One of the more common sets of questions Moonshine has fielded in recent months, and increasingly so as the COVID-19 pandemic has raged on, involve the possibility of health risks of 5G networks. We wanted to get you your answers, so we did some digging — but the experts we interviewed mostly agreed that not enough data has been collected to make conclusive statements, and health organizations seem fairly united in saying that not enough is known about the effects of 5G to make strong connections to commonly cited health risks such as cancer, autism, or viral infections like COVID.

Yet one professor emeritus we spoke with at Washington State University has dedicated much time and 10 academic papers (so far) compiling the research we have on all EMFs (electro-magnetic frequencies) and their effects on our health. Martin Pall bemoans the lack of research and funding, going so far as to say that industry is influencing science and government to “systematically avoid collecting the data.” And while Pall is clear that there is no proven causation between EMFs and COVID-19, he states that he is unequivocally sure that his research leads him to believe there is more than coincidental correlation between this pandemic and the increasing use of greater-frequency networks like 5G.

It’s important to note that conventional thinking goes against this hypothesis; in fact, according to The New York Times in July 2019, “To no small degree, the blossoming anxiety over the professed health risks of 5G technology can be traced to a single scientist and a single chart.” In a piece titled The 5G Health Hazard That Isn’t, reporter William J. Broad describes how consultant and physicist Dr. Bill P. Curry was commissioned to study 5G in a public school in Florida and found serious health risks, greater than prior networks. But his study has since been disproven.


Noting that frequencies are higher in 5G than 4G, Broad writes, “According to experts on the biological effects of electromagnetic radiation, radio waves become safer at higher frequencies, not more dangerous.”

However, the concern is still there, and it’s clear that research is lacking. Questions we’ve received from the community have often alluded to cancer risks, so let’s hear from our local media representative from the American Cancer Association.

Is there any known connection between 5G and any form of cancer?

These higher frequency RF [radio frequency] waves are less able to penetrate the body than lower frequency waves, so in theory they might be less likely to have any potential health effects. But so far this issue has not been well-studied. At this time, there has been very little research showing that the RF waves used in 5G networks are any more (or less) of a concern than the other RF wavelengths used in cellular communication.

In your professional opinion, is there more study needed to determine if it’s safe?

I do believe more research is needed to determine if these networks are of more or less concern than those with lower RF waves.

~ Gretchen Groves, communications director for the American Cancer Society, west region

Groves shared with us an article on ACS’s website, linked in the online version of this article, which goes so far as to describe RF waves used in cell phone and other data-based communication as not known to science to cause “any noticeable health effects. However, this does not mean that the RF waves from cell phone towers have been proven to be absolutely safe. Most expert organizations agree that more research is needed to help clarify this, especially for any possible long-term effects.”

The ACS also notes in the article that they have no official stance on the cancer-causing potential of RF waves generally, and that neither International Agency for Research on Cancer nor the U.S. National Toxicology Program have classified any cancer-causing potential of RF, though “some other agencies have commented on cell tower safety.”

So, not known to be connected to cancer or other health risks, and Groves predicts that the as-yet-unseen data may give us less to worry about with 5G than 4G. Sounds okay, right? Wrong, University of Washington’s Pall would say.

According to Pall, known health risks of 4G and lower and other EMFs include “multiple types of impacts on our brains, on our reproductive function, on the hormone systems in the body, on the DNA of our cells, they produce oxidative stress which is involved in causing chronic disease and those aren’t the only things that are going on … there are life-threatening cardiac effects that occur,” Pall said.

“So we know a lot about these things and the industry denies everything,” he continued, cautioning that with 5G little is known “because nobody is collecting the data. The problem is we have every expectation that 5G will be much worse than what else is going on and we know what else is going on is quite bad.”

Let’s let Pall do the talking.

How do you know it’s likely to be so much worse?

5G is designed to carry huge amounts of information, per unit of time, per second, and the industry in fact touts it because of that, and the information is carried by modulating pulses, and we know the modulating pulses … make things much, much worse than if you have an unpulsed EMF of the same average intensity.

