Are you in the “can hardly wait” mode for 5G?  With it, we’ve been told to expect lightning downloads, little if any buffering, along with many technology improvements we can’t even imagine.

What type of cell towers are going up right outside your window? Is 5G good? Is it bad? Click these slides to find out more.

WITH 5G COMES THE SMALL CELL TOWER INVASION 

By Bonita Gooch, The Community Voice 

Are you in the “can hardly wait” mode for 5G? With it, we’ve been told to expect lightning downloads, little if any buffering, along with many technology improvements we can’t even imagine.

However, if you really want to imagine something, imagine all the hundreds – and yes thousands – of new 5G “small cell” towers that will inundate your city’s skyline. Yes, that’s something that comes along with 5G technology.

Current cell towers are large and cover a several-mile radius. 5G cells are small and only cover a small radius. We’ve heard reports that their coverage distance could be as short as 100 to 300 ft. or possibly as far as 1,000 ft. For certain, most experts project there will need to be at least one 5G cell per wireless company, per city block.

The good news is the cells are small and they can be designed to fit on existing street light poles, that is if the city, who owns the right-of-way the poles are located in and operates the street light poles in conjunction with the local electric company, can agree on terms and conditions for their use.

If they can’t reach an agreement, no problem. Both the state and the federal government have put legislation in place that limits local governments’ ability to stand in the way of 5G progress. The feds recently granted wireless companies unprecedented rights to put towers in right-of-ways, and left cities with little power to do much about it.

The federal law requires cities to allow small cell towers in the right of way – that’s the area typically between the sidewalk and the street. Right-of-way is also an easement space that’s currently used for transmission lines, sometimes in alleys, behind houses or in larger areas often reserved for major utility transmission lines. So instead of hidden in out-of-the-way private locations, these cells will be right out there in front of you.

In Kansas, the state legislature took away the cities’ rights to encourage the sharing of towers. For nearly two decades, the City of Wichita’s policy had been to as much as possible encourage, and almost require, co-locating/ space sharing on towers. A new bill passed by the legislature flips that approach and now makes it so cities cannot ask or encourage tower sharing. 

Wichita City Councilmember Brandon Johnson, whose district was shocked in 2018 by the installation of 105-ft. electrical transmission lines that no one quite expected to be quite so large, said this sounds “Dejavu[BG1].”

“We have 105-ft. transmission poles, these poles (5G) would be about 20 feet shorter than that, which is still taller than the 65-ft. poles that we have here. What does that neighborhood look like?” queried Johnson. “I think what the public doesn’t see is this is every 100 or 300 feet, that’s almost every pole on the block that would have this type of technology on it.”

The one oversight that wasn’t taken away from cities is the ability to control the design and appearance of the towers and poles. With their design policy, the City of Wichita hopes to make the small cell towers blend in as much as possible. Some of their design ideas are:

• Match the cells as much as possible to the color of the poles,

• Mount the cells as close to the poles as possible,

• Keep the wires as adjacent to the poles as possible and inside conduit that matches the color of the pole,

• Keep the overall height no more than 10% above the existing structure, and

• Where possible, place the pole near the sidelines of property, and not directly in front of the windows so that people are not looking out their window at this type of technology.

“This at least allows us to put in design guidelines,” said former Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell during a March 2019 meeting. “At least we get to put lipstick on this pig.”

“I hope that companies are sensitive to neighborhoods because that’s all we can do is hope, because our power to stop that is taken away from us,” said Johnson.

EUROPE SAYS 5G IS DANGEROUS 

Maryland has recently been at the center of the 5G technology debate. Although the state’s legislature is unlikely to fast track 5G, officials from Baltimore to Montgomery County are debating where to place hundreds of new “small cells” which are basically shorter cell towers creating the backbone for the new 5G network. Many 5G antenna sites will be just feet away from residents’ homes.

European media and published research have reported mounting evidence of environmental and public health hazards of wireless radiation from 5G and the Internet of things. Yet, the U.S. is moving full steam ahead to allow the deployment of over 800,000 antenna installations. Amidst federal inaction on this ever-growing exposure, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Reps. Daniel Lipinsky, Andy Kim and Peter A. DeFazio have all requested safety documentation.

In the U.S., the legislatures of New Hampshire, Oregon, Louisiana, and Alaska appear to be among the few to take seriously the need to vet fully this new technology before unleashing it on the entire nation.

