Quantcast

Trump's 5G Network Raises Concerns for Public Health and the Environment

Popular
PeopleImages / Getty Images

By Sabine El Gemayel

The Trump administration is considering proposals for a national 5G wireless infrastructure in order to counter China's position in global technology markets, despite the many uncertainties and potential dangers of this technology for human health and the environment.


According to a PowerPoint deck produced by a senior National Security Council official, the U.S. has to build superfast 5G wireless technology quickly because "China has achieved a dominant position in the manufacture and operation of network infrastructure" and "China is the dominant malicious actor in the Information Domain." Trump has argued that, unlike a privately created 5G network, a government-run 5G network would be more secure against a threat of Chinese operatives and hackers that want to carry out cyber-espionage.

"We want to build a network so the Chinese can't listen to your calls," the senior official told Reuters.

On July 25, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a hearing titled The Race to 5G: Exploring Spectrum Needs to Maintain U.S. Global Leadership. In the hearing, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said the U.S. wireless industry is "poised to invest roughly $300 billion in deploying 5G networks, which could create three million new jobs and boost GDP by $500 billion."

The 5G network would provide faster internet speeds and low latency wireless broadband services, which means faster and higher capacity transmissions to carry data, run driverless cars and support other yet unknown technological innovations. But does national security and these purported benefits justify potential dangers to wildlife and human health?

In 2018, the U.S. National Toxicology Program and the Ramazzini Institute in Italy have both concluded via large studies that wireless radiation is a potential cancer risk. The World Health Organization classified these radiations as class 2B carcinogens, meaning they are possibly carcinogenic to humans.

The science also raises concerns that the implementation of 5G networks will harm not only humans, but also the environment and wildlife, particularly the bees, butterflies and other pollinators needed to grow our food sources. Wireless radiations can disrupt the magnetic "compass" that many birds and insects use for migration.

"We apply limits to all types of pollution to protect the habitability of our environment, but as yet, even in Europe, the safe limits of electromagnetic radiation have not been determined, let alone applied," said Matt Shardlow, CEO of the charity Buglife, an organization in Europe devoted to the conservation of all invertebrates.

For 5G to be implemented, a dense network of smaller cellular infrastructure is required because 5G airwaves don't travel as far as older generation networks do. This infrastructure would inevitably put millions of people in close proximity to a potential carcinogen.

After word of Trump's plan got around, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), wireless industry groups and awmakers from both parties in Washington rejected Trump's 5G nationalization plan because they are ideologically opposed to building public telecommunications services. For example, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Oregon), chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, commented, "We're not Venezuela, we don't need to have the government run everything as the only choice." FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Tweeted a statement opposing any proposal for the federal government to build and operate a nationwide 5G network.

In June, it was reported that Mike O'Rielly, a Republican FCC commissioner and Trump supporter, wrote an email to a telecom attorney in January stating that the administration's own proposal to nationalize a 5G network around the country "would be a tremendous error and an executable nightmare, especially for this administration which has faced inordinate obstacles and opposition."

Many progressive Americans in favor of net neutrality would argue that internet should be a municipal public utility, just like garbage collection or electricity. In today's world, if you don't have internet at home, you not only miss out on connecting with your social network, news and culture, but most importantly on your ability to access and manage your banking or any services that you are subscribed to.

However, the internet can also be delivered through wires. We have choices when it comes to telecom infrastructure. In addition to the massive amount of data monitoring, 5G's infrastructure will require millions of new radiation-emitting cell towers that the FCC is intending to place on street lights, utility poles and/or mailbox-size transformers in front of our homes.

I sent a letter to the heads of the FCC, Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services that was signed by actors, filmmakers and advocates like Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Laura Dawn and Naomi Wolf. We asked for a federal warning about exposure to wireless radiation from wifi just like the city of Berkeley's "Right to Know" Ordinance for cell phones, as well as federal public health fact sheets about ways to reduce exposure to wireless radiation, particularly for children in schools.

California took a leadership role in 2017 by issuing a public health fact sheet, "How to Reduce Exposure to Radiofrequency Energy from Cell Phones." It would be helpful if all health agencies—federal, state and local—issued wireless technology safety guidelines. Now that the National Toxicology Program study has raised serious concerns regarding the potential carcinogenicity of 5G radiation, in accordance with statutes that require businesses to inform citizens about exposures to chemicals known to cause cancer and reproductive harm, and all residents of the U.S. should be taught safer handling of wireless technology.

It's up to Congress members to stand firm in their resistance to Trump's plans for a national 5G system, especially with his efforts to further unravel the national health care system. These two matters are closely related, because scientific research has shown the need for further investigation before subjecting humans and environment to 5G network exposure.

This article was produced by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By George Citroner

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and the World Health Organization currently recommend either 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (walking, gardening, doing household chores) or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise (running, cycling, swimming) every week.

But there's little research looking at the benefits, if any, of exercising less than the 75 minute minimum.

Read More Show Less
Mary Daly, president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, poses for a photograph. Nick Otto / Washington Post / Getty Images

It seems the reality of the climate crisis is too much for the Federal Reserve to ignore anymore.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Passengers trying to reach Berlin's Tegel Airport on Sunday were hit with delays after police blocked roads and enacted tighter security controls in response to a climate protest.

Read More Show Less
A military police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina, pets Rosco, a post-traumatic stress disorder companion animal certified to accompany him, on Jan. 11, 2014. North Carolina National Guard

For 21 years, Doug Distaso served his country in the United States Air Force.

He commanded joint aviation, maintenance, and support personnel globally and served as a primary legislative affairs lead for two U.S. Special Operations Command leaders.

But after an Air Force plane accident left him with a traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and chronic pain, Distaso was placed on more than a dozen prescription medications by doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Read More Show Less
(L) Selma Three Stone Engagement Ring. (R) The Greener Diamond Farm Project. MiaDonna

By Bailey Hopp

If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Preliminary tests of the bubble barrier have shown it to be capable of ushering 80 percent of the canal's plastic waste to its banks. The Great Bubble Barrier / YouTube screenshot

The scourge of plastic waste that washes up on once-pristine beaches and finds its way into the middle of the ocean often starts on land, is dumped in rivers and canals, and gets carried out to sea. At the current rate, marine plastic is predicted to outweigh all the fish in the seas by 2050, according to Silicon Canals.

Read More Show Less
Man stands on stage at Fort Leonard Wood in the U.S. Brett Sayles / Pexels

Wilson "Woody" Powell served in the Air Force during the Korean war. But in the decades since, he's become staunchly anti-war.

Read More Show Less
Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Nov. 8. Matt Johnson / CC BY 2.0

By Julia Conley

Joined by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Friday night, Sen. Bernie Sanders held the largest rally of any 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to date in Iowa, drawing more than 2,400 people to Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs.

Read More Show Less