Some people distrust mobile communications – they worry that the radiation might damage their health. 5G is heightening those concerns. Some detractors are even afraid that radiation caused by mobile networks is damaging their DNA. However, studies indicate that there is no reason for this fear of electromagnetic fields (EMFs).
Because of increased mobile phone use and the development of the 5G infrastructure, we are increasingly surrounded by radio frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs). The issue of whether this poses a potential health risk is being investigated on an ongoing basis.
EMFs are everywhere. So there are many scientific papers looking at, for example, whether using a mobile for phone calls or living close to transmission installations damages DNA. Studies have discussed, among other things, whether exposure might be capable of changing the cells in the human body and, if so, how. There has, for example, been an examination of what potential effects mobile signals might have on human blood. Yet over a number of investigations carried out by the German Mobile Telecommunication Research Programme (DMF), it has not been possible to establish any relevant influence of radiation caused by mobile networks on human cells.
A current review proves that any potential effect of electromagnetic fields on DNA – if in fact they do have any effect at all – can only be very minor. And “effect” does not automatically mean “damage”. The mere fact of a measurable effect or change does not necessarily imply any damage to the body. Furthermore, a study has shown that investigations based more firmly on scientific quality standards are less likely to establish any effects on human cells caused by electromagnetic fields. In other words, the more precise the standards applied by researchers, the less impact on DNA they find.
Various laboratory tests have investigated the genotoxicity of electromagnetic fields – that is, the question of whether radiation caused by mobile networks is at all harmful to genetic material. These tests confirmed that there are cells that react with varying degrees of sensitivity to radiation. This is why the strength of electromagnetic fields is subject to legally established limit values designed to provide reliable protection against any and all scientifically proven health effects. Below these limits, electromagnetic fields do not have sufficient energy to break chemical bonds such as those in human DNA. It is therefore not possible for DNA damage to be triggered by electromagnetic fields. There has also been no scientific confirmation for the suggestion that electromagnetic fields impair the ability of cells to repair themselves.
In some scientific studies, oxidative stress is postulated as a possible mechanism of action, the hypothesis being that mobile telecommunication fields increase the concentration of free radicals. This could then lead to damage of the DNA and in turn to an increased incidence of cancer. However, the extent of the effects observed is often low and any relevance to health is unclear [RKI, 2008]. Moreover, the studies differ, in some cases significantly, in terms of the cell type used, the intensity of the fields, the exposure period or the point at which the free radicals were measured. Because this makes it difficult to compare the data, systematic reviews – study assessments – have been initiated. The aim here is to make it possible to evaluate the influence of electromagnetic fields on oxidative stress better and using a more valid basis for comparison.
The new 5G mobile telecommunications standard envisages the prospect of higher mobile frequencies. Should we therefore assume that our DNA will experience a higher level of exposure? No – that doesn’t automatically follow. Higher frequencies also mean a shorter range. If the radiation caused by mobile networks is below the existing limits, the energy of the electromagnetic fields is not sufficient to cause any damage to health. The limits provide protection from excessive exposure through radiation caused by mobile networks, so no one needs to fear that their tissue will be heated up to a critical degree.
At present, the long-term effects of electromagnetic fields have not been sufficiently investigated – because comprehensive mobile communications coverage has not been around that long. However, the uncertainties that remain relate solely to holding a mobile directly against the head while using it because this is far and away the strongest source regarding exposure.
Anyone wishing to reduce their radiation exposure further, in general and irrespective of the safe limits, should avoid close exposure to the body when using a mobile. Use a headset or earphones. Please see this article for further recommendations on how to minimise exposure.
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