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5G “very unlikely” to affect health of a single person, Deloitte claims

Deloitte TMT 2021 5G safety.
(Image credit: Deloitte.)

A new report from Deloitte – titled Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Predictions 2021 – has focussed specifically on perceived 5G dangers, having discovered in 2020 that up to one fifth of people in ‘advanced economies’ believe 5G comes with associated health risks.

"Between 10% and 20% adults in many advanced economies will mistakenly equate 5G with possible harm to their health."

Deloitte TMT 2021 report.

“Unfortunately, while extensive scientific evidence  proves that mobile phone technologies have no adverse health impacts, not just for 5G but also earlier generations, we also predict that between 10% and 20% adults in many advanced economies will mistakenly equate 5G with possible harm to their health,” the report explained. “A Deloitte consumer poll in May  2020 found a fifth or more adults in six out of 14 countries surveyed agreed with the statement: “I believe there are health risks associated with 5G”.”

According to the report, as 5G has become more widespread, there has been a growing concern about its supposed health hazards. 

“Two main concerns have been voiced, both related to the radiation associated with the technology,” the report said. “The most  common perception is that 5G causes cancer. The  second fear is that 5G-emitted radiation weakens  the immune system, enabling COVID-19 to spread.”

5G fears are "grossly overblown"

Deloitte says that, based on numerous studies, both of these fears are “grossly overblown”. And the research company predicts that in 2021, it is “very unlikely” that the radiation from 5G networks and 5G phones will affect the health of a single individual. And Deloitte posits that what has led to this high level of concern about 5G’s health impact could be a simple confusion surrounding the terminology.

“Radiation is commonly assumed to involve radioactivity, but this is not necessarily the case,” Deloitte said. “The confusion arises because the words “radiation” and “radioactivity” have been conflated, a confusion that has persisted since the dropping of  the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombs in 1945.”

As a result of these events, the report explained, as well as incidents at several nuclear power plants in the following years, the term “radiation” has often  mistakenly become associated with destruction on a massive scale.

"5G does generate radiation, but at very safe levels, and none of it is radioactive radiation."

Deloitte TMT 2021 report.

“5G does generate radiation, but at very safe levels, and none of it is radioactive radiation,” the report explained. “5G base stations and phones, and the frequency ranges within which 5G operates, are very likely to be operating well within safe parameters in 2021 and throughout 5G’s lifetime.”

Underlying 5G tech "used for decades"

Deloitte also points out that mobile phone technology, including the 5G standard, is based on the same underlying  transmission methods that have been used for decades.

"Beamforming not only enables higher connection speeds, but also leads to lower radio wave exposure than prior network generations.”

Deloitte TMT 2021 report.

“Content is created, relayed over radio waves, and received – a technique that has been delivering content wirelessly for more than 100 years,” said the report. “5G has been designed to use less power than previous generations to reduce operational costs. 5G also incorporates a technique known as  beamforming … [Beamforming] not only enables higher connection speeds, but also leads to lower radio wave exposure than prior network generations.”

Taking all this into consideration, Deloitte is hoping to quell any remaining fears that people may have over the adoption of 5G technology, but with conspiracy theories continuing to spread across social media, it may be years before concerns drop to expected levels.

“It may not be possible to persuade everyone that 5G is safe,” Deloitte concluded. “There is likely to be a niche – perhaps less than 1% of the population – that will remain convinced not just that wireless technologies are harmful, but that their deployment is deliberate and that the intent is to cause harm. Unfortunately, while such niche views have in the past lacked widespread amplification, social media has often provided the mechanism for conspiracy theories to flourish and proliferate.”

To access the full report from Deloitte, click here.  

Dan Oliver

Dan is a British journalist with 20 years of experience in the design and tech sectors, producing content for the likes of Microsoft, Adobe, Dell and The Sunday Times. In 2012 he helped launch the world's number one design blog, Creative Bloq. Dan is now editor-in-chief at 5Gradar, where he oversees news, insight and reviews, providing an invaluable resource for anyone looking to stay up-to-date with the key issues facing 5G.