Look into 5G's impact on health

While I thank Ms Teo Leng Lee for her letter (Will 5G technology have adverse impact on human health?, May 22), I am disappointed with the reply from the Infocomm Media Development Authority and the National Environment Agency (5G equipment must meet international guidelines, May 30).

Stating that our "5G equipment must meet the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) guidelines" - which have not been updated since 1998 - did not address Ms Teo's question and concerns which I share.

As of June 15, 248 electromagnetic field (EMF) scientists have signed an international appeal letter to the UN Secretary-General, World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general and UN Environment Programme.

They request that guidelines and regulatory standards be strengthened, radiation-free zones be established, children and pregnant women be protected, that the public be fully informed of the potential health risks from EMF radiation, and that medical professionals be educated about the biological effects of EMF and be trained to treat patients with EMF sensitivity.

In 2011, the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer classified radio-frequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) as possibly carcinogenic to humans.

There is currently no one set of global standards or guidelines for all countries to follow to ensure no adverse health impact. As such, each country should do its own health impact assessment and develop its own health risk management strategy.

In April, Belgium announced it is suspending its 5G roll-out, and it has also banned Wi-Fi in pre-schools and daycare centres since 2014. India has issued new EMF guidelines with exposure limits lowered to one-tenth of ICNIRP guidelines. Greece has set exposure limits to 70 per cent of official European limits. China has exposure limits lower than ICNIRP guidelines.

In comparison, Singapore has done nothing. So I would like to repeat Ms Teo's question: Are the authorities able to assure Singaporeans that RF-EMF will not have an adverse impact on our health?

Seah Guan Hai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2019, with the headline 'Look into 5G's impact on health'. Subscribe