Wildlife and Biodiversity: A Disappearing Act by Cell Towers on Land and in Space?

Calling all environmentalists! The most important and thorough peer reviewed article to date on environmental effects of wireless radiofrequency radiation was published in 2021 and deserves a full read. This has been followed by other publications, as well as an eye opening 2023 legal and policy webinar on wireless radiation and wildlife that should be a call to action for all groups interested in biodiversity and planetary health. What do we know about wireless radiation effects on the natural environment? The comprehensive 3 part  review by Levitt, Lai and Manville (2021) provides a wealth of scientific information, connecting the scientific dots of radiofrequency radiation (RFR) harm to all flora and fauna. In a very readable text the authors answer many puzzling questions about this complex subject that combines biology, ecology, technology and physics. A shorter summary article was published in 20222 titled, Low-level EMF effects on wildlife and plants: What research tells us about an ecosystem approach. The authors warn, “It is time to recognize ambient EMF as a novel form of pollution and develop rules at regulatory agencies that designate air as ‘habitat’ so EMF can be regulated like other pollutants.” Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) has weighed in as well with comments in 2017 and 2022 on the rewriting of policies on cell tower placement in public land and National parks.

Most of us are aware that human activity has drastically altered the terrestrial and marine environment causing an accelerated decline in species and biodiversity by land degradation, over-harvesting, plastic and chemical pollution, and the extraction and use of fossil fuels.  Environmental scientists all agree that transformative change is necessary in these areas. But what happens to the environment when humans alter the Earth’s previously low-level geomagnetic forces that life evolved harmoniously in? Can cell towers and proliferating 5G satellites impact species that depend on the Earth’s magnetic fields for navigation, foraging, pollination and reproduction? What are the effects on climate change? Read below for links and summaries of the 3 part article.

One of the authors of the article, former USFWS senior wildlife biologist and adjunct professor at john Hopkins University, Albert Manville, explained the critical need to protect birds and bats, impacts from cell towers, wind turbines and solar arrays, as well as research on effects of radiofrequency radiation in My Life for the Birds & Bats. This informative and eye opening talk was sponsored by Friends of Merrymeeting Bay’s (FOMB) for their 26th annual Winter Speaker Series in 2023.

Updated 11/16/23

NEW 7/20/23 Webinar Science, Legal and Policy Webinar on Wildlife and Wireless Radiation: The Ecosystem and Environmental Impacts of Cell Towers and Electromagnetic Radiation. An expert panel of researchers was convened in July 2023 to discuss the current state of research and policy needs regarding wildlife, national parks and the increasing planetary threat of expanding telecommunications, including untested 5G deployment. Highly engaging and concise information was presented for the first time. The speakers include Albert M. Manville II PhD., a retired senior wildlife biologist at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; B. Blake Levitt, an award-winning medical/science journalist and acclaimed author; Daniel Favre, PhD., Wildlife Biologist; Dr. Cornelia Waldmann-Selsam, researcher who discusses the impacts of radiofrequency radiation on trees; Erica Rosenberg, retired Assistant Chief of the Competition and Infrastructure Policy Division at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Devra Davis PhD., MPH, President of Environmental Health Trust. Hosted by Theodora Scarato, MSW, Executive Director of Environmental Health Trust. Excerpts below:

“It is these exact RFR bands between 30 KHz and 3 GHz used in telecommunications technology that have increased during this period of accelerating wildlife disappearance. No other pollutant has increased in parallel like this.” Blake Levitt 

“There are no exposure standards for wildlife species by any standards setting group.”  Blake Levitt 

“We must refund the  U.S. EPA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to investigate this work.” Blake Levitt

NEW Webinar October 29, 2023 SCIENCE, POLICY AND LAW OF 5G, 4G AND WIRELESS: THE HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT IMPACTS. Environmental Health Trust. Oct 29, 2023. Thorough but concise review and presentations of the issues with international experts. Speakers * Rob Brown MD– Orthopedic radiology specialist * Blake Levitt- Medical and science journalist * Devra Davis Ph.D. MPH- President of Environmental Health Trust  * Theodora Scarato-Executive Director of Environmental Health Trust * Kent Chamberlin, Past-Chair and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of New Hampshire. * Joe Sandri- Telecommunications Attorney.

