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Electrosensitivity UK Ad Banned for Claiming 5G is Dangerous

Wednesday, Jan 8th, 2020 (10:30 am) - Score 4,304
advertising standards authority uk 2016

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a “misleading” advert by campaign group Electrosensitivity-UK after it wrongfully claimed that the roll-out of ultrafast 5G mobile networks could result in a range of health effects, such as “reduced male fertility, depression, disturbed sleep and headaches, as well as cancer.”

The advert itself took the form of a poster – seen in July and August 2019, which began with a headline that asked “How safe is 5G?” and featured four quotes from various “professionals” detailing their opposition to the roll-out of 5G (mobile broadband) network technology.

Naturally the problem here is that, outside of a minuscule amount of heating, non-ionizing 5G mobile signals are not recognised to cause any negative health effects like those mentioned above and is widely regarded as safe. Such campaign groups thus have a tendency to misunderstand the existing research (they usually don’t understand the key importance of skin, power levels, distance or different radio bands to risk) and often conflate it with bad science.

At present all 5G deployments in the UK also tend to use the same band(s), at similar power levels, to those that have been harnessed by 4G networks for years and without such problems occurring. Likewise this isn’t just a “5G” issue as we should really be talking about all radio waves (WiFi, Bluetooth, TV etc.), not only a specific technology.

NOTE: When an object absorbs any kind of light it heats up as it now has more energy than before, but in low powered mobile signals this is so tiny as to be imperceivable.

As Matt Warman MP, UK Digital Minister, said last year: “[The] government will support work to bust health myths over 5G, which WHO say poses the same risk as talcum powder and pickled vegetables. There is no credible evidence to back up concerns and huge evidence for the economic benefit of gigabit-capable networks.”

In this case ASA called out the campaign group for its misleading claims and banned the advert.

ASA Ruling (REF: G19-1029264)

The WHO factsheet on “Electromagnetic fields and public health: mobile phones”, which took account of several large completed and ongoing multinational epidemiological studies, including case-control studies and prospective cohort studies examining a number of health endpoints in adults, one of which was coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), determined that no adverse health effects had been established as being caused by mobile phone use.

We noted the advertiser’s view that the factsheet was inaccurate. However, we considered the report formed that position based on extensive scientific examination and we understood that WHO, together with the IARC considered the available evidence fell short of being conclusive that exposure to all radio frequency radiation, of which mobile signals were a part, might cause cancer in humans. We noted that WHO were, at the time the ad was seen, conducting an ongoing project to assess potential health effects of exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields in the general and working population.

The UK Government’s guidance, which took account of the most up-to-date robust evidence from WHO, the Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation (AGNIR) and the European Commission, had concluded that many exposure measurements had been made in the UK at publicly accessible locations near to base stations and that they had all been consistently well within the guidelines set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), recognised by WHO as an official collaborating non-governmental organisation whose aim was to protect people and the environment against adverse effects of non-ionising radiation.

We assessed the material referred to by Electrosensitivity-UK in their submissions. We considered many of the articles and studies, such as the NTP study, were not adequate because they concerned animal experiments (such as mice, rats and rabbits), rather than studies which specifically examined human health. The NTP study also assessed 2G and 3G signals, and we understood that the NTP were still in the process of evaluating the 5G network. Many of the articles provided were not studies, but reviews of the current context of research in the area.

One, for example, stated that the author was “very concerned that 5G may produce effects like those we already see produced from lower frequency EMFs but are much more severe”, but said that “the only way to find out is to do biological safety testing on genuine 5G radiation”, and concluded that “we have no risk analysis or risk management because we have no risk assessment whatsoever on 5G”. Another was a YouTube video of a Canadian radio talk show in which a scientist hypothesised the extinction of life forms due to 5G radiation. That material, along with many others, lacked the robustness of an appropriately designed observational study or clinical trial, and we therefore considered that it was insufficient to substantiate claims made about human health.

For the above reasons, we did not consider that the evidence demonstrated that 5G signals caused negative human health effects and therefore considered that the ad was misleading.

The ASA said that the ad must not appear again in its current form and they told Electrosensitivity-UK to “ensure they did not make claims which implied there was robust scientific evidence that demonstrated negative human health effects caused by 5G signals or that specific medical conditions had been shown to be caused by 5G signals, unless they held adequate substantiation for such claims.”

In fairness there could be a health risk from simply worrying about such things (psychosomatic effects) too much.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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37 Responses
  1. Avatar photo New_Londoner says:

    Good to see that the people and organisations that peddle this pseudoscience are being barred from advertising their nonsense. Let’s hope that significant fines come next if they repeat the offence.

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      The ASA doesn’t have much power to do anything more than slap the odd wrist. At least they’re not known for imposing fines, even against repeat offenders (much as we saw with many broadband ISPs over the years).

    2. Avatar photo Roger_Gooner says:

      The ASA has limited powers such as requiring an ad to be modified or pulled. As for fines, the ASA can refer the ad to someone such as Trading Standards who can take such action.

