Science and 5G in the Blue Mountains
Wednesday February 06th 2019, 10:47 pm

mgk returns from a long hiatus to reproduce a letter I wrote to Blue Mountains City Council Mayor Mark Greenhill, as a response to a Blue Mountains Gazette story about a council meeting being mobbed by a gaggle of anti-science, anti-5G phone system fearmongers

Dear Mayor Greenhill,

I am a resident of the Blue Mountains, a retired radio broadcast engineer with approximately 40 years experience with radio transmission technologies.

I am writing to indicate that there are Blue Mountains residents who are interested in the issue of 5G service in the Blue Mountains but whom are not swayed by rumour and bad science.

I am made aware of the appearance of anti-5G activists at a recent Council meeting by way of this Blue Mountains Gazette story:

No 5G in the Blue Mountains packs council chamber

I note with interest your comments in the mayoral minute from this story:

“It is billed as the next big thing,” the mayoral minute reported. “Community concerns surrounding the introduction of 5G are varied, ranging from the lack of research into the technology ahead of the roll-out, to the potential health concerns for both people and animals (notably the bee population) that may be caused due to radio frequencies emanating from towers and antennas required to support the new technology.”

5G telephony differs from existing 2G, 3G & 4G systems only in the data transfer rate and operating frequency of 5G systems. This is to say that 5G operates on a higher ‘channel’ in the same way radio station 2GB operates on a higher frequency at 873kHz than does ABC Sydney on 702kHz. Telstra 4G operates on several bands, the highest frequency presently in use being 2.6GHz. Optus 4G operates on 2.3 and 2.6GHz. Telstra’s experimental 5G system is operating on 3.6GHz.

The reason for the higher frequency is that 5G is specified to move data at higher rates than earlier generations of cellular technology. When you want to send data faster, the radio signal must be wider, occupying more radio spectrum space. Radio spectrum is a limited resource. Most spectrum is presently in use by other services.

The higher the frequency of a radio wave, the more it acts like visible light. Extremely high frequency radio waves do not penetrate buildings and other obstacles like leafy trees well, nor have the coverage range of lower frequency signals. This is why lower frequency signals have been preferred for existing services.

This poor building penetration is caused by a phenomenon known as ‘skin effect.’ Skin effect causes radio signals to be carried mainly on the surfaces of obstacles and conductors, including wires- and people. The higher the frequency of a radio signal, the less likely it is to have an ability to affect any human tissues below the surface of the skin.

The only remaining spectrum which has enough space for the width of 5G signals is at these extremely high frequencies which are somewhat hobbled by the laws of physics. A 5G network will thus require many short range base stations. For effective coverage, there may be 5G base stations required every few hundred metres. These base stations will have lower power output than 4G stations.

Radio waves are a form of non-ionising radiation. Non-ionising radiation is so classed as as it is unable to knock electrons off the orbit of molecules, or create ions, as can ionising radiation, as is emitted by ultraviolet light and radionuclear materials such as uranium, plutonium, etc.

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Non-ionising radiation is thus unable to cause damage or mutations to DNA, a common way that assorted cancers can be caused. There have been 25,000 peer reviewed studies over the last 30 years into biological effects of electromagnetic radiation reviewed by the United Nations World Health Organisation. None have revealed any harms to human health. There is not a single known case of any cancer definitively caused by exposure to communications level radio signals or other electromagnetic fields.

The Telstra experimental 5G system operates on 3.6GHz, a radio frequency, well within the non-ionising portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Consequently, there is no difference in effects on human biology between extant 2G, 3G, 4G and the proposed 5G mobile telephone technologies.

Cellular mobile phones have no demonstrated effect on honeybees. There is a popular misconception that cellular phones may be related to honeybee colony collapse disorder as a result of confusion by a reporter at The Independent in 2007 between DECT cordless phones as used in homes and cellular phones, after a study which placed DECT cordless phone base modules in a bee hive claimed to have been related to the collapse of one of the hives used in the study. The scientists who conducted the study were aghast at the confusion and disavowed the claims made by The Independent, as reported here in Fosters

and also in the International Herald Tribune, the global edition of the New York Times:

I am sure you are aware of public health expert Professor Simon Chapman’s science-based commentary on the topic, as mentioned in the Gazette story and perhaps also by his voluminous publication on the topic, dating back to the 1990s when there were community protests about the (then new) Telstra mobile phone network base station sites being installed in and around Sydney. 5G being just another iteration of cellular telephone service, nothing has changed as regards public health and mobile phones, as Prof Chapman’s comments in his 23 January 2019 post on the subject, “Whack-a-mole: Knocking the “mobile phones cause cancer” claim on the head.”

As such, in contention with your comment in the pertinent mayoral minute, there is voluminous good scientific research regarding lack of negative health effects of mobile telephone systems (inclusive of 5G as it is no different than any other system except for data speed and operating frequency, which remains in the non-ionising region) on humans, and no known evidence indicating any negative effect of mobile telephone systems on bees.

I am not interested in attending Council meetings and having stand-up arguments with science deniers who have a religion-like commitment to their beliefs. This will have no effect on their convictions.

However, I hope you and the other Councillors recognise the actual science in existence on the issue and implement no policies which will restrict the rollout of 5G in the Blue Mountains.


-wallet name