Australia's radiation safety agency debunks 5G concerns in new safety standard

5G is safe to use, ARPANSA continues to reinforce.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) has used the launch of Australia's new radio wave safety standard to continue to quash concerns that 5G technology, mobile towers, and base stations can cause harmful health effects.

ARPANSA has repeatedly said 5G is safe, having pointed to research that, through double blind trials, disproved individuals who claimed exposure to electromagnetic hypersensitivity had caused them to feel side effects, such as a burning sensation.

The agency has also bluntly stated that higher frequencies used in 5G do not result in a higher exposure level.

It has now bundled all that information into a new safety standard, Standard for Limiting Exposure to Radiofrequency Fields – 100kHz to 300GHz[PDF], which specifies the limits of human exposure for workers and the general public to radiofrequency (RF) fields in the range 100kHz to 300GHz. This includes the radio waves used in wireless communications, such as Wi-Fi and 5G. It is an update on the last ARPANSA RF standard that was published in 2002.

Speaking through the new standard, ARPANSA assessment and advice assistant director Ken Karipidis outlined that the new standard has "more refined protections" and covers all radio wave emitting technologies.

"There hasn't been a significant shift in the new standard … with the actual numbers, some are slightly higher, and some are slightly lower. It accounts for how radio wave is absorbed within the body," he said.

He also took the opportunity to reiterate that exposure to any public form of radio waves is "extremely low", pointing out research the agency undertook which involved examining radio wave exposures of 23 schools in Australia.

"What we found was exposure from Wi-Fi is 100 million times below the Australian standard. Exposure from TV towers was 3 million times below the standard. Exposure from mobile phone towers was 500,000 times below the standard. The greatest exposure was from AM radio, but it was still 50,000 times below the standard," Karipidis said.

The standard also sets out exposure limits and a management guide for workers in certain industries such as telecommunication and healthcare where they could be potentially exposed to higher radio wave standards.

Karipidis further added, "there are no proven long-term effects, such as cancer, from radio waves. And in fact, there is no substantiated evidence of any health effects from radio waves at levels below the standard".

When posed the question by media about what causes "5G hysteria", ARPANSA program director Sarah Loughran acknowledged that the hysteria is not any different than those regarding previous generations of this technology.

"One of the main differences we have now is the resources in terms of communicating this hysteria, so social media, in particular, is a much bigger thing in the past, and didn't exist when 2G came out. So, people were concerned, they just didn't have as many platforms or greater voice to express their concerns whereas now, there are a lot of different avenues for people to express their concerns about this technology," she said.

The launch of the new standard is part of the Australian's government AU$9 million four-year initiative that was launched at the end of 2019 to fight misinformation about 5G and build public confidence.

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