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Newly Published Study Finds 5G Frequencies Have A Biological Effect

Sep 6, 2017


Newly Published Study Finds 5G Frequencies Have A Biological Effect

Researchers advise that 5G deployment be delayed as current industry radiation tests are not adequate to address human health impact.  

August 25, 2017

A newly published study from Israeli physicists raises serious safety questions about 5G technology. Researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Department of Physics and the Ariel University Department of Physics showed that electromagnetic radiation at the frequencies intended for use in 5G are preferentially absorbed in the sweat duct – a significant biological effect. These same Sub-THz frequency bands allow ultra fast data transmission and are considered critical to the operation of 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The researchers advise that current industry safety tests are inadequate to address this biological effect and call for changes in safety testing that take into account human health.

“In light of our work and a growing number of publications showing that the 5G frequency can have serious biological effects, we believe that current efforts to accelerate the implementation of 5G should be delayed until additional studies are made to assess the critical impact on human health,” stated co-author Yuri Feldman.

“The Modeling of the Absorbance of Sub-THz Radiation by Human Skin” by Noa Betzalel, Yuri Feldman, and Paul Ben Ishai was recently published in IEEE Transactions on Terahertz Science and Technology. This new publication documents the following:

  • The coiled portion of the sweat duct in upper skin layer could be regarded as a passive helical antenna sensitive in the sub-THz band.  
  • An impinging electric field in the Sub-THz frequency band concentrates in the sweat duct where it is absorbed at a higher rate than in the surrounding tissue.
  • The preferential absorption into the sweat duct results in higher SAR values than otherwise expected.
  • Currently accepted industry standard test systems for electromagnetic radiation’s effect on humans are not adequate to ensure public protection because these test systems are not sophisticated enough to measure the effect in the sweat gland nor are they able to quantify the risk to human health from cumulative exposure.
  • The biological effect of these frequencies needs to be considered in 5G development in order to ensure adequate public protection.

“We can conclude and say that if the new regime of WLAN communication, the 5G standard, will happen in the next years, the concern regarding biological influence on the human body should be considered,” the researchers remarked.

The paper includes images derived from computer simulations of the sweat duct, which visually show the  radiation’s higher  absorption rate into the sweat duct. The researchers point out that the reason that these frequencies are able to have this effect is that the size of the Sub-THz band wavelengths are similar in size to the human sweat duct. These 5G sub-THz bands have much shorter wavelengths than the wavelengths of frequencies currently used in 2G, 3G and 4G applications. Longer wavelengths do not preferentially absorb into the sweat duct in the same way due to their size. Researchers point out that this interaction is not “debatable”  but is a “proven” interaction.

Earlier this year, Dr. Paul Ben Ishai of the Department of Physics at Ariel University and Prof. Yuri Feldman, Head of the Dielectric Spectroscopy Laboratory, Department of Applied Physics at Hebrew University, presented this research at an international scientific conference at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University.High Powered millimeter waves are utilized by the U.S. Army in crowd dispersal guns called Active Denial Systems. Dr. Paul Ben-Ishai pointed to research that was commissioned by the U.S. Army to find out why people ran away when the beam touched them. “If you are unlucky enough to be standing there when it hits you, you will feel like your body is on fire.” The U.S. Department of Defense explains how: “The sensation is intense enough to cause a nearly instantaneous reflex action of the target to flee the beam.”  A video of his lecture is available online at at the Environmental Health Trust website.

Researchers also presented the study results at the 2017 Bioelectromagnetic Conference BioEM in China, the 2015 WiFi Radio Conference in in San Diego and at  SPIE meetings in San Francisco in 2013 and 2014.  


  1. Betzalel, Y. Feldman and P. B. Ishai, “The Modeling of the Absorbance of Sub-THz Radiation by Human Skin,” in IEEE Transactions on Terahertz Science and Technology, PP.99 (2017): 1-8. doi: 10.1109/TTHZ.2017.2736345


In the near future, applications will come online that require data transmission in ultrahigh rates of 100 Gbit per second and beyond. In fact, the planning for new industry regulations for the exploitation of the sub-THz band are well advanced under the auspices of IEEE 802.15 Terahertz Interest Group. One aspect of this endeavor is to gauge the possible impact on human health by the expected explosion in commercial use of this band. It is, therefore, imperative to estimate the respective specific absorption rates of human tissues. In the interaction of microwave radiation and human beings, the skin is traditionally considered as just an absorbing sponge stratum filled with water. This approach is justified when the impinging wavelength is greater than the dimensions of the skin layer. However, in the sub-THz band this condition is violated. In 2008, we demonstrated that the coiled portion of the sweat duct in upper skin layer could be regarded as a helical antenna in the sub-THz band. The full ramifications of what these findings represent in the human condition are still very unclear, but it is obvious that the absorption of electromagnetic energy is governed by the topology for the skin and its organelles, especially the sweat duct.

Noa Betzalel

Noa Betzalel received the B.Sc. degree in electrical and computer engineering specialized in microelectronics and optoelectronics, and M.Sc. degree in applied physics from the School of Computer Science and Engineering, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel. She is currently working toward the Ph.D. degree at the Department of Applied Physics, School of Computer Science and Engineering, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her current work is focused on sub-THz and THz frequencies technologies and remote biosensing from human skin at these frequency bands.

Yuri Feldman

Yuri Feldman received the M.S. degree in radio physics and Ph.D. degree in molecular physics from the Kazan State University, Kazan, Russia, in 1973 and 1981, respectively. From 1973 to 1991, he was with the Laboratory of Molecular Biophysics, Kazan Institute of Biology, Academy of Science of the USSR. In 1991, he joined The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel, where he is currently a Full Professor and the Head of the Soft Condensed Matter Physics Laboratory. He is the Director of the Centre for Electromagnetic Research and Characterization. He has spent over 40 years in the field and has authored or co-authored more than 400 scientific publications related to dielectric spectroscopy and its applications. He holds 15 patents in the areas of electromagnetic properties of the matter. His current research interests include broadband dielectric spectroscopy in frequency and time domains, theory of dielectric polarization and relaxation, relaxation phenomena and strange kinetics in disordered materials, and electromagnetic properties of biological systems in vitro and in vivo. Prof. Feldman is a member of the Boards of International Dielectric Society and the International Society for Electromagnetic Aquametry. In 1992 and 2010, he was the recipient of an award for the outstanding contribution to the development of Israel Science by the Israel Government, and in 1998, he was the recipient of the Kaye Award for the best innovation and invention.

Paul Ben Ishai

Paul Ben Ishai joined the Physics Department, Ariel University, Ariel, Israel, in 2016 after heading the Center of Electromagnetic Research and Characterization, Hebrew University, for the last 12 years. During this time, he concurrently worked with the laboratory of Prof. Feldman, where he concentrated on dielectric research. His research interests include soft condensed matter physics, glassy dynamics, biophysics, sub terahertz spectroscopy, and dielectric spectroscopy. In 2004, he was part of the founding team investigating the interaction of the human sweat duct with sub terahertz electromagnetic radiation, research that he is still involved with today.