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Fifth Cellular Generation (5G)

What is WHO’s attitude to the risks of the fifth cellular generation?

Below is a summary of the World Health Organization's recently published position, which is cited.

"To date, and after much research performed, no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies. Health-related conclusions are drawn from studies performed across the entire radio spectrum but, so far, only a few studies have been carried out at the frequencies to be used by 5G.

Tissue heating is the main mechanism of interaction between radiofrequency fields and the human body. Radiofrequency exposure levels from current technologies result in negligible temperature rise in the human body.

As the frequency increases, there is less penetration into the body tissues and absorption of the energy becomes more confined to the surface of the body (skin and eye). Provided that the overall exposure remains below international guidelines, no consequences for public health are anticipated".

Will the high frequencies used in the fifth generation be more dangerous to human health?

The fifth cellular generation will also use higher frequencies, some in the millimeter wave (waves that are several millimeters long), to enable the required performance of the cellular network.

These frequencies are part of the electromagnetic non-ionizing radiation spectrum. They are used for various civil and military needs, and especially for short-range communications.

At present, there is no established information that indicates a unique risk of these frequencies compared to other frequencies in the non-ionizing radiation spectrum, including those used in current cellular generations. It should be noted that the radiation at these frequencies has a relatively small depth of penetration to the human body (the penetration is mainly to the skin tissues).

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified the non-ionizing radiation in all radio frequencies up to 300 GHz (including frequencies used in the existing cellular technologies and frequencies used in the fifth cellular generation) in category 2B - "possible carcinogen". Therefore, a basic principle that is recommended to protect against the health risks of non-ionizing radiation is the "precautionary principle".

In addition, this technology is not yet widely used, and there is not much public exposure to radiation at these frequencies. Therefore, there are a few studies on the effects of exposure to millimeter waves on human health, and further studies in the field are required (in laboratory conditions and population studies).

Health effects

Are there studies showing a link between non-ionizing radiation and developing disease?

There is no unequivocal answer to the question of whether non-ionizing radiation (such as that emitted by mobile phones, household cordless phones, wireless communications networks, cellular base stations and the electric power grid) can endanger health or cause disease.  Scientists are divided in their opinions on the topic.

 

Most studies on radiofrequency emissions have focused on the development of different types of cancer, especially brain tumors, acoustic nerve tumors and salivary gland malignancies.  Other health outcomes studied were the effects on fertility (e.g. sperm morphology and motility); on brain function (e.g. cognitive function, attention and concentration deficit disorders in children, brain development in babies); on the heart and circulatory system (blood pressure and heart rate); on hearing, saliva (secretion, composition and flow), fat profile of blood, obesity, development of multiple sclerosis, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, headaches, and the 'non-ionizing radiation hypersensitivity' syndrome.

 

In 2011 a Working Group of the International Association for Research on Cancer (IARC) stated that there was limited evidence of an increased risk of developing malignant brain tumors (glioma) and benign acoustic nerve tumors among mobile phone users.  The Working Group also pointed out that the results of current studies were insufficient for drawing clear conclusions about other types of cancer and/or about occupational or environmental exposure.  Based on this conclusion, they classified radiation from radio waves, such as from mobile phones, in Category 2B in the list of carcinogens, thus defining radiofrequency emissions as possibly carcinogenic to humans.

 

Studies on electric power grids (extremely low frequency, ELF) also focused on the risk of developing cancer, especially leukemia in children; effects on pregnancy outcomes (miscarriages and birth weight); effects on children's behavior, on cognitive function, hormones, neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. Alzheimer's) and heart diseases.

 

Population studies have pointed to an increased risk of developing leukemia (a blood cancer) among children who lived in close proximity to high tension wires, compared with children who lived further away.  Here too, as for non-ionizing radiation from radiofrequency waves, no unequivocal causal effect between exposure and morbidity has been proven.  However, on the basis of these studies the IARC classified non-ionizing radiation at lowest frequencies as 'possibly carcinogenic to humans' (category 2B).  To date no link between radiation from the electric power grid and other types of cancer has been established conclusively, neither in children nor in adults.

 

22.10.2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magnetic & electric fields of low frequencies (ELF)

What is the minimal distance allowed between electrical installations (such as power lines or transformers) and residential homes?

The Ministry of Environmental Protection determines the criteria for distances separating electrical installations from sensitive land use sites such as residences, educational institutions, etc. These criteria depend on a large number of factors, such as the type of installation, the electricity that flows through it, the distance and height of the land use site, relative to the wires through which the electricity flows, the layout of the wires, etc.  The Ministry of Environmental Protection website lists the criteria for determining distances between electrical installations and residences, for each type of installation (Hebrew). 

 

Recommendations of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Health regarding the maximal allowed level of radiation from electrical installations are:

  • 2000 milligauss for short-term exposure (momentary exposure)

  • 4 milligauss daily average for the busiest day (continuous prolonged exposure).

Chronic exposure, or continuous prolonged exposure, is defined as exposure of more than 4 hours daily for more than 5 days a week.  Residences, offices, educational institutions, commercial and industrial buildings, etc., are considered locations of chronic exposure.

 

For precise data on radiation levels, an authorized radiation surveyor may be summoned, from the list of authorized surveyors on the Ministry of Environmental Protection's website (Hebrew). 


 
 26.10.15

Do powerline adapters emit stronger or weaker radiation than Wi-Fi (routers and access points)?

Powerline network adapters (working via the electricity network) use information modulation technology (modulation, information construction) on infrastructure wires for transmitting internet communications over short ranges over the home electrical infrastructure.

The modulation is done over a wide range of frequencies, determined by the rate of data transmission and from which the radiation frequencies which could develop during data transmission was determined.

