Perhaps one of the most bizarre conspiracy theories to circulate online is the theory that 5G cell towers are responsible for the current pandemic. This and other 5G conspiracy theories purposedly began January 22, when the Belgian newspaper “Het Lasstse Niews” published an interview with Kris Van Kerckhoven, a general practitioner from Putte, Belgium. Van Kecrkhoven not only claimed in the article that 5G was “life-threatening,” but he also claimed there was a possible link to the novel Coronavirus.
The journalist conducting the interview pointed out that since 2019, a number of 5G cell towers had been erected around Wuhan, China, the source of the pandemic. When asked if the two events could be related, Van Kecrkhoven said: “I have not done a fact check, but it may be a link with current events.”
Thus, this ridiculous and unfounded conspiracy theory went viral. Within days it had spread around the world via social media. The Belgian newspaper removed the article from its website, but the damage had already been done. Youtube “experts,” online talk show hosts, and vloggers began telling people, “The truth about 5G.” From that one statement, a cornucopia of conspiracy theories evolved, thanks in part to social media algorithms that were able to recognize a viral trend, but apparently unable to ascertain that the content was fake news.
Recently, a number of 5G cell towers have been set on fire in the UK. The British newspaper, “The Guardian,” reported that 20 cell towers had been vandalized as a result of the conspiracy theories. On April 5th, during a UK Coronavirus briefing, officials called the conspiracy theories “dangerous nonsense” and “ the worst kind of fake news.”
The six primary theories are: That 5G is somehow dangerous; that 5G weakens the immune system; that 5G directly causes Coronavirus symptoms; that the Coronavirus lockdown is being used as cover to install 5G towers; that Bill Gates has something to do with it; and that this is an Illuminati mass-murder machination.
It should be pointed out that there is zero evidence that any of these ludicrous lamentations are true. A few days ago, Facebook and Youtube announced efforts to stop the spread of the outlandish claims linking the Coronavirus to 5G.
What 5G is
Fifth Generation, commonly referred to as “5G,” is the latest advancement in wireless communications technology. It provides vastly greater download speeds up to 27 Gb/s ( which will allow you to download a full HD movie in a matter of seconds), lower latency (the time a transmitting signal arrives at the receiving device), and the ability to connect a lot more devices at once.
The fastest networks will use much higher frequencies (28 and 39 GHz) to achieve the blazing speeds promised. The waves in these Extremely High Frequencies are measured in millimeters instead of centimeters and are called “millimeter waves.” These waves do not travel as far as waves of lower frequencies and also do not penetrate buildings very well (nor will they penetrate the skin). The solution will be a lot of smaller cells using advanced antenna and signal transmitting technology.
Many Americans have very few choices when it comes to high-speed internet (25Mb or higher). This new 5G service will increase home internet competition. Also, 5G home internet service is much easier for carriers to roll out than fiber optic to each home. Instead of digging up every street or laying cables on existing above-ground phone lines, carriers just have to install fiber optics to a cell-site every few blocks, and then give customers wireless modems.
What 5G is Not
First and foremost, 5G is NOT fueling the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 is caused by a specific virus, SARS-CoV-2. Electromagnetic radiation coming from cellphone towers has nothing whatsoever to do with the spread of living organisms such as viruses.
Much of the fear about the dangers of RF (Radio Frequency) radiation is the confusion by the public between ionizing non-ionizing radiation and ionizing radiation.
Non-ionizing radiation, such as Radio Frequency Radiation does not have the energy to break electrons loose from atoms. This type of radiation does not induce cellular changes or damage DNA.
Ionizing radiation, on the other hand, has the energy to break chemical bonds, dislodge electrons, cause cellular changes, and damage DNA. An example of ionizing radiation would be X-rays. The shorter the wave of electromagnetic energy is, the higher the frequency. The higher the frequency, the higher the energy. RFR ranges from 3Khz to 300GHZ, Ionizing radiation starts at 1 Petahertz (1Phz), which is equal to one million Gigahertz. As illustrated, 5G is well below the spectrum of ionizing-radiation.
To put these numbers in context, the weakest visible light is 17,000 times more energetic than the highest-energy 5G photon (bundle of electromagnetic energy). The reality is, there is no known plausible mechanism of harm to human cells, nor does the preponderance of evidence presented by peer-reviewed epidemiological data support the speculation that RF energy from cellphones and cell towers represent a clear and present danger to the public.
Something to remember is that scientifically speaking, correlation does not imply causation. In other words, when two events happen, it does not mean that one caused the other.
To quote the lyrics from “The Boxer” by Paul Simon: “…all lies and jest, still a man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest.”