5G Fears: “We don’t want to be experimented on!”
Warriewood resident Vivian Dunstan is leading a quickly growing group of more than 1500 people campaigning to stop the rollout of the 5G network across the Northern Beaches pending further safety studies due to health and environmental concerns.
Mobile phone networks and other wireless telecommunications sources emit low-level radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic energy (EME). 5G signifies ‘fifth generation’ wireless technology, which uses a new millimetre wave technology operating at a higher frequency. The upside is faster downloads. However, for effective 5G coverage, many more mini phone towers will need to be installed around every 100-500m on lamp posts around the community.
There are currently 17 proposed or active 5G antennae on the peninsula, but Ms Dunstan and a growing number of local residents are concerned that Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), which is tasked with protecting people and the environment from the harmful effects of radiation, doesn’t acknowledge any non-heating effects nor take into account research papers showing non-heating health and environmental effects.
“The upgrade to 5G on current base stations is just the start,” Ms Dunstan tells Peninsula Living. “Small cell antennae will follow, and these will be placed throughout our community, greatly increasing our involuntary exposure to this radiation.
“This technology has not been tested, so the testing will be done on the community, which is unacceptable. We don’t want to be experimented on!”
While mobile network operators are responsible for determining when and where they deploy their network infrastructure, ARPANSA sets the safety limits for exposure to EME from mobile phone towers, and 5G will operate below the maximum level set to ensure there are no heating effects from the technology.
ARPANSA safety limits are significantly higher than other countries set at 1,000 µW (microwatts) per cm2, up to 300GHz. This was set against a Senate Committee recommendation of 200 µW/cm2 in 2001 and countries including China, Russia, Bulgaria and Poland set the limit at 10 µW/cm2, and parts of Austria set the safety limit even lower at .0001 µW/cm2.
Concern is such, that the Belgian city of Brussels were amongst the first to halt 5G, with its Belgian Environment Minister, Céline Fremault, stating in April, “The people of Brussels are not guinea pigs whose health I can sell at a profit.”
In April, more than 209 scientists and doctors from 41 European countries launched the 5G Appeal calling for a moratorium on the roll out of 5G until potential hazards for human health and the environment have been fully investigated by independent studies.
The 5G Appeal states, “The wireless telecom industry intends to outfit nearly every lamp post or utility post around the countries with these wireless small cell antennas beaming hazardous radiation next to, or into our homes, schools, working places and everywhere, 24/7.”
Ms Dunstan, who is also the founder of ADHD Support Australia and received an Australia Day Award for Outstanding Community Service earlier this year, thinks we should follow suit.
“Our children are particularly vulnerable, as they absorb more microwave radiation than adults because their brain tissues are more absorbent, their skulls are thinner and their relative size is smaller,” she says.
“It’s bad enough many phone towers are placed near schools but now they will also be right outside kids’ bedrooms too – there will be no escape.”
Federal government laws trump both state and local government rules on where towers can be positioned, and Ms Dunstan and other community members are lobbying local MPs to help them.
Member for Mackellar Jason Falinski says he doesn’t think the telcos have done a good enough job of consulting with local residents, explaining, “There are a lot of people worried about it, and you have to take their concerns seriously.
“We're putting them in touch with people who are experts in this field to see if they can answer their queries and alleviate their concerns. If not, my view is that there are other communities who aren’t worried about 5G, so they could maybe be the first sites for trial, so people can see there's very little to be concerned about.”
A spokesperson for ARPANSA tells Peninsula Living it will continue to review new research to provide advice, saying, “ARPANSA disagrees with the conclusion of the 5G Appeal that radiofrequency electromagnetic fields from telecommunications sources have been proven to be harmful for humans and the environment.
“Our advice is consistent with that of other international health authorities such as the World Health Organisation. Many studies have been conducted on whether exposure to radiofrequency energy from mobile telephony, including 5G, affects human health.
“The assessment of all of the evidence is that low level radiofrequency exposure from mobile telephony and other sources has not been proven to affect human health.”
For up-to-date information on where the phone masts will be, visit the Radio Frequency National Site Archive at rfnsa.com.au