Heightened public concern over the lack of conclusive evidence regarding the health effects of increased EME associated with 5G cellular technology has sparked protests throughout Switzerland, Germany and the U.K. that threaten to delay the rollout of 5G infrastructure in Europe.
Bloomberg recently reported that advocates opposed to 5G cite concerns that increased radiation raises the risk of cancer, infertility, and other serious ailments. Matthias von Herrmann, a spokesman for environmental group Diagnose:Funk, says his group gets multiple requests each week from people across Germany for advice on blocking 5G. “It’s not about denying people the use of mobile phones.
But we can’t just expose people to radiation without running the necessary checks,” said von Herrmann.
In contrast to U.S. infrastructure policies that prioritize 5G through a streamlined antenna approval process, operator efforts to build out infrastructure have been stymied across Europe. Sunrise Communications AG, a Swiss telecommunications provider, has been banned from building 5G masts in the Swiss municipality of Wohlen and others. According to Bloomberg, Sunrise only built half of the 5G sites it had proposed to complete by the end of 2019. “All this stuff has delayed my rollout vs. my own company plan,” says Olaf Swantee, who resigned as CEO on January 3 on the heels of a failed deal to buy a cable business.
Deutsche Telekom AG also reportedly modified its 5G program in the wake of public pushback. Bloomberg reported that: “residents of the Bavarian district of Graswang protested the company’s plans to build a 100-foot mast near their homes, causing the company to build the tower at a site farther away.”
Meanwhile, threats in England to obstruct mast applications are causing telecom companies to avoid certain areas in Britain. Howard Jones of BT Group, a British multinational telecommunications holding company, said, “That sort of time is not something that any part of the mobile industry can really afford, nor wants to spend its time and its money on, and we will focus on areas where there is a more supportive environment.”
While EME studies have been conducted by various organizations, results are conflicting. The U.S. National Toxicology Program reported rats exposed to very high levels of electromagnetic radiation developed tumors, but the FDA challenged the report citing, “failure to establish a clear relationship between radiation doses and cancers.”
The question seems to be, is it worth putting the cart before the horse for the sake of winning the race to 5G? Concrete evidence of the effects of 5G technology on public health could potentially take decades of research and analysis. The World Health Organization (WHO), however, has relaunched a Call for Expressions of Interest for systematic reviews (2020) (CEOI), to analyze and synthesize the available evidence of cancer, adverse reproductive outcomes, and the physical effects of heat exposure. The deadline for teams to respond to the CEOI is February 7.