5G risks run skin deep
Concerns have been raised about the potential health effects of new 5G mobile phone technology.
The new mobile phone network will be operational in Australia from 2020, providing around 50 times the bandwidth currently available on 4G networks.
Telstra is planning to run a world-first test of the technology at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
But radio frequency expert Professor Dariusz Leszczynski, from the University of Helsinki, says there is a concerning lack of understanding about the health effects of the technology.
“We know only that this radiation penetrates skin deep,” Professor Leszczynski said at a recent conference.
“We don't have the faintest idea how normal-functioning skin will be affected.”
The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) wants to know if Australia's current radiation safety standards need to be updated for 5G.
The agency says its research has shown 5G technology can penetrate skin to a depth of 8 millimetres.
“At the frequencies where 5G will be operating, the RF electromagnetic energy does not penetrate much further than the surface of the skin,” ARPANSA assistant director Dr Ken Karipidis said.
“Adverse health effects are not expected, and the current Australian Standard accounts for these.
“Nevertheless, further research in this area is required, particularly on effects on the skin and the eyes.”
ARPANSA said local research labs should look into 5G frequencies.
Telstra says its wireless networks all comply with Australian electromagnetic energy (EME) safety standards.
“We rely on the expert advice of a number of national and international health authorities, including ARPANSA and the World Health Organisation,” the spokesperson said.
“Research into EME, mobile phones and health has been going on for many years.
“The frequencies used by 5G have been used by other radio frequency applications such as satellite and radar for decades … 5G wireless networks are designed to be very efficient and minimise EME.”