I'm the scientist who sets the global guidelines on 5G safety. Take it from me: 5G doesn't cause cancer or spread COVID-19.
Dr. Eric van Rongen is vice chair at the International Commission on Non‐Ionizing Radiation Protection, which sets the global guidelines for phone makers and telecommunications companies on how much radiation is safe for humans. Contrary to many 5G conspiracy theories, phone radiation heats the human body the equivalent of having a cup of hot tea every two hours, he says. He also added that it's physically impossible for 5G to transmit COVID-19 or weaken your immune system to make you more susceptible to infection. "The science is really straightforward — there's simply no solid evidence that anything other than a small amount of body heating may result from exposure to 5G radiofrequency fields," he says. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Dr. Eric van Rongen is vice chair at the International Commission on Non‐Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), the independent scientific body in charge of setting limits on exposure to non-ionizing radiation.
He helped to update the guidelines on exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields that also pertain to 5G, the fifth generation technology standard for cellular networks that's making our smartphones and wireless devices upload and download faster than ever. The new technology has been met with a number of conspiracy theories circulating online, which van Rongen says have no basis in science. We are independent scientists reviewing all of the scientific literature about 5G. I'm a radiobiologist by training, and I've been working on non-ionizing radiation for the past 28 years. I'm employed by the Health Council of the Netherlands, and I'm currently vice chair of the ICNIRP and have been a member of the main commission for eight years. It started as a committee of a professional organization (the International Radiological Protection Association, or IRPA) and developed into an independent entity in 1992. We develop and disseminate science-based advice on limiting exposure to non-ionizing radiation. Radiation is a very loaded term, and it's something that people consider to be scary because they associate the word radiation with ionizing radiation — that's the type of radiation associated with nuclear energy that we've seen in Chernobyl and other disasters. The kind of radiation we're talking about with 5G has nothing to do with that. It doesn't result in adverse health effects like with ionizing radiation, and there's no solid evidence that any other effects than heating may result from exposure to these types of radiofrequency fields. What we do is we evaluate the scientific literature. Basically, we're looking at all of the research other people have done and reviewing their findings. We had some additional questions that our Japanese colleagues answered by doing their own modeling studies and publishing them so that we could refer to them. Exposure to 5G radiation is not going to give us cancer or spread COVID-19. We started working on these new guidelines some five years ago, long before the conspiracy theories and health concerns about 5G began circulating. The guidelines hadn't been updated since 1998, so we decided to look at the current state of the science. The 5G technology is not too dissimilar from 3G and 4G that's been in use for almost 20 years. The main differences are that it uses a different language for communication between the mobile devices and the network, and frequencies that haven't been seen before in mobile telecommunications — around 26 gigahertz. That's a very high frequency, but the fact that it's a high frequency doesn't mean that it's a more dangerous frequency. Radiation from the 5G frequency won't penetrate the body much deeper than the outer layers of the skin. It will probably have much less of an effect, if any, on the body than the lower frequencies that mobile telecommunication systems have used in the past. Higher frequency means shorter waves and a greater intrinsic energy difference. If you were to go much higher up in the spectrum to ionizing radiation, then that's when you have a problem. That sort of radiation has such high intrinsic energy that it's capable of breaking chemical bonds and damaging DNA chromosomes, which can result in diseases like cancer. To be clear, this is something that can't happen with the non-ionizing radiation that comes from 5G. There have also been suggestions that 5G is behind the coronavirus pandemic, but it's simply not possible for electromagnetic fields to spread anything except energy — especially not particles like viruses. This means there's absolutely no way it can spread COVID-19. Likewise, there's no evidence that exposure to radiofrequency fields such as 5G can reduce the immune system's capacity to deal with external pathogens and increase your chances of getting the virus. The guidelines are clear, and phone companies use them to set limits on our devices. The 2020 guidelines provide limits to the amount of energy that a phone or any other device may transmit to any body part. For