5g is bad for mental health

There are things that are naturally scary. Radiation, for example - because you can't see it, hear it and usually can't feel it either. But because you know that it is there, that it can penetrate tissue and transfer energy.

There are therefore quite a few people who are particularly afraid of cell phone radiation. After all, there is hardly a radiation source that has recently spread as massively as cell phone networks. And it's going to get worse soon. In 2020, the frequencies of the new 5G radio standard will be auctioned, the deadline for participation in the auction expired on Friday. Thanks to 5G, data should then be transmitted even faster, even more extensively, simply omnipresent, as the foundation of a digitized society. In three years at the latest, 98 percent of households will also have to be supplied with the old LTE standard; in future, basic service will also be guaranteed in rural areas. So there is no escape. Is that still healthy?

"So far there are no confirmed indications"

At first glance, the fear appears to be justified. More than 230 doctors and scientists from Europe recently called for a moratorium on 5G because the health consequences of the standard had not been adequately investigated. Studies have allegedly shown that electromagnetic radiation in higher frequency ranges is harmful to the environment and health. In addition, the number of broadcasting stations for the new 5G network will have to be increased significantly and, at least later, new frequency bands of around 30 gigahertz will have to be used, and that means more energy than before.

But it is probably more complicated than that. The upcoming frequencies of 5G are also about non-ionizing radiation. "Unlike the extremely high-energy radioactive and short-wave UV radiation, radio waves cannot damage the genetic material of cells, i.e. the DNA, directly," says Gunde Ziegelberger, head of the electromagnetic fields at the Federal Office for Radiation Protection. In Ziegelberger's view, it is true that it cannot be proven that cell phone radiation is completely harmless. "So far, however, no mechanisms have been found in the cell that could cause damage." What is certain is that the frequency bands of cell phones can generate warming, but this is very small and that humans can easily compensate for in many other contexts. According to Ziegelberger, other indications of possible effects, for example indirect damage from free radicals, have not been confirmed. "There is a lot of research to find further possible mechanisms, but so far there are no confirmed indications," says the radiation expert.

More transmission masts, lower transmission power - what this means for health is unclear

In addition, a distinction has to be made between exposure from cell phones and from transmission masts. The highest exposure continues to come from the devices themselves. The transmitter masts, on the other hand, will in future be placed closer to people, for example on the walls of houses, because higher frequencies have a shorter range. At the same time, however, the transmission power of these masts is lower. In addition, the masts of the 5G standard do not have individual, area-wide transmitting antennas, but multi-part installations that make targeted contact with the end devices. "The shorter distances and the type of antennae make the exposure more complex than before," says Ziegelberger. What that means cannot yet be conclusively assessed.

In general, the required, final proof of the harmlessness of mobile phone radiation cannot be given. Effects of the higher frequencies on health can only be derived from the data for previous mobile communications and higher frequencies, for example in body scanners. Epidemiological studies in a large number of people and over a longer period of time are difficult for 5G. Since many cell phone owners continue to use old standards and have WLAN and Bluetooth devices at home for this purpose, a possible effect cannot be assigned. What remains for science is to do research on cell cultures and animals - and this can be used to collect clues, but not proof.