There is no evidence that 5G mobile networks pose a threat to human health, an independent international standards body on Wednesday said after seven years of examining the scientific evidence. 

The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), which was set up in 1992 to assess the impact of electromagnetic and acoustic waves on people and the environment, said its current guidelines are mostly appropriate for the 5G era. 

It suggested that some high frequencies, over 6Ghz, may need more conservative standards if they are adopted for 5G. 

5G has become a catalyst for health fears as telecoms companies begin to launch new services, with some local authorities going as far as to ban test networks after outcries over radiation exposure. Online theories have linked 5G radio waves to issues ranging from infertility to headaches to the spread of the coronavirus.

“We know parts of the community are concerned about the safety of 5G and we hope the updated guidelines will help put people at ease,” said Eric van Rongen, chairman of ICNIRP.

For the 6Ghz frequency, the ICNIRP suggested restrictions that would stop whole-body exposure and intense exposure to small areas of the body. The restrictions are not mandatory, and it remains up to governments to implement any regulations. 

Some governments have already adopted stricter rules than the ICNIRP suggested are necessary. 

A spokeswoman for the telecoms trade body GSMA said the new limits showed the safety of current and future technology. 

“Importantly, the health risk assessment is unchanged. The review found no established health risks to anyone, including children, using mobile phones or living near base stations,” she said.

The new guidance on high frequencies would have no impact on commercial 5G services, according to GSMA. “It is important to note that the exposures from 5G networks are well below these new thresholds,” said the spokeswoman. 

Get alerts on 5G networks when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2020. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window)

Follow the topics in this article