5G Health Concerns Incite Local Opposition

Posted on in Healthy Living by Richard Appelbaum

Just a few months ago (September 25th), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to approve a radical new set of regulations regarding cell phone carriers that will powerfully affect your community. Don’t blink! They are scheduled go into effect on January 14th. This is a major shift with untested health consequences. Few town council members know a sufficient amount about what is going on. Activists are scrambling.

Most Californians have heard of 5G or “fifth generation” technology. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, the former chief legal counsel for Verizon, is a big advocate as this is a priority for Big Telecom. 5G may increase data transfers by up to 10 times to 100 fold and facilitate the Internet of Things—instant connectivity such as between our refrigerator and our cellphones. Sounds exciting to some, but is it safe?

What are the Electromagnetic Frequency (EMF) radiation emissions at this level? Unfortunately, no short- or long-term biological tests have been conducted on the human health effects of 5G radiation. The FCC, a government agency that is supposed to look out for public safety, along with the telecoms they are supposed to regulate, has not only failed to pay attention but has deliberately minimized any scientific findings that cast wireless technology in a negative light.

Since the 1996 passage of the Telecommunications Act, plenty of research has amply demonstrated that EMF and RF, the low-level radiation all of our modern wireless devices emit, is not benign. And more studies about the impact of electromagnetic frequencies on human health are warranted, even though the telecoms haven’t begun to do due diligence in advance of deploying 5G “mini-cell towers” into our communities. Hence the uproar!

As a Marin citizen who has had a variety of health issues, the question of whether it is “safe” to be in the vicinity of 5G EMF and RF on the scale proposed is not an abstract question for me—it’s personal. This is also a concern for many in our community—not to mention that the towers and their emissions are regarded as incremental fire hazards.

This fall, a group of us gathered to hash out the implications of the FCC vote and what it means. We call ourselves “5G Free Marin” and similar local task forces are forming throughout the country.


There was a race to get up to speed on 5G so we could inform our neighbors and town officials about the dangers the technology represents. Mill Valley became one of the first to institute an emergency ordinance to stop it. The meetings in Fairfax have included neighbors from San Rafael, San Anselmo, Greenbrae, Forest Knolls, and unincorporated parts of Marin that are eager to resist. In Sonoma County, Sebastopol imposed a moratorium. This is a grassroots movement, folks!

So what are we up against? We’re up against new overreaching regulations that limit local control over what technologies may or may not enter a community, regardless of what peer-reviewed science says about negative health effects. These laws put telecom profits over people, but that doesn’t mean we’re obliged to passively sit back.

Members of 5G Free Marin have been showing up at planning commission and town council meetings to educate councilmembers. Recently in San Rafael, the public comment allotment of two minutes per person extended the meeting an extra hour and a half as impassioned citizens demanded that the council push back against the FCC. We flood the state and federal legislatures with phone calls, circulate petitions, push bumper stickers, and generally agitate at every level.

The Fairfax task force has a 25-point set of recommendations on how to push back on FCC regulations. We’re now a go-to resource for similarly minded groups across the country. Folks are waking up to the scope of the problem. For a comprehensive look at our resources visit 5GFreeMarin.org.

Of course, the telecom response is predictable: “5G is faster,” they say, as if that should be a concerned citizen’s only concern. Questions about the impact of this technology on health are never seriously addressed because Verizon and ATT are more concerned about building mini-towers across our communities—unopposed.

This is a fight to retain local control. The No. 1 duty of elected officials is to protect our health and safety. The No. 1 duty of citizens of a democracy is to ensure that our voices are heard on issues that affect us, especially those as consequential as the daily ones we encounter at the intersection of commerce and public health.

There has long been a tension between the impulse to make money and the higher responsibility to treat people with the dignity and respect we deserve.

We refuse to be lulled into a false sense of safety and security when so much is unknown about the health impact of 5G technology. We owe it to ourselves, our loved ones, our friends and neighbors to get informed, and when necessary—protest.

Richard Appelbaum is a health-concerned Marin County resident who was a founding board member of the Sustainable Health Institute. He consults for startups, small businesses, and non-profits RNDSquared.com and runs a life coaching and counseling practice. LifeIsChange.xyz

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