the human head, the maximum amount of energy that's allowed is two watts per kilogram, and for our bodies, it's 0.08 watts per kilogram. Smartphones have been devised to use lower energy depositions. That's a very limited amount of heat. It's been calculated that if you're exposed to a mobile phone working at maximum power, resulting in two watts per kilogram energy deposition to the head, that the temperature increase in the brain would not be more than 0.1 degrees centigrade. That's completely within the natural variation of your body temperature, so it won't hurt you at all. It's not enough to have any effects such as dehydration or heat stress, or exacerbate existing medical conditions like cardiovascular disease. The heat level doesn't accumulate if you're on the phone for a lengthy amount of time. What this means is that the level of energy won't result in any appreciable heating of the brain or other tissues in the body. It's a safe level of exposure — 0.08 watts per kilogram is roughly the heat equivalent to the body of drinking a cup of hot tea every two hours. People are scared by a lot of changes that're happening in the world right now. I think the reason that there's so much disinformation about 5G is that it's something new, and that can scare people. The system won't only be used for mobile telecommunications, but also for all kinds of other applications like self-propelling cars. From a technical point of view, there's also a need for a better and faster system. The technology is being advertised by the phone companies on a large scale because they wanted money out of it, but it hasn't really been explained well to the public. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, people are tying things together that have no connection. I think we're finding that it's easy to scare people, and a climate of fear is a helpful thing to those who are concerned about being exposed to radiation or want to promote conspiracies. We need to counteract conspiracy theories by providing clear information. In order to try and stop conspiracy theories spreading online, we need to give people proper information about what 5G is and what it does. We should also give the public a better indication of what their exposure level will be, and show how it won't be much different from what we have been exposed to in the past from 3G and 4G systems. The science is really straightforward — there's simply no solid evidence that anything other than a small amount of body heating may result from exposure to 5G radiofrequency fields.SEE ALSO: A psychologist explains why people cling to conspiracy theories during uncertain times Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Tax Day is now July 15 — this is what it's like to do your own taxes for the very first time
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People who believe wild coronavirus conspiracy theories rely on YouTube for most of their information on the pandemic
Researchers at King's College London surveyed over 2,000 people in the UK to study how likely...Researchers at King's College London surveyed over 2,000 people in the UK to study how likely people are to believe conspiracy theories about the coronavirus. People who got their news primarily from social media were more likely to believe conspiracy theories, and the researchers found consuming information on YouTube had the strongest correlation with believing them. People who got their news from social media were also more likely to break quarantine and lockdown rules. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. YouTube viewers are more likely to buy into weird conspiracy theories about the coronavirus than other people who get their news via social media. That's according to a new report from researchers at King's College London delving into the public health risks posed by online conspiracy theories about the pandemic. The peer-reviewed study was published in the journal Psychological Medicine and surveyed 2,254 people in the UK aged 16-70 in late May. It asked respondents whether they believed a range of conspiracy theories to be true or false, including: There is no hard evidence coronavirus exists. Coronavirus is linked to 5G (a popular internet conspiracy). The number of people dying from coronavirus has been deliberately hidden or exaggerated by authorities. The study found that people who got their news primarily from social media were far more likely to believe conspiracy theories and to break lockdown rules. "YouTube had the strongest association with conspiracy beliefs, followed by Facebook," the study's authors added. Of the respondents who said they believe there is a link between COVID-19 and 5G, 60% said they get a lot of their information from YouTube. People relying on social media for news also tended to break lockdown The study also found that people breaking lockdown and quarantine measures are much more likely to be relying on social media for their news. Respondents who said they'd gone to work or outside while showing coronavirus symptoms were three times more likely to get a "great deal" of their information from YouTube