Small Town Bans 5G High-Speed Network Due to Health Concerns—But Is 5G Dangerous?

A small town in England has halted the planned rollout of 5G wireless technology over fears about the health effects of the high speed network, but scientists largely believe the fears to be unfounded.

According to a report from the Daily Mail, residents of Totnes, England expressed concerns about the new high speed network planned to be imminently installed in the area. Over 1,600 of around 8,000 Totnes residents apparently signed a petition in support of "more safety research," and against the rollout. The local town council temporarily banned the technology as a result.

"Tumors are increasing and it isn't down to better diagnosis," anti-5G campaigner John Kitson told the paper. "There is increasing evidence of a link to high-frequency radiation."

"Everyone is talking about how 5G will allow driverless cars, amazing Wi-Fi speed and the internet of things such as fridges linked to the web," Kitson claimed. "And yet proper research on this technology has never been carried out."

5G Protest
Despite scientists disputing the claims, many continue to protest what they see as the negative health effects of 5G networks. The protest seen here took place September 9 in The Hague, Netherlands. Getty/Michel Porro

Claims that 5G poses a health risk have been dismissed by many, including what appears to be the vast majority of experts in the field. On Twitter, U.K. Under Secretary of State for Digital and Broadband Matt Warman commented on the story by pointing out that the radiation used in mobile networks is only as dangerous as "talcum powder or pickled vegetables," in accordance with a 2011 declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Government will support work to bust health myths over 5G, which @WHO say poses the same risk as talcum powder and pickled vegetables. There is no credible evidence to back up concerns and huge evidence for the economic benefit of gigabit-capable networks

— Matt Warman MP (@mattwarman) October 7, 2019

Scientists also dispute the notion that evidence supports the existence of 5G health risks. Wireless technology has been in existence for decades, and studies of the previous generations have not concluded the radio waves involved pose any serious health risks. But with each new rollout of technology, new claims about health risks also seem to appear.

Those who believe there are serious risks often cite a 2018 study by the U.S. National Toxicology Program, which concluded that male rats exposed to high levels of radiation of the type found in 2G and 3G mobile networks experienced a slightly elevated incidence of tumors.

However, experts point out that the rats in the study were exposed to four times the amount of radiation that is allowed for humans, and a very small increase occurred in only male rats. Extrapolating these results, which have not been duplicated, to a human population and concluding that humans are at risk seems questionable at best.

Of course, radiation can cause serious damage to a person's health, but scientists say understanding the different kinds of radiation are key to understanding the risks involved. Ionizing radiation is the type that is able to damage cells. Though 5G produces higher frequency radiation, the millimeter wave technology used in 5G produces non-ionizing radiation. This type of radiation is not believed to be capable of damaging tissue or cells, and millimeter waves are unable to penetrate skin. Therefore, claims that the higher frequency radiation found in 5G means higher health risks are less believable when the type of radiation is taken into account.

While some will likely continue to make claims that 5G poses a threat, and even attempt to block the technology from becoming implemented, the likelihood of a significant health risk is low when considering scientific evidence and expert opinion on the matter. The likelihood of 5G not becoming widely available also seems low.