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Proponents of 5G, many of whom are in industry and politics, proclaim that if the WHO/ICNIRP EMF (electromagnetic field) exposure limits(1) are followed, there are no health effects to worry about. How were these boundaries established? It is necessary to go back to the 1980s when experiments were conducted to evaluate the  » immediate thermal effect  » of microwaves (MO) and radio frequencies (RF)(2) on living beings, the same one used in the well-known oven. It is the observation of the behavior of laboratory rats exposed to these radiations that was used as a criterion and to calculate these limits, which were thus conceived only to protect us from the heating and the burns caused by these waves.

To be satisfied with these limits is to ignore decades of scientific research showing the biological and health effects of microwaves, at levels far below those at which thermal effects are observed. This should come as no surprise when you consider that the billions of cells that make up the human body are the field of microcurrents of electrons, protons (H+ hydrogen ions) and other ions that are vital to its proper functioning. These currents are obviously disturbed by the electric and magnetic fields of the waves that surround us, hence the effects highlighted by thousands of studies of all types published in the best scientific journals with reading committees: studies in vitro on cells cultivated in the laboratory, studies in vivo laboratory animal studies, clinical volunteer studies and epidemiological studies (see for example the BioInitiative report discussed below). The list of certain or probable consequences is chilling: various cancers and tumors (brain, acoustic nerve, salivary glands, breast…), childhood leukemia, Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, autism, reduction of sperm quality, cataracts, opening of the blood-brain barrier, reduction of melatonin production, sleep disorders, depression, suicide, electrohypersensitivity (EHS), etc.

But the worst is undoubtedly the demonstrated impact on DNA and the irreversible consequences for future generations with the prospect of a diminished humanity(3). Insurance companies are not wrong: none of them insure the risk of artificial EMFs, nor do cell phone and other smartphone manufacturers, who recommend keeping these devices at a certain distance from the body, thus protecting themselves from lawsuits that could be filed against them.

To be satisfied with the limits of the ICNIRP is to ignore the calls of scientists and doctors from all countries that have been multiplying for 20 years. One of the first of these was the Freiburg Appeal of 2002 signed by more than 1,000 physicians calling for, among other things,  » massive reductions in limit values, emission powers and radio wave loads ‚ » an appeal that was renewed in 2012(www.freiburger-appell-2012.info). By October 15, 2019, 252 EMC specialists from 43 different countries had signed an appeal to the UN, WHO, and EU, an appeal initiated in 2015. These scientists, all of whom have published peer-reviewed research on the biological and health effects of non-ionizing EMFs (RF), are calling for stricter exposure limits and asking that the potential biological impacts of 4G and 5G telecommunication technologies on plants, animals, and humans be re-examined ( www.emfscientist.org ).

The limits recommended by these experts in terms of prevention for RF are very much lower than those of the ICNIRP, by a factor of about 100,000, and thus also than those currently in force in Brussels (by a factor of 2,000). The authors of the BioInitiative report recommend a limit on the order of 5μW/m² (mi-crowatt/m² or 0.04V/m) for  » cumulative  » RF exposure outside the home. For 2G, 3G and 4G, the European Academy of Environmental Medicine (EUROPAEM) recommends 100μW/m2 (0.2V/m), but 10 times less during sleep and 100 times less for children (1μW/m2, or 0.02V/m). These limits may seem low, but it is less so when one considers that the values retained by the ICNIRP represent a billion billion times the level of natural EMF at these frequencies; moreover, the EMF used for telephony are modulated and pulsed, which does not exist in nature and represents an important component of their toxicity.

The new 5G phone standard uses the frequencies of previous standards, but will take a leap into the unknown by additionally using high-energy millimeter waves, which until now have mostly been used only by the weapons industry and weather satellites. As these waves are strongly attenuated by physical obstacles (walls, leaves, rain…), 5G will require the placement of a large number of antennas emitting at a high power level, about one every 100 meters, thus multiplying the probability of strong exposures, a probability further reinforced by the proliferation of connected objects, up to 1 million per km² (Internet of Things). Despite what science tells us about the biological and health effects of 2G and 3G, disregarding the precautionary principle, industry, the EU and a significant part of the political world are pushing for the immediate and indiscriminate installation of 5G, while almost no biomedical research has been devoted to it.

