NBC News & Julie Watts and Abigail Sterling / KPIX & Arthur Firstenberg / Cellular Phone Task Force – 2018-05-18 00:55:16
Why 5G Is a National Security Issue
An unofficial trade war is already afoot in the tech industry and it has to do with the imminent rise of 5G technology. The US government recently intervened in an acquisition bid made by one of the world’s biggest chip companies, citing potential national security implications. The reasons for this decision go beyond just 5G but it does make the 5G future uncertain.
5G Cellphone Towers Signal
Renewed Concerns Over Impacts on Health
Julie Watts and Abigail Sterling / KPIX
OAKLAND (January 25, 2018) — Is a cell tower going up in your neighborhood? If it’s not now, it may soon. Wireless carriers are installing millions of them across the country to enable the new, faster 5G cellphone technology. While many are looking forward to faster cell service, many are also asking: Are there legitimate health concerns?
That question is keeping John Hiestand up at night. Outside his bedroom window he can see a new pole where Verizon will soon install a next-generation cell tower. “This would be a big tower generating lots of RF [Radio Frequency] outside of our bedroom window 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for many years,” he said.
It’s called a “small cell” or “distributed antenna system.” The industry says they’re safe. Many in Piedmont aren’t convinced — including the Hiestands.
“Our daughter is a cancer survivor,” John Hiestand explained.
Thirteen-year-old Sophia Hiestand has been one of many petitioning the city council to deny this cell tower. “I mostly talked about my cancer and how it affected me, even though you’re not supposed to talk about health issues, I still did,” Hiestand said.
However, according to federal law the city simply can’t consider health concerns. It’s outlined in a small section of the Telecommunications Act, based on science from 1996, back when we were still talking on cellphones that looked like bricks.
“I find it really unfair,” said Hiestand.
If cities do consider health, cell companies can sue them. So, with few legal arguments to deny a tower, they’re popping up outside bedroom windows and school campuses, despite objections from across the country.
“5G can be a tremendous boom to California but only if it can be put up quickly and easily,” said Hayward Assembly member Bill Quirk. Quirk co-authored legislation that would make it even harder for cities like Piedmont to object to a tower.
“You wouldn’t have to go through the planning commission, through the city council,” Quirk explained.
Quirk, a former NASA scientist, says he may resurrect the bill that was recently vetoed by governor Brown. “I know scientifically that putting up these cell phone towers is safe,” he said.
But the International Association of Frefighters disagrees. It began opposing cell towers on fire stations, after firefighters complained of health problems.
“These firefighters developed symptoms,” says Dr. Gunnar Heuser who conducted a pilot study on firefighters at a station with cell towers. “The symptoms included problems with memory, problems with intermittent confusion, problems with weakness,” Heuser said.
Heuser says their brain scans suggest even low-level RF can cause cell damage and he worries about more vulnerable groups like kids. “We found abnormal brain function in all of the firefighters we examined,” Heuser said.
So, following lobbying by firefighters, assemblyman Quirk and his co-author exempted fire stations from their bill, making them one place cell companies couldn’t put a tower.
“This is the first piece of legislation that anyone is aware of where somebody got an exemption because they were concerned about health. Did they tell you at all about the study?” we asked the assemblyman.
Quirk’s response: “All I know is that when the firefighters ask, I do what they ask me to do.”
“Because they are strong lobbyists?” we asked him. His response: “Yes.”
“So if school teachers and parents had a strong lobby and they ask you to pass something that would prevent these from going up near schools, would you do that?” we asked Quirk.
His response: “If I couldn’t get the votes any other way!”
We next spoke to Tony Stefani, founder of the San Francisco Firefighters Cancer Prevention Foundation.
“It’s not only the firefighters, it’s the people that live within the vicinity of these towers,” Stefani said. Anthony Stefani started with the San Francisco Fire Department in 1974. The 28-year veteran retired as the captain of Rescue 1 in 2003.
Stefani notes that current regulations don’t take into account continuous low-level exposure from these small cells 24-hours a day. He also says some fellow firefighters reported that their symptoms disappeared when they move to a station without a tower. “More of these studies have to be done,” he says.
