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Opponents Say Illinois Should Put Brakes on 5G

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Is the promise of higher speeds worth the possible health risks of 5G wireless technology? (mohammad hassen/Pixabay)
Is the promise of higher speeds worth the possible health risks of 5G wireless technology?
(mohammad hassen/Pixabay)
 By Mary Schuermann Kuhlman - Producer, Contact
August 30, 2019

CHICAGO –Some Illinoisans are encouraging state leaders to put the brakes on the rollout of new 5G wireless technology.

The Illinois House Cybersecurity, Data Analytics and IT Committee held a hearing Thursday on the topic of technology and 5G in Illinois. 5G promises higher speeds, higher capacity for connected devices, and better efficiency than current technology.

However Paul Heroux – Professor of Toxicology and Health Effects of Electromagnetism in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health at McGill University in Montreal – told lawmakers he has serious reservations.

Heroux has studied the health effects from electromagnetic fields and radiation and says 5G greatly increases the risks. He explains that 5G infrastructure requires a larger number of smaller cell systems installed within close proximity to one another.

"Increasing the amount of radiation and making it as a beam and further supporting what is called the internet of things, which is a plan to put radiation everywhere to saturation, all of this is a very bad idea from the point of view of human health," says Heroux.

Both the wireless industry and the Federal Communications Commission say 5G is as safe as current technology. However, a 2016 government-funded study linked radio frequency radiation to cancers in rats, and in 2011 the World Health Organization suggested that cellphone radiation be listed as possibly carcinogenic to humans.

Heroux says the immediate impacts of 5G technology are felt by the few who are hypersensitive to radiation. For everyone else, he says, the radiation destroys biological structures over time and can accelerate chronic diseases such as Alzheimer's and diabetes.

He notes that children are especially vulnerable.

"Their skulls are more easily penetrated by the radiation," says Heroux. “And we know from animal experiments that with the levels of radiation that are allowed by the FCC, you can irreversibly change the structure of the brain in animals, so we have to imagine that this can happen in children."

Instead of stronger wireless signals, Heroux suggests the industry increase the use of optical fiber in homes and buildings, which he notes can provide higher bandwidth.

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