WSJ columnist disputes NYT’s report about Russia and 5G health effects

Analysts are urging the telecoms industry to be pragmatic about the prospects for 5G (Image Vertigo3d / iStockPhoto)
WSJ columnist Holman Jenkins pointed out that public health concerns over radio frequency radiation exposure have existed in the U.S. since the 1980s. (Vertigo3d/iStockPhoto)

The New York Times (NYT) article this week claiming Russia is behind the 5G cancer concerns in the U.S. has received pushback from a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) columnist.


Earlier this week, NYT published a story with the headline "Your 5G Phone Won’t Hurt You. But Russia Wants You to Think Otherwise." The story outlined how RT, the Russia-backed and U.S.-based television network, has been peddling 5G cancer fear-mongering stories, making claims that 5G causes brain cancer, infertility, autism, Alzheimer’s and other health disorders.


NYT reports RT has run seven such programs this year, including pieces entitled “5G Apocalypse” and “Experiment on Humanity.” The NYT article claims that disinformation in these news segments has spread across Facebook, YouTube and TV news channels, and that news outlets almost never mention RT's Russian origins.


Anna Belkina, RT’s head of communications in Moscow, told the NYT in an email, “Unlike many other media, we show the breadth of debate." But, U.S. officials have accused RT of being the Kremlin's principal international propaganda outlet.


RELATED: Brussels halts 5G plans over radiation rules


Yesterday, WSJ columnist Holman Jenkins, who serves on the paper’s editorial board, entered the debate, countering the NYT report as an oversimplification. And, he accused the NYT of pandering to U.S. wireless carriers that want to debunk any healthcare concerns about 5G.


Jenkins pointed out that public health concerns over radio frequency radiation exposure have existed in the U.S. since the 1980s, during which a series of articles appeared in media outlets such as the The New Yorker “alleging a massive coverup of health effects of non-ionizing radiation produced by many kinds of electrical appliances.”


He also noted that a provision in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which bars health concerns as a reason to block cellphone towers, only has served to stoke public fear of the technology. Finally, he pointed to a National Toxicology Program study released last year that found a small percentage of male rats developed cancerous heart tumors when exposed to high levels of 2G and 3G emissions.


The NYT article claimed scientists believe 5G radio frequency radiation is likely to be less harmful to humans than earlier generations of cellular technology, because the high-frequency radio waves cannot penetrate the body as well as lower-frequency radio waves used in 2G and 3G.


RELATED: Public voices health concerns over 5G in Chicago


It’s worth noting that the National Toxicology Program’s own researchers said that its study cannot be compared to human exposure to radiation from cell phones.


“In our studies, rats and mice received radio frequency radiation across their whole bodies. By contrast, people are mostly exposed in specific local tissues close to where they hold the phone,” said John Bucher, Ph.D., NTP senior scientist, at the time. “In addition, the exposure levels and durations in our studies were greater than what people experience.”