The speeches heard during the hearings of the Committee on the Economy in December 2019 in the Belgian Federal Parliament were mostly based on the denial of the health risk, which was based on the opinion of the ICNIRP, including in the head of Test Achats , which seems to have forgotten that its subscribers’ most valuable asset is their health, not the connected objects they should be consuming en masse. The ICNIRP is a private institution under German law which functions like a closed club, which does not seem to bother the WHO and all the authorities which refer to it: its members decide alone who can enter it and only those who defend the idea that if there are no thermal effects, there can be no health consequences. It does not apply any rules of transparency or independence, since on the contrary most of its members are known for their present or past links with the telecom industry (see the excellent investigation byInvestigate Europe journalists: www.investigate-europe.eu/publications/how-much-is-safe/).

As an example, let’s mention Bernard Veyret (now retired) and his typical profile of a researcher and scientist close to industry, in charge of giving advice in terms of public health: member of the ICNIRP, member of the French Society of Radiation Protection (SFRP, the French equivalent of the ICNIRP), director of a laboratory for EMF studies in France financed by Bouygues Telecom and member of the Scientific Council of Bouygues Telecom See an instructive interview of this eminent character : electrosmog.grappe.be/doc/lobby/ICNIRP/ (10 minutes).

The above section of this article was submitted to the editors of Datanews and the Vif for publication in reaction to a rather abstruse opinion(4) by Christian Vanhuffel, administrator of FITCE.be(5) (this opinion published in Datanews on December 27, 2019 was intended primarily as an ode to the ICNIRP theses). After it was accepted at first, after much prevarication, I finally received a refusal expressed in these terms by Kristof Van Der Stadt (email of February 28, 2020 with copy for other journalists: Vincent Genot, Marie Gathon, Pieterjan Vanleemputten, Michel X, Els Bellens and Kevin Vander Auwera): » I must make a correction here. In the meantime, we have reviewed the entire opinion and finally decided not to publish it in this form, because after careful consideration, it does not meet the qualitative standards we advocate… What we propose to do, therefore, is to summarize your view and add it to the interview with a radiation expert that we will publish one of these days « . Needless to say, the summary in question consisted of two empty sentences. On the other hand, the expert in question was none other than Eric van Rongen, the president of the ICNIRP, no doubt considering that one is never better served than by oneself(6). I never got a response to my request for an explanation of these  » quality standards « .

This unwavering support for the 5Globby and the ICNIRP standards (endorsed by the WHO) is not an isolated case in the Belgian media, which regularly pass off the ICNIRP as an independent body, along with the idea that artificial EMFs pose no threat to our health. Two examples among others: La Libre Belgique of April 30 published an article entitled  » 5G: le « vrai du faux « ou comment sortir de la guerre de tranchées « , in which it was stated that  » [l’ICNIRP] is an independent organization that provides scientific opinions and advice « . These included the opinion that  » the research conducted so far shows that the radiation emitted by 5G was harmless to health  » and to quote Test Achats , which seems to have become the reference (sic) in the field, and which would have  » produced a clear and complete dossier on the subject  » (Test Achats/Santé headlined  » 5G Network — Don’t Panic  » and argued that  » the feeling of anxiety [est] unjustified because there is no convincing scientific evidence that waves are harmful  »). Reading the Test Purchases files on 5G is regularly recommended, including by the BIPT (Belgian Institute of Postal Services and Telecommunications) in its responses to requests for information on 5G. In  » Threats to 5G: associations mention health risks « , published by Trends-Tendances on April 30, the journalist Gilles Quoistiaux says the same thing, but even worse, he makes a scurrilous amalgam between citizen action (that of the collective stop5G. be), conspiracy theory and acts of vandalism on cell phone antennas.


After this interlude on the state of the Belgian media, let’s get down to some very serious stuff: what biomedical science tells us about the waves around us, in particular their effects on the immune system. The function of the immune system is to identify and eliminate foreign agents (viruses and other pests) and abnormal cells (such as cancer) before they affect our health. In short, it is one of the essential elements of defense of the body against aggressions that allow us to remain in good health(7).

