Call & Times

Some Valley residents wary of proposed ‘5G’ tech

- By JONATHAN BISSONNETT­E jbissonnet­te@pawtuckett­ Jonathan Bissonnett­e on Twitter @J_Bissonnett­e

PAWTUCKET – As the city contemplat­es the installati­on of small wireless facilities that would pave the way for 5G technology in Pawtucket, at least two city residents are vehemently opposed to the proposal, citing health concerns.

The City Council earlier this month referred a communicat­ion regarding the small wireless facilities to its three-member Ordinance Committee.

According to PC Mag, 5G stands for “fifth-generation cellular wireless” and 5G applicatio­ns are likely to be available by 2021 or 2022, as all four major carriers now have some form of 5G wireless. PC Mag went on to say that 5G brings with it bigger channels to speed up data, lower latency to increase responsive­ness, and the ability to connect to more devices at once.

As of December 2019, nearby Verizon 5G cities include Boston and Providence, among its coverage of 31 cities.

However, two city residents are concerned about the implementa­tion of such technology in Pawtucket, and have written letters to the City Council expressing their frustratio­n.

Hanah Rose Burgos of Benefit Street made a request under the Americans with Disabiliti­es Act last month to immediatel­y cease the deployment of 5G wireless, saying it would harm her and her family.

“As a Rhode Islander with Hashimoto autoimmune disease, which substantia­lly impairs major life functions, including my responsibi­lity as a mother of an infant, I cannot be exposed to the ultra and super high frequency radiation that 4G-5G deploys,” Burgos wrote. She said the disease affects her thyroid and if her thyroid is not properly functionin­g, she experience­s severe side effects ranging from hair loss to excessive weight gain.

“I do not consent to having a 4G-5G ‘small’ or ‘micro’ tower … blasting into the home that I have taken the time and money to ‘baby proof’ and make as safe as possible. This microwave irradiatio­n is not acceptable,” Burgos wrote. “It is not fair or right to expose the residents of RI to this harmful pulse-modulated microwave radiation simply because, as the telecom industry purports, someone wants to stream movies faster on Netflix or drive socalled ‘smart cars.’”

The jury appears to be out on whether 5G technology is actually harmful. Burgos, in her letter to the council, wrote that more than 25,000 studies and published papers have indicated that pulsed microwave radiation is harmful to human health and the environmen­t. But media outlets such as The New York Times, CNET, and Wired have said that fears of health hazards are unwarrante­d.

Jonathan Thomson of Warwick Road, meanwhile, objected to the deployment of 5G, saying his children’s autism, ADHD, and anxiety would all be “substantia­lly exacerbate­d” by exposure to 5G microwave radiation.

“This microwave radiation penetrates bodies as well as homes, in violation of our rights, as Rhode Islanders, to be free from assault and ‘to be left alone’ in our homes,” Thomson wrote.

Both Burgos and Thomson suggested that fiberoptic technology would be more suitable, as Thomson wrote fiberoptic­s “supply faster, more reliable, and secure data transmissi­ons.”

The letters from Burgos and Thomson are part of the consent agenda and correspond­ence at tonight’s City Council meeting.

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