New 2022 Environmental Procedures at the FCC: A Case Study in Corporate Capture. Erica Rosenberg. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development. Vol 64, Pg 17-21. December 12, 2022.  https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00139157.2022.2131190?journalCode=venv20 Summary here: https://www.saferemr.com/2023/07/environmental-procedures-at-fcc-case.html Note: Erica Rosenberg, former Assistant Chief of the Competition and Infrastructure Policy Division at the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Wireless Telecommunications Bureau states in her article,  “[FCC] practices serve to facilitate deployment for carriers while ignoring environmental rules and the public. Besides environmental costs, the FCC’s approach bespeaks a lack of transparency and accountability that undermines good governance and erodes democracy. It also bespeaks an agency completely captured by the entities it is tasked with regulating.” 

NEW 11/26/22- Levitt, Lai and Manville in November 2022 published a new shorter summary article of the 3 part series in Frontiers in Public Health called “Low-level EMF effects on wildlife and plants: What research tells us about an ecosystem approach.” The authors highlight that “the unique physiology of non-human species, their extraordinary sensitivity to both natural and anthropogenic EMF, and the likelihood that artificial EMF in the static, extremely low frequency (ELF) and radiofrequency (RF) ranges of the non-ionizing electromagnetic spectrum are capable at very low intensities of adversely affecting both fauna and flora in all species studied.” and note that, “Any existing exposure standards are for humans only; wildlife is unprotected, including within the safety margins of existing guidelines, which are inappropriate for trans-species sensitivities and different non-human physiology.”

Low-level EMF effects on wildlife and plants: What research tells us about an ecosystem approach. Levitt BB, Lai HC, Manville AM. Frontiers in Public Health, 25 November 2022
Sec. Radiation and Health . http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpubh.2022.1000840/full?&utm_source=Email_to_authors_&utm_medium=Email&utm_content=T1_11.5e1_author&utm_campaign=Email_publication&field=&journalName=Frontiers_in_Public_Health&id=1000840

Overview of The Effects of Non-ionizing Electromagnetic Fields on Flora and Fauna

As the scientific community and physicians are becoming aware of the real public health hazards of cell towers, cell phones and all wireless devices, environmentalists have been much slower to acknowledge the effects of wireless infrastructure on wildlife, ecosystems and agriculture. The new 3 part review article by Levitt, Lai and Manville prods environmentalists to educate themselves and become involved in protecting natural ecosystems beyond considerations of habitat, pesticides and industrial pollutants. Wireless radiofrequency radiation (RFR) is a pollutant that has silently crept into our lives in the telecommunication industry’s push to transform our world to a fully technological society where we are constantly connected to each other and the objects that surround us, not looking up to recognize the slow decline of the natural environment and human disconnection that follows this rise in technology.  

Safety, Science and Solutions: Part 1,2,3

The in-depth review article by Levitt et al. is written in 3 parts, with: 

Part 1 Effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields on flora and fauna, part 1. Rising ambient EMF levels in the environment. (2021) Rev Environ Health. 2021 May 27. Levitt, Lai, Manville, questioning the safety of wireless technologies and 5G, Part 2 looking at animal studies and magnetoreception mechanisms and Part 3 examining exposure standards, laws and proposals to address this issue to protect the natural environment. “Wildlife loss is often unseen and undocumented until tipping points are reached. Long-term chronic low-level EMF exposure standards, which do not now exist, should be set accordingly for wildlife, and environmental laws should be strictly enforced.”(Levitt, Lai, Manville 2021 Part 1)

Part 2, Effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields on flora and fauna, Part 2 impacts: how species interact with natural and man-made EMF .” Rev Environ Health, 2021 July 8. Levitt, Lai, Manville

“Numerous studies across all frequencies and taxa indicate that current low-level anthropogenic EMF can have myriad adverse and synergistic effects, including on orientation and migration, food finding, reproduction, mating, nest and den building, territorial maintenance and defense, and on vitality, longevity and survivorship itself. Effects have been observed in mammals such as bats, cervids, cetaceans, and pinnipeds among others, and on birds, insects, amphibians, reptiles, microbes and many species of flora. Cyto- and geno-toxic effects have long been observed in laboratory research on animal models that can be extrapolated to wildlife. Unusual multi-system mechanisms can come into play with non-human species – including in aquatic environments – that rely on the Earth’s natural geomagnetic fields for critical life-sustaining information.”

