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Investigation into health effects of 5G called for

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A PETITION calling for a full investigation into any potential health effects caused by a 5G wireless network before it is set up in the Island has been launched.

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Started by Andrew Hurst last month, the petition has gathered almost 300 signatures.

‘There have been numerous reports of health issues relating to such a high-frequency network,’ it reads. ‘I would like the citizens of Jersey to have a say as to whether this project should go ahead.’

Mr Hurst, who has worked in IT for 20 years, said his main reason for launching the petition was ‘to raise awareness that the 5G project was under way and to give the people of Jersey a chance to have a say in the decision to roll it out.’

In November, Jersey Telecom announced it was partnering with Chinese company ZTE to create a new 5G mobile network, saying the aim was to launch a test service during 2019.

‘Whilst the 5G standard is not complete yet, JT aims to roll out incremental improvements as standards solidify and expects to offer a Channel Island-wide service by 2021,’ JT said in a press release.

While 5G promises exponentially faster data speeds for all and the potential to revolutionise aspects of medicine and industry, its critics say not enough testing has been done on the effects it could have on human health or wildlife.

‘Little in the way of safety testing has been done,’ Mr Hurst said. ‘Jersey residents have not been given a say as to whether they want this technology in their Island.’

He is not alone in his concerns.

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Over 180 scientists from 36 countries have signed an appeal to the EU calling for a moratorium on the roll-out ‘until potential hazards for human health and the environment have been fully investigated by scientists independent from industry’.

While previous networks have used frequencies between 700 MHz and 6 GHz, the 5G network will operate on frequencies between 28 and 100 GHz and needs more booster towers to support it, which will need to be located closer together than previous masts.

The proliferation of towers has raised fears that people and animals will be more exposed to radiation, without the possible health effects being effectively studied.

Mr Hurst said there were also concerns about potential damage to trees and vegetation as new masts are erected to support the technology. He said he had spoken to other IT professionals who shared his concerns and had already supported the petition.

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They also fear that the technology is being quietly rolled out without consultation, he said, adding: ‘I started researching what was happening in Jersey and could find little news about it.’

A Facebook group for those concerned about the impacts of moving to 5G has also been launched, ‘5G Jersey – Information, Questions and Concerns’ has 136 members.

Petitions against 5G have sprung up around the world asking for more research to be undertaken before governments commit to the new networks. Over 54,000 people have called for the German government to place plans to award a 5G contract there on hold and other petitions are active in South Korea, Finland, various regions of the United States and the UK.

According to JT’s press release, 5G will enable download speeds up to ten times faster than today’s speeds and the ability to connect many more devices and support the Internet of Things. JT forecast that, in addition to thousands of IoT devices, by 2023 10% of Islanders will have 5G-enabled devices.

Tania Targett

By Tania Targett
Journalist

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