Many international scientists agree. More than 230 scientists from 41 nations — who have published over 2,000 peer-reviewed papers on electromagnetic fields and biology and health — have signed the International EMF Scientist Appeal.
They cite “serious concerns” about “increasing exposure to EMF” based on “numerous recent scientific publications” linking low levels of wireless radiation to health effects.
They’re calling for stronger regulations, disclosure about wireless industry ties to regulatory agencies, and they want publicly funded studies on the health effects of EMF emitting devices/base stations (i.e. cell towers).
“I do not believe that there is any health impact on firefighters or anyone else, from cells, period!” Assemblyman Quirk asserted. However he added, “I think doing more studies is always a good thing.”
Considering the circumstances, we asked Quirk: “Do you think that maybe you should consider putting a pause on legislation that speeds up these towers until there is definitive evidence that there is no harm?”
Hiss’s response: “We can do a lot of studies and there are people right now believe it or not who are sure the world is flat.”
In a statement the CTIA says it defers to the experts when it comes to the safety of cellular telephones and antennas:
“According to the US Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Communications Commission, the World Health Organization, the American Cancer Society and numerous other international and US organizations and health experts, the scientific evidence shows no known health risk due to the RF energy emitted by cellphones.
Likewise, the FCC monitors scientific research on a regular basis and its standards for RF exposure are based on recommended guidelines adopted by US and international standard-setting bodies. That’s why the FCC has determined that all wireless phones legally sold in the United States are “safe.” This scientific consensus has stayed the same even after the NTP’s release in 2016 of its partial findings in a study involving cellphones and lab animals.
The FCC also sets exposure limits for cell site antennas that transmit signals to phones. Those limits, like the limits for cell phones, are even more conservative than standards adopted by leading international standards bodies such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).
The FCC states that typical ground exposures to base station antennas are “hundreds to thousands of times less than the FCC’s limits for safe exposure” and “there is no reason to believe that such [antennas] could constitute a potential health hazard” to nearby residents.”
The World Heath Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified RF radiation as possibly carcinogenic to humans. Though the cell phone industry stresses there are “no known health risks.”
What about the unknown? Well, back in Piedmont the Hiestands don’t want to wait around to find out.
“We are going to get some meters. We’re going to measure the micro-radiation today and then when the cell towers go up, we can measure it and see how dangerous it really is,” said John Hiestand. He says if he has to they’ll move.
“For my daughter’s health, definitely,” he said.
Piedmont was able to temporarily block permits for some small cell towers but now the company installing them for Verizon, Crown Castle, is suing the city.
Meanwhile new research set to be published next month could radically alter the debate. For the first time it establishes a scientific link between RF radiation and cancer in lab rats:
National Toxicology Program
In response, the Chief Medical Director of the American Cancer Society said this first-of-its-kind government study “marks a paradigm shift in our understanding of radiation and cancer risk.”
5G — From Blankets to Bullets
Arthur Firstenberg / Cellular Phone Task Force
(January 22, 2018) — The single most important fact about 5G that nobody is talking about is called “phased array.” It will totally change the way cell towers and cell phones are constructed and will transform the blanket of radiation which has enveloped our world for two decades into a million powerful beams whizzing by us at all times.
Blake Levitt, author of Electromagnetic Fields: A Consumer’s Guide to the Issues and How to Protect Ourselves (Harcourt Brace, 1995), brought this to my attention. A mutual friend, with whom I was speaking during the campaign to defeat S.B. 649 in California, passed on a message from Blake: “5G antennas will be phased arrays; Arthur will know what that means.” And I did.
Phased arrays were one of the first things I learned about in the very beginning of my long, involuntary journey from medical student to campaigner against wireless technology. After I was injured by X-rays in 1980, I began to read everything I could get my hands on that had to do with electromagnetic radiation and its effects on life. And one of the first books I read was Paul Brodeur’s The Zapping of America (W.W. Norton, 1977).
Brodeur was a staff writer for the New Yorker who had purchased property on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, only to discover that 30 miles inland, across the bay from his future home, the Air Force was planning to construct the world’s most powerful radar station. It was going to scan the Atlantic Ocean as a key early warning element protecting us against the threat of sea-launched ballistic missiles from the Soviet Union.
