We’re in the process of updating this website to reflect the wider digital connectivity programme and will be adding more details as the work develops.
Is 5G likely to have a negative effect on public health?
A considerable amount of research has been carried out on radio waves and we anticipate no negative effects on public health.
Public Health England’s (PHE’s) Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards (CRCE) takes the lead on public health matters associated with radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, or radio waves, used in telecommunications.
Central to PHE advice is that exposures to radio waves should comply with the guidelines published by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). ICNIRP is formally recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Some 5G technology will use similar frequencies to existing communications systems. Other 5G technology will work at higher frequencies, where the main change would be less penetration of radio waves through materials, for example walls.
While a small increase in overall exposure to radio waves is possible when 5G is added to the existing network, the overall exposure is expected to remain low and well within the ICNIRP guidelines.
ICNIRP guidelines apply up to 300 GHz, well beyond the maximum (few tens of GHz) frequencies under discussion for 5G.
A summary of PHE advice on radio waves can be accessed in the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/electromagnetic-fields#radio-waves
PHE is committed to monitoring the evidence applicable to this and other radio technologies, and to revising its advice, should that be necessary.