Human Electromagnetic Field Exposure in 5G at 28 GHz

Publisher: IEEE Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

S. Kim and I. Nasim, “Human Electromagnetic Field Exposure in 5G at 28 GHz,” in IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine, vol. 9, no. 6, pp. 41-48, 1 Nov. 2020, doi: 10.1109/MCE.2019.2956223.


The fifth-generation wireless (5G) has already started showing its capability to achieve extremely fast data transfer, which makes itself considered to be a promising mobile technology. However, concerns have been raised on adverse health impacts that human users can experience in a 5G system by being exposed to electromagnetic fields (EMFs). This article investigates the human EMF exposure in a 5G system and compares them with those measured in the previous-generation cellular systems. It suggests a minimum separation distance between a transmitter and a human user for keeping the EMF exposure below the safety regulation level, which provides consumers with a general understanding on the safe use of 5G communications.

Extract from the conclusion:

However, considering the gravity of this issue, we suggest several directions to be achieved in our future research.

  • Human EMF exposure mitigation strategy: We are particularly interested in exploiting the technical features in future wireless systems—i.e., a larger number of BSs within a unit area. Such a paradigm change will enable a holistic, network-based approach to mitigate the EMF exposure as an optimization problem with a set of constraints representing the PD, SAR, and skin-temperature elevation.
  • Further studies regarding exact human health impacts caused by EMF exposure: The particular focus will be put on 1) skin dielectric effect with respect to frequency and 2) the effect of radiation when the body is covered with clothing or garment materials.”


EMFSA: Note that the 5G comparison graph below refers only to 5G transmitted at 28GHz. 5G transmitted in the mid range uses frequencies similar to 3G and 4G and therefore penetration depths are similar. For clarity the graph should state it is 5G at 28GHz.

Electromagnetic Radiation Safety November 10, 2020:

New IEEE paper questions safety of exposure to 5G cell phone radiation

There has been considerable public pressure in many countries including the U.S. to stop deployment of 5G due to potential health risks. Most of the attention has focused on the cell towers or base stations; however, the safety of using 5G cell phones and other 5G personal devices may be an even greater concern due to the proximity of these devices to our bodies.

A new peer-reviewed paper, “Human Electromagnetic Field Exposure in 5G at 28 GHz,” questions the safety of exposure to 5G millimeter waves. The authors found in a simulation study that use of a 5G cell phone at 28 GHz could exceed ICNIRP (i.e. international) radio frequency exposure limits when held at 8 centimeters (i.e., 3 inches) or closer to the head or body. Whereas the ICNIRP exposure limit for the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) is 2.0 watts per kilogram averaged over 10 grams of tissue, the FCC limit is 2-3 times more conservative, namely the SAR limit is 1.6 watts per kilogram averaged over only 1 gram of tissue. This means compliance with the FCC exposure limit would require a greater separation distance from the body than 8 centimeters in the U.S.

Although there have been numerous peer-reviewed papers that have raised serious concerns about the safety of exposure to 5G radiation and/or millimeter waves, this new paper is especially significant because it is published in an industry-sponsored journal, the November/December issue of IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine.

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