Tag Archives: horizon scanning

Biological Diversity at Risk From Wireless Radiation

Biological Diversity at Risk From Wireless Radiation

by Kim Goldberg
December 28, 2017

An international team of conservation scientists and ecologists has listed wireless radiation as one of the top emerging issues that could threaten global biological diversity in coming years.

In its ninth annual “horizon scan” to identify emerging issues affecting biological diversity, the Cambridge Conservation Initiative listed electromagnetic radiation from 5G technology as one of 15 top emerging issues to potentially threaten wildlife. The 15 issues were selected from a list of 117 possible candidates. The Cambridge Conservation Initiative is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

The “2018 Horizon Scan of Emerging Issues for Global Conservation and Biological Diversity” was published in the January 2018 issue of Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Vol 3, No. 1.

Read the full report here: 2018 Horizon Scan.

“Our aim is to highlight systematically both risks and opportunities to the conservation of biological diversity that are not widely known by conservation scientists and decision makers,” writes lead author William Sutherland. “Horizon scanning can help reduce the degree for conservation biology to be a crisis discipline.”

The entry for Electromagnetic Radiation in the article is printed in its entirety below:

Potential Effects on Wildlife of Increases in Electromagnetic Radiation

Understanding the potential effects of nonionising radiation on wildlife could become more relevant with the expected adoption of new mobile network technology (5G), which could connect 100 billion devices by 2025. During use, mobile telephones and other smart devices generate radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs), a form of nonionising radiation, which may change biological processes such as neurotransmitter functions, cellular metabolism, and gene and protein expression in certain types of cells, even at low intensities [82]. The notion of risk to human health remains controversial, but there is limited evidence of increased tumour risk in animals [83]. 5G uses the largely untapped bandwidth of the millimetre wave-length, between 30 and 300 GHz on the radio spectrum, which uses smaller base stations than current wireless technology. As a result, wireless antennae may be placed densely throughout neighbourhoods on infrastructure such as lamp posts, utility poles, and buildings. This could expose wildlife to more near-field radiation. Although some studies reported negative associations between electromagnetic field strength (radiofrequencies and microwaves: 1 MHz-3 GHz range) and species, for example the density and abundance of house sparrows ( Passer domesticus ) [84,85], these studies have not yielded clear empirical evidence that the observed effects are due to RF-EMFs. The potential effects of RF-EMFs on most taxonomic groups, including migratory birds, bats, and bees, are largely unknown. The evidence to inform the development of exposure guidelines for 5G technology is limited, raising the possibility of unintended biological consequences [86].