When it comes to environmental impacts of wireless, researchers report that exposures gravely affect the behavior and physiology of bees, reducing honey production. Because bees absorb the higher frequencies of 5G much more intensely, the future of agriculture could be imperiled. 

Slovenia has halted 5G awaiting health and safety investigations. Switzerland municipalities are insisting on proof of safety before permits can be granted for 5G. The environment minister of Brussels, Belgium, declared their citizens will “not be guinea pigs whose health can be sold at profit.” Over 140 Italian cities are issuing resolutions to halt 5G.

5G and 4G densification will increase our environmental levels of wireless. We are left to wonder why do China, Russia, Poland, Italy, and several other European countries allow up to hundreds of times less wireless radiation into the environment than does the US? Moreover, while other countries monitor wireless levels, the US does not. The last EPA report on the topic was released in 1986, back when a gallon of gasoline cost less than one dollar. The EPA was defunded from setting federal safety limits in 1996 when the US then adopted industry-friendly regulations. Since then, environmental levels of wireless radiation have multiplied exponentially.

It’s time for a reset of our lackadaisical policies on wireless. Let’s hope the private sector that influences the FCC, which has been deemed a captured agency by a Harvard Ethics Report, grasps the gravity of this issue before it is too late for honeybees and the rest of us.

– Dr. Devra Davis is president of ehtrust.org, served in the Clinton Administration from 1993-1997, and was a member of the team of IPCC scientists awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

5G IS NO MORE DANGEROUS THAN VISIBLE LIGHT 

5G, the next generation of cellular technology for the next generation of smartphones, is imminent. And with it, there’s concern about the health risk of this new, more powerful network. How worried should you be about the coming 5G healthpocalypse?

By now, you may have seen articles on Facebook or alternative health websites. The gist: 5G is a dangerous escalation of traditional cellular technology, one packed with higher energy radiation that delivers potential damaging effects on human beings. It sounds worrisome, but let’s take a look at the actual science.

At the root of all concerns about cell phone networks is radiofrequency radiation (RFR). RFR is anything emitted in the electromagnetic spectrum, from microwaves to x-rays to radio waves to light from your monitor or light from the sun. Clearly, RFR isn’t inherently dangerous, so the problem becomes discovering under what circumstances it might be.

Scientists say that the most important criterion about whether any particular RFR is dangerous is whether it falls into the category of ionizing or non-ionizing radiation. Simply put, any radiation that’s non-ionizing is too weak to break chemical bonds. That includes ultraviolet, visible light, infrared, and everything with a lower frequency, like radio waves. Everyday technologies like power lines, FM radio, and Wi-Fi also fall into this range. (Microwaves are the lone exception: non-ionizing but able to damage tissue, they’re precisely and intentionally tuned to resonate with water molecules.) Frequencies above UV, like x-rays and gamma rays, are ionizing.

Dr. Steve Novella, an assistant professor of neurology at Yale and the editor of Science-Based Medicine, understands that people generally get concerned about radiation. “Using the term radiation is misleading because people think of nuclear weapons — they think of ionizing radiation that absolutely can cause damage. It can kill cells. It can cause DNA mutations.” But since non-ionizing radiation doesn’t cause DNA damage or tissue damage, Novella says that most concern about cell phone RFR is misplaced. 

Sizing Up 5G’s Risks

A common complaint about 5G is that, due to the lower power of 5G transmitters, there will be more of them. The Environmental Health Trust contends that “5G will require the buildout of literally hundreds of thousands of new wireless antennas in neighborhoods, cities, and towns. A cellular small cell or another transmitter will be placed every two to 10 homes according to estimates.”

Says Novella, “What they’re really saying is the dose is going to be higher. Theoretically, this is a reasonable question to ask.” But skeptics caution you shouldn’t conflate asking the question with merely asserting that there’s a risk. As Novella points out, “We’re still talking about power and frequency less than light. You go out in the sun, and you’re bathed in electromagnetic radiation that’s far greater than these 5G cell towers.”

It’s easy to find claims online that the greater frequency of 5G alone constitutes a risk. RadiationHealthRisks.com observes that “1G, 2G, 3G and 4G use between 1 to 5 gigahertz frequency. 5G uses between 24 to 90 gigahertz frequency,” and then asserts that “within the RF Radiation portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, the higher the frequency, the more dangerous it is to living organisms.” But asserting that the higher frequency is more dangerous is just that—an assertion, and there’s little real science to stand behind it. 5G remains non-ionizing in nature.

– Dave Johnson is the author of many books about technology & spent 8 years as a content lead at Microsoft.