5G will have ‘no negative effects on public health’, says digital minister

Written by Sam Trendall on 10 June 2019 in News

Margot James claims research has found no danger in new network

Credit: PA

The rollout of the UK’s 5G network will “have no negative effects on public health”, according to digital minister Margot James.

In recent months, a number of campaign groups have formed with the aim of delaying the technology’s implementation while increasing awareness of what they claim are the dangers posed by 5G radiation. Critics claims that the use of very high-frequency spectrums – which permits 5G’s vastly improved connection speeds – also brings with it increased radiation levels and, consequently, a greater risk to public health, including increased cancer rates.

In a written parliamentary question, the Labour MP for Stroud David Drew asked whether the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport “plans to request information from mobile operators on the localised effects of the installation of 5G on people and the natural environment”.

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In response, James stated her belief that the next-generation network will not endanger the public, adding that Public Health England (PHE) has found no evidence of any significant risk

“Specific issues relating to health concerns and the natural environment are the responsibility of the Department of Health and Social Care and PHE, and Defra, respectively,” she said. “A considerable amount of research has been carried out on radio waves and we anticipate no negative effects on public health.”

James added: “PHE’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards takes the lead on public-health matters associated with radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, or radio waves, used in telecommunications. Central to PHE advice is that exposures to radio waves should comply with the guidelines published by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). ICNIRP is formally recognised by the World Health Organization.”

The digital minister reiterated that the government is “committed to becoming a world leader in 5G”. This, she said, means ensuring that “the majority of the population” can access a 5G signal by 2027.

“The government is working to create the right conditions for the deployment of 5G, she said. “Ministers have regular discussions with mobile network operators on a full range of subjects relating to mobile coverage and future digital infrastructure development, including 5G.”


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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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