The City Council will consider requesting additional federal studies of the potential harmful health impacts of 5G wireless communication technologies on Wednesday.
The resolution introduced by Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly says some studies have suggested 5G technology could increase cancers in those exposed to it — which would be almost everyone in cities because of the large number of closely spaced "small-cell" antennas required.
"There is evidence to suggest that exposure to radio frequency emissions generated by wireless technologies could contribute to adverse health conditions such as cancer. Wireless companies in the U.S. say they'll have to install about 300,000 new antennas, close to the total number of cell towers built over the past three decades. This substantial increase in cell towers deployed in communities means greater contact with them," reads the resolution to be considered March 13.
Wheeler has spoken out against federal restrictions against cities regulating such technologies. He recently protested a Federal Communications Commission order filed in August requiring cities to accept all applications from telecommunications firms to build new wireless and broadband infrastructure.
Speaking at the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington DC in late January, Wheeler said, "We need every single mayor who cares about this issue — local control of local assets — to sign on with this. The more the better, obviously."
5G will significantly increase wireless communication capacity and is considered necessary for self-driving vehicles and other advanced technologies. But, according to the resolution, it will greatly increase the human exposure to radio frequency (RF), electromagnetic fields from wireless facilities.
Although the FCC has adopted RF guidelines, the resolution says no federally-mandated RF exposure standards exist, despite studies suggesting that harm to people may occur. In addition, federal law prevents cities from adopting their own restrictions.
"(F)ederal law preempts state and local governments, including the City of Portland, from considering health concerns in the regulation and placement of wireless facilities, so long as such facilities otherwise comply with applicable federal law," the resolution notes.
Despite that, according to the resolution, "in September 2017, 180 scientists and doctors from 36 countries sent an appeal to the European Commission recommending a moratorium on the roll-out of 5G until potential hazards for human health and the environment had been fully investigated by scientists independent from industry."
Although Portland is so far working with companies installing 5G technology, the resolution says, "we are requesting the FCC and other relevant federal agencies to revisit and update studies on potential health concerns arising from radio frequency wireless emissions considering 5G technology. Findings from these studies need to be publicly available."
You can read a previous Business Tribune story on the issue here.