    3. Avatar photo Lucy says:

      Worrying response.

  2. Avatar photo CarlT says:

    ‘Another was a YouTube video of a Canadian radio talk show in which a scientist hypothesised the extinction of life forms due to 5G radiation.’

    They used a video of a scientist on a talk show hypothesising mass extinction?

    You’d have thought they’d have used the peer reviewed, referenced paper that scientist must have written on this given the gravity of the claim. Unless…

  3. Avatar photo Mark says:

    Still it seems to working, the opposition seems to be growing, seems to be working here in the area of the Cotswold’s I live, theyve stopped all masts being built for the last 20 years. They are now concerned about LED streetlights too.

    1. Avatar photo dave says:

      At least the concerns about LED lights are based on reality, though they are overblown.

      I’m sure that nobody who drives can have avoided noticing the intensity of the glare from LED lights. As long as you don’t stare at them too long it shouldn’t be a problem.

      Aside from driving, which is relatively new to me, I spend many hours per day starting at screens and have done for many years and the blue light has had no effect on my vision thus far (which has actually improved over the last few decades, even though I was told if I didn’t wear glasses I would go blind… but that’s another story).

    2. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      In terms of light intensity, that should be easy to resolve with a new filter or power tweaks. Generally I haven’t had a problem with the local street LEDs and since they save money on electricity (thus helping the environment) then issues with glare are not a concern for me either (I haven’t experienced any problems myself).

    3. Avatar photo dave says:

      Only an idiot stares at street lights anyway? 🙂

    4. Avatar photo CarlT says:

      Trust they all either live and work in basements lined with radioactive-proof material given the sun, the ground and the air are irradiating them with ionising radiation. The ‘hard’ and dangerous kind.

      With that in mind no need for masts so all good.

    5. Avatar photo CarlT says:

      -‘either’ in previous comment. D’oh.

      Maybe I’m taking in too much non-ionising radiation from the phone and laptop on my desk?

      Yes, let’s blame that rather than the ionising radiation the sun and any radioactive isotopes in the soil and air are pummeling me with or indeed my own carelessness when writing the comment.

    6. Avatar photo SuperFast Dream says:

      @dave, I feel sorry for the kids these days. When we were younger, we used to ‘Lamp post watch’ for snow, now they don’t stand a chance, unless they have on their Ray-Bans of course .

    7. Avatar photo Joel Boxall says:

      Actually LED lighting has genuine issues, one thing that isn’t widely mentioned but is genuine is that some people (myself included) can visibly see the PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) flickering that some LED bulbs use, you can actually see it in affect on car shows when you see the car headlights flickering in slow motion videos.

      I personally hate LED lighting with a passion, fortunately there are some bulbs that either use a much higher PWM frequency to not cause issues or use different drive method.

  4. Avatar photo Cameron Warren says:

    Saw this advert on the motorway service station toilet walls last week! Had to take a photo

  5. Avatar photo Pezza says:

    Well… the waves used by one of the 5G platforms I believe is the same as those uses by US sound weapons.. plus 5G signals will be a lot more powerful with thousands and thousands of booster stations on every wall.
    No ones knows for sure and that’s for certain, I’d rather they just boost the signals we have now so a mobile can actually work as a mobile but hey ho..

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Sound waves are basically vibrations of air particles, while radio waves are electromagnetic (EM) energy. Two different things.

      Also weapon systems that do use EM radio waves tend to use colossal amounts of energy (think tens or hundreds of Kilowatts of power to focus on a narrow target area within a few close feet or metres) and are thus in no way comparable to incredibly weak distributed mobile or WiFi signals (e.g. home WiFi usually only needs a few hundred miliwatts or 1-2 watts under multi-band load).

      As for 5G signals being a lot more powerful with “thousands and thousands of booster stations on every wall”, that’s not correct. The smaller base stations (e.g. small cells) will only boost certain kinds of signal over a few tens of metres (after that the signal is too weak) and it would be economically inefficient to have too many of them (not to mention issues with interference). So in practice it won’t be much different to areas that already get signals from all of the four main operators (most of the UK), but a few small cells will be found down busy shopping streets to better manage capacity etc.

    2. Avatar photo dave says:

      How can a 5G signal both be more powerful and yet require thousands of boosters?

      Maybe the suggestion is that it will be more powerful because of the boosters but that’s not very smart thinking. Too much power doesn’t help matters in a cellular network!

      What will actually be going on is a lot of low powered and very small cells. This does NOT add up to lots of power at any given location and is nothing to worry about.

    3. Avatar photo CarlT says:

      I know for sure you have no idea what you’re talking about. Get some study done and try again.

    4. Avatar photo Pezza says:

      @Mark We shall see, but my understanding from what I’ve read is that they will put boosters on every corner, because cars and literally everything will be using 5G. So that will require a lot of boosters.
      I do know a lot more scientists have come out against 5G as opposed to any other mobile signal, certainly highlighting how a lot of it is untested. As for the sound weapons. The power may not be there but they use the same wavelengths from what I read, so over time that could be a possible worry, I can’t remember though which type of 5G signal will require the boosters as I know there are two I think that will be used?

