Not that it will matter to the conspiracy theorists and disinformation junkies that drum up fear of 5G electromagnetic energy (EME), but a test by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has shown it is well, well below Australian safety levels.
In a series of tests at 60 small sites running LTE services, with one site dropped after learning it was an in-building cell, the highest exposure level measured was 0.737% within the Sydney CBD, less than 1% of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) limit.
The tests were made up of 21 sites in New South Wales, nine in Queensland, six in South Australia, two in Tasmania, 16 in Victoria, and five in Western Australia, and were measured as an average across a six-minute period, from a tripod-mounted probe that took readings 1.5 metres above ground level. Measurements were carried out across January and February in publicly accessible places.
“For each site, the overall EME exposure level was measured in all the public mobile telecommunications services bands from 420 MHz to 6 GHz,” ACMA said in its report.
“The power output from the transmitter varied considerably according to the actual loading of the base station. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge the values present at the time of measurement may not have been the maximum EME levels from the small cell site.”
ACMA added that the measured levels were below those reported by the carriers in their EME environmental reports.
Across the 59 sites measured in the report, the average reading was 0.143% of the safety limit. ARPANSA specifies a general public specific absorption rate of 0.08 watts per kilogram for a whole-body average in its standard, and an instantaneous peak of 2,000 watts per kilogram. Occupational limits are typically five times higher.
ARPANSA has previously had to address myriad concerns of 5G being a health threat to humans and fauna.
“Higher frequencies do not mean higher exposure levels,” ARPANSA said in November.
“Current research indicates that there is no established evidence for health effects from radio waves used in mobile telecommunications. This includes the upcoming roll-out of the 5G network. ARPANSA’s assessment is that 5G is safe.”
The agency stated that while the frequencies used in 4G and 5G mean some energy is absorbed into the body, it is too low to create any “significant heating of tissue”, and the higher millimetre-wave frequencies set to be used for 5G in the future do not “penetrate past the skin”.
“The power level will be low and no appreciable heating will occur in the skin,” the agency said.
Earlier this week, psychologists at the UK’s Northumbria University said they had scientific evidence of the link between violent behaviour towards the telecommunications sector and 5G COVID-19 conspiracy beliefs.
The researchers assessed 601 UK participants’ and their levels of paranoia, the extent of their 5G COVID-19 conspiracy beliefs, and their state anger — which is temporary, short-lasting outbursts of anger. Paranoia, in the researchers’ context, refers to participants’ belief that there is hostile intent towards them personally, as opposed to the conspiratorial belief that powerful organisations are harming society at large.
Additionally, participants were asked questions about whether they thought violence was a justified response to the alleged link between 5G mobile technology and COVID-19. Participants similarly stated how likely they would be to engage in such behaviours, the university said.
“The findings revealed that belief in 5G COVID-19 conspiracy theories was positively correlated with state anger. In turn, this state anger was associated with a greater justification of violence in response to a supposed connection between 5G mobile technology and COVID-19,” Dr Daniel Jolley and Dr Jenny Paterson wrote.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the UK has seen over 70 mobile towers be burnt.
Similar six-minute tests in the UK found EME levels topped out at under 1.5% of that nation’s safety levels.
In November, Telstra said small cells provide faster connections and better response times at lower EME levels, with its principal of 5G EME strategy Mike Wood saying 5G EME was similar to that of walkie-talkies, Wi-Fi hotspots, key tags, and remote controls.
“What we find is that because 5G’s very efficient, it typically runs at a lower level than an everyday device in your house like a baby monitor or a microwave oven,” he said.
“When we’ve done our tests on our 5G network, they’re typically 1,000 to 10,000 times less than what we get from other devices. So when you add all of that up together, it’s all very low in terms of total emission. But you’re finding that 5G is in fact a lot lower than many other devices we use in our everyday lives.”