Medical ethicist says 5G should be studied further before roll-out

What we don’t know about 5G could kill us: Maltese expert raises alarm on potential hazards

Massive speeds: a speed test of Verizon’s 5G network in Chicago
Massive speeds: a speed test of Verizon’s 5G network in Chicago

The chair of Malta’s national health ethics committee is the sole Maltese scientist amongst the 42 countries’ representatives who have signed the 5G Appeal, an “urgent call” for a moratorium on the powerful 5G technology.

The scientists want to suspend the deployment of 5G data roll-outs, until its potential hazards are investigated by scientists independent from the industry.

The man who signed the document is Prof. Pierre Mallia, chairperson of the National Health Ethics Committee and lecturer at the University of Malta’s school of medicine.

He warns that until such time as someone funds enough studies for ample evidence into the dangers of 5G, “many people may die”.

“This issue came up under a Nationalist administration [when] a parliamentary social affairs committee was set up to hear grievances from people complaining about mobile masts being installed close to their home, reporting severe symptoms and headaches,” Prof. Mallia told MaltaToday, speaking of the time when Malta was still in the phase of rolling out 3G data for mobile phone technology.

Now, two generations of mobile communications later, Malta is getting ready to deploy 5G communications, with Maltese company Melita already providing a 5G-ready mobile network with Ericsson; and Chinese tech giant Huawei also planning to launch 5G connectivity in Malta.

Prof. Pierre Mallia: ‘When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken’
Prof. Pierre Mallia: ‘When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken’

The 5G Appeal, prepared in 2017 by scientists and doctors from around the world, demands that the roll-out of 5G technology stop until potential hazards to human health and the environment have been fully and independently investigated.

The Appeal has been signed by a total of 244 researchers, professors, scientists and medical specialists from 42 countries.

“Studies had been showing, including one published on the Lancet, that mobile telecommunication masts generate radiation which might cause brain cancer especially in children,” Prof. Mallia said.

But Prof. Mallia lamented the fact that nothing was ever done to study the hazards of 3G implementation at the time of that roll-out.

“As an ethicist I spoke and wrote about the precautionary principle: when an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.

“The experiences of cigarettes and asbestos, for example, have shown that until such time as someone funds enough studies for ample evidence, many people die. Nevertheless, many doctors had known about the effects of cigarettes and asbestos for a long time and no one listened. It seems that it is only when something becomes politically important that things start moving and action is taken,” Mallia said.

Earlier this year, the city of Brussels halted all 5G testing due to a breach of the Belgian radiation standard of 9V per metre. So far, Malta has been unyielding in the face of prospective hazards – the Malta Communications Authority said that it would only investigate 5G testing if it received any direction from the Environmental Health Authority. The latter has, so far, taken its time.

The European Parliament has also published an in-depth analysis on 5G deployment in the EU which admitted that electromagnetic radiation exposure was still a tentative area of discovery. “One aspect, for example, that is not well understood today is the unpredictable propagation patterns that could result in unacceptable levels of human exposure to electromagnetic radiation,” the study reads.

The use of 5G – the fifth generation of wireless technology – will be transformative for society, providing up to 100 times faster connections than 4G networks. Most importantly, 5G will enable new critical infrastructure services that will power autonomous vehicles and transportation, and automated manufacturing.

The 5G Appeal calls for studies to be funded and conducted to validate or deny the risk of the latest generation of mobile technology.
Prof. Mallia believes that certain educated warnings concerning mobile phones are red flags that should legitimately encourage serious research into the technology.

“The fact that we are warned not to put a mobile phone close to one’s heart (in your breast pocket), or to switch off routers in the night if they are close to your bed shows that this is a reality. Only time will tell whether seeing all these children with mobiles in their hands at home will see an increase in pathology. Some are more sensitive to this radiation but damage is not limited only to them,” he said, adding that ultimately the question is whether anyone was willing to have mobile masts being erected outside one’s bedroom.

Research carried out has linked 5G millimetre wavelengths to heart problems, birth defects, decreased antibiotic sensitivity, cataracts, and immune system suppression.

The Santa Clara Medical Association’s The Bulletin argues that with cellphone use already linked to cancer, reproductive issues and numerous other negative health effects, the explosive increase in signals that 5G will bring about is a serious concern.

5G would likely mean a series of antennas posted not just in cities but along power lines. “I remember local companies offering €1,000 to people to install masts on their roof without consulting neighbours,” Prof. Mallia said of Malta’s 3G revolution in 2006. “Industry can be very difficult to control to the extent that it has a lot of weight on politics. This is a worldwide concern and not only local.”

The 5G Appeal was presented to Karmenu Vella, the EU Commissioner of the Environment, last May. The signatories told the EU they would consider litigation in all competent courts if the moratorium is not enforced.

“This issue is too urgent and the threat to all living organisms on this planet too great for the appeal to be ignored and delegated to subordinates.”