and Facebook. Similarly people who said they don't follow the two-meter social distancing rules put in place by the government were twice as likely to get most of their information from YouTube and Facebook. Although people who get their news from social media were more susceptible to conspiracy theories, the majority of respondents said they got most of their news from traditional outlets. The physical danger posed by conspiracy theorists in the UK has already been in the press due to a series of arson attacks on cell phone towers, motivated by the belief that 5G mobile technology is spreading the coronavirus. Some telecoms engineers reported finding razor blades and needles left as booby traps behind posters on telephone poles, and one engineer was reported to have been stabbed and hospitalized in April.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Tax Day is now July 15 — this is what it's like to do your own taxes for the very first time
Vandals set 50 cellphone masts in the UK on fire because of a conspiracy theory linking the coronavirus with 5G
A conspiracy theory linking the coronavirus with 5G has taken hold, and led to arson attacks...A conspiracy theory linking the coronavirus with 5G has taken hold, and led to arson attacks on phone masts. More than 50 masts have now been targeted in arson attacks. One such attack forced the evacuation of some homes, while another damaged a mast providing coverage to an emergency coronavirus hospital. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. An online conspiracy theory blaming 5G for the coronavirus pandemic has led to arson attacks on approximately 50 phone masts in the UK. Mobile UK, an organization that represents Britain's four mobile operators, confirmed the estimate to Business Insider. A handful of attacks on phone masts took place in early April, but the Easter bank holiday weekend (April 10 to 13) saw a fresh burst of attacks. Vodafone, EE, and BT also confirmed over the weekend that phone masts had been attacked, placing the blame firmly on 5G conspiracy theorists. EE told the I newspaper that 22 towers had been set alight during the four-day holiday. The firm said that while not all the attacks were successful, all the sites had sustained damage from the fires. One attack forced the evacuation of people from the home development that the mast was attached to. According to EE, the majority of the masts were not 5G. Vodafone CEO Nick Jeffrey said in a LinkedIn post on Tuesday that 20 of the company's masts have been attacked, including a mast that provided coverage to Birmingham's Nightingale hospital, a newly erected emergency hospital set up to house coronavirus patients. "It's heart-rending enough that families cannot be there at the bedside of loved ones who are critically ill. It's even more upsetting that even the small solace of a phone or video call may now be denied them because of the selfish actions of a few deluded conspiracy theorists," Jeffrey wrote. BT CEO Philip Jansen wrote in an op-ed for the Mail on Sunday that 11 of BT's masts have been set alight, and 39 engineers had been attacked. Three has not given specifics on damage, but its CEO Robert Finnegan condemned attacks on engineers and masts. "This is absolutely vital work and the actions of a small minority who are abusing workers and vandalizing masts is extremely concerning," he said. A tally would suggest that a minimum of 53 towers have been set ablaze across the UK. Mobile UK said in a statement: "Theories being spread about 5G are baseless and are not grounded in credible scientific theory. "Mobile operators are dedicated to keeping the UK connected, and careless talk could cause untold damage. Continuing attacks on mobile infrastructure risks lives and at this challenging time the UK's critical sectors must be able to focus all their efforts fighting this pandemic." The anti-5G conspiracy suggests the tech is harmful and exacerbated the coronavirus Anti-5G activists have claimed for years that the superfast mobile tech causes harm to humans. The conspiracy theory mutated around January during the coronavirus outbreak to rest on the idea that 5G is either accelerating the spread of the virus, or that the virus itself is a myth concocted to cover up physical damage being done by 5G. That theory has picked up in the UK through March and April, as the nation's death toll rises. There is no evidence to suggest 5G is harmful to human health, and multiple organizations, including the international radiation watchdog ICNIRP, have confirmed 5G is safe. But anti-5G groups have started encouraging arson against phone masts. Over the weekend, Facebook removed two anti-5G groups whose members totaled more than 60,000, and who encouraged the destruction of 5G kit. The UK is fast becoming of the worst-hit European countries by the coronavirus, with the official hospital death toll surpassing 12,000 on Tuesday.SEE ALSO: Here's what we know about the bizarre coronavirus conspiracy theory that led to people setting fire to 5G masts Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: How waste is dealt with on the world's largest cruise ship