“Y’all know how 5G gives you cancer,” says a meme shared on Facebook in South Africa.
“And with a day of them turning one tower on in The Hague, Netherlands there were 297 dead birds and people tasting metal.”
The meme, which seems to be a screenshot of an Instagram post, also claims 5G was invented in Israel but is now banned there, even though “their government is still investing in it”.
Non-ionising radiation not energetic enough to cause cancer
Leon du Toit, deputy director of radiation control at the South African health ministry, told Africa Check that non-ionising radiation, the type of radiowaves and microwaves used for telecommunications, “does not possess enough energy by a long shot to damage the DNA of any person”.
Du Toit said “there exists no confirmed scientific evidence that exposure to non-ionising radiation could cause cancer”.
The World Health Organization also says long-term animal studies have not shown “an increased risk of cancer from exposure to radio frequency fields, even at levels that are much higher than produced by base stations and wireless networks”.
The WHO points out that because of the widespread presence of mobile base stations, “it is expected that possible cancer clusters will occur near base stations merely by chance”.
Bird deaths not due to 5G ‘test’
Over 300 starlings did die in the Hague, the Netherlands, in 2018.
“Kees Moeliker, director of the museum, and Erwin Kompanje, a senior researcher, discovered extreme internal bleeding in all the examined birds, as a result of ruptured livers,” the article said. The dead birds had also suffered severe damage to the blood vessels, lungs and heart.
“The assumed cause of death is that the birds collided with deadly force with each other, with tree branches or with the ground due to being panicked and disoriented.”
In its fact-check of the claim, Snopes found that “no evidence suggests that any other 5G test ever occurred in the Hague” at the time the birds died.
A representative of KPN, the largest mobile operator in the Netherlands, told Snopes: “I can be very clear about this matter; there are no 5G tests in Den Haag [the Hague]. This is a complete hoax.”
Snopes pointed out that there was no explanation why such a test could have affected starlings, “let alone only starlings and no other birds or animals in the region”.
South Korea, US compete to launch 5G first – no sign of Israel
Technicians at Vodacom, a South African telecoms company, told Africa Check that “5G is a natural evolution of mobile communications and the science behind it is similar to that of 4G (LTE)”. So 5G was not “invented” but rather developed out of 4G.
News agency Reuters, in April 2019, quoted South Korean officials saying that they had achieved “victory” over the US and China in launching 5G.
The Guardian also reported South Korea’s claims to have beaten the US “by a matter of hours to become the first country to roll out a super-fast 5G mobile network, which allows users to download entire movies almost instantaneously”.
South African news site Business Live reports that Israel’s communications ministry announced late in 2018 “it hoped to allocate frequencies by the end of 2019, with 5G networks to commercially launch between 2020 and 2023”.
And despite its vibrant tech sector, “Israel lags countries such as South Korea that have already started to roll out 5G services”.
There is no evidence that 5G causes cancer. A 5G test didn’t cause the death of hundreds of birds in the Netherlands. And the technology wasn’t “invented” in Israel. – Taryn Willows
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