5G & Health

5G: The Basics

It's important to understand 5G's driving technologies to effectively clear up common health concerns.

Let's breakdown the next generation of mobile networks:

5G New Radio (NR)

5G NR is a radio access technology developed by 3GPP for 5G mobile networks. It’s taking the stage as the next generation unified global wireless standard for its capable wireless air interface that delivers faster and more responsive mobile broadband experiences.

This system differs from 4G LTE, as 5G can handle a much wider range of different radio spectrum bands. However, it will also operate on the spectrum used for 4G LTE as well.

Additionally, 5G NR employs much more efficient transmission for greater energy savings.  

Spectrum

5G opens the door to high-band airwaves (those above 20 GHz), but can still run on any frequency that has been approved by regulatory bodies.

Low-band operates in frequencies less than 1GHz and span great distances. The oldest cellular and TV frequencies are still being used for 4G.

Mid-band lies in the 1-10GHz range and covers most modern mobile and Wi-Fi frequencies. The network towers have decent range and carry most of today’s 5G traffic.

High-band, known as millimeter-wave, functions in the 20-100GHz range and will be an important part of 5G’s ability to deliver consumer applications.  

FAQ

Get Your Facts Here

In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) helps to manage the nation’s spectrum. In December 2019, it  re-affirmed existing rules governing wireless communications radio frequency (RF) exposure – unanimously and on a bi-partisan basis. 

"Thus, even if certified or otherwise authorized devices produce RF exposure levels in excess of Commission limits under normal use, such exposure would still be well below levels considered to be dangerous, and therefore phones legally sold in the United States pose no health risks."

U.S. Federal Communications Commission

5G radios will use millimeter wave spectrum, which have already been extensively researched, studied and utilized for years in various industries. 

Hundreds of independent studies from international agencies have indicated there have been no established negative health effects from radio waves emitted from mobile phones and base stations complying with international limits.

According to the FDA and the World Health Organization (WHO), among other organizations, to date, the weight of scientific evidence has not effectively linked exposure to radio frequency energy from mobile devices with any known health problems.

Source: Federal Communications Commission

The World Health Organization (WHO), the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) of the European Union and International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) have all concluded that exposure related to wireless networks and their use does not lead to adverse effects for public health if it is below the limits recommended by the ICNIRP.

In March 2020, ICNIRP issued updated guidelines regarding the safety of devices using spectrum frequencies approved for 5G, stating, “The most important thing for people to remember is that 5G technologies will not be able to cause harm when these new guidelines are adhered to.”

Source: International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP)

No. The non-ionizing radiation used by commercial wireless 4G LTE and 5G devices have not been shown to cause cancer in humans. 

According to the American Cancer Society, “Some people have expressed concern that living, working, or going to school near a cell phone tower might increase the risk of cancer or other health problems. At this time, there is very little evidence to support this idea.”

Source: American Cancer Society

Specifically, for 5G frequency ranges, WHO lists approximately 350 studies on mmWave EMF health-related research, according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

Source: International Telecommunications Union (ITU), May 2019

Radiation exists all around us, from both natural and manmade sources, and is in two forms: ionizing and non-ionizing radiation.
Ionizing radiation is a form of energy that acts by removing electrons from atoms and molecules of materials that include air, water, and living tissue. Ionizing radiation can travel unseen and pass through these materials.

Unlike x-rays and other forms of ionizing radiation, non-ionizing radiation does not have enough energy to remove electrons from atoms and molecules. Non-ionizing radiation can heat substances.


We are exposed to low levels of non-ionizing radiation every day. Exposure to intense, direct amounts of non-ionizing radiation may result in damage to tissue due to heat. This is not common and mainly of concern in the workplace for those who work on large sources of non-ionizing radiation devices and instruments.

Source: CDC

In the US, several federal agencies constantly monitor research and update regulations relating to health and wireless, including the Federal Communications Commission, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, National Institutes of Health, and Food & Drug Administration.

In December 2019, the FCC again reaffirmed—on a unanimous and bipartisan basis—these safety standards.

Source: Wireless Health Facts (CTIA)

Hear it from the experts