Part 3 Effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields on flora and fauna, Part 3. Exposure standards, public policy, laws, and future directions. (2021) Levitt, Lai, Manville. Rev Environ Health. 2021 Sep

“New laws should be written to accommodate the ever-increasing EMF exposures. Radiofrequency radiation exposure standards that have been adopted by worldwide agencies and governments warrant more stringent controls given the new and unusual signaling characteristics used in 5G technology. No such standards take wildlife into consideration. Many species of flora and fauna, because of distinctive physiologies, have been found sensitive to exogenous EMF in ways that surpass human reactivity… Long-term chronic low-level EMF exposure standards should be set accordingly for wildlife, including, but not limited to, the redesign of wireless devices, as well as infrastructure, in order to reduce the rising ambient level.”

Wireless and Wildlife In the News

The Santa Fe New Mexican picked up the story Feb 5, 2022, with an article written by Scott Wyland, Report Says Wireless Radiation May Harm Wildlife. One of the authors, Albert Manville, a retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Biologist and John Hopkins adjunct professor said, “There needs to be regulatory standards to address EMFs affecting wildlife.” Another author Blake Levitt notes,” “We just blew the whole thing out of the water and took it to the ecosystem level, which is really where it needed to go. Nobody had done that before.”

“If industrial man continues to multiply his numbers and expand his operations he will succeed in his apparent intention, to steal himself off from the natural and  and isolate himself within a synthetic prison of his own making. He will make himself and exile from the earth and then will know at last, if he is still capable of feeling anything, the pain and agony of final loss.” Edward Abbey, author of Desert Solitaire.

The Global 5G and “Smart Grid” Network Are A Planetary Risk 

Without research, monitoring or public knowledge of RF levels, cell towers are rapidly proliferating in rural and sensitive wild areas, in space, in our communities and on our roadways with vast networks of “Smart Grid” and 5G systems blanketing the airspace environment. Current law protects industry over public health and planetary concerns of burgeoning radiofrequency radiation.  In Effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields on flora and fauna, Part 1 the authors state,“We have yet to take into consideration the unique physiologies of other species, or how they use the environment in ways that humans do not, when we assume that the unfettered use of EMF/RFR can continue unabated and be allowed to grow indefinitely.”

Biologist and researcher Alfonso Balmori published a thorough review of the existing scientific literature on the effects of base station (cell tower) antennas on humans in 2022 in Environmental Research titled, Evidence for a health risk by RF on humans living around mobile phone base stations: from radiofrequency sickness to cancer. This supports information that Levitt, Lai and Manville have published. Balmori states in the abstract, “Overall results of this review show three types of effects by base station antennas on the health of people: radiofrequency sickness (RS), cancer (C) and changes in biochemical parameters (CBP). Considering all the studies reviewed globally (n = 38), 73.6% (28/38) showed effects: 73.9% (17/23) for radiofrequency sickness, 76.9% (10/13) for cancer and 75.0% (6/8) for changes in biochemical parameters...Of special importance are the studies performed on animals or trees near base station antennas that cannot be aware of their proximity and to which psychosomatic effects can never be attributed.”

New Hampshire Report on 5G

The first Commission formed in the United States to study the environmental and health effects of 5G technology released their comprehensive final report November 1, 2020. The Commission to Study the Environmental and Health Effects of Evolving 5G Technology met a dozen times over the course of a year and developed 15 recommendations addressing the need for public education about wireless hazards, RF health studies, RF measurements, cell antenna setbacks, fiberoptic rather than wireless deployment, commercial warning signs and wildlife protection. RECOMMENDATION 14– The State of New Hampshire should engage agencies with appropriate scientific expertise, including ecological knowledge, to develop RF-radiation safety limits that will protect the trees, plants, birds, insects, and pollinators. 

Animals Avoid Areas with Cell Coverage

Macedo (2018) found cellphone coverage is a very efficient indicator of human presence at global scale and that where there is cell phone coverage the probability of finding an animal is low (18%), and for threatened species even lower (4%). This is consistent the authors state,”even in forested areas were no other footprint evidence is easily detectable.” A  Scientific American blog stated “their study reveals that many sites which the Human Footprint Index ranks as “roadless” and therefore hospitable to wildlife actually have high levels of cell coverage, indicating they’re more degraded than the index alone would reveal.

