INTRODUCTION TO THE ISSUE
There is an urgent need for clinicians and medical scientists in the Australia-New Zealand region to engage in an objective discussion around the potential health impacts of the fifth generation (5G) wireless technology currently being deployed. The statements of assurance by the industry and government parties that dominate the media in our region are at odds with the warnings of hundreds of scientists actively engaged in research on biological/health effects of anthropogenic electromagnetic radiation/fields (EMR/EMF).1
There have been worldwide public protests as well as appeals by professionals and the general public2 that have compelled many cities in Europe to declare moratoria on 5G deployment and to begin investigations. In contrast, there is no medically-oriented professional discussion on this public health topic in Australia and New Zealand, where 5G deployment is being expedited.
5G is untested for safety on humans and other species and the limited existing evidence raises major concerns that need to be addressed. The vast body of research literature on biological/health effects of ‘wireless radiation’ (radiofrequency EMR)3,4 indicates a range of health-related issues associated with different types of wireless technologies (1G-4G, WiFi, Bluetooth, Radar, radio/TV transmission, scanning and surveillance systems). These are used in a wide range of personal devices in common use (mobile/cordless phones, computers, baby monitors, games consoles etc) without users being aware of the health risks.
Furthermore, serious safety concerns arise from the extra complexity of 5G as follows:
- 5G carrier waves use a much broader part of the microwave spectrum including waves with wavelengths in the millimetre range (hence called ‘millimetre waves’) which will be used in the second phase of 5G). Until now, millimetre waves have had limited applications such as radar, point-to-point communications links and non-lethal military weapons.5
- Extremely complex modulation patterns involving numerous frequencies form novel exposures.
- Beam formation characteristics can produce hotspots of high unknown intensities.
- A vast number of antenna arrays will add millions of microwave transmitters globally in addition to the existing RF transmitters thereby greatly increasing human exposure.
- This includes 5G small cell antennas to be erected every 200-250 metres on street fixtures, such as power poles and bus shelters, many of which will be only metres from homes with the homeowners having absolutely no say in where the antennas will be located.
A MASSIVE LEAP IN MICROWAVE RADIATION EXPOSURE
This massive leap in human exposure to RF-EMR from 5G is occurring in a setting where the existing scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicates biological interference,3,4 therefore suggesting the need to urgently reduce exposure. It is already late to educate the population on the risks of wireless radiation and to take public health measures such as those taken with tobacco to reduce exposure by recommending safer wired communications for regular use while leaving wireless communications for short emergency communications. Some European countries have been taking steps to reduce children’s exposure to RF-EMR by limiting or discouraging wireless use e.g. France banning WiFi in small children’s facilities and limiting use at schools.
As for the new 5G technology, it is concerning that leading experts in the technical field6 have reported the possibility of damaging thermal spikes under the current exposure guidelines (from beam forming 5G millimetre waves that transfer data with short bursts of high energy) and some animals and children may be at an increased risk due to smaller body size. Even working within the entirely thermally-based current regulatory process, they pointed out 5G millimetre waves “may lead to permanent tissue damage after even short exposures, highlighting the importance of revisiting existing exposure guidelines”.6
BIOLOGICAL EFFECTS AND HEALTH IMPACTS
Microwave experts from the US Air Force have reported on ‘Brillouin Precursors’ created by sharp transients at the leading and trailing edges of pulses of mm waves, when beam forming fast millimetre waves create moving charges in the body which penetrate deeper than explained in the conventional models, and have the potential to cause tissue damage.7 In fact, concerns about moving charges affecting deep tissue are associated with other forms of pulsed RF radiation currently used for wireless communications. This may be one factor explaining why the pulsed radiation used in wireless communication technologies is more biologically active than continuous RF radiation.8 Such effects of high energy 5G mm waves could have potentially devastating consequences for species with small body size and also creatures that have innate sensitivity to EMF, which include birds and bees that use nature’s EMFs for navigation.9 Unfortunately, non-thermal effects and chronic exposure effects are not addressed in the current guidelines.10
As scientists and medical doctors from Australia and New Zealand who have been conducting independent research on the health-related literature of RF-EMR, we would like to urge the medical community to take an active role to encourage investigation into this important issue. Australia and New Zealand have the world’s highest and second highest cancer incidence rates out of 185 countries respectively.11 Our region also has the highest rates of allergic immune diseases on a global scale.12 When we examine the biological effects of RF-EMR presented in the scientific literature (the ORSAA database is the largest categorised database of peer-reviewed studies on RF-EMR),13 applying the Bradford Hill criteria, we find compelling evidence suggesting a causal link with many chronic diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, immune diseases and neurodegenerative diseases.14-18 Moreover, published research shows that Australia has relatively high RF-EMR exposure levels.19 Therefore, given the scientific evidence of biological/health effects of RF-EMR3,4 and given the region’s concerning health statistics in chronic diseases, it is concerning that no medical input has been made in the health risks assessment process on the part of government health departments.
