May 28 - June 3  2023: Issue 585


Community forum to address 4G/5G Infrastructure concerns almost shelved: will go ahead because Palm Beach Resident stood up to ensure passed council motion not dumped - will now be a call for Amendments to federal Legalisation to include residents + local government in determining proposals

The Sydney Water tower on Boanbong road Palm Beach which houses 23 panel antennas for 3G, 4G and 5G. Photo: Google Maps

At the 23rd of November 2021 Council meeting, Council resolved facilitate a community forum with a panel of key stakeholders to address community concerns in relation to 4G and 5G infrastructure and to do all things necessary to facilitate this meeting by 31 March 2022

At the Tuesday May 23rd 2023 Council Meeting an Item on the Agenda revealed that despite Council Staff's best efforts, Council had had no response whatsoever from the telecommunications industry, and that  ARPANSA, which is the Australian Government’s primary authority on radiation protection and nuclear safety, had declined to participate. 

Council staff made efforts to engage with key stakeholders with regards to the proposed community forum including: 

  • The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) 
  • Oceania Radiofrequency Scientific Advisory Association (ORSAA) 
  • The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) 
  • Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) 
  • Telstra 
  • Optus 
  • Other identified subject matter experts in this field. 

The Recommendation for last week's Meeting was that 'In the absence of participation and engagement from key stakeholders in this field, it is not possible for Council to host a balanced and informative community forum, [and] it is recommended the matter be concluded'.

The mass of negative social media comment on the subject, particularly when one is being installed or had more added to it when located beside a school, and the fact that Telcos are required to consult with residents when they plan to make changes to existing facilities - such as install 5G atop already in place 3G and 4G - but due to the ARPANSA criteria and ACMA EME, which still finds there are no adverse health effects, objecting to the same is answered that these are installed and operated in line with the regulators rules and licence conditions, and no amount of petitions on health grounds, loss of value to houses, or visual amenity is part of the equation under current legislation - the Telcos themselves announce that they intend to proceed. 

Further, the bulk of these are exempt from Local and State Government approval, as they are classified as a 'low-impact facility' in accordance with the Telecommunications (Low-impact Facilities) Determination 2018 (Amendment 1, 2021)

However, Anna Maria Monticelli, a Palm Beach resident who is aware of the high-impact of the base tower on the water reservoir at Boanbong Road is having on residents, spoke against the matter being discarded;

'In November 2021 councillors passed a Motion for a public forum to discuss health issues surrounding 5G technology.

Yet now we find in the Agenda for tonight’s meeting the Council trying to back out of its commitments on an issue of great concern to many residents.

Not only that, it appears they are trying to do it without anyone noticing – because the motion to scrap the forum is buried in an item called: 'Procedural report: closure for outstanding items'

I understand ARPANSA have not actually declined council’s invitation. In fact I understand ARPANSA’s last statement to council said that – “if you cannot facilitate our preference for a one sided forum – please contact me and see what I can do”.

Health issues of 5G is a constant topic in the community. The telecommunication  tower in Boanbong Rd Palm Beach, is a case in point. Within close proximity to this tower there are 10 cases I know of with residents suffering from cancer. 

Under the code of conduct on councils website -  I quote:

We’re committed to the highest standards of public health and to ensuring a safe healthy environment for our community.

Work collaboratively to ensure everyone is safe from harm and danger in public and at home.”

Other councils -  who have acted on the issue of 5G for their communities are:

Randwick City Council  -  

 Hills Shire Council -

 Sutherland Shire Council – 

Currumbin Valley Gold Coast Council

Victoria Park Council – 

Kiama’s Mayor has publicly supported a 5G moratorium until further scientific and health impacts can be adequately assessed. 

And there are quite a few more that have acted on this issue to protect their communities.   

What about our Council ? The Northern Beaches Council; what are you going to do ? And why can’t we have a public forum?

Thank you.'

