The International Commission on Non‐Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) recently updated protocol in relation to human protection to those exposed to radio frequency electromagnetic fields. Although these are not specific to the technology involved in 5G, the deployment of 5G will mean the use of much higher frequencies than before.
Part of the name of the German organization – non-ionizing – may sound unfamiliar to most of us. Radio is at the other end of the electromagnetic spectrum to ionizing radiation such as gamma rays. This means that it is not mutagenic (it cannot mutate and become more harmful) and any danger it poses, is related to bodily temperature increases. This is something that goes up when you get closer to microwave frequencies.
“We know parts of the community are concerned about the safety of 5G and we hope the updated guidelines will help put people at ease,” said ICNIRP Chairman, Dr Eric van Rongen. “The guidelines have been developed after a thorough review of all relevant scientific literature, scientific workshops and an extensive public consultation process. They provide protection against all scientifically substantiated adverse health effects due to EMF exposure in the 100 kHz to 300 GHz range.”
Some of the main changes to the organisations first round of recommendations on radio and mobile were published in 1998, and concern frequencies above 6GHz. If you remember, when the popular mobile phone craze began in the late 1990’s, there was also significant research done with regards to any danger it may pose to health. At that time, the recommendation included restrictions and exposure to the whole body.
“When we revised the guidelines, we looked at the adequacy of the ones we published in 1998. We found that the previous ones were conservative in most cases, and they’d still provide adequate protection for current technologies,” said Van Rongen. “However, the new guidelines provide better and more detailed exposure guidance in particular for the higher frequency range, above 6 GHz, which is of importance to 5G and future technologies, using these higher frequencies. 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.” There is still much work to be done in this area, and the change in protocol from one organization will not necessarily stop the concern people may have about the adverse effects of radiation. These guidelines however, do represent progress by way of research and development for this ongoing health-related debate.