SERIOUS FLAWS OF ARPANSA’s HEALTH RISK ASSESSMENT
Members of ORSAA previously reported on the serious flaws of the health risk assessment conducted by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA). An analysis of ARPANSA’s 2014 literature review report TRS-164 titled “Review of Radiofrequency Health Effects Research – Scientific Literature 2000 – 2012”20 revealed that its conclusions were not substantiated by their nominated evidence.21-23
Moreover, a review of 1955 peer-reviewed studies on the ORSAA database13 (which contained the studies ARPANSA reviewed) revealed 68% of those publications had reported on significant biological/health effects. This refutes the claim that there is no evidence indicating health risks. However, ARPANSA has merely rejected our reported findings without presenting any evidence to substantiate their position.24
Furthermore, ARPANSA continues to make assurances of safety about wireless technologies (RF-EMR) in general and also about the new and untested 5G. Such unfounded statements jeopardise the safety of Australians because the Australian healthcare professionals and organisations solely depend on ARPANSA’s advice. Remarkably, the ARPANSA health risk assessment was conducted by only four reviewers with reported academic qualifications in physical sciences, psychology and epidemiology. Such a lack of biomedical expertise in a “Health Effects” assessment is an unsatisfactory composition for our government advisory body.
A LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY
Moreover, ARPANSA’s disclaimers on their website suggests a lack of accountability: “Nothing contained in this site is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional’s advice. ARPANSA does not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.” In spite of this disclaimer, but likely due to many misleading statements by ARPANSA, the medical community continues to reject health complaints made by patients relating their symptoms to wireless radiation. The situation in New Zealand is very similar. Claims of safety for RF-EMR, and 5G in particular, by ARPANSA and the respective health departments of Australia and New Zealand have been readily accepted even though they have failed to present the primary scientific studies that can support those claims. To our knowledge, based on the published scientific literature, they do not exist.
Read the full article in the ACNEM Journal July 2020 edition, available to all ACNEM Members.
Priyanka Bandara1 PhD (Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics, UNSW)
Tracy Chandler2 BSc (Hons), MB ChB, FRNZCGP, FACNEM, MNZSCM, PGDipSEM, Cert Dermoscopy Robin Kelly1 MRCS(Eng.), LRCP(Lon.), FRNZCGP
Julie McCredden1, PhD (Cognitive Science, UQ)
Murray May1 PhD (Environment Science)
Steve Weller1 BSc (Biochemistry & Microbiology, Monash)
Don Maisch1 PhD
Susan Pockett3 MSc (Cell Biology) PhD (Neurophysiology)
Victor Leach1 MSc (Physics), Founding Member – Australasian Radiation Protection Society (ARPS)
Richard Cullen PhD (Elec Eng)1
Damian Wojcik4 BSc, MBChB, FRNZCGP, FACNEM, FIBCMT, M Forensic Medicine (Monash), FFCFM (RCPA).
- Oceania Radiofrequency Scientific Advisory Association (ORSAA) Inc., PO Box 152, Scarborough, Queensland 4020, Australia. email:[email protected]*corresponding author
- Medical Director/GP, Dr. Wellness Clinic, New Zealand; Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (ACNEM) Examiner and Executive Board Member
- School of Psychology, University of Auckland, New Zealand.
- General Practitioner; Clinical Metal Toxicologist; Forensic Physician; Director, Northland Environmental Health Clinic, Northland, New Zealand.
- EMF Scientist Appeal: https://www.emfscientist.org/ (last accessed on 3rd May 2020).
- International Appeal -Stop 5G on Earth and in Space: https://www.5gspaceappeal.org/ (last accessed on 3rd May 2020).
- ORSAA database: www.orsaa.org (last accessed on 3rd May 2020).