During the course of May's Meeting the Councillors unanimously passed:

In relation to the Resolution of 23 November 2021 (347/21), forward all past resolutions submitted on the motion of Cr De Luca to the Federal Members for Mackellar and Warringah and call upon them to seek amendment to the relevant legislation to ensure greater community and Local Government involvement in the consideration and determination of applications for telecommunications infrastructure

Facilitate a community forum with a panel of scientific experts to address community concerns in relation to 4G and 5G infrastructure

Write to the Federal Members for Mackellar and Warringah noting concerns that ARPANSA has not properly responded to Council and the community’s request and ask that they address this.

In Australia, ARPANSA (Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency) is responsible for setting the standards for base station operation and mobile site and tower radiation as well as Radio Frequency exposure. 

It is the Australian Government's primary authority on radiation protection and nuclear safety. ARPANSA's remit is to protect the people and the environment from the harmful effects of radiation through research, the services they provide and regulation of Commonwealth entities that use radiation.

For example, on May 25th 2023 ARPANSA, under the heading 'ARPANSA reviews radio wave effects on plants and animals', announced;

ARPANSA and Swinburne University’s systematic map of 334 papers was published in May 2023. While there is currently no substantiated evidence of harm, it highlights the need for more high-quality research into the effects of radio waves from high-frequency wireless technology such as 5G on plants and animals.

This research was led by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency’s (ARPANSA) Health Impact Assessment Assistant Director Associate Professor Ken Karipidis.

‘At ARPANSA, our mission is to protect people and the environment from the harmful effects of radiation’ A/Prof Karipidis said.

‘This map presents all the available research on the impact of radio waves on plants and animals in the environment. It specifically highlights areas where further research is required.’

‘Future research should investigate the effect of radio waves at higher frequencies such as those used by 5G and future technologies.

‘This map is particularly timely given the public concern over the impact of the 5G network and other telecommunications sources on the environment.’

The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), of which A/Prof Karipidis is a Main Commission member, is currently preparing a statement on the environmental effects of radio waves.

This systematic map will help to inform that ICNIRP project.

ARPANSA will continue to evaluate scientific evidence on potential effects of radio waves as part of its role to protect people and the environment.

The systematic map was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Environmental Evidence.

This Review was sparked by concerns expressed to the former APH 'Inquiry into the deployment, adoption and application of 5G in Australia'.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is responsible for regulating Electromagnetic Energy (EME) from mobile phone base stations. The Australian standard, known as the Standard for Limiting Exposure to Radiofrequency  Fields –100  kHz to 300 GHz(2021), RPS  S-1, was published by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety  Agency (ARPANSA) in 2021. The Australian  standard is based on recommendations from ICNIRP (International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection). Mobile carriers must comply with the Australian standard on exposure to EME set by the ACMA. The standard can be viewed via this link:

ARPANSA states 'The Standard for Limiting Exposure to Radiofrequency Fields – 100 kHz to 300 GHz (2021), RPS S-1 (Rev. 1) sets limits of exposure to radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic energy (EME) for the public and workers. The exposure limits set out in the Standard provide protection against all known adverse health effects from RF EME exposure and are set well below the level at which harm may occur. The limits in RPS S-1 are aligned with guidelines published in 2020 by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), which is the international body recognised as leaders in non-ionising radiation protection.'

These limits have been determined on the basis of established health effects and include safety margins. They were designed to protect all members of the public including those thought to be particularly vulnerable; the elderly, the infirm, pregnant women and children.

The most restrictive of the appropriate limits from the ARPANSA Standard is the reference level for time averaged general public exposure. 

EME had to be within the limits set by Radiation Protection Standard for Maximum Exposure Levels to Radiofrequency Fields – 3 KHz to 300 GHz (2002) (the ARPANSA RPS3 standard) as required by the reference levels for time-averaged exposure to RMS electric and magnetic fields (unperturbed fields).