Because of our expectation that it’s inevitably going to be much more dangerous, I and many other scientists argued that we needed to have biological safety testing for 5G before any rollout but the industry has utterly and completely failed, they have not done one single safety test of 5G. This is a travesty.

In fact, we know that 4G is damaging, and 3G is damaging, and 2G is damaging, and generally when they go up that number scale, the more pulsations you have, the more damaging [they] are.

Things like headache and soreness are also in lists of warning signs of COVID-19. Do you think that people are conflating symptoms or do you think there’s a connection between these heightened levels of EMFs in the atmosphere and this pandemic?

You’re presenting that as an either/or situation; there are a lot of other possibilities, not just those two.

First of all, any connection between EMFs and COVID-19 are not the kinds of connections that people have suggested, well, COVID-19 isn’t real, that it’s not a real virus and that the virus is produced in response to cell radiation, etc., etc. Clearly those opinions are incorrect. They’re not right. That’s not the way viral epidemics work.

Having said that, there is a reasonable argument and it’s not as strong as the evidence for the things that I discussed before, but there is a reasonable inference that there may be a connection between the EMFs including 5G and the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, how severe the effects are in our bodies.

There has been a correlation between 5G and severity of infections.

HIGHER BUT SAFER: While theory indicates higher-frequency radio waves such as 5G are less impactful to humans than lower ones (like 4G or below), a Washington State University professor emeritus we spoke with argues that anecdotal evidence and increased pulsation that comes with 5G suggests it could have worse health effects than earlier waves. This electromagnetic spectrum illustration shows the possible frequencies of electromagnetic energy, ranging from extremely low frequencies (such as those from power lines) to extremely high frequencies (such as X-rays and gamma rays), and includes both nonionizing and ionizing radiation. Graphic courtesy National Cancer Institute

[Pall noted three examples of hotbeds for COVID-19 that are also locations of new 5G towers: the known epicenter, Wuhan, China, which is the city with the most 5G antennae in that country; Milan, Italy which was hit hard and is the first city in Italy to have introduced 5G; and in the U.S. locations where the correlation exist that Pall cited are Seattle, New York City, and Southern California.

We looked into it, and while there is no comprehensive data being tracked about 5G locations yet (most cell tower maps don’t include many 5G towers, if any, just yet), a company called Ookla has been compiling known locations from many sources and has a map available at This map confirms that, as Pall claims, there are a relatively significant number of 5G towers in Southern California with 459, around Seattle with 236, and concentrated around NYC with 343.

It’s even more difficult to find out where 5G is on a local level, in part because modifications to cell towers or new cell towers don’t necessarily need to disclose what types of networks they’re catering to, according to Truckee planning technician Emily McGuire, who said the town looks at things like “height, color, and previous land use” to determine whether to permit that kind of construction.]

That doesn’t prove one thing causes another, but it certainly raises a red flag … So, is there any reason to think there may be causation? I think the answer is yes, but it’s not definitive. The reason to think there may be causation is we have a lot of information about what happens in coronavirus infections generally, not necessarily COVID-19, all the coronaviruses.

There’s more than a correlation, there’s the biochemistry of what happens when we’re exposed to EMFs which are things that we know have important roles in the coronavirus infections so that suggests that EMF exposures can exacerbate the infection.

~ Martin L. Pall, B.S. in physics and Ph.D. in biochemistry and genetics, is professor emeritus of biochemistry and basic medical sciences at Washington State University, who has published 10 papers in the area of the effects of EMFs on health.

Note that Moonshine Ink also reached out to the Tahoe Forest Health System for comment, but since they are a patient-care facility entirely, they were not able to comment on research matters.


  • Becca Loux

    Becca Loux relocated to Truckee on a mission to tell stories that are fact-checked and data-driven without sacrificing the human element. She is an avid hiker, biker, skater, surfer, boarder, kayaker, sun-worshiper, and all other important "-ers" relating to the outdoors. Becca's wolfpack recently expanded to include a teenage husky named Koda.

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