Can 5G Hurt You?

One of the many self-inflicted wounds on humanity right now is a fear of new vaccines that is somehow associated with fear of new 5G cell phone technology. This BBC story documents some really nutty stuff including a cell phone tower being attacked in Bolivia where there is not yet any 5G service.

I have my opinion of these people, but what’s the point of printing that? Let’s try to shed some light on what 5G actually is.

PCMag provides a good summary:

The G in this 5G means it’s a generation of wireless technology. While most generations have technically been defined by their data transmission speeds, each has also been marked by a break in encoding methods, or “air interfaces,” that makes it incompatible with the previous generation. 1G was analog cellular. 2G technologies… 4G technologies, such as WiMAX and LTE, were the next incompatible leap forward, and they are now scaling up to hundreds of megabits and even gigabit-level speeds. 5G brings three new aspects to the table: bigger channels (to speed up data), lower latency (to be more responsive), and the ability to connect a lot more devices at once (for sensors and smart devices).

The key thing to understand here is that 5G isn’t much faster than 4G on the same old radio channels. Instead, the 5G spec lets phones use much wider channels across a broader range of frequencies. 

This might not seem very helpful if what you are worried about is the safety of 5G phones. Maybe it’s just like other cell phone technology, but is it all bad? Are even old-fashioned radios dangerous?

Phones radiate radio waves. Guess what else radiates waves? A an old-fashioned campfire. You can feel those infrared waves as heat. You can see those waves at a slightly higher frequency as visible light. Waves are already coming at you.

You are getting hit by radio waves from the local classical music audio station. You are also getting hit with visible light constantly. The human body is not harmed by these waves. Waves below the visible spectrum, which is where radio waves are in terms of frequency, just generate a little heat.

There are waves that can hurt you. The sun emits lots of energy. When sunlight hits you, you are getting shot at with all kinds of waves. Solar radiation includes low-frequency waves that we call radio (that’s where 5G falls). Obviously solar radiation includes visible light because we can see it. The sun, unfortunately, also sends along the kind of high-frequency waves that can cause sunburn in the short term and cancer in the long term.

Gamma rays are the ones that can really kill you and penetrate past your skin. Avoid gamma rays! According to NASA, “On Earth, gamma waves are generated by nuclear explosions, lightning, and the less dramatic activity of radioactive decay.” Gamma waves are higher than the frequency of visible light. Cell phones deal in low-frequency radio waves. You don’t worry about light bulbs even though they shoot waves at you. You should be even less worried about cell phones, because those waves are even lower frequency than visible light. 

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