On 25 February 2021, ARPANSA released a new standard, the Standard for Limiting Exposure to Radiofrequency Fields – 100 KHz to 300 GHz (the ARPANSA RPS S-1 standard). This new standard updated the ARPANSA RPS3 standard which was first published in 2002. For frequencies between 420 MHz and 6 GHz, the new standard specifies a change to the averaging time for whole body exposure to EME from 6 minutes to 30 minutes, to better match the time taken for body core temperature to rise. The EME power density exposure limits for frequencies between 420 MHz and 6 GHz specified in the ARPANSA RPS3 standard remained the same in the new ARPANSA RPS S-1 standard.

ARPANSA's work is to keep collating all the studies in this field to inform decisions, while ACMA gets out and conducts tests at locations, most recently in Victoria, and found very low levels of average EME, measured at under 1.5% of the ARPANSA limit. 

The bulk of these studies focus on wireless radiation only being harmful when tissue is over-heated. More recently a series of papers have been published which state the impacts of the newest technology, 5G, is  not being fully taken into account as a mechanism that initiates harms, including cancers, and is well known by chemical engineers and commercialised as ‘microwave catalysis'.

“Non ionizing radiation can have impacts at the cellular level that include impacts on cell homeostasis, on mitochondrial processes critical to cellular energy and metabolism. The assumption that only ionizing radiation can cause harm is outdated and incorrect,” stated Paul Ben Ishai Ph.D of the Department of Physics, Ariel University, Ariel, Israel, head of the laboratory of Terahertz Dielectric Spectroscopy, and one of the authors of the February 2023 paper published in the Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care journal 'Wireless technologies, non-ionizing electromagnetic fields and children: Identifying and reducing health risks'.

The paper is one of at least 3 that have been published this year on the same subject. 

Two published case reports document illness that developed after 5G antennas were installed. In “The Microwave Syndrome after Installation of 5G Emphasizes the Need for Protection from Radiofrequency Radiation” (Hardell and Nilsson 2023); a man and woman developed microwave syndrome symptoms (e.g., neurological symptoms, tinnitus, fatigue, insomnia, emotional distress, skin disorders, and blood pressure variability) after a 5G base station was installed on the roof above their apartment. 

While in “Development of the Microwave Syndrome in Two Men Shortly after Installation of 5G on the Roof above their Office” two men are stated to have developed symptoms after 5G antennas were activated on the roof of their workplace. The symptoms disappeared in both men within a couple of weeks (case 1) or immediately (case 2) after leaving the office.

On the obverse, there are plenty of studies, and even studies collating all those studies, that state everything is fine and no need to worry. In '5G mobile networks and health—a state-of-the-science review of the research into low-level RF fields above 6 GHz' for example, it is stated; ''The epidemiological studies showed little evidence of health effects including cancer at different sites, effects on reproduction and other diseases. This review showed no confirmed evidence that low-level RF fields above 6 GHz such as those used by the 5 G network are hazardous to human health.''

The Electromagnetic energy (EME) near 5G mobile base stations - ACMA compliance priority 2021–22 report maintains that current evidence indicates there is no illness or harm from 5G EME exposure below safety the limits.

5G technology involves tiers of data delivery broken across three parts of the electromagnetic spectrum; middle and lower tiers cover frequencies also used by previous wireless cellular standards, and the highest tier, which uses slightly shorter microwave-like frequencies. Broadly speaking, those waves can penetrate a short distance into the skin and cornea. While the waves aren't energetic enough to break apart molecules, they could, technically, cause molecules in parts of the cell to jiggle, warming slightly.

Small stuff.

But what happens when your home is near a base tower that has all Telcos poles on it and every 3G to 5G pumping out 24/7 - so much so that you can hear it and feel it?

To date, more than 3,500 physicians across preventive and environmental medicine, toxicology and other specialties have united against 5G, citing main associated risks of non-ionizing radiation, including cancer, cellular stress, genetic damage, reproductive changes and deficits and neurological disorders.

Interestingly, a release out the University of Massachusetts Amherst in January 2023 shines a light on what researchers throughout the world are already working hard on: 6G. 