UNESCO World Heritage Wildlife Area Species Disappearing After Cell Towers Appeared

An abundance of peer reviewed literature demonstrates adverse impacts to the environment with declines in insect, bird and wildlife populations in cities and where cell towers are placed. This spells disaster for biodiversity, fragile wildlife areas, critical pollinators and agriculture, especially with additive effects of pesticides, toxins, loss of habitat and a warming planet. An ethno-botonist’s Report on Unesco’s Mt. Nardia World Heritage Park carefully documents this slow decline in populations of species a with the rise in placement of multiple cell towers, and with no other land disturbance over a 15 year period (2000-2015).    In a personal communication from Greece, avid birders have also noted the steep decline and absence of migratory species that they have enthusiastically followed year after year and now are gone. In another report from the Dutch Island of Texel 7,000 Sandwich terns in the De Petten nature reserve died in a short period of time. None in the colony were left by the end of June 2022. The first dead terns were found after 18 cell towers(4G) were added. Although calling bird flu the culprit, other Dutch reports show that where the cell towers are the terns died and where cell towers were absent or sparse the terns thrived. The book “The Invisible Rainbow” highlights many other stories, history and research.

MOEF Report on Wildlife

The Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) of expert scientists in India reviewed the literature of the effects of RF-EMF radiations on wildlife, humans and the biosphere. In their 2010 Ministry of Environment and Forest India EMR Impacts on Wildlife (MOEF) Report they found that out of the 919 research papers collected on birds, bees, plants, animals, and humans, 593 showed impacts, 180 showed no impacts, and 196 were inconclusive studies. All organisms had effects. The 2010 MOEF can be found below.

Ministry of Environment and Forest India EMR Impacts on Wildlife. 2010

Human Effects– 62% showed effects, 13% no effect and 25% inconclusive

Plant Effects–87% showed effects and 13% were inconclusive

Wildlife Effects- 62% showed effects, 4% no effect and 36% inconclusive

Bee Effects—85% showed effects and 15% no effect

Bird Effects– 77% showed effects, 10% no effect and 13% inconclusive

Broad Harm to Mammals, Birds, Insects, Trees, Plants and Bacteria

The broad disruption of this manmade artificial RF radiation towards all living organisms is not just from the direct effects of RFR emissions on complex biological systems, but also includes indirect impacts of this wireless technology on our unchecked carbon footprinttoxic e-waste and mining of earth minerals. Living species are in trees, fly through the air, and live and breed in or near water, all of which are vulnerable to nearby cell tower radiation exposuresmilitary operations, and the billionaires space race.


Oscillation of Ions

Panagopoulos (2013) notes that artificial RF from wireless devices and infrastructure is polarized, pulsed and jumbled with different frequencies that are very different than natural background RF and cause external oscillating forces which cause a forced vibration of free ions and membrane disturbance of calcium channels. Animals are exquisitely sensitive to low levels of electromagnetic radiation which can explain how they sense earthquakes long before humans (Panogopoulos 2020).


 Yakymenko (2016) looked at 100 peer-reviewed studies on oxidative effects of low-intensity microwave radio frequencies that cause cellular disruption and oxidative harm to DNA, lipids and membranes. He found that 93 of the 100 studies confirmed that these wireless radio frequencies induced oxidative stress in biological systems that overwhelm the body’s ability to neutralize them. Dr. Henry Lai, in the BioInitiative Report, has added even more studies on free radical formation and oxidation from EMR. Of 263studies examined, 235 (or 89%) showed bio effects and 28 (or 11%) did not show bioeffects. The literature also confirms that antioxidants block the cellular harm from RF radiation.

Resonance Effects

Thielens (2018) researched small millimeter wavelengths now used in 5G or 5th generation communication technology (5GHz-300GHz ). These wavelengths are quite small and the size of insects. He looked at vibrational resonance energy absorption on bees and beetles causing changes in behavior, physiology, morphology and mortality. Thielens notes, “All insects showed a general increase in absorbed RF power at and above 6 GHz, in comparison to the absorbed RF power below 6 GHz.” These additive vibrational effects are similar to that of an opera star shattering a wine glass with their voice. 

By hitting the right frequency and vibration, and depending on the objects size, shape and composition, opera stars and other singers  can shatter a wine glass via a physical phenomenon known as a resonance effect. These vibrational forces are additive and eventually when large enough eventually shatter the object. A similar example is the 40 mile per hour winds that set up just the right mechanical vibrational forces to destroy the Tacoma Bridgein 1940. Planetary scientist  Neil deGrasse Tyson explains as well. Tiny 5G millimeter wavelengths can act similarly on insects. 

