5G Facts

Printable 5G Fact Sheet with Hyperlinks: What You Need To Know About 5G Wireless and “Small” Cells

5G Explained in 5 Minutes

“5G in 5 Minutes” was Created by A Wisconsin Resident

5G Facts

  • The Federal Communications Commission has allocated a high-­frequency spectrum for 5G communications utilizing millimeter waves (mmWaves), the next phase in wireless cellular technology. But critical questions about the safety of this technology remain.
  • Telecom companies are aggressively promoting state legislation that eliminates the rights of local governments to control the installation of “small cell” 5G antennas in public “rights of way.”
  • Communities are being stripped of their right to make decisions about the new 5G technology and public hearings and public notice are being eliminated.  You do NOT want a cluster of these powerful 5G-enabled “small” cell antennas radiating outside your window.
  • 5G has not been proven safe for humans or the environment yet thousands of independent, peer-reviewed and published scientific studies over the past fifty years have established indisputable evidence of harmful health effects from exposure to wireless radiation.
  • 5G mobile wireless networks can deliver large amounts of data over short distances, resulting in faster internet speeds. The primary purpose of 5G is to allow telecom companies to compete directly with cable companies, and increase the capacity of “smart devices” and machine-to-machine communications – the “Internet of Things” (IOT). 5G is not necessary for public safety.
  • The 5G you see in WiFi routers means 5 GHz. This is NOT the same as actual 5G which means “Fifth Generation.” Is the wireless industry purposefully attempting to get people to gain acceptance and familiarity with the term 5G?
  • 5G wireless networks will utilize mmWaves. Current cellular and WiFi networks rely on microwaves that employ frequencies up to 6 gigahertz (GHz). 5G technology will use millimeter and sub-millimeter waves in higher frequency ranges (between 30 GHz and 300 GHz). This technology has not been widely deployed before.
  • 5G antennas will be placed on millions of utility poles, street lights, traffic signals, buildings and bus stops. 5G networks require many closely-spaced antennas in order for the short wavelength mmWaves to travel through buildings or other obstacles, including foliage on trees. This will require a very dense network of antennas, resulting in continuous, involuntary exposure for Americans in their homes, schools and businesses. Trees are also being trimmed and cut down so they do not impede the 5G signals.
“Small Cell” in Greenfield, Wisconsin
Photo Credit: Elaine Unger
  • “Small cell” does not always mean small, unobtrusive equipment. It means that every cell provider will hang its own antennae enclosure on the pole, with other associated equipment (up to 28 cubic feet – the size of a refrigerator) located nearby.  
  • Exposure to all types of wireless radiation is associated with cancer and other health effects. The World Health Organization has classified wireless radiation as a Group 2B “possible human carcinogen” and sufficient data exists for wireless radiation to be labeled a definite carcinogen by the World Health Organization. The U.S. National Institutes of Health National Toxicology Program study on 2G/3G wireless technology found “clear evidence” of cancer. Studies have also found that typical exposures to wireless radiation can cause disruption of normal brain development in fetuses and learning disabilities, heart abnormalities and electro-hypersensitivity. Populations especially at risk from this type of radiation include pregnant women, children, the elderly, and individuals with implanted medical devices, cardiac and neurological problems.
  • mmWaves have unique health impacts on the human body. Sweat ducts within our skin, the largest organ in the human body, act as antennae when in contact with mmWaves. The waves penetrate 1 to 2 millimeters of human skin tissue and are also absorbed by the surface layers of the eye’s cornea.
  • Plants and animals are also harmed by wireless radiation. Studies have found that electromagnetic radiation from mobile phone cell sites damages trees, and several studies have clearly demonstrated that RF radiation changes the makeup and structure of plants. Many research analyses also cite wireless technology as a contributing factor in the decline of bird, frog, bat, and honeybee populations.  Sierra Club of California opposes 5G “small” cells.  
Photo by Hannes L. on Pexels.com
  • mmWaves could make bacteria resistant to antibiotics.  One study analyzing mmWave interaction with bacteria found that the waves can cause changes in bacteria’s sensitivity to different biologically active chemicals, such as antibiotics. This study suggests that mmWaves may have the ability to create antibiotic resistance in bacteria, creating concern in the medical community.
  • The FCC is pushing for implementation of 5G without considering its potential impacts on public health. To date, the U.S. Government has failed to update its exposure standards for RF radiation, despite warnings from members of Congress, scientists, doctors, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other branches of government, including the Department of the Interior, that the FCC safety guidelines are over 23 years out of date! These standards consider only thermal (heat) effects, not other biological effects below the heating threshold which are now well-established scientifically.
  • The Internet of Things (IoT), as being marketed and sold to the public, is a vision of wirelessly connecting every “thing” possible to the Internet.  Driverless cars.  All machines, appliances, objects, devices and even our brains.  In addition, the IoT will include artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), robotsmicrochipped humans, and augmented humans (humans with some form of technology implanted or integrated into their biology to “enhance” human characteristics or capabilities).  IoT sensors and surveillance cameras will pepper our communities as well. New IoT cyber physical systems will render all objects “smart” – i.e. connected to the Cloud – thus enabling pervasive machine-to-machine communications and massive data collection about all of us.  Smart appliances, smart mattresses, smart toothbrushes and even smart diapers.
  • A 5G base station is generally expected to consume roughly three times as much power as a 4G base station. And more 5G base stations are needed to cover the same area.

You can turn off your cell phone.  You cannot turn off a cell tower.

Partial List of References –

Massey University; “Could Future Wireless Communications Be Harmful?” (2016) http://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/ about-massey/news/article.cfm?mnarticle_uuid=238A1039-989F-C67F-4DA1-FFD7FF123DBB.

Soghomonyan et al, "Millimeter waves or extremely high frequency electromagnetic fields in the environment: what are their effects on bacteria?." Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 100.11 (2016): 4761-4771.

Pakhomov, et al, “Current state and implications of research on biological effects of millimeter waves: a review of the literature.”

Bioelectromagnetics. 1998;19(7):393-413.

Stein, Yael, MD of the Hadassah Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel, “Letter to the FCC in Opposition to 5G Spectrum Frontiers Millimeter Wave Technology.” https://ehtrust.org/letter-fcc-dr-yael-stein-md-opposition-5g-spectrum-frontiers/

Wu, Ting, Theodore S. Rappaport, and Christopher M. Collins. "The human body and millimeter-wave wireless communication systems: Interactions and implications." Communications (ICC), 2015 IEEE International Conference.

Osseiran, A[if, et al. "Scenarios for 5G mobile and wireless communications: the vision of the METIS project." IEEE Communications Magazine 52.5 (2014): 26-35.

Waldmann-Selsam, Cornelia, et al. "Radio-frequency radiation injures trees around mobile phone base stations." Science of The Total Environment 572 (2016): 554-569.

International Agency for Research on Cancer (World Health Organization); http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/

Ryam et al, “Radio frequency radiation of millimeter wavelength: potential occupational safety issues related to surface heating.” Health Phys. 2000; 78 (2): 170-81.


Letters From The US Congress To The FCC Asking For Documentation Of 5G Safety (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://ehtrust.org/letters-from-the-us-congress-to-the-fcc-asking-for-documentation-of-5g-safety/ 

Source: Grassroots Environmental Education.  For a more complete listing of recent scientific studies on health impacts from wireless radiation, please visit