- The Bioinitiative Group. BioInitiative Report: A Rationale for Biologically-based Public Exposure Standards for Electromagnetic Radiation. http://www.bioinitiative.org/ (2012).
- Active Denial System FAQs. Joint Intermediate Force Capabilities Office, U.S. Department of Defense Non-Lethal Weapons Program: https://jnlwp.defense.gov/About/Frequently-Asked-Questions/Active-Denial-System-FAQs/(last accessed on 6th July 2020).
- Neufeld E, Kuster N. Systematic Derivation of Safety Limits for Time-Varying 5G Radiofrequency Exposure Based on Analytical Models and Thermal Dose. Health Physics doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000000930 (2018).
- Albanese, R., Blaschak, J., Medina, R. and Penn, J. Ultrashort electromagnetic signals: Biophysical questions, safety issues and medical opportunities (Report No. AL/OE-JA-1993-0055). Occupational and Environmental Health Directorate, Brooks Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, USA. (1994).
- Panagopoulos DJ, Johansson O and Carlo GL. Real versus simulated mobile phone exposures in experimental studies. BioMed Research International 2015: Biomed Res Int. 607053. doi: 10.1155/2015/607053 (2015).
- Thielens A, Greco MK, Verloock L, Martens L, Joseph W. Radio-Frequency Electromagnetic Field Exposure of Western Honey Bees. Scientific Reports 10(1):461. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-56948-0 (2018).
- Bandara P, Weller S and Leach V. Health Risks of Wireless Technologies. Radiation Protection In Australasia.; 35(2): 22-26 (2018).
- International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Cancer Today: https://gco.iarc.fr/today/home (September 2018).
- The International Study on Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC): http://isaac.auckland.ac.nz/ ((last accessed on 3rd May 2020).
- Leach V, Weller S, Redmayne M. A novel database of bio-effects from non-ionizing radiation. Reviews on Environmental Health. 33(3):273-280. doi: 10.1515/reveh-2018-0017 (2018).
- Miller AB, Morgan LL, Udasin I, Davis DL. Cancer epidemiology update, following the 2011 IARC evaluation of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (Monograph 102). Environmental Research, 167:673-683. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2018.06.043 (2018).
- Carlberg, M, Hardell L. Evaluation of Mobile Phone and Cordless Phone Use and Glioma Risk Using the Bradford Hill Viewpoints from 1965 on Association or Causation. Biomedical Research International, 9218486 doi: 10.1155/2017/9218486 (2017).
- Bandara P and Weller S. Cardiovascular disease: Time to identify emerging environmental risk factors (Editorial). European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 24(17):1819-1823. doi: 10.1177/2047487317734898 (2017).
- Kimata H. Microwave radiation from cellular phones increases allergen-specific IgE production. Allergy, 60(6):838-9 (2005).
- Comelekoglu U, Aktas S, Demirbag B, Karagul MI, Yalin S, Yildirim M, et al. Effect of low-level 1800 MHz radiofrequency radiation on the rat sciatic nerve and the protective role of paricalcitol. Bioelectromagnetics, 39(8):631-643. doi: 10.1002/bem.22149 (2018).
- Sagar S, Adem SM, Struchen B, Loughran SP, Brunjes ME, Arangua L, et al. Comparison of radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure levels in different everyday microenvironments in an international context. Environment International, 114:297-306 (2018).
- Review of Radiofrequency Health Effects Research – Scientific Literature 2000 – 2012 (TRS-164). Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA). 2014: https://www.arpansa.gov.au/sites/default/files/legacy/pubs/technicalreports/tr164.pdf (last accessed on 30 June 2020).
- Leach V and Weller S. Radio frequency exposure risk assessment and communication: Critique of ARPANSA TR-164 report. Do we have a problem? Radiation Protection In Australasia, 34(2), pp. 9-18 (2017).
- Bandara P and Weller S. Biological effects of low-intensity radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation – time for a paradigm shift in regulation of public exposure. Radiation Protection In Australasia, 34(2), pp. 2-6 (2017).
- Bandara P, Weller S and Leach V. Health Risks of Wireless Technologies. Radiation Protection In Australasia 35(2): 22-26 (2018).
- Karipidis K and Tinker R. Letter to the Editor, Radiation Protection In Australasia, 35(1), 29-30 (2018).