Health Implications of 4G and 5G Telecom Systems

by AgostinoDi Ciaulaab, Division of Internal Medicine, Hospital of Bisceglie (ASL BAT), Bisceglie, Italy, International Society of Doctors for Environment (ISDE), Arezzo, Italy | Adapted from this International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health Abstract


  • RF-EMF and RF-EMR exposure is rising and health effects of are under investigation.
  • Both oncologic and non-cancerous chronic effects have been reported.
  • 5G networks could have health effects and will use MMW, which has been scarcely studied.
  • Adequate knowledge of RF-EMF and RF-EMR biological effects is needed in clinical practice.
  • Underrating the problem could lead to a further rise in noncommunicable diseases.


The spread of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) and radiation (RF-EMR) is rising and health effects are under investigation. RF-EMF and RF-EMR promote oxidative stress, a condition involved in cancer onset, in several acute and chronic diseases and in vascular homeostasis. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified RF-EMF in 2011 as Group 2B “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. More recent studies suggest reproductive, metabolic and neurologic effects of RF-EMF and RF-EMR, which are also able to alter bacterial antibiotic resistance.

In this evolving scenario, although the biological effects of 5G communication systems are scarcely investigated, an international action plan for the development of 5G networks has started, with a forthcoming increment in devices and density of both 4G and 5G Close Proximity Microwave Radiation Antenna – Wireless Telecommunications Facilities (CPMRA-WTFs), aka "Small Cells", which are not small at all, when one considers the power output of the from the deployed grid.

Preliminary observations show that exposures to RF-EMR from millimeter waves (MMW) are the following:

  • increase skin temperature,
  • alter gene expression,
  • promote cellular proliferation
  • promote synthesis of proteins linked with oxidative stress, inflammatory and metabolic processes
  • generate ocular damages,
  • affect neuro-muscular dynamics.

Available findings seem sufficient to demonstrate the existence of biomedical effects, to invoke the precautionary principle, to define exposed subjects as vulnerable and to revise existing RF-EMF and RF-EMR exposure limits. An adequate knowledge of pathophysiological mechanisms linking RF-EMF and RF-EMR exposures to health outcomes should be useful in the current clinical practice, particularly in considering the evidences pointing to extrinsic factors as heavy contributors to cancer and to the progressive epidemiological growth of noncommunicable diseases.