Although it emitted an average power of only 145,000 watts, similar to some FM radio stations, it did not broadcast that energy from only a single antenna and it did not spread that energy out uniformly in all directions. Instead, it had 3,600 antennas arranged in two “phased arrays” of 1,800 antennas each.
The antennas in each array worked together as a unit to focus all their energy into a narrow, steerable beam. Each beam had an effective power of four billion watts, and the peak radiation level exceeded 0.3 milliwatt per square centimeter — the FCC’s safety limit today — at a distance of ten miles in front of the radar station. The facility was called PAVE PAWS (Precision Acquisition of Vehicle Entry Phased Array Warning System).
The Defense Department acknowledged in a 1975 report, quoted by Brodeur, that such systems “energize thousands of operational elements, are electronically steered at high search rates, and operate at a frequency range having a maximum whole body energy transfer to man and for which little bioeffects data exists.”
Shortly after I read this, I discovered firsthand what some of the bioeffects were. Attempting to finish my M.D. almost cost me my life. I collapsed one day with all the symptoms of a heart attack, whereupon I resigned from school and moved up to Mendocino to recover. There I was in the path of the other PAVE PAWS, the one that scanned the Pacific Ocean.
This PAVE PAWS was due east of Mendocino, in California’s Central Valley at Beale Air Force Base. And for nine months, every evening at precisely 7:00 p.m., no matter where I was or what I was doing, my chest would tighten and I would be unable to catch my breath for the next two hours. At precisely 9:00 p.m., my body would relax and I could breathe.
I lived in Mendocino from 1982 through 1984, and although I eventually recovered my health, I was always aware of an uncomfortable pressure in my chest whenever I was on the coast. I also lived in Mendocino from 1999 to 2004, and felt that same discomfort whenever I was there, and always felt it suddenly vanish when I drove out of range of PAVE PAWS, and suddenly return at the same point on my journey home.
5G is going to be at a much higher frequency range, which means the antennas are going to be much smaller — small enough to fit inside a smartphone — but like in PAVE PAWS they are going to work together in a phased array, and like in PAVE PAWS they are going to concentrate their energy in narrow, steerable high power beams.
The arrays are going to track each other, so that wherever you are, a beam from your smartphone is going to be aimed directly at the base station (cell tower), and a beam from the base station is going to be aimed directly at you. If you walk between someone’s phone and the base station, both beams will go right through your body. The beam from the tower will hit you even if you are standing near someone who is on a smartphone. And if you are in a crowd, multiple beams will overlap and be unavoidable.
At present, smartphones emit a maximum of about two watts, and usually operate at a power of less than a watt. That will still be true of 5G phones, however, inside a 5G phone there may be 8 tiny arrays of 8 tiny antennas each, all working together to track the nearest cell tower and aim a narrowly focused beam at it.
The FCC has recently adopted rules allowing the effective power of those beams to be as much as 20 watts. Now if a handheld smartphone sent a 20-watt beam through your body, it would far exceed the exposure limit set by the FCC. What the FCC is counting on is that there is going to be a metal shield between the display side of a 5G phone and the side with all the circuitry and antennas.
That shield will be there to protect the circuitry from electronic interference that would otherwise be caused by the display and make the phone useless. But it will also function to keep most of the radiation from traveling directly into your head or body, and therefore the FCC is allowing 5G phones to come to market that will have an effective radiated power that is ten times as high as for 4G phones.
What this will do to the user’s hands, the FCC does not say. And who is going to make sure that when you stick a phone in your pocket, the correct side is facing your body? And who is going to protect all the bystanders from radiation that is coming in their direction that is ten times as strong as it used to be?
And what about all the other 5G equipment that is going to be installed in all your computers, appliances, and automobiles? The FCC calls handheld phones “mobile stations.” Transmitters in cars are also “mobile stations.”
But the FCC has also issued rules for what it calls “transportable stations,” which it defines as transmitting equipment that is used in stationary locations and not in motion, such as local hubs for wireless broadband in your home or business. The FCC’s new rules allow an effective radiated power of 300 watts for such equipment.
