Telecommunication networks use radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to enable wireless communication. These networks have evolved over time, and have been launched in successive generations. The fifth generation of telecommunication networks will operate at frequencies that were not commonly used in previous generations, changing the exposure of wildlife to these waves. This report reviews the literature on the exposure of vertebrates, invertebrates and plants to radio-frequency electromagnetic fields in anticipation of this change. The review shows that dielectric heating can occur at all considered frequencies (0.4-300 GHz) and for all studied organisms. Summarising and discussing the results of a series of studies of radio-frequency electromagnetic field exposure of wildlife, the review shows that several studies into the effects of radio-frequency electromagnetic field exposure on invertebrates and plants in the frequency bands considered demonstrate experimental shortcomings. Furthermore, the literature on invertebrate and plant exposure to radio-frequency electromagnetic fields above 6 GHz is very limited. More research is needed in this field.
This study has been written by Arno Thielens, Ghent University, Belgium, at the request of the Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) and managed by the Scientific Foresight Unit, within the Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services (EPRS) of the Secretariat of the European Parliament.