What are NTP’s future plans for studying cell phone RFR?
NTP is working to better understand the biological basis for the cancer findings reported in its earlier RFR studies. The program has developed smaller RFR exposure chambers for additional short-term studies that will take weeks and months to complete rather than years. NTP aims to better understand the underlying effects of RFR on biological systems, such as looking at biomarkers of damage. The biomarkers are measurable physical changes, such as DNA damage, that can be seen in shorter amounts of time than it takes to develop cancer and that might be predictive of disease. NTP scientists also want to know if heat or exposure-related stress plays a role in cancer development.
With 5G technology on the horizon, many questions have been raised about what this means with respect to human exposures to RFR. One significant difference between 5G networks and the current networks is that 5G will utilize a broader range of frequencies, including those much higher than NTP previously evaluated (> 6000 MHz). The lower frequency ranges that are currently in use (700-2700 MHz) remain relevant since they will continue to be used in existing cellular communication networks, as well as the 5G network. The higher frequencies, known as millimeter waves, can rapidly transmit enormous amounts of data with increased network capacity compared with current technologies. Millimeter waves do not travel as far and do not penetrate the body as deeply as do the wavelengths of the lower frequencies. Since these millimeter waves are likely to penetrate no deeper than the skin, there is less concern that these frequencies can cause harmful effects in the heart and brain. However, scientists do not know if millimeter waves may cause toxicity in the skin and other human tissues. Since the NTP’s studies have demonstrated that there is some interaction between RFR exposure at the tested frequencies and cancers of certain tissues, there is a need to understand the interaction between RFR and biological tissues and the factors that affect that interaction.
The exposure system is also designed to allow NTP to conduct studies with various RFR frequencies and modulations used by cell phones to keep up with changing technologies in the telecommunications industry. In general, NTP scientists want to understand the impact of exposure to RFR on biological tissues, regardless of generation, or G.