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5G radiation concerns spark petition in Mangawhai

Posted at 3:17pm Monday 01 Jul, 2019

A petition started by Mangawhai architectural drafter Lis Martinac to stop the roll out of fifth generation (5G) cellular phone technology in Mangawhai gained 200 signatures in two days and has now reached over 500.

The petition states: “5G will massively increase the microwave radiation in our environment. It will also use new frequencies that are not evaluated by independent experts”.

Exactly how 5G infrastructure will be implemented is still a subject of speculation. However, the term is broadly used to refer to cell phone transmission that makes use of a higher frequency or shorter wave length.

Because the wavelength is shorter, it is unable to travel long distances or easily pass through obstructions, which means that telecommunication companies will need significantly more cell towers and signal boosters to create a workable network.

“5G will theoretically pump out the same amount of radiation as a microwave, but a microwave is only on as long as it takes to cook the custard, whereas this will be blanket radiation all the time,” Lis says.

Lis has acquired a supporting statement from Dr Robin Kelly, a GP based on Auckland's North Shore.

“From the expanding peer-reviewed literature, it is clear to me that living tissue can be affected adversely by these frequencies,” he says

“The roll out of 5G should be postponed until high quality independent health safety testing is carried out. All governments should act now, as public safety must be their priority.”

Lis came across the 5G issue on Facebook and took on the cause after learning that the new 2degrees cell tower above the Mangawhai Village Four Square at 42 Moir Street is 5G capable.

“As a mother, my concern for my kids is what most inspired me. If there is a 5G hotspot outside a school, then it is permanently projecting radiation into their developing brains.”

Lis says she has been amazed by the support the community, including from 20 local volunteers who are assisting her to deliver an information leaflet to 2000 households across the Kaipara District.

Once the Stop 5G in Mangawhai petition reaches 1000 signatures, Lis is going to present it to the Kaipara District Council.

“I have a lot of faith in our local council and see it as the voice of our community. I hope they will assist to take a step further to powers higher up.”

Kaipara District Council says it will gladly receive the petition if it is presented, but does not currently have a view on the potential roll out of 5G, which is still in its infancy in New Zealand.

As long as a cell tower fits within the parameters of Council District Plan guidelines, telecommunication companies do not have to apply for consent to erect a tower on private land, says council spokesperson Ben Hope.

This means that the installation of 5G capable cell towers do not require public consultation, relying only on an agreement between a company and a private landowner.

2degrees chief of corporate affairs Matthew Bolland says the cell site in Mangawhai Village is only ‘5G capable' in the sense that all towers can be retrofitted with equipment for the 5G radio spectrum.

“2degrees has no current plans to introduce 5G to the Mangawhai area, and the radio spectrum required to deliver 5G services will not be made available by the government until November 2022,” he says.

“When 5G is introduced, operators will likely focus first on areas with larger populations where demand is testing capacity, so we expect Mangawhai will be served by 4G technology for many years to come.”

He says cell sites must meet Ministry of Health safety standards and the cumulative radiation from 2degrees sites will continue to be well within those standards.

According to the Ministry of Health website, at least initially 5G will use frequencies similar to those already used.

“The existing New Zealand exposure standard covers all cell site frequencies, and research published since the standard was adopted still supports the limits set,” it says.

“Measurements at test sites also suggest that exposures from 5G transmitters will be similar to those from the current technologies.”

The Ministry's standard for human exposure to radio frequency radiation is ‘less than 0.08 watts per kilogram', which is 50 times lower than the established threshold for known effects, it says.

Although there is disagreement within the scientific community, the World Health Organisation's review of research into radio frequency radiation concludes that exposures which comply with current limits do not cause adverse health effects.

Furthermore, no mechanism has been established through which non-ionizing radiation, such as cell tower radio waves, could cause effects on humans such as tissue damage.

Mangawhai's Lis Martinac says while she does still own a mobile phone and uses WiFi, she is intending to downgrade to a ‘dumb phone' and switch to cable internet.

“I have joked with my friends that I should be wearing a tin foil hat, but I don't think it would help my cause,” she says.

“One fact no one can deny is that long term exposure to 5G frequencies has never been tested on humans.”

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