By Emma Okonji
The Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has again allayed fears that electromagnetic emissions from telecoms masts and facilities could cause health hazards to humans.
The Chairman of ALTON, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, told THISDAY that it became necessary to reemphasise it, following recent insinuations that electromagnetic emissions from telecoms masts are gradually deteriorating the health situations of Nigerians and that the emissions from 5G networks are linked to COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Adebayo, “As a responsible corporate citizen and natural partner in progress, ALTON deems it necessary to address some of the misguided theories circulating on the internet linking 5G technology to COVID-19.
“Contrary to these rumours, there is no scientific evidence whatsoever supporting any causal connection between the spread of COVID-19 and 4G, 5G or electromagnetic waves in general. In fact, according to a seven-year-long scientific study published last month, 5G has no detrimental health effects in general.”
The clarification, Adebayo said, was intended to help remove the fear of public health concerns relating to telecommunications cell towers.
According to him, “In these unprecedented times, we need to ensure the resilience of telecommunications networks to support the delivery of vital health services and sustained economic recovery.
“Digital connectivity has become essential to the social and economic development of the 21st century. Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), 5G networks and the Internet of Things (IoT), generate great opportunities, but also raise questions for businesses and citizens. One of these concerns is public health.
“In recent years, questions about health and safety concerning electromagnetic frequencies produced by telecommunication towers have been raised: What are the health implications of this proliferation of antennas and the frequencies they emit? What effects do they have on humans and animals? Can they cause any disorders?
“Public exposure to these frequencies is not new. On the contrary, these radio signals are nearly omnipresent as they have been produced by electric currents or telecommunication antennas for decades. The average household deploys various sources of these signals such as home appliances like microwaves, TVs, refrigerators, or internet connections repeatedly throughout the day.”
Adebayo, cited the World Health Organisation (WHO), which earlier stated that the low intensity of cell site emissions is estimated to be between 0.002 per cent and 2 per cent of the levels of safe exposure and is lower than those produced by a radio or TV transmission.
Studies carried out by the WHO and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) agree there are no health risks related to radio signals, Adebayo said.
Explaining the safety of 5G technology, Adebayo added that by using small cells, or low-power, low-range transmissions, 5G smart antennas send signals where required, and that the cells enable localised use of signals while increasing coverage and efficiency.
He said the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) recently published its updated guidelines to provide improved protection for higher frequency ranges. The new guidelines, he said, included time and body exposure restrictions, provide protection against all adverse health effects from exposure to electromagnetic frequencies, including for frequencies above 6 GHz, such as those emitted by 5G and future technologies. He said compliance with these new guidelines would ensure the safe use of 5G, adding that the unanimous conclusion of international public health organisations and more than 25,000 articles on biological and health effects, reaffirm the safe use of wireless technologies such as telecommunication antennas necessary for connectivity and social and economic development.