On July 1, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine instructed the Ministry of Health to increase the maximum permissible level of EMR for high (30-300 MHz), ultra-high (300-3000 MHz) and very high (30-300 GHz) frequency bands by 10 times - from 10 μW / cm2 to 100 µW / cm2, by making appropriate changes to the order of the Ministry No. 239 dated August 1, 1996. This decision was made for the development of 4G and, in the future, 5G in Ukraine.
In May 2017, similar changes were already made to the sanitary norms and rules for protecting the population from the influence of electromagnetic radiation, then the permissible level of EMR was increased 4 times (from 2.5 to 10 μW/cm2).
At the same time, the petition "to ban the introduction of 5G due to its extremely negative impact on health" received more than 25 thousand signatures, which indicates a high level of concern among Ukrainians about the safety of such changes. Moreover, interest in the government's decision is fueled by official statements of the World Health Organization, which in 1995 (and this is long before the advent of 3G and 4G) recognized that the problem of pollution caused by electromagnetic fields is one of the priority problems that threaten the health of all mankind.
Are such changes justified and how will they affect the well-being of Ukrainians?
What is EMR and how does an increase in its level affect the business climate?
Before considering the reasons and possible consequences of the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers, let us recall the physics of the senior grades and figure out what the topic of increasing electromagnetic radiation is in general and how it affects the life of an ordinary citizen.
Electromagnetic fields (EMF) are alternating electric and magnetic fields that propagate in space in the form of waves at the speed of light.
Such waves are emitted not only by radio, television, radar and telephone antennas, power lines, wireless (Wi-Fi) networks, mobile phones or Bluetooth devices, which radiofrequency fields range from 10 MHz to 300 GHz. But also other household electrical appliances familiar to us: electric shaver, hairdryer, iron, personal computer, microwave oven, electric kettle, refrigerator, washing machine, and any other devices connected to the power supply line. For example, even a TV remote control emits electromagnetic waves in the form of an infrared spectrum.
The higher the voltage at which the devices operate, the more negative impact they have on human health. The most dangerous of the emitting devices are high-voltage power lines, laser welding machines, transformer substations, and mobile base stations (towers).
Mobile communication is carried out precisely with the help of such towers, which are raised as high as possible so that they provide direct visibility to the receivers of this radiation (mobile phones). Due to the fact that this radiation is reflected from some objects, radio communication is possible even in the absence of line of sight (but this is an unreliable option - with a weak signal).
"There are areas with poor communication, which means that there is no such tower nearby, it is somewhere far away and there is no direct visibility of this tower from the place where you are," explains the associate professor of the Department of Physics at the Bohdan Khmelnytskyi Cherkasy National University Anatoly Vinogradov.
In order to explain the link between an increase in the level of EMR and an improvement in the working conditions of business structures, let's find out the origin of the term "cellular (mobile)", which comes from the word "cell".
"Bees build honeycombs (wax cells of bees - ed.), where they put honey. Around each tower there is a honeycomb-collar, where communication is provided. If the towers are very far from each other, then these honeycombs do not touch each other and form "dead zone", where there is no connection at all," explains Anatoly Vinogradov.
The expert also notes that the size of such a collar cell depends on the signal level, so it is in the interests of businesses to increase the signal level in order to increase the cell size and thereby reduce the number of towers (each tower is a lot of money). Thus, by increasing the permissible level of electromagnetic radiation, the state increases these cells’ power, which is cheaper than increasing the number of towers.
Is there a danger to human health and in what case?
According to WHO experts, the influence of electromagnetic waves for a long time can really cause the development of cancer, changes in behavior, memory problems (until it is completely lost), Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, sudden infant death syndrome and an increase in the level of suicidal tendencies.
The systematic effect of high and ultrahigh-frequency EMR on the human body (over several years) is the greatest danger, because as a result of such exposure, both acute and chronic lesions, disturbances in the functioning of systems and organs, functional disorders of the activity of nervous mental, cardiovascular, endocrine and other systems appear in the human body. Such manifestations are most often found in people working under the influence of excessive electromagnetic radiation, and without proper protection or improvement of working conditions, this turns into an irreversible process.
In any building, electrical equipment poses a relative danger, namely: cable lines that supply electricity to apartments, switchboards and transformers.
Short-term irradiation (within a few minutes) can cause a negative reaction only in hypersensitive people or in patients with certain types of allergies. Pregnant women and children are also sensitive to the influence of EMR.
If there is a mobile communications tower near the place where people live, then the level of the radio wave signal is higher in this place. The dependence looks like this: when the distance from the tower changes, the signal decreases in inverse proportion to the square of the distance - the distance doubled, and the signal decreased, the distance increased three times, and the signal decreased.
"If, say, your apartment is at a distance of 100 m from this tower, then the signal is quite strong. If at a distance of 1 km, the signal decreases 100 times. If it is 10 km, then, accordingly, 10 thousand times. Signal decreases if the distance from this tower changes, "explains Anatoly Vinogradov.
