The impact of 5G on health, wildlife and privacy. David Drew MP quizzes Government on your behalf

The impact of 5G on health, wildlife and privacy. David Drew MP quizzes Government on your behalf

Many of you have contacted me to raise concerns about the rollout of 5G technology in the UK.

I have raised this in parliament, calling for the health impact of 5G to be a priority, particularly when considering the suitability of Hauwei to manage the 5G network.

However I do also have wider concerns about the health and environmental impact of 5G.

I have so far asked 13 questions directly to government ministers, in the departments of Defence, Health and Social Care, and Digital, Culture Media and Sport, to raise various concerns about 5G. You can read my questions, and the Ministers’ answers, below.

Before 5G is rolled out further, I have asked the government to look at the impact on human health as well as on insects and animals.

I am also concerned about the impact that 5G will have on our right to privacy and that the technology could be misused. We need far stronger reassurances and safeguards about who will have access to our conversations, emails and internet history.

So far, the government’s answers do little to reassure me that the technology is safe for human health, or that of our planet, or respects privacy.

I am calling for the government to act according to the precautionary principal and ensure that there is a full and independent scientific assessment of the impact of 5G. Many constituents have contacted me on this issue, and I will continue to raise it on their behalf.


Q 261100: To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what guidance his Department plans to publish on protecting people who suffer from electro-hypersensitivity from the effects of 5G.

Answered by Seema Kennedy, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health and Primary Care, 14 June 2019:

Public Health England (PHE) advises that the guidelines of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) should be adopted for limiting exposure to radio waves, and there is no convincing evidence that adverse health effects can result if these guidelines are complied with.

Carefully designed studies have been performed in the United Kingdom and around the world to investigate whether the health symptoms some people experience and attribute to exposure to radio waves within the ICNIRP guideline levels are indeed caused by exposure. The studies are detailed in the 2012 report from the independent Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation, available at this link.

PHE continues to monitor the evidence on this topic.

Q 261099: To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans the Government has to introduce electromagnetic white zones in relation to 5G technology.

Answered by Margot James, Minister of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, 13 June 2019:

Mobile Network Operators will lead the rollout of 5G in the UK and provide the vast majority of commercial investment in 5G networks. The Government is setting the policy and regulatory environment needed to ensure the right conditions for investment in the development of 5G networks.

5G spectrum frequencies that have been granted licenses have similar properties to those which are currently used in mobile communications technologies. A considerable amount of research has been carried out on radio waves and Public Health England (PHE) have concluded that exposures of radio waves to the public are well within the international health-related guideline levels that are used in the UK. All 5G technology will also have to adhere to the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) exposure guidelines

Q 261101: To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans he has to review planning requirements with regard to the rollout of 5G technology to ensure that safety concerns are taken into account.

Answered by Kit Malthouse, Minster of State for Housing and Planning,
12 June 2019: 

As announced by the Secretary of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on 12 June, we will shortly be consulting on proposals to simplify planning processes in England to support the rollout of 5G and further improve mobile coverage in rural areas.

Public Health England’s (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 exposure 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 (WHO).

While a small increase in overall exposure to radio waves is possible when 5G is added to the existing network, the overall exposure is expected to remain low and well within the ICNIRP guidelines.

National planning policy sets out that applications for electronic communications equipment should be supported by a statement that self-certifies that when operational, ICNIRP guidelines will be met.

258951: To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with the providers of 5G on whether they have made any provision for personal liability on health and safety grounds.

Answered by Margot James, Minister of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, 11 June 2019:

I have regular meetings with Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) on a range of subjects including 5G developments. MNOs will lead the rollout of 5G in the UK and provide the vast majority of commercial investment in 5G networks.

The Government is setting the policy and regulatory environment needed to ensure the right conditions for investment in the development of 5G networks.

5G spectrum frequencies that have been granted licenses have similar properties to those which are currently used in mobile communications technologies. A considerable amount of research has been carried out on radio waves and Public Health England (PHE) have concluded that exposures of radio waves to the public are well within the international health-related guideline levels that are used in the UK. All 5G technology will also have to adhere to the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) exposure guidelines

Q 258952: To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what investigations the Government has commissioned on the health and safety implications of the 5G rollout.

