Research on the effects of 5G technology on human health is limited. The studies so far have not observed any negative impact of 5G on humans. However, it is normal for some concerns to arise with technological developments. According to Mark Elwood, Professor of Cancer Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Auckland University of New Zealand, the point in the studies which you look at is very important. According to Elwood, some studies show that radiofrequency fields may have biological effects that may be associated with increased diseases. Reading only these studies may make you feel that there is a serious problem. However, some studies have been prepared with similar or healthier methods and have no observation about harmful effects. According to Elwood, these studies are considered to be more detailed and quality works. The criteria of the high quality and detailed studies mentioned by Elwood are the criteria such as the method of the study, the sample size, and the reliability of the resources.
Professor Mark Elwood says that the available evidence should be analyzed in a balanced manner, as there has not been enough work done on 5G yet. Also, remember that there are many scientists from different countries in the studies to be prepared by transnational organizations such as the European Union and the World Health Organization.
The WhatsApp message suggests that 5G changes the oxygen structure. In this message, we often see the concept of GHz. So, what is this concept?
Figure 1: It says that 5G changes the structure of oxygen and 60 GHz energy is absorbed by oxygen molecules.
For the answer, first, we should know what the electromagnetic spectrum and radio waves are. The electromagnetic spectrum classifies electromagnetic waves according to their wavelengths. Radio waves form the basis of radio communication. We can think of it as waves in a pool. The entire pattern of a wave is called the cycle before it repeats itself. The wavelength defines the distance got over by a wave to complete a cycle. The time that the wave prepares for a single oscillation is called a period and its unit is seconds. The number of oscillations of the wave in one second is called frequency. The frequency unit is measured in hertz (Hz). One thousand hertz is called a kilohertz (kHz), 1 million hertz is a megahertz (MHz) and 1 billion hertz is a gigahertz (GHz). The range of the radio spectrum is between 3 kilohertz and 300 gigahertz.
Considering the electromagnetic spectrum and radio waves, there are two more concepts we need to mention. The source of radiation in our environment is either natural ways or people. Ionizing radiation and non-ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation is a form of energy that acts by removing electrons from atoms and molecules of substances containing air, water, and living tissue. It may look complicated, but let’s give a familiar example. X-rays that can penetrate our body and even show our bone structure, are examples of ionizing radiation. In other words, imaging devices such as x-rays and tomography contain ionizing radiation. Long exposure to this ionizing effect is known to have some negative effects on the skin or tissue. However, these devices, which we have been exposed to for only a few minutes, will not show such effects.
Non-ionizing radiation exists in many areas of our lives. Smartphones and televisions, computers, microwave ovens that we use in kitchens, solarium and sun rays are some examples of it. 5G technology is one of the examples we have mentioned. The radioactive energy they emit is not at a level that can affect human health. When the electromagnetic spectrum diagram is examined, you will see that 5G is on the left side of the sun’s rays. In other words, ultraviolet rays emitted from the sun can affect our body more than 5G.
CNET, the American media and technology site, has prepared a video examining 5G technology. Jackson Ryan, the science editor of the site, examines the health effects of 5G technology, the effects of wavelengths on the body, the safe and dangerous sides of the technology. Ryan talks about how the sun’s rays, radio waves, and 5G technology penetrate the skin (3.07). Accordingly, 5G does not have enough energy to penetrate the skin. This can be understood from studies that show how the sun penetrates the skin.
What about the band spectrum of 5G? Almost every country has different studies on 5G technology. In many countries, the starting frequency bands for 5G are known to be below 6 GHz. However, additional mobile spectra over 6 GHz are also available, including 26-28 GHz bands, often called millimetre waves. For example, Information Technologies and Communications Authority in Turkey (BTK) gave a briefing on April 11, 2019, and stated that a measurement in the 5.89 GHz frequency band was performed in 5G Valley Open Test Site by some companies, and Hacettepe and by experts from Koç University. This band is higher in South Korea and the USA, which are advancing rapidly in 5G technology. It is known that South Korea made a tender for a study in the 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz bands in 2018.
In the USA, we see that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is doing its works just like South Korea in the 28 GHz band. We can see the 5G spectrum used by 14 countries in 2017 and 2020 in the report of Analysys Mason, which is a telecom, media, and technology consultancy firm, about the licensed and unlicensed spectra of the countries in January 2020 (Page 5). According to the table, there are two countries in the unlicensed 60 GHz band: the USA and UK. However, even though the 60 GHz band is one of the 5G bands, it is known to be a band to be used in wireless systems or in cases where the frequency usage right does not require a license. As an example, we can give the USA to use the 60 GHz band in the army for high-security communication.
As a result, it is not possible to say that 5G, which will soon take its place in our daily lives, uses the 60 GHz band.
Another claim in the WhatsApp message is that 5G has abnormal effects on oxygen and 5G energy is absorbed by oxygen molecules. Teyit reached Prof. Dr. Mustafa Tunaya Kalkan in the Department of Biophysics, Istanbul Aydın University.
