Radiation concerns – real or unfounded?
The Chicago Tribune recently paid for a radiation test conducted on the popular iPhone 7 handset by the RF Exposure Lab in San Marcos, California. The results weren’t good. Apparently, the device’s radiofrequency radiation was over the FCC’s (Federal Communications Commission) legal safety limit.
What’s more concerning is that Apple claimed to have tested the device prior to its release, stating that the emitted radiation was below the FCC’s legal safety limit. Apple oppose the Chicago Tribune’s claims, stating that their conditions for testing were different, but then Apple haven’t explained where the differences lie.
The recent RF Exposure Lab test, of course, is coming a bit late. After all, the iPhone 7 has been out for a number of years now. But the findings are important for a couple of reasons: 1) These handsets, despite being older models, are quite popular today, and 2) With all the radiation concerns surrounding 5G, which we have been assured aren’t real, should we be sure that we have nothing to worry about?
In this case, we’re presented with alternating facts. The Chicago Tribune stands by the RF Exposure Lab’s results, and that lab happens to be accredited by the FCC. Apple, on the other hand, claims the opposite outcome as far as the iPhone 7 radiation test is concerned, and the iPhone 7 was approved for release by the FCC. Who do we believe?
Similarly, there are a number of critics who warn that 5G is a danger waiting to happen, while proponents point to these critics as quacks, assuring us that there’s nothing to worry about. Again, who do we believe.
On the one hand, nobody is arguing that cell phones and 5G infrastructure won’t emanate any radiation at all. On the other hand, the questions become how much radiation, who measures that radiation and under what conditions, and are their results reliable? To muddy the waters further, critics seem to lose steam when governments around the world are hastily approving 5G equipment and infrastructure, and consumers are eager to experience the touted high speeds of the 5G highway.
Despite concerns from some, 5G will be rolled out with full force. Source.
To form an opinion regarding what side to choose, you’d have to have a solid grip on how much radiation consumer electronics produce. You’d also have to know if the type of radiation ( as well as the amount ) is harmful.
Generally, mobile phone networks produce Radiofrequency Radiation (RFR). There isn’t any argument here on either side, as RFR is produced from a number of sources such as microwaves, your radio, and even the sun.
The question, then, is how much, and is the amount harmful? And that’s where the argument lies.
Those who tout the idea of cell phones being harmless point out that cell phone networks and other RFR sources produce non-ionizing radiation. Non-ionizing radiation is apparently harmless. Specifically, this type of radiation is just too weak to break chemical bonds. If you’re scared of non-ionizing radiation, apparently, you might as well lock yourself in your home to avoid the sun, which they claim produces a lot more radiation than your mobile phone.
Ionizing radiation, on the other hand, is certainly dangerous as it’s above UV (Ultraviolet). You’d find such ionizing radiation in x-rays and gamma rays, where prolonged exposure is sure to cause some damage.
In the case of the iPhone 7, the Chicago Tribune isn’t claiming the device emits gamma rays-like radiation, just that the radiation it emits is above the FCC safety limit, and that is in fact cause for concern. In the case of 5G, however, the concern is that the technology requires numerous stations and antennas, a lot more than previous generations (4G, 3G, and the rest), and that significant increases in number of antennas increases the RFR production and our exposure to it.
Essentially, the more towers there are, the more likely the amount of RFR produced will be dangerous. But then again, we’re still talking about non-ionizing radiation, and so 5G proponents assure us that there’s nothing to worry about.
But with the findings of the Chicago Tribune coming years after the iPhone 7 was approved by government bodies all over the world, one has to wonder if, in the future, these 5G-is-safe findings will be scientifically debunked as well.
A deeper look into how 5G works, and why it may be cause for concern
5G technology uses shorter length millimeter waves (MMV) than previous network technologies, and these waves can’t pass through objects or travel far. This means 5G needs a lot more towers than previous wireless network technologies, to the tune of 1 cell tower for every 2 to 8 houses. This can be scary to think of — imagine antennas on trees and poles right in front of your lawn, as well as your neighbors lawn and beyond, which is probably going to be the case.
5G mini cell towers/antennas will be placed in residential areas, right in front of your home. Source.
Thankfully, 5G cell towers are mini cell stations that aren’t massive enough to be that bad of an eyesore. However, these mini cell stations emit ultra high frequency (24 to 90 GHz compared to 4G’s 6GHz) and intensity, which makes them a concern, especially when considering the fact that they are going to be everywhere — literally.
This is where the critics base their argument, and it’s hard not to see some logic there. They believe that the number of stations, the close proximity of those stations to our homes, and the strength of the frequency and intensity, all point to a dangerous situation.
Not enough science behind the claims on either side
While 5G proponents calm us down and critics scream warnings, neither side really has enough scientific studies to back up their claims. That’s because 5G is still very new and, in fact, is actually yet to experience a full rollout. Some argue that more scientific studies should be carried out before a full rollout, and this would probably be the wise route to take. But the stakes of such a move seem to be too high for such delays for this billion-dollar technology.
Back to the need for more science, here’s a fact that can serve as an example: Non-ionizing radiation might be harmless, but there’s no argument that such radiation is completely safe either. In a recent study, the National Toxicology Program, a Department of Health and Human Services program, found that exposure to RFR from 3G networks led to cancerous tumors in the brain, heart, and adrenal glands of rats.
However, others argue that the cancerous tumors in that study were too small to be considered definitive results of cell phone exposure — they could have been coincidental. They also argue that the tests subjected the rats to way more hours of cell phone use than any human would realistically be exposed to.
But if tumors were found from exposure to a 3G network device, which uses 1.8 to 2.5 GHz, why isn’t the concern about 5G legitimate when the technology’s frequency band is between 24 to 90 GHz?
Final words — uncertainties everywhere
Perhaps the only certainty we can find is that there is no guaranteed, definitive, correct answer to any of the questions here. Years ago, the FCC approved the Apple iPhone 7 to be released to consumers, as did several other governmental safety bodies around the world. Today, however, the RF Exposure Lab raises concerns about that same iPhone 7 phone’s radiation levels being above the FCC’s safety limit, and now the FCC has opened an investigation over the matter.
Similarly, 5G is being rolled out globally with assurances that it is safe and harmless. Who’s to say that, in the future, concerns about the technology’s RFR won’t be validated? As for now, nothing is certain.