In response to The Guardian Newspaper UK article 19th November 2019


Dear Sir,

Your article entitled “People often don’t trust us on 5G: Telstra asks government to help combat health fears” (19th November), is a curious mix of fact and omission. Telstra’s Mike Wood’s assertion that many of the fears about 5G found on social media (such as instant death, or lethal brain cancer within weeks!) are rumours that cannot be backed up by science is true. Indeed, the perpetrators look like gullible fools who have fallen prey to hardcore conspiracy theorists.

It is also true that the new and upcoming 5G networks are, just like their 3G and 4G predecessors, non ionizing radiation, unlike X Rays and gamma rays, which are ionising radiation. When used within existing guidelines and according to the manufacturer’s instructions, non ionizing radiation will not heat up the body.

But this is only one small part of the story.

Mike Woods conveniently fails to mention that, as early as in 1972, thousands of studies have linked non ionizing radiation to dangerous effects at non thermal levels. The evidence points to effects on male fertility, impact on melatonin production, depression, cancer risk, and much more. Several mechanisms of action have been put forward – from oxidative stress to DNA damage with single strand breaks. This prompted the Council of Europe to issue Resolution 1815 in 2011 about the potential harmful risks of wireless radiation, whilst the very same year IARC (part of the WHO) announced RF radiation was now a Class 2B carcinogen, falling short of a higher classification only because in 2011 there wasn’t enough data on mechanistic action to meet the quota.

What is more, epidemiological evidence regarding the link between non ionizing radiation and disease is also getting stronger, and no longer can be ignored. In July 2019 (updated in September 2019), the French Public Health Agency Sante Publique France published data showing that glioblastomas, an aggressive and deadly form of brain cancer, had increased four fold between 1990 and 2018 – an increase that, according to many, cannot be explained by too many other factors, as this type of cancer is normally extremely rare and the brain is protected by the blood brain barrier, except when said barrier has broken down due to certain chemicals, and to non ionizing radiation.

So, whilst it might be convenient to think that cities such as Brussels halting the development of 5G on health and technical grounds amounts to some sort of mass hysteria, a closer look at the science tells us that, indeed, those cities are merely doing their duty of protecting citizens, applying the precautionary principle, as was, once again, advocated by the Council of Europe in 2011, which was ignored by the UK and Ireland.

This paints a rather different picture to that of Mr Woods and his claim of unfounded health fears.

Not enough is known as to how the new 5G networks and their range of frequencies will impact on these risks, but it seems undeniable, even to opponents of conspiracy theorists like myself, that they will.

The idea that Telstra is considering rolling out a class 2B carcinogen currently under review on such a massive scale turns the common sense of being safe rather than sorry on its head, but that is what Mr Woods advocates.


Melanie Bouffard