But one should not blame the famous towers for everything. Experts argue that since today every home has a TV, microwave oven or any other technology that is related to the consumption of electricity, this means that you are already receiving radiation levels significantly higher than that of the towers.
For example, researchers from the United States and Sweden have established such a fact that children develop tumors when exposed to magnetic fields of 60 Hz for several days or even hours (such fields are emitted by a TV set). The results of observations of people who regularly used an electric drill indicate the unfavorable effect of electromagnetic fields with a frequency of 50-60 Hz (while in Ukraine the frequency ranges from 50.0 Hz to 300.0 GHz - is a requirement for the safety of working conditions in manufacturing, operation, maintenance and repair of equipment, during which constant magnetic fields and electromagnetic radiation occur).
In general, the topic of the harmful effects of radiation on human health causes a lot of discussions. Thus, the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) indicates that subject to the established permissible level of EMR, exposure to electromagnetic waves from 100 kHz to 300 GHz, regardless of radio technology, does not harm human health, namely: electrical activity of the brain, neuroendocrine system, cardiovascular system, the nervous system, thermoregulation, the immune system, does not lead to a change in the composition of the blood, and also does not increase the risk of developing cancer.
WHO notes that according to the results of numerous studies carried out, no harmful effects on human health have been identified with wireless radio technologies, including 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G. The conclusions are based on studies carried out across the entire radio spectrum.
However, it is also noted that in prolonged exposure to radiation with an intensity of about 20 μW / cm2 (recall that the government increases it to 100 μW / cm2), a decrease in pulse rate is recorded, blood pressure decreases. At an intensity of 6 mW/cm2 changes appear in the gonads, in the composition of the blood, there is a clouding of the lens of the eye, in the future - changes in the ability of blood to clot, in conditioned reflex activity, pathological changes in the cells of the liver and cerebral cortex, then - an increase in blood pressure, rupture of capillaries and hemorrhages in the lungs and liver.
Radiation with the intensity of up to 100 mW / cm2 causes persistent hypotension and functional changes in the cardiovascular system, bilateral cataracts. Further irradiation has a noticeable negative effect on the tissues of the human body, causing pain.
Why are these indicators significantly different? The fact is that the degree of the biological effect of electromagnetic fields on the human body depends on a number of factors: on the intensity and duration of exposure, physical characteristics of various frequency ranges, as well as on the functional state and resistance of the body to the effects of various factors, adaptation possibilities (negative manifestations of exposure can take place at a very low intensity of EMR, which slightly exceeds the hygienic standards).
Is it possible to minimize the negative effects of radiation?
It is possible to minimize the risk of negative effects. For this, it is necessary to use special protective equipment (for workers who deal with electromagnetic radiation), as well as special clothing, paints, or materials (which absorb electromagnetic energy). Shielding of the radiation source and the workplace is also effective.
To prevent the negative impact of EMR on human health at home:
- Place the lounge furniture at a distance of 2-3 m from the distribution boards and power cables.
- When installing an electrically heated floor, choose one that provides a low magnetic field.
- When buying household appliances, pay attention to the mark on the compliance with ISS "Interstate sanitary standards for permissible levels of physical factors when using consumer goods in domestic conditions."
- Place the microwave backside (area of greatest radiation) against a wall or window, the same goes for the monitor.
- Talking on the phone, use a hands-free headset, place its antenna in the geometric center of the car roof (remember the main rule regarding carrying mobile phones - do not carry it near vital organs).
You should also remember the safe distance from household appliances and the recommended duration of its use (especially for pregnant women and children). For example, the most dangerous in the house are the microwave oven, TV, laptop, and smartphone.
The first, even despite shielding, emits 8 μT at a distance of 30 cm, which is dangerous to human health. Therefore, experts advise staying at a distance of 1-2 m from the microwave.
It is safe to watch TV at a distance of 1.5 m (for TVs of 29 inches and more - the distance should be increased to 2 or more meters). Keep your laptop at least 80 cm away. As for the smartphone, experts advise to refrain from long calls and use Bluetooth or a headset with headphones.
It is better to stay at a distance of 30 cm to 1.5 m from a working electric kettle, refrigerator, or electric stove. It is better to stay at least 60 cm to the vacuum cleaner and washing machine.
The country's policy in the production of household electrical appliances should also be aimed at reducing the level of exposure. For example, in the United States, a number of companies produce electrical devices that are safe in terms of EMP radiation (bifilar-wound irons, non-radiating computers, etc.).
Today in the world, in fact, there are no unambiguous norms limiting the effects of EMR with a frequency of 50 Hz. Therefore, setting the appropriate restrictions and norms, most countries use the recommendations of the leading international organizations in this area - IRPA, ICNIRP, CENELEC, and WHO.
At first glance, the government's proposed standards for the permissible voltage of the electromagnetic field for the population are even more stringent than the current international standards. Of course, de jure this sounds beautiful, but will Ukraine be able to de facto keep the norms in the specified range, given the fact that the saturation of industrial, administrative, and household premises with powerful electronic and electrical devices is constantly increasing?