back to article What's the German word for stalling technology rollouts over health fears? Cos that plus 5G equals Switzerland

Switzerland has stalled the rollout of next-gen 5G mobile networks over health concerns. A letter, sent at the end of January from the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (Bafu) to local governments, explained that it was unable to provide a new 5G benchmark for measuring safe radiation exposure levels until it has …

  1. Mike Shepherd

    Stand firm

    Perhaps if Switzerland stands firm, 5G will fade away, like quartz watches.

  2. Britt Johnston

    stalled too late?

    Where I live, in Basel, they have a trial 5G net up and running since the middle of last year,

    In fact, the article below seems to suggest that coverage of operating or installed antennae is already close to complete, so a moratorium on new antennae would come too late to be relevant.

    If the words are too much, just click on the map of Switzerland covered in green dots.

  3. deadlockvictim


    There is something funny about the Swiss and the southern Germans when it comes to things that are emit radiation or are at least perceived to do so (Strahlung in German). There are many people in both places that have lumps of crystal (quartz for example) in jugs of water or on their mantelpiece and believe in some sort of positive radiation from it. When a massive crystal was found in the Swiss alps some years' ago, it made front page news. Then, there are also many who won't use microwave ovens for any reason, presumably also because of negative rays. There is quite an amount of resistance (not measurable in ohms though) towards the humble microwave oven.

    To add to this, one does hear of Swiss & Germans complaining about electrosmog although whether this is psychosomatic, I don't know. Nobody seems to mind carrying around a mobile phone in their pocket or handbag.

    And lastly, there are shops [1] that sell clothing that will protect the electro-sensitive. The material has copper and silver woven into it. More details here [2].

    [1] For example, in Freiburg im Breisgau you can buy clothes that will shield you:


    1. GrumpenKraut

      Re: Rays

      Expensive blankets (for beds) are sold as well. To show the effect, the seller takes customer's mobile and puts it under the blanket for a short while, then takes it out and shows that there is zero reception displayed.

      The fact that most radiation the customer is exposed to comes from the customer's mobile? Seller will not mention that.

      1. Wade Burchette

        Re: Rays

        These people should market their wares to the residents of Green Bank, West Virginia. People who claim their are sensitive to radio waves move there because it is terrestial radio blackout zone due to the radio telescope. The mountains block all radio waves except those from outer space and the psychosomatic people move there to escape WiFi "sickness" and other such nonsense.

    2. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      Re: Rays

      ...lumps of crystal (quartz for example) in jugs of water or on their mantelpiece and believe in some sort of positive radiation...

      You got this wrong. As any fuleSwiss kno, the quartz does not emit any but rather absorb malign radiation. That's how the Swiss keep healthy.

      And don't remind me of microwave ovens. I've had a many futile discussions trying to pointlessly explain that food heated in a microwave oven retains more of its original (i.e. healthy?) components because of its lesser exposure to heat as compared to using traditional methods.

      1. deadlockvictim

        Re: Rays

        The crystals absorb the bad rays. *That's* the secret. I have shall to get some.

      2. Intractable Potsherd

        Re: Rays

        There is no way I can find an entry into the rationale of crystal "theory" that makes any sense at all. The starting point for analysing how people think crystals do anything that these people claim is so far into the territory marked "Beware, here be conmen and woo-weavers" that I can find nothing for my mi D to gain traction on.

  4. Khaptain Silver badge

    Bring them on

    In the last 3 weeks Swisscom VOIP services, this now equates to most landlines, has gone down for 1.5 hours each time. Even emergency services were impossible to contact.

    The only network that continued was the mobile network. If anything people in Switzerland need to consider what is the alternative to not having 5g in the near future...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nowt will happen here

    until the '5G gave me cancer' lawsuits start making front page headlines. Until then it is full spectrum forward towards making us citizens of post Brexit UK, all bask in the 'white heat of technology' or evil radiation. You take your pick.

