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5G technology raises health concerns

When Gibtelecom announced that 5G technology was coming to Gibraltar, some groups and individuals expressed concern about its potential impact on health.

The Environmental Safety Group was among those who urged the Gibraltar Government to halt the plans until there was further proof that 5G is safe.

“The ESG has been witnessing the rise of 5G technology in the international public media with growing concern,” said its statement.

“Officials from three European countries, as well as a USA State, have called for bans and further research to better understand the fears linked to 5G, and its impact on the natural world and on public health.”

“The ESG calls on Gibraltar to join Poland, Switzerland, Brussels and Louisiana, in adopting a similar halt of the 5G rollout until further and robust proof of its safety is attained from preferably a non-industry source,” the statement added.

The rollout of 5G technology has raised similar concerns in many countries around the world, some of which have taken steps to slow down its implementation until more is known about any potential adverse effects.

In 2011 The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified cellular radio waves as a possible carcinogen in 2011 and is undertaking a “high priority” study seeking a more definitive answer”, not just about 5G but about mobile phones in general.

"It is important that additional research be conducted into the long-term, heavy use of mobile phones,” said IARC Director Christopher Wild.

Locally some residents are concerned that people are not aware of the potential impact on their health from 5G, particularly given that this technology operates at a higher frequency than other systems.

They fear that could mean greater exposure to radiation, although there is no long-term scientific evidence to support this as yet.

During yesterday’s launch, the CEO of Gibtelecom, Noel Burrows, played down the concerns and said the technology will not harm people, a position that was echoed by the Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo.

“All of the research in the industry, all of the research by the networks, all of the research from the suppliers says there is nothing to be concerned about,” said Mr Burrows.

He confirmed that this research was carried out by independent bodies.

Interjecting Mr Picardo said: “One of the things we have seen since the digital revolution began is that some people have been trying to point us in the direction of all the reasons why we should not do the next step in the revolution in digital.”

“Noel is absolutely right. If the Government, which is a major shareholder in Gibtelecom, thought that this was going to be bad for the population of Gibraltar, we would not be pursuing it.”

“In the time I have been in Government, life expectancy in Gibraltar has gone up, as it has all around the world, despite the fact that Gibtelecom rolled out something very dastardly called 4G that was going to kill us and is now going to roll out something called 5G that is also we are told is going to kill us by some people,” he added.

Based on his experiences from launching 5G in other countries and facing any hesitancy to the technology that may have risen on the back of health concerns, Mr López said: “Health is the most important thing.”

“We are here to make things better for the population not the other way around.”

“That concern has been in all the countries, absolutely all before launch, so it is normal the people is questioning about it. Secondly the way to explain this is with transparency, just looking at reports, looking at information giving them the comfort that this has been tested by the international health agencies completely neutral monitoring everything.”

He said the technology would not have been launched until every last detail was clarified and certified, he added.

“We can certify to any citizens that this is a secure technology,” said Mr López.

Mr Burrows confirmed that no one locally had expressed concerns to the company regarding 5G or other generational mobile technology.

Some people suffer from electric hypersensitivity and are concerned about the potential impact on their health of 5G technology, which operates at higher frequencies.

“But, to be fair to the community we have only just launched this and we need to reach out to people who are concerned and have those conversations with them,” he said.

“If there are certain afflictions, we need to speak to the industry and make sure what their recommendation is and make sure we understand if there are issues and we believe there isn’t.”

“I think what the Chief Minister said and what we need to do is we need to speak to those people who have complaints.”

“A big chunk we will be able to manage to convince that everything is fine and there will be a chunk also who may not choose to change their mind and that is up to them,” he added.

Pic by Eyleen Gomez