S. Korean minister dismisses 5G health, environment concerns

Concerns about possible health and environmental effects caused by 5G networks are “completely groundless,” said a senior South Korean government official on Oct. 2.

Ki-young Choi, the newly appointed minister for science and ICT, made the remark at a parliamentary inspection for the Science, ICT, Broadcasting and Communications Committee, held at the National Assembly in Seoul.

Choi, who is also an artificial intelligence and semiconductor expert, dismissed claims that 5G electromagnetic waves could bring about potential dangers for people’s health and the environment. He also called for more efforts to raise public awareness through public relations measures.

5G services have met opposition and even hard resistance in both South Korea and some other countries, over potential dangers of the technology.

Echoing Choi’s remarks, the UK’s digital minister Matt Warman on Oct. 7 noted that the super fast 5G mobile signals are no more dangerous than “talcum powder and pickled vegetables,” citing authoritative reports from the World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

For example, China’s 5G base stations have a radiation standard of less than 40 microwatts per square centimeter, much lower than the average radiation of home appliances like hair dryers (100 microwatts per square centimeter) and WIFI routers (60 microwatts per square centimeter). The radio waves generated by wireless networks are far less energetic than even the visible light we experience every day, according to experts.

Olaf Swantee, CEO of Swiss telecom operator Sunrise, said 5G is actually “a protective force for our environment,” as it can help cut carbon emissions and the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, as well as reduce the amount of waste the society generates.

South Korea is the first country to have commercially launched 5G services, hoping to spur breakthroughs in various fields such as smart cities, self-driving cars and artificial intelligence.

During the parliamentary inspection, Choi also called for stronger incentives for private investments in 5G networks through expanding tax deduction rates, so as to secure the country’s competitiveness in the global 5G race.

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