    I can bask in the knowledge that the higher frequencies used in 5G won't work for me at home due to the 15in think stone walls of my house (built circa 1590).

  6. David Pearce

    What happens with all of these cars with 70 GHz collision radar?

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Well if it is Uber they don't seem to stop collisions...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        As you point out, Uber have already demonstrated that radiation is fatal.

        Well, if you're depending on that radiation to prevent the object generating said radiation from hitting you. At 30+ MPH...

  7. Elledan

    A few decades of experiments should be enough?

    Considering that we have been filling our environments, homes and everywhere else with this kind of non-ionising radiation that 5G also uses since the 1980s (at least), and so far we have not seen a corresponding spike in cancer cases or other diseases, it would be fairly safe to say that these fears are overblown. There have been lots of studies on the effect of non-ionising radiation on for example brain tissue when one blathers into a smartphone for hours on end. So far the only possible effect found is that it might maybe warm up the tissue somewhat? But that could be from the warm or tasty smartphone cooking the side of your head as well.

    Honestly, considering that most folk in Switzerland are voluntarily sucking lead-210 isotopes (alpha particle emitter, definitely ionising radiation) as well as polonium-210 isotopes into their lungs along with a whole batch of other carcinogenic or simply toxic substances whenever they smoke a cigarette (and people there love smoking, with no smoke-free zones on their train stations, even), one must question a lot of things about these fears.

    Did anyone mention yet that since Switzerland is a mountainous region, they likely have a lot of (ionising) radon gas seeping out of the ground as well? Just saying that all of this might just be a tad ironic in the big picture.

    1. Scott 26

      Re: A few decades of experiments should be enough?

      > Just saying that all of this might just be a tad ironic in the big picture.

      surely "...a tad ionic...".....????

  8. Headley_Grange Silver badge


    A survey I did when I worked in Comms a very long time ago showed definitively (within the error limits of my sample size) that microwave engineers* were significantly much more likely to father** girls.

    * engineers working at microwave frequencies, not people who service microwave ovens.

    ** I didn't know any female microwave engineers then (or ever).

    1. STOP_FORTH Silver badge

      Re: Babies

      This also applies to (male) airline pilots and submariners apparently.

  9. jmch Silver badge

    Switzerland is a very conservative country, very safety-conscious, big on all sorts of insurance etc so it doesn't surprise me so much. Unfortunately there is way too much FUD around radiation, globally not just in Switzerland.

    What is terrible is the way it is propagated by clever people who are ignorant in the field, just as much or even more than by dumb people. A little knowledge is indeed a dangerous thing!

    1. STOP_FORTH Silver badge

      The tortoise and the hare

      Surely radiation propagates at the speed of light? That's got to be faster than rumours!

  10. STOP_FORTH Silver badge

    There is a German word for this article, Kieran


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There is a German word for this article, Kieran

      Or the German word for "ready or not, here I come"....


      I'll get my coat.

  11. STOP_FORTH Silver badge


    I'm pretty sure this word is used by the RF-averse crowd in the UK as well. (Not to mention one Norwegian Statsminister.)

  12. Big_Boomer


    Again we can lay this kind of head-up-yer-arse mentality firmly at the altars of "The Media" and "Social" networks. Utter drivel spread by unthinking zombies who believe that their "feelings" have as much or more weight in a debate than actual, repeatable scientifically proven FACT.

    Microwave oven = 650-1000Watts. 4G Cellphone maximum = 200mW or 0.2W and they normally operate at much lower power.

    The ONLY risk I have ever heard of from cellphones was from very early analogue phones and was due to the power they had to use (right next to your ear) to reach the base stations on the 800Mhz band. My Dad used to insist on having a "luggable" phone rather than one of those Motorola bricks, as that way the 3W/800Mhz wasn't right next to his head.