It should not escape anyone that, for any individual, a healthy immune system is essential to react in the best possible way in case of contamination by the current coronavirus SARS-CoV‑2(8) This is all the more important in countries like Belgium and France where the current governments have not been able to put in place an effective health policy to limit the spread of the pandemic. Collectively, this is also a factor to be considered in terms of the spread of the pandemic and the risk of overloading or saturating the health care system. On the other hand, a fully functional immune system, because of its memory and learning capacity, should allow for better resistance to the 2nd and 3rd potential waves of a pandemic, both individually and collectively. It is therefore useful to ask this question: to what extent do environmental factors, and in particular electromagnetic pollution, affect the immune system?

Section 8 of the 2012 BioInitiative Report devotes over 70 pages to the effects of EMFs on the immune system based on over 100 scientific studies on the subject(9). Before proceeding, it is useful to introduce this report and its authors in more detail. This 1,500-page report, subtitled  » The Case for Biological Effects-Based Low-Level Radiation Protection Standards The report, « EMF and the Environment », is the work of 29 independent scientists from 10 countries, all experts in the field (21 of them have one or more doctorates and 10 have one or more medical qualifications) and it presents a state of knowledge of the effect of EMF on humans and living organisms, based on several thousand scientific studies (EBF and RF)(10). Among the authors is Martin Blank, Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry (Columbia University) and Ph.D. in Colloid Science (University of Cambridge), who has studied the health effects of EMF for over 30 years. And Paul Héroux, the current Director of the Occupational Health Program at the Faculty of Medicine of McGill University in Montreal, has a rare triple expertise in the physical sciences, electrical engineering and health sciences(11).

The first part of section 8 of the BioInitiative Report includes the conclusions of an article by Olle Johansson(12), professor at the Department of Neuroscience at the Karolinska Institute (Stockholm), which reviews a small number of scientific studies on the effects of EMF on the immune system. In his introduction, he begins by asking a question that many people ask or are asking themselves:  » Is biology compatible with ever-increasing EMF levels? Or, to put it in simpler terms: can we, as human beings, survive this plethora of radiation? Are we designed for a lifetime of exposure to these EMFs, 24 hours a day? Are we immune to these signals or are we in fact gambling with the future of our planet by putting all forms of life on Earth at stake? The answer seems to be: no, we are not designed for such EMF exposure loads. We are not immune. We are playing with our future « . He continues on the immune system:  » Very often it is said that the greatest threat from EMF exposure is cancer. However, this is not the scariest scenario. (…) Or, as this article indicates, imagine that our immune system, which tries to cope with the ever-increasing electromagnetic signals, can no longer do so! Is the immune system designed to deal with « allergens » that were previously non-existent but are now present in large numbers? Could it be that our immune system by extraordinary in the process of evolution has this capacity? Is this likely, even at a minimum? Of course not « .

The studies considered report significant immunological changes upon exposure to artificial EMF levels, often at low or very low (i.e., non-thermal) levels, in both humans and animals, with measurable physiological changes such as:

  • morphological alteration of immune cells;
  • increased mast cells (indication of an allergic response);
  • increased mast cell degranulation;
  • a change in the viability of lymphocytes;
  • a decrease in the number of NK cells;
  • a decrease in the number of T lymphocytes(13).

It is therefore possible that continuous exposure to EMFs can lead to immune system dysfunction, chronic allergic reactions, inflammatory reactions and ultimately to deterioration of health. On the other hand, the involvement of the immune system is evident in various biological alterations present in people with electrohypersensitivity or electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS)(14).

Of particular interest is Part 2 of Section 8 of the BioInitiative report, page 458, which discusses studies conducted in 1971 and subsequent years in the former USSR, especially at the Kiev Institute of Public Health, studies that have remained unknown to the rest of the world, but which have resulted in the USSR adopting standards based on biological effects, so that EMF intensity limits are significantly lower there than in the United States and Western Europe. This being said, at the same time, in the United States and under the aegis of the army mainly, other types of studies had been carried out which should also have led to more rigorous standards, but the pressure and the interests of the military-industrial complex meant that only the thermal effect was finally taken into account to « protect » the public.

