Chicago Tribune: Varshney speaks on health concerns surrounding 5G millimeter waves

ECE News

5/2/2019 12:26:27 PM

Story Highlights

Lav R. Varshney
Lav R. Varshney
5G is the fifth generation of wireless technology that promises fast download speeds and provides the foundation for advancements in technology like self-driving cars. The use of millimeter waves in 5G allows for faster data transfer but since they do not travel through buildings, trees, and rain like previous generations, wireless companies must install additional equipment. The construction of this equipment has brought about health concerns which ECE ILLINOIS Assistant Professor Lav R Varshney aims to quell.

According to an article from the Chicago Tribune, the installation of equipment that includes "new base stations and antennas on parking garages, or equipment on light poles that fill gaps for cellular coverage" has stirred up controversy in local communities. The federal government has safety rules in place for wireless companies to limit human exposure to radio waves and wireless industry association CTIA states that exposure to 5G infrastructure is comparable to Bluetooth devices and baby monitors and that there is no scientific evidence of harmful health effects. 

However, many people are still worried about the untested nature of 5G and the extensiveness of its infrastructure. Although not much is known about long-term health effects of the 5G millimeter waves, there is some research from the University of California at Berkeley indicating that short-term exposure could be problematic.

Varshney is not too worried about these millimeter waves. "This isn't the first time people will come into contact with millimeter waves: They're also used in airport body scanners," said Varshney in an interview with the Chicago Tribune.

"When cars first started replacing horse-drawn carriages, people were afraid of what the health impacts of traveling at high speeds would be. There has always been an occurrence of this fear."


Check out more about this story from the Chicago Tribune.

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