Radical Spin Mechanism, Bird Geomagnetic Navigation and Our Sixth Sense

The first real time observations of biological magnetoreception of live cells were seen at the University of Tokyo and published this year. A weak magnetic field equivalent to a refrigerator magnet was passed over cells causing changes in fluorescence which indicated a biochemical effect of the magnet. The experiment demonstrated what is called electron radical pair reaction, which is the hypothesis for how magnetoreceptor cryptochromes work in birds.  This critical discovery helps to explain how birds, bees, marine animals and insects use the Earth’s weak geomagnetic force to navigate, and how weak electromagnetic fields from wireless devices can affect human health as well.   Co-author Woodward remarked, “We think we have extremely strong evidence that we’ve observed a purely quantum mechanical process affecting chemical activity at the cellular level.”  Scientists at the California Institute of Technology found evidence that humans also have magnetoreception ability. Could this be our sixth sense? 

Unique 5G Mechanism of Harm- Brillouin’s Precursors

5G millimeter wavelengths have more complex penetration characteristics and interactions with biological systems. These have never been found in nature. 5G uses a phased array with multiple antennas rapidly layering pulses one on top of the other and not allowing any recovery. Beam steering technology is also used and allows for focused narrow beams that are higher power, travel longer distances and penetrate through buildings.  

5G utilizes tiny millimeter waves that have been reported to only penetrate the outer layers of skin. On the surface this seems safer than longer wavelengths that pass through our bodies, however, our entire nervous system communicates via the skin.  The nervous system communicates with the immune system, the endocrine system and the reproductive system in a complex array. Studies demonstrate that when millimeter wave energy rapidly enters the skin, a wave front can be created that does not dissipate but propagates from cell to cell. Bursts of energy produce what are known as Sommerfield and Brillouin’s precursors that can cause non-linear perturbations in living systems. 5G broadband produces more of these than 5G alone. 

A body of older research confirms broad injury from exposure to millimeter wavelengths. Declassified Russian research from Zalyubovskayaet al in 1977 showed that exposure to low level millimeter wavelengths caused broad structural alterations in skin and internal organs. They concluded that millimeter wavelengths were highly biologically active and had an unfavorable effect on the organism. Pakhomov(1998) reviewed the literature and found similar systemic effects. 

Bye Bye Birds and Bees

Storks and Amphibians

Balmori A. (2005,  2008,  2009) has studied the effects of RF radiation from cell towers and found reproductive failure in white storks if nests were closer than 200 feet. He has also found declines in house sparrows over time, plumage deterioration, locomotion problems and lowered immune systems which can make birds more vulnerable to infections. He notes studies showing developmental abnormalities in chicken embryos exposed to pulsed RFR, especially in early development. He also studied the effects of phone masts on amphibians revealing tadpoles to have a high mortality, slower and asynchronous growth (Balmori 2008)  


Engles et al (2014) notes that birds contain magnetite which orients them to the Earth’s magnetic field. He exposed migratory European robins to background electromagnetic noise present in unscreened wooden huts at the University of Oldenburg city campus in Germany and found they could not orient using their magnetic compass. If grounded their orientation reappeared but disappeared again if broadband radiofrequencies were generated inside the huts. He did not believe the effects at first and performed the same double-blinded study many times in 7 years and with different graduate students to confirm the effect before publishing his findings.    

In 1998, soon after cell towers were installed in Pennsylvania, pigeon races ended in disaster as up to 90% of birds were disoriented and lost their navigational skills. When Homing Pigeons Don’t Go Home Again NY Times. Dec 6, 1998. 

Bees and Insects

Sharma et al (2010) looked at bee behavior placing a cell phone near a hive. They found worker bees returned less and less frequently to the beehive after the installation of a mobile phone. There was a significant decline in colony strength and the rate of queen egg laying. Favre et al (2017) clearly demonstrated that bee behavior is disrupted by exposure to cell phone GSM radiofrequency radiation and caused worker bees to emit a piping signal to swarm. Bees have also demonstrated aggression after 30 minutes of cell phone exposure. Liangdemonstrated magnetoreceptors in the abdomen of bees.  Cammaerts (2017) has done a number of studies on cell phone radiation and found that insects, particularly ants, are extremely sensitive to radiofrequency radiation (RFR).  Cammaerts (2017), observes that the sharp decline of bees (colony collapse disorder) did not start with the use of insecticides but much later and removal of pesticides has not been accompanied by the expected rise in bee populations.  This is a worrisome trend with the increasing loss of biodiversity of which insects are the base.