Answered by Seema Kennedy, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health and Primary Care, 11 June 2019:

Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and health evidence reviews have been prepared by scientific expert groups in the United Kingdom and around the world. The independent Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation (AGNIR) published their report in the UK in 2012 and the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) published their report in 2015. The World Health Organization is presently preparing a review. The AGNIR report is available here.

The SCENIHR report is available here.

Based on the accumulated evidence and reviews, Public Health England (PHE) advises that the guidelines of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) should be adopted and there is no convincing evidence that EMF exposures below the ICNIRP guideline levels cause adverse health effects.

PHE has committed to keeping the emerging evidence under review and to preparing another comprehensive review when sufficient new evidence has accumulated.

Q 257638: To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Defence on the potential military applications of 5G technology.

Answered by Margot James, Minister of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, 10 June 2019: 

Ministers have regular discussions with their Cabinet colleagues on a wide range of issues, but have not discussed the specific issue of the potential military applications of 5G technology.

Q 257637: To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether he plans to request information from mobile operators on the localised effects of the installation of 5G on (a) people and (b) the natural environment.

Answered by Margot James, Minister of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, 6 June 2019:

We are committed to becoming a world leader in 5G, and for the majority of the population to have access to a 5G signal by 2027. Following the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review which sets out the Government’s national, long-term strategy for delivering world leading telecoms infrastructure across the UK, the Government is working to create the right conditions for the deployment of 5G.

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. Specific issues relating to health concerns and the natural environment are the responsibility of DHSC/Public Health England (PHE) and DEFRA respectively.

A considerable amount of research has been carried out on radio waves and we anticipate no negative effects on public health.

PHE’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards (CRCE) 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 (WHO).

Q 256920: To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what studies have been carried out to evaluate the effect of 5G on (a) pregnant women, (b) babies and (c) young children.

Answered by Seema Kennedy, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health and Primary Care, 30 May 2019:

A considerable amount of research has been carried out on exposure to radio waves over several decades, and evidence reviews have been prepared by scientific expert groups in the United Kingdom and around the world. Among the health topics investigated is whether adverse effects can occur in relation to reproduction and development.

Public Health England (PHE) has published a webpage about exposure to the radio waves from mobile phone base stations, including those for 5G networks, at this link.

Based on the accumulated evidence and reviews, PHE advises that the guidelines of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) should be adopted and there is no convincing evidence that radio wave exposures below the ICNIRP guideline levels cause adverse health effects. This includes effects in relation to reproduction and development.

PHE has committed to keeping the emerging evidence under review and to preparing another comprehensive review when sufficient new evidence has accumulated.

Q 256912: To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to undertake (a) health-and-safety research and (b) a risk assessments before 5G is adopted in a localised test area.

and

Q 256911: To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has (a) undertaken and (b) commissioned a regulatory safety testing on 5G radiofrequency radiation

and

Q 256910: To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what (a) health-and-safety research and (b) risk assessments his Department has (i) undertaken and (ii) commissioned on 5G technology.

Answered together by Seema Kennedy, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health and Primary Care, 29 May 2019:

Public Health England (PHE) has published a webpage about exposure to the radio waves from mobile phone base stations, including those for 5G networks, at this link.

This explains the health-related reviews and assessments have been performed, as well as the practical measures that are in place to protect public health.

PHE advises that the guidelines of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) should be adopted and there is no convincing evidence that radio wave exposures below the ICNIRP guideline levels cause adverse health effects. The guidelines apply to exposures at frequencies up to 300 GHz, well above the maximum few tens of GHz frequencies anticipated for use by 5G systems.

Health and safety legislation requires companies deploying and operating communication networks to carry out suitable and sufficient risk assessments, as well as put in place measures to reduce the identified risks so far as reasonably practicable. In controlling risks arising from radio wave exposure, the Health and Safety Executive refer to compliance with the ICNIRP guidelines. Industry has committed to comply with the international guidelines and to provide certificates of compliance with planning applications for base stations.

PHE continues to monitor the health-related evidence applicable to radio waves, including in relation to base stations, and is committed to updating its advice as required.



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David Drew MP – listening to Stroud schools

David Drew MP – listening to Stroud schools

Don't miss out, says David Drew MP. You may still be entitled to a free TV licence. Find out here

Don't miss out, says David Drew MP. You may still be entitled to a free TV licence. Find out here