The situation with cell towers is, if anything, worse. So far, the FCC has approved bands of frequencies around 24 GHz, 28 GHz, 38 GHz, 39 GHz, and 48 GHz for use in 5G stations, and is proposing to add 32 GHz, 42 GHz, 50 GHz, 71-76 GHz, 81-86 GHz, and above 95 GHz to the soup.
These have tiny wavelengths and require tiny antennas. At 48 GHz, an array of 1,024 antennas will measure only 4 inches square. And the maximum radiated power from a base station will probably not be that large — tens or hundreds of watts. But just as with PAVE PAWS, arrays containing such large numbers of antennas will be able to channel the energy into highly focused beams, and the effective radiated power will be enormous.
The rules adopted by the FCC allow a 5G base station operating in the millimeter range to emit an effective radiated power of up to 30,000 watts per 100 MHz of spectrum. And when you consider that some of the frequency bands the FCC has made available will allow telecom companies to buy up to 3 GHz of contiguous spectrum at auction, they will legally be allowed to emit an effective radiated power of up to 900,000 watts if they own that much spectrum.
The base stations emitting power like that will be located on the sidewalk. They will be small rectangular structures mounted on top of utility poles.
The reason the companies want so much power is because millimeter waves are easily blocked by objects and walls and require tremendous power to penetrate inside buildings and communicate with all the devices that we own that are going to part of the Internet of Things.
The reason such tiny wavelengths are required is because of the need for an enormous amount of bandwidth — a hundred times as much bandwidth as we formerly used — in order to have smart homes, smart businesses, smart cars, and smart cities — i.e. in order to connect so many of our possessions, big and small, to the Internet, and make them do everything we want them to do as fast as we want them to do it.
The higher the frequency, the greater the bandwidth — but the smaller the waves. Base stations have to be very close together — 100 meters apart in cities — and they have to blast out their signals in order to get them inside homes and buildings. And the only way to do this economically is with phased arrays and focused beams that are aimed directly at their targets.
What happens to birds that fly through the beams, the FCC does not say. And what happens to utility workers who climb utility poles and work next to these structures everyday? A 30,000-watt beam will cook an egg — or an eye — at a distance of a few feet.
The power from a base station will be distributed among as many devices as are connected at the same time. When a lot of people are using their phones simultaneously, everyone’s phone will slow down but the amount of radiation in each beam will be less. When you are the only person using your phone — for example, late at night — your data speed will be blisteringly fast but most of the radiation from the cell tower will be aimed at you.
Deep Penetration into the Body
Another important fact about radiation from phased array antennas is this: it penetrates much deeper into the human body and the assumptions that the FCC’s exposure limits are based on do not apply.
This was brought to everyone’s attention by Dr. Richard Albanese of Brooks Air Force Base in connection with PAVE PAWS and was reported on in Microwave News in 2002. When an ordinary electromagnetic field enters the body, it causes charges to move and currents to flow.
But when extremely short electromagnetic pulses enter the body, something else happens: the moving charges themselves become little antennas that re-radiate the electromagnetic field and send it deeper into the body.
These re-radiated waves are called Brillouin precursors. They become significant when either the power or the phase of the waves changes rapidly enough. 5G will probably satisfy both requirements. This means that the reassurance we are being given — that these millimeter waves are too short to penetrate far into the body — is not true.
In the United States, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile are all competing to have 5G towers, phones, and other devices commercially available as early as the end of 2018. AT&T already has experimental licenses and has been testing 5G-type base stations and user equipment at millimeter wave frequencies in Middletown, New Jersey; Waco, Austin, Dallas, Plano, and Grapevine, Texas; Kalamazoo, Michigan; and South Bend, Indiana. Verizon has experimental licenses and has been conducting trials in Houston, Euless, and Cypress, Texas; South Plainfield and Bernardsville, New Jersey; Arlington, Chantilly, Falls Church, and Bailey’s Crossroads, Virginia; Washington, DC; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Brockton and Natick, Massachusetts; Atlanta; and Sacramento.
Sprint has experimental licenses in Bridgewater, New Brunswick, and South Plainfield, New Jersey; and San Diego. T-Mobile has experimental licenses in Bellevue and Bothell, Washington; and San Francisco.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.