The fifth-generation cellular network or 5G has started rolling out across the globe. With it, you can expect an enhanced cellular experience that will not just alter our lives substantially but also have a greater focus on how healthcare services function.
One of the burning questions regarding 5G is what threats it poses to our health. There is a range of concerns centred around 5G and its adverse health effects of prolonged exposure to radiofrequency radiation that’s associated with its roll-out.
Fears about radiation leading to poor health are arising and a report by IANS, the strength of the radiofrequency signals fields is at its highest at its source as the deployment of 5G gear would lead to more mobile antennas.
The report states, “Experts are, however, of the opinion that there are not many reasons to fear as long as India follows the standards of safety set by regulatory authorities that are followed in Europe and other developed nations.”
In what may come as good news to most, the World Health Organization (WHO) have stated that you should not fear these radiations that are associated with exposure to RF signals as the consequences are minimalistic. The only reported health effect from these RF signals are related to an increase in body temperature from “exposure at very high field intensity and this minor increase in temperature do not affect human health.”
Vaibhav Mishra, Additional Director, Department of Cardiac Surgery, Fortis Hospital, Noida, said, “The term ‘radiation’ has a tendency to lead to confusion and cause fear and misconceptions. However, radiation is of two types - ionising and non-ionising. Non-ionising radiations which are found in mobile devices have not proved to be hazardous for human health.”
Mishra adds, “It is the ionising radiations which one needs to be careful of. For example - the UV (ultraviolet) rays emitted by the sun are ionising in nature and can cause significant damage to our cell structures.”
Mishra went on to say that the reasons these questions are asked because 5G has a much higher speed than 4G, hence require added radiation. Mishra rubbishes this notion by stating that there is no long-term data or study which concludes that there will be a negative effect on the human body from radiation emitted by 5G signals.
Tarun Sahni, Senior Consultant at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals in New Delhi opined that medical devices such as ECG electrodes, ultrasounds and pacemakers emit targeted high-frequency radio waves. Sahni says, “Devices using high-frequency radio waves are used for multiple purposes, besides their use in smartphones. But the evidence is not strong enough to suggest that this radiowaves are causing any big risk to human health.”
He cautions that everything used in excess has the potential to cause impairment. He adds, “Even if there is a risk, it's very minimal.”
T.V. Ramachandran, President, Broadband India Forum, an association of the telecom network and broadcasters states that instead of affecting our health, 5G will, in fact, enhance healthcare services. Ramachandran says, “As far as the impact of radiation on health is concerned, we have done enough work on that area and I can tell you that similar concerns were raised when 3G and 4G were rolled out. People with inadequate understanding are raising these issues.”