On the clear and almost-present danger of 5G: Two op eds from New Zealand

5G confusion – clarification one step at a time

Mary Redmayne, PhD, Gisborne Herald, Jul 25, 2020

Opinion Piece

What a polarising topic 5G has become. This is unsurprising since the information we hear varies greatly from government, telcos, and scientists (industry-funded and independent), through to conspiracy theorists.

Today, I will address just one recent statement from our Ministry of Health: “exposures to 5G signals are similar to, or lower than, those from existing cellsites, and (are) small fractions of the public limit in the standard”.

The statement is misleading, and the topic is complex. Let me explain. The last part of the MoH statement claims that measured 5G exposures “[are] small fractions of the public limit in the standard [2772.1-1999].” This assumes the standard provides safety. Actually, it only seeks “minimal levels of radio-frequency absorption” and to minimise the chance of burns and shocks over short periods.

It clearly does not minimise absorption as a more stringent standard would reduce the permitted maximum. Preventing burns/shocks is insufficient to assure health is intact. Many biological effects occur from “small fractions of the public limit”. Some of these are known precursors to serious diseases.

Now to 5G. Once fully functioning, 5G signals will be different from 2G, 3G and 4G transmissions in key ways. Currently these differences may not apply. Here are some key differences:

1. 5G will transmit power in narrow, high-power beams. Our exposure standard evaluates average exposures. The average may be lower than 2G/3G/4G because the 5G component will only transmit when being used. But during use, the energy in the beams will be high. The beams will interact with people/animals/trees. This is the first time these beams have been intended for public devices used against the body. Increased use, even 5G device ownership, will mean increased exposure.

How energy is delivered makes a difference. For instance, if the energy used in patting a baby to sleep over 30 minutes were delivered in one blow, the outcome could be ghastly. In this analogy, the sustained patting represents averaged radio-frequency exposure; the one blow represents the focused beam.

2. If a transmitting phone is used/stored against the head or body, research indicates that permitted 5G exposures could cause burns. Although the Resource Management Act regulations do not permit exceeding public limits, it seems exposure could cause burns within those limits. This, and other research, demonstrates there are RMA “effects” from phone exposures, so the RMA is not in line with the exposure standard.

3. The user will be exposed to 5G beams when the phone is receiving and sending information. Current phones increase exposure only when sending.

4. Private phones may be used to support telco infrastructure to re-direct others’ wireless traffic when there are insufficient public transmitters, further increasing personal exposures.

5. Most 5G energy is expected to be absorbed in the top layers of the skin, deep enough to impact on peripheral blood vessels. This does not seem to have been tested or considered.

Recently, I attended a hearing of Parliament’s Regulations Review Committee as an expert witness for the NZ Outdoors Party. It had brought a complaint relevant to 5G and our exposure standard. Subsequently, I submitted supplementary evidence responding to the main question the committee had asked to be addressed. Briefly, this was whether NZ’s radio-frequency exposure standard complies with the Resource Management Act 1991. There is strong evidence that it does not.

Additionally, our standard which is based on the 1998 ICNIRP Guidelines is not suitable for fully-functional 5G, and the revised ICNIRP Guidelines may also not be intrinsically safe. For instance, they allow 5C increases in temperature in some organs, including the cornea of the eye, but this is a topic for another article.

■ Mary Redmayne is an adjunct research fellow at Victoria University of Wellington. She is an independent researcher, consultant and educator in environmental health (transmitting technology).

Mary adds: I do not and have not received any funding from the telco industry nor from the NZ Outdoors Party, nor, currently, from the universities with which I am affiliated. My supplementary evidence can be read here, along with my credentials:

The hearing can be viewed here

■ See also the letter by Susan Pockett (MSc, PhD) and Robin Kelly (FRNZCGP). and the MoH response, here.

