“The FCC is committed to doing our part to help ensure the United States wins the global race to 5G,” the Federal Communications Commission said recently in a declaratory ruling. They add that it would be “to the benefit of all Americans”. This is supposed to assure us that the FCC takes 5G health concerns seriously.
But does it?
5G health concerns may not be high on the agenda of the FCC, but local lawmakers are seeing things differently. Take the city council of Portland, Oregon, for example: they’ve just moved to oppose the 5G rollout, concerned for their citizens that the technology poses a threat to human health.
Why Are There 5G Health Concerns?
5G is the next generation of mobile data networks, and it promises to be all kinds of things — above all, lightening fast and hyper-connected. But this convenience comes at a cost. In order to work effectively, 5G requires thousands of “small cell” towers to be installed across a city.
To put it simply: 5G will make it near to impossible to live in a city without being constantly exposed to electromagnetic radiation. No matter where you live, there’ll be a small cell tower close to you. These cell receptors usually piggy-back off existing infrastructure like lamp posts and telephone poles.
As yet, the health effects of such constant, high-intensity contact with electromagnetic fields has not been tested. And since EMF has already been linked to numerous negative consequences — like autoimmune diseases, cancer, and miscarriage — it stands to reason that 5G would only amplify those effects.
Portland Council’s Resolution On 5G
“Wireless companies in the U.S. say they’ll have to install about 300,000 new antennas,” the proposed resolution from Portland City Council notes. “This substantial increase in cell towers deployed in communities means greater contact with them.”
The resolution goes on to call 5G safety into question. “There is evidence to suggest that exposure to radio frequency emissions generated by wireless technologies could contribute to adverse health conditions such as cancer,” it says.
So what do Portland’s local authorities want? The same thing that many people — including hundreds of scientists and doctors from around the world — want: for bodies like the FCC to thoroughly research the 5G health concerns and update their safety guidelines appropriately.
Local lawmakers are also seeking greater control over how wireless networks are deployed and regulated in their areas.
Why City Councils Face Problems With 5G
The case of Portland shows a fundamental disconnect between local and federal interests. The FCC’s declaratory ruling takes power away from state and local governments, preventing them from passing their own regulations and removing cost barriers for telecommunications companies in order to accelerate the 5G rollout.
Furthermore, cities are seen as a barrier to business growth and as obstructors of technological advancement, as noted by CitiesSpeak.org, rather than as “innovators and builders of strong communities”. It makes sense that any council should want to put the health and wellbeing of its citizens first, and yet the FCC’s preemption order puts winning the “race to 5G” above all else, including human safety.
Will 5G Health Concerns Be Addressed By The FCC?
So will Portland’s opposition have any impact on the rollout of 5G?
All we can be sure about at this point is that they’re not the only ones moving to challenge the FCC’s ruling, though others are more concerned about property rights and fees than safety.
One announcement from Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan makes it clear that Portland are not the only ones objecting. “In coordination with the overwhelming majority of local jurisdictions that oppose this unprecedented federal intrusion by the FCC, we will be appealing this order, challenging the FCC’s authority and its misguided interpretations of federal law,” she said, adding that the overreach of the FCC “impedes local authority to serve as trustees of public property and to fulfill cities’ public health and safety responsibilities”.
Philadelphia similarly sent objections to the FCC stating that the ruling might affect “the health, safety and welfare of the city.”
If these objections are to have any impact, it may give city councils greater power to set their own rules and regulations surrounding 5G. Whether they would use that power to try to minimize health effects is another question; in the case of Portland the answer would seem to be yes.
As for the FCC, there’s so far been no move to evaluate the potential long-term harm of 5G radiation. Nor has there been any attempt to update their outdated radio frequency exposure guidelines, which are still based on recommendations from 1996.
So in the meantime, while local and federal authorities battle it out for 5G regulatory control, its up to individual citizens to stay informed and prepare for the expansion of 5G networks across the country.
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