The myths around 5G and the coronavirus

There is a conspiracy theory that claims 5G is connected to the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19). This is wrong. There is no scientific basis or credible evidence for these claims.

In some places, mobile phone masts have been vandalised because of these incorrect claims. Engineers from mobile phone companies have also been harassed as they carried out their work.

Like previous generations of mobile technology, 5G uses radio spectrum. Every device that communicates wirelessly needs spectrum – such as televisions, car key fobs, baby monitors, wireless microphones and satellites.

Mobile phones use spectrum to connect to masts so people can make calls and access the internet.

Infographic highlighting the airwaves 5G (current and planned for future use) sitting within the non-ionising radiation frequency bands. ICNIRP states that this means it does not have sufficient energy to break chemical bonds or remove electrons, as opposed to ‘ionising radiation’, which occurs at much higher frequencies and is generally considered to be hazardous to humans. Ionising radiation includes ultraviolet, medical X-rays and gamma rays." after 'humans. Other items on the scale include current 2G, 3G and 4G airwaves, Wifi and Terrestrial Television, also in non-ionising bands.

5G sits in the same area of the electromagnetic spectrum as 2G, 3G and 4G mobiles. This area is known as Nonionizing radiation – this is the term given to radiation in the part of the electromagnetic spectrum where there is insufficient energy to cause ionization. 

So you may ask what is Ionization or ionisation ? This is the process by which an atom or a molecule acquires a negative or positive charge by gaining or losing electrons, often in conjunction with other chemical changes. The resulting electrically charged atom or molecule is called an ion. Ionization can result from the loss of an electron after collisions with subatomic particles, collisions with other atoms, molecules and ions, or through the interaction with electromagnetic radiation. 

Mobile phones communicate by transmitting radio waves through a network of fixed antennas called base stations. Radiofrequency waves are electromagnetic fields, and unlike ionizing radiation such as X-rays or gamma rays, can neither break chemical bonds nor cause ionization in the human body.

Tissue heating is the principal mechanism of interaction between radiofrequency energy and the human body. At the frequencies used by mobile phones, most of the energy is absorbed by the skin and other superficial tissues, resulting in negligible temperature rise in the brain or any other organs of the body.

According to the WHO a large number of studies have been performed over the last two decades to assess whether mobile phones pose a potential health risk. To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.

Information via Ofcom and WHO

Duncan Newell

Duncan is a technology professional with over 20 years experience of working in various IT roles. He has a interest in cyber security, and has a wide range of other skills in radio, electronics and telecommunications.

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