Network adapters utilize two end units, one for receiving the information from the router and data modulation over the electrical infrastructure wires, and another for receiving it in another location.

The radiation levels produced by this technology are very low, because the signals passed through the electricity wires (in house walls) are relatively weak, and because rather than the radiation being produced by a broadcasting antenna (as exists in Wi-Fi technologies), it develops in a “parasitic” manner in the vicinity of the electricity wiring in house walls or in the vicinity of electricity sockets (and the adapters themselves), that do not act as efficient antennae.

Various measurements made for internet powerline network adapters, have shown levels of radiation below one nano-watt (one billionth of a watt) per cm2 at a distance of 1 meter from the electrical wiring – less than one thousandth of the radiation levels produced at a distance of 1 meter from a wireless routers and access points.

It should be noted that there are powerline network adapters that also use wireless technology (for making a wireless connection for cellphones, tablets and computers in the target area), and in these cases they also produce radiation at the 2.45 and 5 GHz frequencies (like the radiation from Wi-Fi networks).

 

To what degree does exposure to electromagnetic radiation increase when the electrical panel is located inside the house?

Levels of exposure to magnetic fields in the vicinity of electrical panels are mainly dependent on the size of electric currents and the way the conductors are arranged inside the panels. Distance from electrical panels also has a large effect.

The overall value of electrical currents developing inside home electrical panels can reach tens of amperes, as a function of the type of consumer connection to the electric company and the degree of electricity consumption. Exposure levels in the vicinity of the panels may reach several tens of milligauss and even more than this. However, as the distance from the electrical panels increases, exposure levels drop sharply.

 

The recommended method of reducing exposures to magnetic fields from electrical panels, according to the precautionary principle, is by keeping sufficient distance from the electricity cupboard. Thus, at a distance of 1 meter from the electrical panel, exposure levels drop to a few milligauss. In addition, the location of the electrical cupboard should not be in the walls of residential rooms (in which people may spend prolonged time periods).

What kind of radiation is emitted by hybrid cars?

The hybrid car, as its name implies, combines propulsion based upon energy from traditional fuel and from electric energy that accumulates during motion. Electric currents used in the electric part of propulsion while driving create a surrounding of low frequency magnetic fields. This radiation is defined as non-ionizing radiation from the electricity grid in the Extremely Low Frequency radiation range (ELF).

The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Health Ministry recommendations on the maximal radiation exposure level permissible from electrical appliances are available in the article on electric grids.

The power of magnetic fields created in hybrid cars differs from car to car according to the automobile make and model, and there are even differences between different cars from the same manufacturer and the same model. Also, the distribution of the power of the fields, in the car’s interior, varies from place to place within the car.

At present there are different positions regarding levels of magnetic fields created by hybrid cars and their radiation hazards. Also, the scientific knowledge existing on this subject is limited and there are no clear guidelines regarding their use.

In Israel, the issue of hybrid cars was addressed at length by the Ministry of Environmental Protection which authorized their use. The Ministry conducted extensive tests to examine the exposure to non-ionizing radiation inside hybrid cars and inside regular cars.

A link to data on radiation exposure in hybrid cars (Hebrew) in Israel may be viewed, detailing the average yearly level of exposure in each seat in the various cars checked, according to a stringent assumption of 18 hours average weekly time spent in the car.

What radiation is emitted from a server room?

Relatively low strength electrical currents and voltages exist in servers and therefore the non-ionizing radiation in their vicinity is at a very low level (servers are not a special source of radiation, that is, the radiation is not generated by transmitters and antennae intentionally, but rather exists as a by-product).

There are magnetic fields on the electricity grid frequency in the vicinity of power sources that use servers. However, at a distance of one meter or more from them, the field level is mostly below the level of a few milliGauss, and complies with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Environmental Protection recommendations for maximal permitted level of exposure to magnetic fields from electrical appliances. 

Mobile phones

Is there a difference in terms of radiation exposure between using text messages and talking on cellphones?

One of the recommended ways of reducing exposure to radiation when using a cellphone, is to use text messages (and not talking).

Sending a WhatsApp message (using words) involves sending information and transmission during a relatively short time than a cellphone conversation, and also involves distancing the cellphone further from the head and the body than does a cellphone conversation, and as a result there is significant reduction in the degree of radiation exposure.

Does the intensity of radiation emitted by a mobile phone increase during charging? Is there a difference between the radiation emitted by the device and that emitted by the transformer?

During the process of charging a mobile phone while not being used for communication or other application, exposure to radiation may originate from two sources:

  1. Exposure to the magnetic field of the electric grid at extremely low frequency (ELF) resulting from the operation of the transformer during the charging process.In the older generation of transformers the strength of the magnetic field was elevated –up to a few dozen milligauss, over a radius of a few dozen centimeters.Modern transformers have built-in electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), which reduces the strength of the fields to negligible levels relative to the levels recommended by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

  2. Exposure to radiofrequency radiation (RF) emitted by the device itself.Even with the device in passive mode, there is routine activity of wireless radio transmission.

  3. Once every few seconds, preset detection pulses are emitted at a certain frequency to a nearby cellular station, for the purpose of localization and identification of the device in the cellular communications network.

  4. Smartphones in which applications have been installed may allow routine transfer of data between the mobile phone and the nearby station, or to a domestic or local Wi-Fi network to which the device is connected.

It should be emphasized that the level of exposure to non-ionizing radiation decreases significantly with increasing distance between the human body and the source of radiation.  Consequently, it is recommended that radiation-emitting devices be held away from the body when possible, and that during charging the devices be placed at a distance of at least 0.5 meters from the body.

 

22.10.2015

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