The general conclusion of the studies conducted in Kiev from 1971 to 1975 was that prolonged exposure to low-intensity RF-EMCs leads to autoallergic reactions. In one of these studies, guinea pigs, rats and rabbits exposed 7 hours a day for 30 days to an EMF of 50μW/cm² at 2.45 GHz had shown a maximum autoimmune response 15 days after the end of the exposure period (for information, the ICNIRP standard at this frequency is 987μW/cm²). Another important finding was the existence of a dose-response relationship in terms of the biological effects of RF-EMFs on the immune system, an essential criterion in demonstrating the effect of an agent in pharmacology.

More recently, other studies have reinforced the finding of the harmful effect of EMFs on the immune system, such as the one by El-Gohary and Said published in 2016 in the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology(15). The study investigated the effect of EMF from a cell phone on the immune system in rats and the possible protective role of vitamin D. After exposure to EMF for 1 hour per day for 1 month, there was a significant decrease in the levels of immunoglobulins (proteins with antibody function), total leukocytes, lymphocytes and other immunocompetent cells, with a reduction in effect when vitamin D was supplemented.

As for the other facets of the biological and health effects of EMFs (damage to DNA and the human genome, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, etc., see above), the ICNIRP and the WHO voluntarily ignore most of the studies carried out on the effect of EMFs on the immune system and stick to standards based on the thermal effect, which in no way protect the population.

New biologically based standards that actually protect humans and other living species must be established, which probably means that in many contexts the protective limit will have to be set at zero EMF intensity.

Studies on the biological effects of 5G and in particular on its use of millimeter waves are almost non-existent. Its deployment is nevertheless afflicted with a certainty, denied by some despite the evidence: it will be accompanied by an undeniable growth of electromagnetic pollution, as evidenced by the insistent demand of operators(16) to increase the protection limit in Brussels from 6V/m to 14.5V/m initially, and to 41.2V/m thereafter. If 5G is deployed, this growth in pollution will then continue through the proliferation of connected objects that is one of the ultimate goals of 5G, and through the 50,000 satellites in the pipeline, some of which have already been launched.

Could it be that, miraculously, 5G has no biological and health effects on living beings, unlike previous generations of cell phone standards? Only the die-hard 5G lobbyists will answer in the affirmative, out of cynicism, greed or stupidity.

