled and did not rise, the effect on gene expression disappeared.
  • However, just by increasing the temperature it was not possible to mimic the supposedly thermal exposure effect on gene expression.
  • Hence, the authors proposed a possibility of an “electromagnetic” (non-thermal) component of the exposure effect

Studies on millimeter-wave effects on microbiota and microbiome

Microorganisms living on/within the skin play an important role in regulation of the skin and whole body physiology. A microbiota is an “ecological community of commensal, symbiotic and pathogenic microorganisms” found in and on all multicellular organisms studied to date from plants to animals. A microbiota includes bacteria, archaea, protists, fungi and viruses. The microbiome comprises all of the genetic material within a microbiota (the entire collection of microorganisms in a specific niche, such as the human skin). This can also be referred to as the metagenome of the microbiota. EMF effects on microbiota and microbiome should be examined for the whole EMF spectrum used in wireless communications.

Some of the available effects on microbiota and microbiome, observed in, so far, performed studies (<20 studies):

  • Inhibition of bacterial growth (53 GHz)
  • Enhancement of bacterial sensitivity to antibiotics (53 GHz)
  • Inhibition of growth and viability of bacteria (70 GHz)
  • Effects on metabolic pathways in bacteria (53 GHz)
  • Co-effects of mm-Waves and UVC (enhanced survival)
  • Co effects with X-rays (repair of the damage)
  • Effects on structure if bacterial genome

Effects on environment – sensitivity of insects (e.g. bees)

Potential effects of millimeter-waves emitted by the 5G base stations on insects were only scarcely investigated. This topic is of great importance and number of insects, not solely bees, act as pollinators. Affecting physiology of insects that would impact their pollination activity would have impact on the food supply for human population.

Recent study on ‘Exposure of Insects to Radio-Frequency Electromagnetic Fields from 2 to 120 GHz’ by Thielens et al. (team included Luc Martens and Wout Joseph) was published in a quality open-access journal Scientific Reports (2018, 8:3924). The authors suggested that:

  • “…Our simulations showed that a shift of 10% of the incident power density to frequencies above 6 GHz would lead to an increase in absorbed power between 3–370%…”
  • “…This could lead to changes in insect behaviour, physiology, and morphology over time due to an increase in body temperatures, from dielectric heating…”

Summary Conclusions

Introduction of the 5G technology will dramatically change human exposures to wireless radiation. Because the sub-millimeter- and millimeter-waves are efficiently absorbed by rain and fog, by foliage, by walls of the buildings, the base stations will need to be deployed very densely along the streets and inside of the buildings, including individual apartments. Deployment of the networks of self-driven cars will require not only dense deployment of the base-stations along the streets but also, e.g. cutting down trees to remove millimeter-waves absorbing foliage. These rare just few examples of the severity of the impact of the 5G technologies that are being deployed now (using sub-millimeter-waves; 6 – 30 GHz) and the future 5G applications (using millimeter-waves; 30 – 300 GHz). This all means that people will be exposed in very close proximity to low levels of radiation that we do not know what health effects may exert.

To-date collected scientific evidence suggests that the carcinogenic effects of the radiation emitted by the 2G, 3G and 4G technologies could be re-classified and considered as probable human carcinogen, group 2A in the IARC scale.

Lack of research on the effects of sub-millimeter- and millimeter-waves precludes from making any far reaching conclusions on the health effects to humans, fauna and flora.

Efforts should be made to evaluate individual sensitivity of people to the radiation emitted by the 5G technologies, including 3G and 4G technologies and the millimeter-wave technologies. There is no scientific reason why the wireless radiation exposures would not activate individual sensitivity in some part of the human population. There is a well-known, and scientifically well-established, phenomenon of the individual sensitivity (Foray et al. 2012. Radiology 264:627-631). Individual sensitivity means that, because of the genetic and the epigenetic differences between people, different persons have different sensitivity to the same exposing factor (radiation or chemicals). The phenomenon of the individual sensitivity to radiation is well known for ionizing radiation (Bourguignon et al. 2005. Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging 32:229-246; Bourguignon et al. Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging 32:351-368), for non-ionizing ultraviolet radiation (Rees JL. 2004. Am J Hum Genet 75:739-751; Kelly et al. 2000. J Exp Med 191:561-566) and for ultrasound (Barnett et al. 1997. Ultrasound Med Biol 23:805-812). Therefore, it is scientifically justified to suspect (assume) that the individual sensitivity exists also for the wireless exposures. However, the essential, but still unanswered questions are: (i) what are the levels of wireless radiation that are tolerated without any adverse health effects by the majority of the population and, (ii) what are the physiological pre-conditions for the higher sensitivity to wireless radiation. The provocation approach needs to be replaced. It is a high time to stop research efforts focused on provocation tests,  being  of  low  sensitivity  and  producing  subjective  data,  and  move  on  to  the  physiology-based  research. Physiological studies, examining the molecular level responses of human tissues and organs to EMF exposures, will provide the evidence of individual sensitivity and basis for further research (Leszczynski 2014. Front Public Health 2:50).


Between a Rock and a Hard Place – Dariusz Leszczynski