According to Kalkan, the frequency of 5G technology can go up to 60 GHz. However, there will be many devices that will use 5G. This can be a robot or other wireless device. The frequencies to be used in all are different. For example, microwave ovens that we use in our homes. Microwave ovens are known to use a frequency of 2.45 GHz. It is clear that any product we put in the microwave gets hot very fast and this is serious power. Microwave ovens perform this heating process through the warming of water molecules. There is another technology in our homes with the same frequency level: wireless internet. It is known that this technology uses a frequency of 2.45 GHz. In this case, wireless networks are expected to apply the same power as microwave ovens that quickly heat your food products. But what is important here is severity. Wireless internet does not reveal heat effect; that is, they do not have the same level of severity. This is what needs to be considered in 5G technology. Because each device working with this technology will use separate frequencies. For example, a robot will operate at a lower frequency, while the unmanned car will operate at a different frequency.
Another issue is that 5G base stations are more frequent and closer to each other. This may give the impression that more radiation will be exposed, but this is not the case. The 2.4 GHz band can provide longer coverage but transmits data at lower speeds. The opposite is true for the 5 GHz band. In this case, as the coverage area gets narrower as GHz increases, more base stations are installed.
Considering the effect of 60 GHz on oxygen, severity is important just as in microwave ovens and wireless systems. According to Kalkan, 60 GHz will be given to oxygen at such a low intensity that scenarios such as people drowning are not possible. According to Kalkan, another issue to be considered is the lack of academic studies on 5G technology yet.
There have been other statements recently about the connection between 5G technology and the new coronavirus. On April 5, 2020, Prof. Dr. Sencer Koç and Prof. Dr. Ali Özgür Yılmaz, from METU Electrical and Electronics Engineering Department, said that although the signals in this band are weakened by oxygen molecules, electromagnetic waves in the 60 GHz band cannot absorb oxygen. Koç and Yılmaz stating that it is not scientifically possible to reach the ideas in the claims, and also mentioned claims about 5G’s effects on oxygen and hemoglobin; “If this were the case, all animals would have had the same thing.”
The Board of the Izmir Branch of the Chamber of Electrical Engineers on April 8, 2020, stated that 60 GHz band was not used in any base station. According to the statement, the fact that there is only one test station in Turkey, but all parts of Turkey have experienced the pandemic shows there is no connection between the pandemic and 5G.
In summary, the information by experts and scientific studies show that making a connection between 60 GHz, 5G technology and the new coronavirus is not possible.
Another claim in the message tells the topics such as the vibration frequency of the virus by reference to a source. The names of Qasim Bukhari and Yusuf Jameel from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are mentioned.
Qasim Bukhari is an academic at the MIT McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and Yusuf Jameel is a member of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. The effect of COVID-19 pandemic on the temperatures of the countries was investigated in the study, which was signed on March 19, 2020, and updated on March 27, bearing their signature. In the research, the vibration frequency where the virus is or alpha, beta, gamma frequencies are not mentioned. The statement in the claim, “When 3 to 17 degrees of particles meet with moisture, it starts to harm infectiously” is not included in the study.
In the study, we see that 3 to 17 degrees of temperature are mentioned, but this statement was used to describe that 90 percent of cases appeared in countries in this temperature range. It has been reported that 90 percent of the COVID-19 pandemic results so far have occurred in this temperature and 9 grams of absolute humidity in cubic meters. In countries with an average temperature of more than 18 degrees and absolute humidity of more than 9 grams per cubic meter, the total number of cases was 6 percent less than the global total.
Another claim in the WhatsApp message was a comparison of 5G and flu. This has been linked to the exposure of beneficial parasites and bacteria in the human body to wireless microwave radiation, and some symptoms have been claimed to be flu-like.
First, parasites are known as organisms that damage humans, animals or plants, although few parasites that have been mentioned as beneficial in some studies, their rate is low. Many beneficial or harmless bacteria live in our bodies, but viruses and bacteria are not parasites. According to Prof. Dr. Tunaya Kalkan, comparing different microorganisms is not the correct approach. It is unrealistic to compare a virus that causes influenza to the new coronavirus or to say that 5G shows such symptoms. Wireless microwave radiation is known to be 2.45 GHz. It is thought to create any temperature with that intensity, but it can be at most 0.02 degrees. Living things cannot perceive such a limited change.
The claim does not explicitly tell what 5G symptoms are, so we cannot know what it means by flu-like symptoms. Moreover, there is no evidence of symptoms in studies on 5G. Another issue is that while telling the connection between the coronavirus and 5G throughout the messages, flu-like symptoms just appear in this section. Although there are similar symptoms of influenza and coronavirus, there is no medicine or vaccine developed against diseases caused by the coronavirus family. The World Health Organization also states that it is not possible to compare flu with COVID-19.
In conclusion, in all three analyses where we examined WhatsApp messages on 5G, we stated that 5G has no connection with COVID-19 and 5G does not harm human health. In closed messaging platforms, these and similar messages may appear frequently, but you should definitely check the origin of this message, whether the person sending or writing the message has expertise. Both the COVID-19 pandemic and 5G technology are new in our lives. The resources to search for both should be reliable.
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Auckland University, Who should we trust about 5G?, 11 October 2019
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Fierce Wireless, Qualcomm, Facebook, Google want new rules for 60 GHz, 5 February 2020
IEEE Explore, Exploiting High Millimeter Wave Bands for Military Communications, Applications, and Design, 30 April 2019
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Cable Free, WLAN Frequency Bands & Channels
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MIT Gabrieli Laboratory, Qasim Bukhari
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Translation: Hilal Ebru Yakar