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5G and health

BfS, WHO, etc.: institutions concerned with radiation protection

People have been researching the potential health risks of radiation for many years now. On both a national and an international level, a large number of institutions are addressing/dealing with this topic, and some have chosen to focus on mobile radiation and the new 5G technology. Here is an overview of the key players. 

The network of national and international institutions demonstrates that although the 5G mobile telecommunications standard is new, awareness of potential risks and efforts to research and minimise these are already long-established. Experts around the world are collaborating closely in order to prevent any health consequences and link technological progress with consideration of impact analysis.

The Federal Office for Radiation Protection

A number of institutions in Germany are concerned with protecting the population from non-ionising radiation. These, in particular, include the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS), which belongs to the area of responsibility of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV). Its aim is to recognise and prevent potential risks to people.

As early as 2002 the BfS initiated the German Mobile Telecommunication Research Programme (DMF). From 2002 to 2008 this programme researched the health impact of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields in the vicinity of transmission installations such as radio towers, cell towers and mobile phones. Within this framework, the DMF has also been investigating the frequency ranges being used for 5G during the first stage. To learn more about the results of these investigations and about further research undertaken as a result, please have a look at this article.

The German Commission on Radiological Protection 

In addition to the BfS, the German Commission on Radiological Protection (SSK) is a key player in the field of radiation protection in Germany. The SSK advises the BMUV in all matters relating to protection against ionising and non-ionising radiation. It consists of experts from a variety of disciplines and is not constrained by any instructions from the Federal Government. 

The Fachverband für Strahlenschutz e.V.

Another important point of contact in Germany (and Switzerland) is the Fachverband für Strahlenschutz e.V. It consists of specialists from universities, research centres, measuring stations, authorities, industrial concerns and evaluation organisations. The Fachverband functions as a competent contact partner for citizens and institutions in relation to all questions concerning radiation protection and is a neutral source of public information concerning any potential risks. 

The global perspective

There is also a larger number of international institutions and organisations addressing the issue of radiation protection. First and foremost, there is the International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA), which is made up of international radiation protection experts. The IRPA is tasked with supporting radiation protection projects and making sure that the parties concerned apply all the findings in this sector for the benefit of society and in particular that they do so in accordance with ethical values. 

As early as 1973 the IRPA started researching non-ionising radiation. It was in connection with this research that the International Non-Ionizing Radiation Committee (INIRC) in 1977 was founded. This committee was the precursor to the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), which was founded in 1992 and is partly supported financially by the IRPA. 

The ICNIRP is now one of the largest and most important institutions for protecting the population against radiation. It is a non-profit organisation conducting research and offering advice internationally. The World Health Organization (WHO) has formally recognised the ICNIRP as its collaborating non-governmental partner in the field of radiation protection. Equally, the European Commission turns to the experts in theof ICNIRP when it comes to issues of radiation protection in the field of non-ionising radiation. 


The World Health Organization (WHO) also deals with both ionising and non-ionising radiation. It channels relevant projects into the Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health (PHE). In 1996 the WHO also initiated an international project looking at electromagnetic fields (the International EMF Project), thereby assuming an active role in protecting the population from potential radiation exposure. 

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