Safety of 5G Networks

The radio signals used by mobile technologies are extensively researched and have been for decades. The frequencies used for mobile operators in compliance with national or international EMF exposure guidelines, which cover all frequencies currently used by 5G and under consideration for 5G.

The 1998 International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) guidelines form the basis of regulatory limits for mobile network antennas and devices in most parts of the world and are supported by the World Health Organisation. In March 2020, the 1998 ICNIRP guidelines were updated. The updated guidelines cover all frequencies used for mobile communications, including the frequencies used for 5G.


Myths around the safety of 5G technology have gained some media traction. The following provides answers to some of the common questions that have surfaced in print, broadcast and social media.

Is 5G carcinogenic?

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which reviews evidence for cancer hazards, classifies radio frequency signals in the same group as eating pickled vegetables (i.e. that there was limited evidence that they could cause cancer in humans). Eating processed meat falls in a higher classification than radio signals.

The WHO says that studies provide no indication that base station signals increase the risk of cancer or any other disease. In February 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration in a review of animal and epidemiological studies of radio signals and cancer concluded that: “To date there is no consistent or credible evidence of health problems caused by the exposure to radio frequency energy emitted by cell phones”.

Is 5G dangerous for the environment?

The same exposure limits that protect people also protect the environment. The responsible German government agency (Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz) has stated that there is no scientifically reliable evidence of a risk to animals and plants exposed to radio signals at or below the limits in the (ICNIRP) international guidelines. In addition, the Antenna Bureau in the Netherlands (Antennebureau) has also refuted conspiracy theorist claims that 5G tests harmed birds.

Do we need more research on 5G before we can claim that it is safe for consumers?

Over the past two decades, extensive studies on radio signals used by mobile technologies have been undertaken and research continues. The WHO stated in February 2020 that: “To date, and after much research performed, no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies… Provided that the overall exposure remains below international guidelines, no consequences for public health are anticipated.”

There have been reports that link 5G with interference with weather forecasting and its potential consequences. Is this correct?

Technical studies conducted by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) confirm that 5G will not cause any harm to existing services, including weather forecasting. With the separation between weather forecasting spectrum and potential 5G spectrum, as well as reasonable power limits supported by most governments and the mobile industry, 5G presents no risk to weather forecasting.

I have read social media articles linking the spread of COVID-19 with 5G. Is this true?

No. The WHO states that there is no link between 5G and COVID-19, confirming that viruses cannot travel on radio waves and/or mobile networks. The WHO maintains that COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks.