Standard Setting / Thresholds
The European Commission (EC) sets limits in the form of regulations to protect citizens from potentially harmful impacts of substances such as chemicals, or in the case of 5G – electromagnetic fields. Scientific research and observations of electromagnetic radiation have shown that beyond certain thresholds, radiation can potentially be dangerous to humans and the environment.
Non-ionising radiation is found at lower frequencies, and can generate a warming effect on human bodies and the environment. The heat on your skin from exposure to the sun is one way to experience this. A microwave acts in the same way, although unlike sunlight this type of radiation is invisible to the human eye. It can not penetrate bodies deeply but is still able to interact with water molecules. This is the reason why a meal cooked in your microwave oven might be hot in some parts, while still frozen in others. However, this type of radiation does not throw electrons out of their orbits - it is non-ionising.
Radiation becomes ionising when electrons get ejected from atoms and molecules by radiation rays. At low doses, this type of radiation can have its benefits e.g. for x-ray machines, but it is harmful over a certain intensity or amount of exposure over time. You can get a sense of the threshold yourself – sunbathing for a short time helps your body to metabolise vitamin D, but if you stay in the sun for too long the ionising UV-rays can give you sunburn.
The EU radiation protection legislation was updated on 5 December 2013 and contains the basic safety standards for protection against exposure to ionising radiation. Regulations are in place for any machine, antenna, or substance emitting ionising electromagnetic radiation. There are thresholds in place for both ionising and non-ionising radiation and 5G frequencies are strictly non-ionising worldwide. The scientific community agrees on the heating of bodies by waves at certain parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. However, the discussion on whether cell mutation is possible from waves in the millimetre band is ongoing.
The EC works on:
The identification of needs for frequency coordination at EU level – including the monitoring of a wide range of policy areas that depend on the radio spectrum, such as electronic communications, transport and research.
Initiating harmonisation of frequency usage in individual bands across Europe where necessary.
The establishment of policy priorities in cases where there is a conflict between different requests for frequency use.
Setting the regulatory environment for access to the radio spectrum, to create easier, flexible access for public and private users.
The EC RSPP (Radio Spectrum Policy Programme) outlines the roadmap on how Europe can translate political priorities into strategic policy objectives for radio spectrum use. For a baseline in policymaking, several organisations are helping to shape policies. The IMT-2020 standard of the International Telecommunication Union is used as a baseline.