Published: August 24, 2020
Updated: October 19, 2020
5G IN CANADA: IS THERE A HEALTH CONCERN?
The fifth-generation or 5G of high-frequency radio airwaves are already implemented in certain areas across Canada. 5G will allow hundreds of new transformative technologies to become real, such as autonomous vehicles, mass IoT deployments, and augmented reality. 5G will optimize all industries, bringing an expected improvement to GDP by $40 Billion and adding 250,000 jobs to the Canadian economy by 2026.
The deployment of 5G will be the next giant leap in technology, changing how we live and function as human beings since the dawn of the internet.
With 5G deployed, health workers and emergency services would provide more benefits to human health by enabling faster transfers of large image files, telemedicine, real-time monitoring, and much more.
Yet, some are in fear of 5G in Canada and globally, citing a potential health concern.
Because of this, individuals have been boycotting the placements of 5G towers. Some have even attempted to damage critical telecommunications infrastructure, with incidents globally, including countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and even here in Canada.
So, where does this hysteria come from? Why do some people believe that 5G is a health concern?
To find out, let’s start with the differences between 4G and 5G.
5G VS. 4G
What makes 5G download speeds faster than 4G is the number of radio frequencies coming from 5G towers.
As a result of the higher frequency, there is a reduced range and penetrability of radio waves coming from 5G towers.
Simply put, 4G towers operate at an average range of about 20km, whereas 5G towers only operate at a range of 305m. This a considerable reduction, limiting the scope of 5G towers by about 98.5%. 5G towers aren’t as noticeable either. They’re much smaller compared to traditional 4G towers.
This is where the false health considerations arise.
To figure out if these higher frequency radio waves are harmful or not, we need to look at the electromagnetic spectrum.
MEASURING AND COMPARING FREQUENCIES
The electromagnetic spectrum is a measurement system used in physics to visualize the entire range of electromagnetic radiation frequencies. The tool highlights the specific number of frequencies that elements and objects emit.
What makes some radio frequencies more dangerous than others is whether it’s ionizing or not. When ionized atoms come in contact with living tissue, it rips the cells apart, causing radiation burns, cell damage, sickness, cancer and even death in some cases.
But, there’s no reason to worry because 5G isn’t ionizing.
5G creates between 30 GHz and 300 GHz worth of radio waves. Although the waves extend up to 300GHz, only waves up to 100GHz are used for 5G deployments.
On the electromagnetic spectrum, 5G creates non-ionizing energy. The radio wave frequencies are between 2567 and 14,333 times less potent than the power we receive from the sun.
Yet, there’s another problem.
Above, you may have noticed that 5G and microwaves sit on the same range of frequencies.
So, if 5G puts out the same frequencies as a microwave to cook food, isn’t it just as dangerous?
5G, YOUR WIFI ROUTER, AND MICROWAVES
Compared to more powerful microwaves mentioned on the electromagnetic spectrum, the average consumer-grade microwave produces about 2.45 GHz of radio waves. This is much lower than 5G’s highest frequency setting at 300 GHz. In fact, your microwave’s frequency is nearly similar to your WiFi router at home.
Looking at that statement, you may think if your WiFi router produces the same radio waves as a microwave, it’s got to be dangerous.
Luckily, that’s not true.
It’s not just your microwave’s radio frequencies that cook your food; it’s the power (wattage), and where that energy is focused, that’s important as well.
The average power a consumer-grade microwave produces is between 500 -1000 watts, a significant difference from your WiFi router producing 0.1 watts. A 5G tower also creates less wattage than a microwave ranging between 0.25 watts to 120 watts.
Where that power is focused is essential too.
Your microwave focuses that energy in a confined area – the centre of your oven. As those high-powered frequencies hit the centre and bounce off the walls in your microwave, they cook your food.
WiFi routers and 5G towers, however, disperse those low-powered frequencies in every direction as far as it can reach.
NOT THE FIRST FEAR OF NEW TECHNOLOGY IN CANADA AND THE WORLD
As much as people are worried about 5G in Canada and around the world, this isn’t the first time that new technology has gotten a backlash from the public. These situations have happened time after time throughout human history.
Just over 100 years ago, automobiles were targeted by the public. During that time, some people classified cars as ferocious animals terrorizing the streets. Even the media portrayed cars as “Terror Wagons” or “Instruments of Death.”
However, as we know today, cars play a significant role in the economic, social, and industrial growth of almost any country on earth. We’re now even going as far as electric cars and autonomous vehicles.
Another great example was the creation of street lighting during the late 1800s, which caused the public to fear for their health.
Concerned that streetlights would throw off people’s ability to tell the difference between day and night, they believed that this lighting would cause people to ruin their sleep cycles. And due to this lack of sleep, riots and chaos would happen in urbanized areas.
This fear got so intense that the public banned streetlights in some areas worldwide, including the Vatican.
Based on our past adaptation to new technologies, it’s natural for humans to be suspicious of change.
But, as technology innovators, it’s part of our job to reduce these suspicions by looking at the facts and educating others on the benefits of embracing new technology.
Along with that, 5G standards have already been set in place to protect citizens across the world.
5G IN CANADA: Health Standards
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) governs and sets the standards for all radio emissions globally. As a United Nations specialized agency, the ITU’s responsibility is to handle issues regarding communication technologies. It’s also under their guidelines that the International Commission of Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and 5G in Canada, more specifically, is implemented and enforced by Safety Code 6.
Designed by Health Canada, Safety Code 6 sets the safety limits to protect Canadians from exposures to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. Wireless devices such as 5G towers are strictly followed and need to comply with these guidelines regulated by Industry Canada.
5G FOR BETTER HEALTH
If anything, 5G will enhance our current Canadian healthcare technologies allowing doctors, physicians, nurses and more healthcare workers to provide better services.
With 5G in Canada, we shouldn’t be fearful like our past ancestors as professionals are well aware of the technology and taking the proper steps to ensure safety. Canadians shouldn’t be worried. Instead, we should embrace the innovations 5G will bring us and work to enable all the new opportunities the enhanced connectivity offers.
Interested in seeing how 5G and other Next Generation Networks are changing the future of the Canadian economy?
CENGN embarked on a national study to better understand the Canadian NGN ecosystem and its needs. The International Data Corporation (IDC), a world-renowned global market intelligence firm, was commissioned to complete this study.