A candidate for the upcoming European Parliament elections, Tihomir Lukanić, expressed his concern with the implementation of 5G network at a press conference held by a Croatian political party Živi Zid (Human Shield). The claim turns out to be mostly false.
The statement rose some questions in the media and provoked discussion on the dangers of 5G signal. It is obviously a hot topic and also a scientific debate. We wanted to check whether the information Mr Lukanić provided in his statement were true or false.
The Croatian political party Živi Zid (Human Shield) has joined a group of anti-establishment parties, so called “populist parties” including Cinque stelle Movement from Italy, Kukiz15 from Poland and a Greek party, Akkel. They also presented similar programmes ahead of the European Parliament election in May.
Tomislav Lukanić, a European Parliament candidate in the upcoming elections in a press conference said the following: ”The unregulated system now wants to upgrade to the 5G network, though more than 200 scientists from 40 countries appealed to the UN and the World Health Organization to wait for it to be introduced because they have not fully explored possible adverse effects on human health, all based on about 10,000 scientific research files.”
The first thing we did was call Mr Lukanić’s political party office. Surprisingly, they did not provide any answers to our query about the content of the statement. In our research we found that Mr Lukanić’s statement refers to the 5G Space Appeal that was initially submitted in September 2018 to the European Commission. Our next step was to investigate who signed this appeal, what these files are, if the numbers were correct and if the system was unregulated as Mr Lukanić claims. As all different claims in this statement are connected, we decided to investigate all of them.
At the time of writing of this article, there is a list of more than 300 scientists from 45 countries who have signed the Appeal. The numerical aspect of Mr Lukanić’s statement seems to match the Appeal’s numerical information output. However, the exact number cannot be confirmed with great certainty as the only way to do this would be to contact each scientist whose name is listed and ask them to confirm that they support the Appeal. Furthermore, while 5G Space Appeal does offer a list of scientists who have signed it, it is difficult to see a criteria pattern for a scientist that can sign the petition. Overview of the references shows that not every scientist has expertise in the field of networks, or mobile technologies or even technologies. Questions about the requirements to sign the petition could be raised. Nevertheless, anyone can sign the petition and then the signees are sorted into categories.
A key factor in Mr. Lukanić’s statement is the 10,000 scientific research files that apparently prove the harmful side effects which could potentially stop the development and implementation of 5G technology in countries like Croatia. The 5G Space Appeal clearly lists scientific research files (stated under “References” section of the Appeal) that are so important to our European Parliament candidate Tomislav Lukanić. After thorough research, we found that there are only about 7,000 scientific research files referred to in support of the Appeal, 3,000 files less than the number Mr Lukanić mentioned. However, numbers aside, the most surprising factor was the untimeliness of the majority of the research offered in the Appeal. Over 5000 research files are more than 20 years old, some even from the 1970s when 5G was not even considered to be an option for the future, let alone discussed or directly researched. This also imposes a question of a qualitative and quantitative value of these research files. In addition, some of the research was done by activist groups, which could suggest a conflict of interests and a credibility issue.
Investigate Europe, a crosschecking European organisation has confirmed that there is almost no existent research on the effect of higher frequencies needed for 5G so far. Nevertheless, the research studies that investigate potential of harmful effects of 5G technology shouldn’t be overlooked and many are underway. No amount of research studies has yet proven this technology is completely unharmful either. Scientists argue that the emission of nonionizing radiation from those base stations might mostly affect human skin and environment. In one research article The human skin as a sub-THz receiver – Does 5G pose a danger to it or not? by Betzalela et al, the conclusion is the following: “There is enough evidence to suggest that the combination of the helical sweat duct and wavelengths approaching the dimensions of skin layers could lead to non-thermal biological eﬀects. Such fears should be investigated and these concerns should also eﬀect the deﬁnition of standards for the application of 5G communications.“ Therefore, even though Mr Lukanić reffers to an appeal that has dubious research files in the reference list, the potential of harmful effects of 5G technology should be taken into account as a valid concern. Meanwhile, the European Comission has made a “5G for Europe Action Plan” which supports the implementation of 5G by the end of this decade.
Finally, Mr Lukanić says that the system in Croatia is unregulated when it comes to the matter of 5G technologies, but according to the Croatian telecommunications company Croatian Telecom, Croatia has one of the strictest laws concerning allowed exposure to nonionizing radiation among European Union members. The company points out that the Ordinance on protection against electromagnetic fields issued by the Croatian Ministry of Health stands out as safer than most in the EU. The 5G network implementation programmes experts from Croatian Telecom insist that the number of network base stations or their distance is no criterion for the strength of potentially harmful electromagnetic emission. These strict radiation and emission protocols do exist, they must be followed and they aim to ensure that any potential harmful effects are avoided. Therefore, the part of Mr Lukanić’s statement in which he says that the system is unregulated is not true.
Tomislav Lukanić, a Croatian candidate for the European Parliament has made a claim based on unsubstantiated research files which do not disapprove of the implementation of 5G technology. Most of those research files are very outdated or do not even directly correlate with 5G network technology. Furthermore, the stated number of research files is not correct. The numerical aspect of the statement regarding scientists signees of the appeal is valid. However, the criteria for their selection are not completely clarified. The claim that the system is unregulated when it comes to 5G technologies is also untrue. In conclusion, we assess that Mr Lukanić’s full statement, that consists of multiple claims about 5G technology, is altogether mostly false.
RESEARCH | ARTICLE © Danijel Matkov, University of Zagreb, HR