Wan (2020)  notes that small changes in the earths geomagnetic force can affect insects which migrate.

Yanagawa (2020)   studied non-chemical methods of pest control using 2.45 GHz microwave irradiation, the same frequency as you cell phone and Wi Fi, and found non-thermal lethal effects.


Waldmann-Selsam (2016)  looked at the connection between unusual (generally unilateral) tree damage and radiofrequency exposure over 9 years in 2 cities in Germany. The researchers found significant differences between the damaged side facing a phone mast and the opposite side, as well as differences between the exposed side of damaged trees and all other groups of trees in both sides. Of the 30 trees in low EMF environment there was no damage. 


A Review article by Halgamuge (2017)  notes  “data from a substantial amount of the studies on RF-EMFs from mobile phones show physiological and/or morphological effects”on plants. His research found “maize, roselle, pea, fenugreek, duckweeds, tomato, onions and mungbean plants seem to be very sensitive to RF-EMFs.” This would make sense as plant cells evolved to communicate via tiny electromagnetic forces. 

Quershi et al (2017) exposed dry chickpea seeds to cellphone radiation in the 900MHz and 3.31GHZ frequencies with untreated seeds as a control. The researchers found the non-ionizing non- thermal radiofrequency radiation induced genotoxic effects on chickpea root tip cells when grown. 


Said Salman (2019) examined Wi Fi effects on antibiotic susceptibility and biofilm production in bacteria and foundincreased antibiotic resistance in  E Coli, as well as increased biofilm production in Staph aureus, Staph Epidermidis and E Col when exposed to 2.4 GHz Wi Fi. 

Sharma (2018),concerned with growing problem of antibiotic resistance, examined soil samples near and far from cell towers and identified increased levels of antibiotic resistance.

Taheri (2017) found that cultures ofEscherichia coliexposed to RF emissions from a GSM 900 MHz mobile phone simulator and a common 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi router caused reduces susceptibility to antibiotics with increased exposure times. Antibiotic resistance in the medical community is considered one of the biggest health challenges of our time. 

The Ionosphere and Space

The authors highlight the emergence of  “New Space” with the  rapid deployment of 5G and other large satellites from Elon Musk’s  Space X Starlink  (42,000 planned) to Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s Project Kuiper (3,236 planned ) to Bill Gates  Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx) project, and many others,  which will emit increasing RF radiation that reaches all corners of the earth and sky from low Earth orbit. The FCC has already opened 57-64GHZ to be unlicensed spectrum where commercial IOT products will flourish communicating through space to turn your toaster off while you are sitting comfortably in your armchair.

The Earth has been orbited by about 2,000 + satellites for decades in “Old Space”, where NASA took us to the moon, educated us about space and the space industry did not belong to private interests. In 2016 that changed with the introduction of venture capitalists and start-ups partnering with NASA, a public trust that built the space program from the ground up, to privatize space.

This new commercialization of space with a goal to provide private global internet, as well as to mine valuable consumer data that is profitable to telecom and the “New Space” Industry, will increase the intensity of emissions and energy use significantly without environmental review. The US EPA department that studied non-ionizing radiation was defunded in 1995. Space has no international review process but does have Space Law Treaties whose goals are to  “deal with issues such as the non-appropriation of outer space by any one country, arms control, the freedom of exploration, liability for damage caused by space objects, the safety and rescue of spacecraft and astronauts, the prevention of harmful interference with space activities and the environment, the notification and registration of space activities, scientific investigation and the exploitation of natural resources in outer space and the settlement of disputes.”

5G in Space

5G impacts on the ionosphere are particularly concerning as their waveforms may cause unknown atmospheric perturbation in different layers with telecommunications RF radiation traveling back and forth from satellites to Earth.  “These ionization layers called sporadic E layers have significant effects on the dynamics and stability of the local plasma on magnetic flux lines that pass through them and produce a feedback to the neutral and plasma dynamics that is poorly described due to the lack of information about the spatial extent and dynamics of these layers.” (Heelis 2020) The effects of this massive increase in RFR on this complex ionosphere need to be addressed. There are also other concerns including cybersecurity of electrical grids in New Space and unchecked surveillance.

