The Australian government is pumping $9 million into research and education pushing back on fears 5G technology is harmful

The government is supporting extra research into telco networks. Image: Getty.
  • Federal communications minister Paul Fletcher has announced $9 million in funding to assure the public of the safety of 5G networks.
  • It comes amid concerns about the supposed health impacts of 5G networks.
  • This is despite the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency and the World Health Organisation saying “there is no established scientific evidence to support any adverse health effects” of electromagnetic emissions on people.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

The federal government is working to assuage fears around the 5G network.

As telcos such as Telstra and Optus continue to roll out 5G – the fifth generation of wireless technology – across Australia, there’s still a portion of Aussies concerned about its supposed health impacts.

Amid these concerns and the “misinformation about electromagnetic energy (EME) emissions”, the federal government announced a $9 million investment over four years to look into the safety of telco networks, including 5G.

With the funding, the government will take part in additional scientific research and more public education, to build on its existing EME safety program.

Federal communications minister Paul Fletcher said the safety standards for mobile networks and devices in Australia are based on scientific research into EME emissions globally and in Australia, over several decades.

“EME levels from mobile networks and devices are typically at similar levels to familiar household devices such as microwave ovens and baby monitors,” Fletcher said in a statement.

“The safety standards for 5G networks are consistent with those applicable to early generations of mobile technology – even though 5G networks typically use radio signals which are lower power and over more tightly targeted areas than earlier generation networks.”

Fletcher added that the Australian safety standards were developed together with advice from the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (APRANSA) and drew on work from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

Under the limits set by APRANSA’s safety standard, APRANSA, WHO and ICNIRP noted that, “there is no established scientific evidence to support any adverse health effects from very low RF [radiofrequency] EME exposures to populations or individuals.”

Fletcher went on to say the enhanced EME program will “make sure all Australians have access to clear, reliable and reputable information so they can take advantage of new technologies like 5G – and feel empowered to do so safely.”

Why are people concerned about 5G?

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, people who are against 5G are considered the “anti-vaxxers” of the telecommunications industry.

There are even social media pages and petitions to prevent 5G networks because of its supposed health effects.

Mercy Wolf, an administrator of a Sydney-based anti 5G group told the SMH, “This is a grassroots movement of mostly ordinary people and especially mothers, who are genuinely worried about the health and future of their children.” Wolf also connected 5G towers to potential side effects like depression and DNA damage.

In The Conversation, Sarah Loughran, director of the Australian Centre for Electromagnetic Bioeffects Research, explained that the type of electromagnetic energy used in phones are known as radiofrequency or radio waves. But that type of radiation is non-ionising, meaning it doesn’t harm our DNA like ionising radiation does.

Loughran added that 5G will initially use the same type of radio waves as 4G, but will eventually operate at higher frequencies in the future. And it will mean more phone base stations will be needed.

“Much of the public concern has centred around these two new elements – that the frequencies used will be higher, and that there will be more mobile phone base stations,” Loughran said in the article. “While some people believe these two factors alone will lead to higher exposures, the reality is actually very different.”