RMA only breached closer than 5.5m to a 5G access point
Susan Pockett (MSc, PhD) and Robin Kelly (FRNZCGP), Gisborne Herald, July 25, 2020


The Ministry of Health’s reply to our letter of July 4 ignores most of the points we make and concentrates on saying “With regard to the data presented by your correspondents, the graph showing SAR appears to be based on a misunderstanding of the relevant limits.” And indeed, page 43 of the thesis referred to in our letter shows that the ICNIRP guidelines on which NZ’s SAR limits are based are slightly higher than the FCC’s — our (ICNIRP’s) limit is 2W/kg, while America’s (FCC’s) is only 1.6W/kg. Thus, moving the blue line in the SAR graph up to 2W/kg shows that NZ’s Resource Management Act will only be breached closer than 5.5m to a 5G access point, not 6m.

We invite the MoH to tell your readers (a) the distances from the cellsites at which their “actual measurements near operating 5G cellsites” were made, and (b) whether or not these measurements were made within the directed beam of radiation from the antenna to a device actively communicating with the antenna. 5G uses beam-forming technology.

If the answer to (b) is no, such measurements would be as meaningless as measurements of machine gun power made from behind the gun.

The NZ MoH says “The New Zealand exposure standard’s limits are recommended by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP)”.

ICNIRP is a small, self-selected NGO based in Germany. It and its parent organisation the World Health Organisation choose to ignore or dismiss the now vast volume of evidence disproving their claim that microwaves are harmless at intensities too low to heat tissue. We don’t have to follow them.

It is time for New Zealand to uphold the proud tradition of independence that made us nuclear-free. We need to reject the biased testimony of the 20-odd “experts” in the world who agree with ICNIRP and listen to the hundreds of doctors and scientists who collectively have published thousands of research papers on the many biological harms caused by sub-thermal microwaves.

Susan Pockett (MSc, PhD) and Robin Kelly (FRNZCGP).

Response from NZ Ministry of Health

There is a variety of ongoing research into the possible health effects of radiofrequency fields. Many reviews of the research in this area have been published over the past few years. These reviews conclude that, overall, the results show that exposures which comply with current limits do not cause health effects.

Reviews of the research on radiofrequency fields and health carried out by national and international health and scientific bodies can be found on the Ministry of Health website ( by searching “research non-ionising radiation”.

The Ministry welcomes further research in this area.

The data presented in the document your correspondents supplied with their previous letter refers to exposures from a 5G transmitter operating at 28GHz, and the upper graph claimed to show specific absorption rate (SAR) data and compared this with the FCC limit. However, neither the FCC nor ICNIRP applies limits in terms of SAR at frequencies of 28GHz so this graph, purporting to show that 5G exposures are far higher than from 4G transmitters, and exceeding the FCC limits at distances up to 6m from the transmitter, has no meaning.

We stand by our statement that “exposures to 5G signals are similar to, or lower than, those from existing cellsites”. This is supported by the second graph in the document.

Research in this area is complex and we are also keen to clarify another basic misunderstanding from this document. The claim (page 40) that “it is noteworthy to mention that FCC or ICNIRP do not have an exposure guideline for SAR in terms of far-field based on a belief that SAR is not effective to be considered in a far-field scenario” is incorrect. At the frequencies where SAR limits are specified by ICNIRP and the FCC they apply in both the near and far-field regions, and in fact form the fundamental exposure limits for both organisations in both regions.

The measurements made near operating cellsites in New Zealand were recorded at distances ranging from 30 to 130 metres from the sites. Most were made at or near locations accessible to the public close to the sites, where the highest exposures would be expected. Certainly, exposures within a few metres of these sites would have exceeded the public limits, as is the case with almost all sites, whatever technology they use. (The exception is low-power sites, such as so-called “small cells”, that are designed to cover more limited areas and for which the exposures are correspondingly lower.)

As stated previously, regulations under the Resource Management Act would not permit cellsites that produce exposures in public areas that exceed the public limits.

Ministry of Health Spokesperson

Footnote from Ed: The Gisborne Herald has been advised that this is primarily a response to the letter above, however, the MoH also had Mary Redmayne’s column made available to it for response.

Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D., Director
Center for Family and Community Health
School of Public Health
University of California, Berkeley

Electromagnetic Radiation Safety

Twitter:            @berkeleyprc

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