Anti-antennae warriors stall 5G rollout in Brussels

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The rollout of 5G mobile internet infrastructure has stalled in Brussels, over worries that mobile phones cause cancer — and science’s inability to prove otherwise.

“We are not conspiracy theorists,” said Olivier Galand, spokesperson for Brussels anti-cellular activists grONDES (a play on French words for “wave” and “scold”). The group blames “electrosmog” emitted from cell phone towers for causing serious health problems ranging from cancer to weaker bones — and they’re making sure politicians know about it.

“We are not against technology,” said Galand, “We just ask that technology respect health.”

Though little evidence exists linking cell phone radiation to health problems, the absence of long-term studies has fueled community opposition to mobile phone system infrastructure like antenna towers. The opposition is raising worries among policymakers as Europe prepares to spend billions on new equipment to support new 5G systems.

With scientists unable to definitively rule out that mobile radiation is harmful, grONDES’s skepticism is gaining more traction — and Brussels, the capital of Belgium and home to European Union policymaking, is a hotspot of concern.

In April, the Belgian region that includes Brussels halted work on its new 5G network, citing uncertainty about its health effects. Once expected to be online in 2020, work on the network is now frozen pending further study. Galand and grONDES, which protested the upgrade, claim credit for the turnaround.