The City of McKinney wants to become the sixth Texas city to bring in carriers providing 5G wireless access. But first it will investigate what some locals believe are harmful health effects of the technology.
The latest round of wireless technology, providing higher transmission speeds to phones and other Wi-Fi devices, 5G relies on thousands of small antennae that are strategically placed on towers and buildings in residential and business areas. Unlike earlier versions of Wi-Fi delivery, 5G waves do not transmit through buildings and must rely on more base stations and antennae. Some in the scientific and medical community worry that the greatly increased volume of microwaves can cause illness.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made no conclusion on the health effects of 5G.
“Studies have shown that some workers exposed to high magnetic fields have increased cancer rates,” the CDC reported on its website. “But such associations do not necessarily show that [electromagnetic field] exposures cause cancer … . Scientists have looked carefully at all the … evidence, but they disagree about the health effects … except to say that better information is needed.”
Until now, municipalities in Texas – including Dallas, Houston, Austin, Waco and San Antonio — have moved forward with 5G rollouts with little or no protest from the community. Most are eager to give their residents access to what some consider the most advanced technology.
News stories here and abroad refer to unexplained illnesses with symptoms including headache and fatigue reported by residents in areas where 5G was introduced.
“When they installed the 5G, I felt bad overnight,” one local told a newspaper in Geneva, Switzerland.
Last fall, city leaders in Mills Valley, Calif., made it the third town in Marin County to halt 5G implementation over health concerns.
Cities that have delayed or rejected the technology are hoping they can get around a federal law that preempts local control regarding some elements of telecommunications, including radio frequencies. So far, there have been no legal challenges to local 5G bans, however.
The McKinney City Council in May approved moving forward on 5G implementation.
“I believe that we will begin to see more cases of electromagnetic hypersensitivity, or EHS, if we do not stop the rollout of 5G,” Amie Abshire, a McKinney pharmacist, told the council in May. “In the European EMF guide 2016, it states that EHS develops when people are continuously exposed in their daily life to increasing levels of electromagnetic frequency.”
Mike DePaola, a technology specialist with the city’s economic development company, told the McKinney newspaper that, “We don’t want to hone in on specific studies that say, ‘5G is great, smart cities are great.’ … We want to present the whole range of topics, and we want to allow citizens and business owners to have access to what we are making decisions off of.”
Steve Miller can be reached at [email protected].