Fast speed 5G – the hidden risks

Fast speed 5G – the hidden risks

High speed internet is a great thing, right?

Maybe not, according to Australia’s Dr Don Maisch. In a discussion paper published in July, Dr Maisch explains that faster download rates offered by 5G technologies may have health consequences that most people are not aware of.

The telecommunication industry seduces us with promises of being able to download more and more, faster and faster. Already Telstra offers ‘ridiculously fast’ internet and Optus, speeds that are ‘faster than fast’.

But get ready for speeds that are even faster. The Global System Mobile association (GSMA) predicts that 5G will give us download speeds of at least 20 Gigabits (Gbps) per second. These faster speeds will come with the use of 5G millimetres waves (30 – 300 GHz) – which are not yet in common use in Australia.

Now here’s the problem.

Speeds of 10 Gbps and more are likely to cause damaging signals in the body known as Brillouin precursors. Maisch explains that, when sharp pulses enter the body, they excite charged molecules (such as potassium) causing them to emit signals as well.

It’s an electrical dominoes effect that results in the body being exposed to more than the original signal.

According to Maisch, ‘This additional radiation adds large spikes onto the leading and trailing edges of the original EMR pulse. The sharp transients, called ‘Brillouin Precursors’ increase the strength of the original signal and reradiate EMR waves deeper into the body than predicted by conventional thermal models.’

So effective is their ability to penetrate objects, that imaging technologies utilising Brillouin precursors can locate objects deep underground, for example.

What is the effect of these Brillouin precursors in the body?

Well, nobody knows for sure because it’s not a topic that’s being discussed in the open scientific literature, though it does appear to have been investigated by the United States Air Force.

Professor Kurt Oughstun, who extensively studied Brilliouin precursors, told Maisch he thought the effects on humans could ‘be worrisome’.

As early as 2002, Oughstun told Microwave News that Brillouin precursors could damage tissues of the body in four ways. ‘These are changes in the conformation of molecules, changes in the rates of chemical reactions, effects on membranes and thermal damage.’ He explained that these precursors could open channels in the cell membrane and potentially cause leakage of the blood-brain barrier.

What we also know is that the Australian standard and international guidelines set by the International Commission of Nonionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) don’t protect from Brillouin precursors in the body because, Maisch says, ‘ICNIRP does not take it into consideration.’

We have to wonder whether rolling out a technology that will expose all life forms on this planet to Brillouin Precursors is really the best way to find out about how safe they really are.

The “take-home” message,’ Maisch says, ‘is that we still do not have adequate research on 5G millimetre waves to be able to assure the public that the many thousands of 5G antennas, in many instances placed in close proximity to homes and workplaces, are without a possible health risk because the necessary research has not yet been conducted.’


Don Maisch PhD, ‘Brillouin Precursors, a theoretical oddity or a real concern for 5G millimetre-wave bands to be used in future high-speed telecommunications?’, Discussion Paper, July 21, 2022. You can download the paper here.

‘Introducing Brillouin Precursors: Microwave Radiation Runs Deep’ Microwave News Mar/April 2002.


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