One of the most promising breakthroughs in 6G telecommunications is the possibility of Visible Light Communication (VLC), which is like a wireless version of fiberoptics, using flashes of light to transmit information. The team of researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst announced that they have invented a low-cost, innovative way to harvest the waste energy from VLC by using the human body as an antenna. This waste energy can be recycled to power an array of wearable devices, or even, perhaps, larger electronics.

"VLC is quite simple and interesting," says Jie Xiong, professor of information and computer sciences at UMass Amherst and the paper's senior author. "Instead of using radio signals to send information wirelessly, it uses the light from LEDs that can turn on and off, up to one million times per second.

Part of the appeal of VLC is that the infrastructure is already everywhere -- our homes, vehicles, streetlights and offices are all lit by LED bulbs, which could also be transmitting data. "Anything with a camera, like our smartphones, tablets or laptops, could be the receiver," says Xiong.

Previously, Xiong and first author Minhao Cui, a graduate student in information and computer sciences at UMass Amherst, showed that there's significant "leakage" of energy in VLC systems, because the LEDs also emit "side-channel RF signals," or radio waves. If this leaked RF energy could be harvested, then it could be put to use, they surmised.

The team's first task was to design an antenna out of coiled copper wire to collect the leaked RF, which they did. But how to maximize the collection of energy?

The team experimented with all sorts of design details, from the thickness of the wire to the number of times it was coiled, but they also noticed that the efficiency of the antenna varied according to what the antenna touched. They tried resting the coil on plastic, cardboard, wood and steel, as well as touching it to walls of different thicknesses, phones powered on and off and laptops. And then Cui got the idea to see what happened when the coil was in contact with a human body.

Immediately, it became apparent that a human body is the best medium for amplifying the coil's ability to collect leaked RF energy, up to ten times more than the bare coil alone.

After much experimentation, the team came up with "Bracelet+," a simple coil of copper wire worn as a bracelet on the upper forearm. While the design can be adapted for wearing as a ring, belt, anklet or necklace, the bracelet seemed to offer the right balance of power harvesting and wearability.

"The design is cheap -- less than fifty cents," note the authors, whose paper won the Best Paper Award from the Association for Computing Machinery's Conference on Embedded Networked Sensor Systems.

"But Bracelet+ can reach up to micro-watts, enough to support many sensors such as on-body health monitoring sensors that require little power to work owing to their low sampling frequency and long sleep-mode duration."

"Ultimately," says Xiong, "we want to be able to harvest waste energy from all sorts of sources in order to power future technology."

So are our regulators keeping up to date? Is this all just one of those social media rumour mills rants that needs to be fact-checked into oblivion? 

And where can you get reliable factual information if our regulators are waiting too long to move on what researchers are now publishing?

Residents clearly don't want the headlong rush to keep rolling out more of these base towers and small cells to be preferenced over human and environmental health. Just as smoking was once touted as 'good for your health' by actors employed by tobacco companies to pose as doctors to spout lies, or thalidomide was prescribed for morning sickness and caused the deaths of at least 5,000 babies and lifelong limb, eye, urinary tract, and heart defects for the 5,000 that survived, the level of distrust around this subject is not being appeased by government bodies telling you 'it's safe'.

ACMA currently lists small cells as 'safe' - and these are going up on power poles of Narrabeen and Collaroy - without backing that up with how they know it is, even referring you to the The Radio Frequency National Site Archive, managed by AMTA, for more information.

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) is the peak industry body representing Australia’s mobile telecommunications industry. AMTA members include mobile network operators and service providers, mobile phone and device manufacturers, retail outlets, network equipment suppliers and other suppliers to the industry.

Despite the opinions of international expert groups such as the World Health Organization and the American Cancer Society, as well as the findings of numerous studies, concern over possible health risks from mobile tower radiation exposure persists.

Hopefully the Community Forum will eventuate.

GHz: short for gigahertz, is a unit of frequency equal to one billion hertz. It is commonly used to measure computer processing speed, alternating current, and electromagnetic (EM) frequencies.

kHz:  or kilohertz, is a frequency measurement equal to 1,000 Hertz. Kilohertz is a unit of measurement for alternating current, audio signals, and a measurement of wireless signals.