Francis Leboutte, civil engineer, founding member of the stop5G.becollective

Notes et références
  1. L’OMS s’appuie sur les recommandations de l’ICNIRP (Commission internationale sur la protection des radiations non ionisantes). La limite de densité de puissance est de 4,5W/m2 (watt/mètre carré) pour une onde dont la fréquence est de 900 MHz (mégahertz), soit 41V/m (volt/mètre) pour l’intensité de son champ électrique. Les limites d’exposition de l’OMS varient de 2 à 10W/m2 (de 27 à 61V/m) selon la fréquence.
  2. Les micro-ondes (MO) constituent le sous-ensemble des ondes de radiofréquences (RF) dont la fréquence va de 300 MHz (mégahertz) à 300 GHz (gigahertz), les RF allant de 20 kHz à 300 GHz (ce qui, pour les MO, correspond à des longueurs d’onde allant de 1 mètre à 1 millimètre). Elles sont utilisées pour la téléphonie mobile de 700 MHz à 2,6 GHz, le wifi (2,4 et 5 GHz), le four à micro-ondes (2,45 GHz), etc. À côté des CEM-RF, on distingue aussi les champs électromagnétiques d’extrême basse fréquence (EBF) comme ceux générés par le courant électrique domestique (50 Hz). Pour les EBF, le champ électrique (CE) et le champ magnétique (CM) sont souvent considérés indépendamment. La définition de l’intervalle de fréquences dites « extrêmement basses » varie selon le domaine, voire selon les auteurs. Dans le domaine de la santé, il fait le plus souvent référence au courant domestique à 50 ou 60 Hz et, en général, à l’intervalle de 1 à 300 Hz.
  3. Dans les années 1980 déjà, des chercheurs de la FDA (Food and Drug Administration, USA) avaient publié des documents sur l’absorption des MO par l’ADN et l’apparition de tumeurs du cerveau lors d’expériences sur des animaux de laboratoire (Mays Swicord, Jose-Louis Sagripanti). Entre 1994 et 1998, les études des professeurs Lai et Singh à l’Université de Washington ont montré la rupture des brins de l’ADN cellulaire de rats de laboratoire sous l’effet des MO à des niveaux inférieurs aux recommandations de l’ICNIRP. Depuis, d’autres études ont confirmé ces résultats. En 2009, une métaétude de Hugo Ruediger, professeur à l’Université de ue les CEM (RF) peuvent modifier le matériel génétique des cellules exposées.
  4. Article du 27 décembre 2019 : datanews.levif.be/ict/actualite/groen-et- ecolo-sont-selectivement-aveugles-aux-preuves-scientifiques/article-opinion-1233039.html
  5. Extrait de leur site, fitce.be : « FITCE.be is the forum for digital professionals to exchange views and acquire insight in new developments and challenges related to technical, regulatory, societal and economical aspects of ICT & Media technologies and services ».
  6. Article du 2 mars, 5G : Doit-on se faire du souci à propos du rayonnement?, datanews.levif.be/ict/actualite/5g-doit-on-se-faire-du-souci-a-propos-du- rayonnement/article-longread-1258659.html
  7. Voir cette vidéo « Your Immune System under a microscope » de 4 minutes conseillée par Magda Havas, experte de l’impact des CEM sur la santé et professeur à la Trent University : electrosmog.grappe.be/doc/sc/immun/
  8. Covid-19 : abréviation de « coronavirus infectious disease 2019 », la maladie à coronavirus 2019. SARS-CoV‑2 (abréviation de Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 ») ou SRAS-CoV‑2 (en français) est le nom du virus.
  9. La section 8 du rapport, page 458, « Evidence for Effects on the Immune System ». Le rapport complet est disponible sur bioinitiative.org ainsi que sur electrosmog.grappe.be/doc/BIR/. Le collectif stop5G.be vient de finaliser une traduction en français du résumé pour le public du rapport (voir le lien ci-dessus ou le site du collectif, www.stop5G.be).
  10. Voir la note 2.
  11. Lire la préface de Paul Héroux au livre de Martin Blank, Ces ondes qui nous entourent : stop5g.be/fr/#info. Ce livre est une impressionnante mais lisible compilation d’études scientifiques sur les effets des CEM et aussi une enquête sur l’influence de la finance sur le débat scientifique
  12. Disturbance of the immune system by electromagnetic fields — A potentially underlying cause for cellular damage and tissue repair reduction which could lead to disease and impairment. Pathophysiology 16 (2009). Disponible dans electrosmog.grappe.be/doc/sc/immun/
  13. Le mastocyte est un type de globule blanc (leucocyte) et est donc un constituant du système immunitaire, à côté d’autres comme les lymphocytes, les cellules NK (Natural Killer), etc. Au contact d’un allergène, il peut libérer des médiateurs de l’inflammation comme l’histamine (par dégranulation), déclenchant ainsi une réaction allergique.
  14. En Suède, l’EHS est une maladie reconnue comme un handicap fonctionnel ; elle est incluse dans la liste des maladies professionnelles des autres pays nordiques. Les symptômes sont multiples, varient d’un individu à l’autre, de même que leur intensité (les plus atteints étant dans l’incapacité de travailler et obligés de s’isoler dans des endroits reculés ou de vivre confinés dans une habitation blindée contre les CEM) : symptômes dermatologiques (rougeurs, picotements et sensations de brûlure), symptômes neurasthéniques et végétatifs (trouble du sommeil, fatigue, difficulté de concentration, étourdissements, nausées, palpitations cardiaques et troubles digestifs), etc. Selon une étude récente de l’ANSES (Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire, France), la prévalence de l’EHS est de l’ordre de 5 % (Hypersensibilité électromagnétique ou intolérance environnementale idiopathique attribuée aux champs électromagnétiques, mars 2018).
  15. Effect of electroamagnetic waves from mobile phone on immune status of male rats : possible protective role of vitamin D, nrcresearchpress.com.
  16. Les opérateurs et bien d’autres : le lobby belge des télécoms et nouvelles technologies institué (AGORIA), une partie non négligeable des médias et des partis politiques, l’IBPT (Institut belge des services postaux et des d’intérêt public), Test Achats (une de défense des consommateurs), etc.

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