Evaluation of the current state of knowledge on the health risks of cellular networks



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Conference Papers/Speeches

Conference Papers/Speeches

  • 25/11/2022 , Berlin
    Karen Kastenhofer: 
    The role of bodily discomfort in the regulatory discourse on 5G electromagnetic fields
    Electromagnetic Waves Matter: Disturbing Air, Bodies, and Infrastructure
    Other Invited Lecture
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5G will soon be the new mobile network standard, replacing the current LTE network. At 10 gigabits per second, it is about 30 times faster than the current standard, which is of particular interest for the manufacturing industry, internet-of-things or gaming (augmented reality) applications. The electromagnetic fields emitted by 5G mobile radio could also have an impact on our health. This is precisely the topic of this study for the Austrian Parliament, which has been completed with the AIT. It determines whether the current state of knowledge on this new technology can already provide information on possible health consequences. 

Fifth generation (5G) mobile radio technology will enable much higher mobile transmission rates than today's mobile radio technologies and is envisaged for countless new fields of application. The new standard is particularly important for industry and the Internet of Things (IoT). 5G can be tailored to specific requirements: In production halls, machines are interconnected, high bandwidths are made available for high-definition video playback, and on the roads, a particularly fast and reliable network with particularly short delay times (latency) might render the control of autonomous vehicles possible. Other possible applications concern, for example, the health sector. In public, 5G is sometimes controversially discussed, especially with regard to possible health risks from radiation. 

The ITA prepared the state of the art on the health consequences of high-frequency electromagnetic fields (EMF) as they are used in current and next generation mobile radio. In a first step, an inventory of 24 available expert opinions of 14 international aggregators such as the WHO and exemplary national committees is compiled. These appraisals are presented in such a way that the respective areas of validity (which mobile communication generation etc.) are identified. In a second step, the corresponding meta-studies of these internationally recognized and scientifically high-ranking committees on the health consequences of EMF are summarized, taking into account different levels of evidence (evidence, ambiguous findings, gaps of knowledge). In a third step, differences between the expert opinions are put up for discussion. Concludingly, options for responding to the prevailing uncertainty regarding health and 5G are put forward.

Together with the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT), the ITA conducted a study for the Austrian Parliament on the subject of 5G. The focus is on the current state of knowledge on health risks of mobile radio in general and of 5G in particular.


08/2019 - 02/2020

Project team