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MPs debate safety of 5G rollout

Jasper Hart
June 27, 2019

Public Health England has found negligible health effects of base stations

MPs debated the rolling out of 5G across the UK, with those opposed citing public health concerns.

In a debate in Westminster Hall on July 25, Tonia Antoniazzi, the Labour MP for Gower in Wales cited the postponement of 5G deployment in Brussels and Geneva, and stated that the technology would risk causing a rise in electrosensitivity.

Electrosensitivity is a claimed sensitivity to electromagnetic fields that is not recognised as a medical diagnosis.

The Labour MP for Swansea Geraint Davies voiced his concerns about the carbon footprint of 5G and its apparent impact on insect life.

“My honourable friend will know that 4G has the same carbon footprint as all of aviation, and 5G will be a lot more,” he said. “What is more, we are now hearing that 5G will have a detrimental impact on insect life, which is decreasing globally at 2.5% per year. Given that insects are essential to humanity because they are required to pollinate all fruits and vegetables, does she agree that before hurtling ahead for commercial reasons, we should apply the precautionary principle until we know precisely what the impact will be on insects and our carbon footprint?”

Davies argued that 5G cannot penetrate trees, and that “as a result, we are looking at the destruction of thousands and thousands of trees”.

SNP MP for Linlithgow and East Falkirk Martyn Day disagreed with Antoniazzi and Davies, saying: “The evidence so far seems to show that electromagnetic fields do not have detrimental health impacts.

“The World Health Organisation has said that, as yet: ‘No obvious adverse effect of exposure to low level radiofrequency fields has been discovered.'”

Antoniazzi also criticised Public Health England’s role in failing to research the effects of mobile phone usage on health.

“What work has been undertaken by Public Health England to look for evidence of risk in mobile phone usage?” she said. “Is it looking at what damage it is actually doing, rather than saying, ‘Well, it is not really hurting anybody?'”

In response, parliamentary under-secretary for health and social care Seema Kennedy said that PHE is “always looking at this issue and reviewing the best available evidence”.

She added that research from the International Agency for Research on Cancer found possible carcinogenic effects of radio frequency fields on humans, but that this is part of a broad spectrum of products including bracken fern and talcum powder.

Kennedy also cited a report from Ofcom that found that the maximum exposure at any of 500 mobile phone base stations was “hundreds of times below the international guideline levels, and typical exposures were much lower still”. Exposure to 5G is likely to increase by a small amount, but still comfortably within these guidelines, Kennedy added.

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