    5. Avatar photo Pezza says:

      I should also point out Brussels government has blocked the roll out of 5G until further safety tests have been completed though, as they don’t believe it will meet there radiation concerns… will be good to know the outcome from that.

    6. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      @Pezza. “As for the sound weapons. The power may not be there but they use the same wavelengths from what I read.”

      It’s not a “sound weapon” if it uses EM radio waves as sound merely reflects vibrations of the air. Maybe you’re thinking of Microwave weapons but, as I say, the key thing there is power and distance. You can’t do any harm if there’s not enough power to do harm with in the first place. The bands themselves are largely irrelevant without such consideration.

      As for Brussels, that one keeps coming up but it’s actually a bit more complicated. You see Brussels has some of the strictest standards in the world for such signals, about 20x stricter. At the same time the federal government have been slow to issue the necessary licenses, thus everything is held up by the usual political and regulatory wheels. I believe the city Mayor is waiting for those licenses before even considering the other questions, at least that was the case when last I checked in October.

    7. Avatar photo 125us says:

      Soundwaves are not the same wavelength as 5g signals. This is basic GSCE level physics. Soundwaves aren’t even electromagnetic.

      Try not to be so gullible.

    8. Avatar photo CarlT says:

      As others have mentioned sound is produced by disturbance in a material, whether air, water, whatever.

      A sound wave hitting your ear at 50 Hz is nothing to do with the electricity hitting your home at 50 Hz. One is a movement of air, the other a movement of electrons in a sine wave.

      By that metric we should be able to hear ELF, SLF, ULF and VLF transmissions audibly. Spoiler – we can’t.

    9. Avatar photo dave says:


      Expect somebody along shortly claiming they can!

    10. Avatar photo CarlT says:

      ‘I’d rather they just boost the signals we have now so a mobile can actually work as a mobile but hey ho..’

      So you want lower frequency, higher power transmissions.

      Transmissions that will both penetrate further into the body and will also give up their energy, you want them amplified, as heat into deeper layers in the body.

      You really haven’t a clue what you’re writing about, do you?

  6. Avatar photo Pezza says:

    Here’s something about it, it is a weapon to control crowds that uses microwaves, I don’t know by I thought it was a sound weapon? But it’s interesting reading: http://www.rfsafe.com/5g-network-uses-nearly-same-frequency-as-weaponized-crowd-control-systems/

    That’s what I am referring to. As I said it’ll be interesting to see what Brussels makes of it all eventually, it it won’t increase anyone’s signals really and we will still have the same crap signals in the UK, because everyone still doesn’t want a mast near them. Perhaps these booster boxes will help with that though?

    1. Avatar photo dave says:

      Microwave ovens operate at roughly the same frequency as 2.4GHz WiFi but I’m very sure that if you filled a room with hundreds of wireless routers, you wouldn’t be able to cook anything.

    2. Avatar photo Andrew Ferguson says:

      90 GHz if I recall for the directed energy weapon.

      To achieve that it uses lots of power and beam concentration.

      So mmWave 5G if ever deployed in the 90GHz band is going to be many many times lower level.

      In UK 5G likely to only see 8 GHz and 28 GHz deployments in the mmWave band and no one has done that yet.

      One of the reasons why the mmWave is not being deployed yet, is that the range of signal will be very short and a baseball cap is likely to be enough to block the signal.

    3. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      ..drizzle could be a problem too.

    4. Avatar photo AnotherTim says:

      “a baseball cap is likely to be enough to block the signal.” – surely you’d wear a tin-foil hat if you want to be totally safe.

    5. Avatar photo CarlT says:

      Not sure comparing a perhaps single watt, widely broadcast 5G signal to a high gain, high focus beam fed by a 100,000 watt oscillator is really fair.

      Higher frequencies make things even less dangerous. At the power levels our phones kick out at those frequencies a signal wouldn’t get through a sheet of paper. It’d barely get through a fart.

  7. Avatar photo Pezza says:

    So will the 8 and 28ghz 5G signals improve signal strength? It be the same as LTE/ 4G? I’ll probably upgrade my iPhone this year which will mean a 5G handset, but I’m not in a 5G contract. However if the signal is stronger it may be worth thinking about?

    1. Avatar photo TheFacts says:

      Signal strength is about achieving coverage using minimum power.

    2. Avatar photo CarlT says:


  8. Avatar photo GNewton says:

    This is the same ASA that never prevented misleading “fibre broadband” adverts.

    1. Avatar photo CarlT says:

      This is new, interesting and relevant information.

      Thank you, Eeyore. Glad the FTTP is allowing you to spread your cantankerous nature with us more rapidly.

  9. Avatar photo X says:

    If the UK switches off 5G now people will recover and no more sickness this coronavirus will end

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