    I'll bet more people are injured/killed because of "Phone Zombie Syndrome" than any amount of ultra-low power radiation, regardless of what radio band it is in. I think we should BAN all use of cellphones whilst walking as well as whilst driving. It could save so many injuries and lives! :-)

  13. Cosmos

    You claimed: "The fact that 5G networks do expose people to more intense, albeit SAFE and non-ionizing, radiation has fueled fears in health-conscious Switzerland."

    There is no evidence non-ionizing radiation is safe hence why there are regulations in place in the UK for workplaces schools and for the general public.

    The Royal College of London funded by the UK government have along with other European scientists only a few years ago initiated a study into the health impacts of wireless technology with the words 'we do not know the long term health impacts'. It is irresponsible and bizzarre for you to claim it is 'safe' with no hard evidence to back this claim up.

    Current guidelines are taken from a 1998 study before the widespread use of the wireless tech we see today which also claims "General statement on safety factors There is insufficient information on the biological and health effects of EMF exposure of human populations and experimental animals to provide a rigorous basis for establishing safety factors over the whole frequency range and for all frequency modulations"

    1. Licenced_Radio_Nerd

      Plenty of evidence to prove it is safe!

      From the 1960s onwards, three television transmitters in the UK: Sandy Heath in Bedfordshire; Crystal Palace in London; and Sutton Coldfield in Birmingham all delivered analogue television into people's homes with transmitter powers of 1 million watts Effective Radiated Power. By the 1980s, that was times 4 for each of the main UK channels. If there was a causal link between exposure to high-energy radio transmitters, we would have been dropping like flies. I grew up in the shadow of Sandy Heath, and we are all fine.

      Electrosensitivity does not exist. There is nothing in the human body that can detect photons outside of the visible light spectrum. If you are suffering from headaches, insomnia, et al, you have other underlying mental/physical health issues. They are not caused by radio!

      1. STOP_FORTH Silver badge

        Up to a point, Lord Copper

        I've upvoted you anyway, but your body can certainly detect some forms of electromagnetic radiation. Microwaves will cause it to heat up, frequencies used for RADAR can give you cataracts (admittedly these could be very high power), gamma rays will just kill you deader than dead.

        Not suggesting that these frequencies are anything like those used for mobile telephony. I also accept that the closer you are to a cellphone mast the less RF will be pumped into your head by your 'phone.

        (Not claiming to be an RF guru but I have replaced the occasional "twit" in PCM transmitters.)

        1. Licenced_Radio_Nerd

          Re: Up to a point, Lord Copper

          I use the term "detect" in the sense of: can the so-called electro-sensitive person who claims Wi-Fi gives them a headache, sitting in my RF test chamber with an aerial pointed at their head, tell me whether the transmitter is on, off, or even plugged in? I am going to bet a King's ransom that they cannot! I am also going to safely bet that they are suffering from an underlying health issue that they are blaming on "electrosmog" - a term Amateur Radio uses to describe radio spectrum pollution caused by the plethora of junk electronics.

          As for heating effects, yes, if you were daft enough to defeat the safety device of your microwave oven, or stare into the waveguide of an energised RADAR system, you would certainly cook vital parts. This extreme case does not apply, and one should be careful not to confuse those who already have a lack of understanding of radio in case they find some other "cause"!

          Gamma rays are technically ionising radiation - and they will mess you up!

          1. Hardrada

            Re: Up to a point, Lord Copper

            @Licenced_Radio_Nerd "I use the term "detect" in the sense of: can the so-called electro-sensitive person who claims Wi-Fi gives them a headache, sitting in my RF test chamber with an aerial pointed at their head, tell me whether the transmitter is on, off, or even plugged in? I am going to bet a King's ransom that they cannot!"

            There have been quite a few studies along those lines, but all of the ones I'm aware of were shoddy. In particular I remember that they hooked study volunteers up to EEG machines without testing for SMPS noise, didn't mention any shielding (for the non-exposure half of the test) or made it clear that there wasn't any.

