SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Sacramento will be the first city in the country to get 5G cell service later this summer, but health concerns are now being raised about the equipment.

5G uses high frequency waves and is supposed to be 100 times faster than the current cell phone service. However, the 5G waves don’t travel as far as current wireless frequencies so instead of large cell phone tower equipment spread far apart, the 5G requires small cell sites closer together.

The FCC does set exposure limits for cell site antennas that transmit signals to phones.

Research has been done on the effects of cell radiation but it has been inconsistent. According to the National Cancer Institute, “A limited number of studies have shown some evidence of statistical association of cell phone use and brain tumor risks, but most studies have found no association.”

Firefighters in San Francisco have reported memory problems and confusion after cell phone towers were installed outside of fire stations. The firefighters claim the symptoms stopped when they relocated to stations without equipment nearby.

The wireless industry told CBS13 that decades of research shows no known health risk from this type of energy. In fact, a spokesperson says the occurrence of brain tumors in the United States has actually gone down since cell phones were introduced.

“The safety of cellphone consumers is important to CTIA and the wireless industry. We follow the guidance of the experts when it comes to antennas and health effects. Following numerous scientific studies conducted over several decades, the FCC, the FDA, the World Health Organization, the American Cancer Society and numerous other international and U.S. organizations and health experts continue to say that the scientific evidence shows no known health risk to humans due to the RF energy emitted by antennas and cellphones. The evidence includes analysis of official federal brain tumor statistics showing that since the introduction of cellphones in the mid-1980s, the rate of brain tumors in the United States has decreased.”

The City of Sacramento partnered with Verizon to offer 5G. A spokesperson told CBS13 the City of Sacramento currently has six active 5G sites- all are on SMUD utility poles:

  • 1731 E Street
  • 1619 E Street
  • 421 14TH Street
  • 2330 Q Street
  • 2019 21ST Street
  • 801 16TH Street

Sacramento issued a statement to CBS13- reading in part:

“Sacramento continues its emergence as a leader and innovator and will be the first scaled commercial practical implementation of 5G in the nation. It is this type of innovation that will enable residents to experience gigabit speeds that were previously only available via costly fiber. Technologies like 5G promise to revolutionize the daily lives of people. The City plays an important role and is actively working to streamline the development processes and effectively and efficiently pave the way for innovators like Verizon to implement technologies that will drive economic vitality, decrease the digital divide, serve our diverse communities, and forward the mission of the City for all.

The City currently has six 5G sites active. The City does not/cannot regulate wireless devices.”

AT&T also plans to introduce 5G and says it is comfortable with the technology.

Some cities, including Santa Rosa, have put their 5G plans on hold while health concerns are addressed.

Editor’s note: A previous version of the story read that firefighters had “memory problems and confusion after the 5G equipment was installed outside of fire stations.” The story has been changed to reflect that the cell towers, not 5G, which isn’t in San Francisco, possibly contributed to the firefighters’ problems.