            One of the only studies with shielding used 6" pyramidal foam absorber panels rather than metal, even though they were looking primarily at electric fields ( They also mounted the panels with the absorbant sides facing outward and the reflective sides inward, then placed several noise sources inside the shield right next to the volunteers.

            On the other hand, some of the animal studies have been pretty good:



            (Probably a better summary for people without access:

        2. Headley_Grange Silver badge

          Re: Up to a point, Lord Copper

          If you spend long enough around radio amateurs then sooner or later you'll hear tales of tuning antennas by running your finger along them to find the peaks - and this is at frequencies from HF to UHF. RF burns aren't uncommon when fiddling with aerials and connectors and accidentally keying the transmitter. They can be particularly nasty if they are a bit below the skin surface. Almost any radio frequency will warm you up - or cook you - if there's enough power, although wavelengths that are similar to, or smaller than body dimensions are better at it. There are industrial ovens that work at much lower frequencies than the 'standard' of around 2.4GHz, which was chosen mainly because it made the ovens and the sources a sensible size for the kitchen.

      2. Alister

        Re: Plenty of evidence to prove it is safe!


        I also agree with your basic premise, and have mucked around with millimetre band radio in the past, but I take issue with your statement that the human body cannot detect electromagnetic radiation - it is accepted that many people can tell if a thunderstorm is brewing, with symptoms of headaches etc.

        1. Licenced_Radio_Nerd

          Re: Plenty of evidence to prove it is safe!

          Headaches due to approaching thunderstorms are a product of changing air pressure and changing Relative Humidity - and possibly being hit on the head by golf-ball sized hail.

          The human body contains no known structures with sufficient metallic content to provide detection of radio-wavelength electromagnetic waves that could cause a physiological response that can be detected by the brain. If it did, those subject to an MRI scan would explode!

    2. Alister

      There is no evidence non-ionizing radiation is safe

      It is very hard to prove a negative.

      However, you might also like to consider "there is no evidence that non-ionising radiation is dangerous"

    3. jmch Silver badge

      "There is no evidence non-ionizing radiation is safe" FALSE. You can say "There is no PROOF non-ionizing radiation is safe", and that is trivially true because it is non-provable. But there's plenty of EVIDENCE that' it's safe.

      On the other hand, there is also no evidence that non-ionizing radiation at the powers and frequencies in common use is dangerous for human health. Saying "we do not know the long term health impacts" is erring on the side of caution, and, again, is trivially true simply because mobile technology has only seen widespread use in the last 25 years, and many long-term studies are still ongoing. However there still have been some long-term studies (I believe there was one in Scandinavia running for at least 10 years), and none of these have shown any harm.

  14. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    I always try to confuse these "ALL RADIATION IS DANGEROUS, WE'RE DOOMED" types by suggesting they should also avoid IR radiation (which has MUCH higher energy per photon, after all, it is much "harder" radiation). Common sources of IR radiation are, essentially all things around you, but fellow human beings in particular. Therefore, they should really avoid close contact with fellow humans, especially when nude. Some part of me hopes (vainly, no doubt) that some might follow this advice, and thus reduce the rate at which these numbskulls procreate.

  15. Wim Ton

    <sarcasm>It is a well known fact that only the radiation of devices that you buy yourself is harmless</sarcasm>

  16. ZX80 and a Pint

    Just get the info on both sides.

    To sort this all out in your own mind I'd recommend watching RT. The German version will tell you all about the dangers of 5G, the Russian version will tell you why it's essential for Mother Russia.

    Now you are an informed media consumer, ready to... ahmmm... where was I...

    1. STOP_FORTH Silver badge

      Re: Just get the info on both sides.

      I fear for Poland.

  17. BuckeyeB

    "it is not clear yet what impact it may have on the body and even suggesting it might cause cancers." It might cause incontinence too. We have no idea. It might cause faster internet. Still not sure. Just saying it doesn't make it so. And comparing it to asbestos. SMH.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like