The International Astronomers Appeal has been signed by 2,043 astronomers to date to safeguard the night sky. They state, “Astronomers are extremely concerned by the possibility that Earth may be blanketed by tens of thousands of satellites, which will greatly outnumber the approximately 9,000 stars that are visible to the unaided human eye.” 

Weather Forecasters and Earth Scientists are concerned about the interruption of global climate forecasting due to FCC auctioned 5G millimeter frequencies that are used in weather satellites. Earth observing weather satellites flying over the U.S. that use millimeter (24 and 16 GHz) wavelengths will not be able to accurately detect changes in atmospheric water vapor crucial for weather forecasting of storms, tornados and wildfires, due to the interference of competing millimeter “crown jewel frequencies” sold to telecom companies for of 5G telecommunications. Creating space for billions of streaming interconnecting “Smart”phones may be beneficial to industry but not to William Mahoney III, associate director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. He stated in a congressional hearing regarding the increase in microwave noise, “This is not an issue of academics or researchers losing access to a data set, this is about not having the necessary information to protect life and property,

A Scientific American article Aug 3, 2021 notes, “They are supported by weather and earth scientists who say the signals are threatened by 5G, the emerging “fifth generation” of wireless communication devices that could create enough electronic noise on radio spectrums to reduce forecasting skills and distort computer models needed to predict the progress of climate change.” In 2016 the most advanced weather forecasting satellite was launched . NOAA and NASA are both concerned. In 2019 a letter was written to the FCC by Senators Wyden and Cantwell asking that the FCC not allow communications in the 24 GHz range used by NOAA and NASA.

A 5G Space Appeal has also been launched, arguing that there will be unprecedented global environmental change. The Space Appeal notes,  “If the telecommunications industry’s plans for 5G come to fruition, no person, no animal, no bird, no insect and no plant on Earth will be able to avoid exposure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to levels of RF radiation that are tens to hundreds of times greater than what exists today, without any possibility of escape anywhere on the planet.”

Free The Sky.org summarizes the many issues surrounding the unconstrained expansion of space satellites. The include serious concerns from environmental groups such as the American Bird Conservancy which notes, “Despite the area’s ecological importance, SpaceX has conducted and expanded operations with little oversight by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and without a comprehensive study of impacts on wildlife and the environment.

5G Interferes with Birds and Planes

As the mobile wireless industry is preparing to deploy 5G (followed by 6G) worldwide, the aviation industry has raised some valid concerns about public safety due to interference of 5G frequencies with plane and space altimeters used for navigation and the landing of planes. The C band 3.7-3.98 GHz frequencies that the FCC already auctioned to wireless companies (AT&T, Verizon and T Mobile) for $80 Billion are very close to the 4.2-4.4 GHz frequencies used by radar altimeters, as well as high powered cell phones and tablets carried by passengers. Aviation groups warned the FCC that C-Band frequencies, especially if higher powered could lead to “major disruptions to passenger air travel, commercial airport and critical helicopter service.”

A CNBC article Dec 15, 2021 , “U.S. airlines warn 5G wireless could cause havoc with flights” states that the telecommunications industry plans to start 5G near airports Jan5, 2021 and,

  • “Plans by AT&T and Verizon Communications to use spectrum for 5G wireless services could be highly disruptive to air travel and cost air passengers $1.6 billion annually in delays.
  • The FAA issued new airworthiness directives warning interference from 5G wireless spectrum could result in flight diversions”

An article in Digital Trends very clearly spells out the danger, pointing out that although filters could be placed over time, it is possible for a strong 5G signal to overpower the radar altimeter receiver, causing “blocking interference”. Aviation experts note that spurious emissions in the altimeter frequencies can also be created by 5G wireless base stations thus causing planes to determine altitude incorrectly. This is especially true with autopilot systems which may not get a warning until it is too late. Their study showed harmful interference in every approach to a heliport. Another study showed that at 275 feet the only 2 altimeters a plane has could stop operating. That gives the crew 20 seconds until touchdown to land the plane. Autopilot systems may continue operating with incorrect readings and cause the worst case scenario- the plane crashes.

Aviation Industry Concerned

Representatives of the 19 largest aviation and aerospace industry companies wrote letter to the FCC highlighting the international recognition from high powered commercial wireless services near the radar altimeter band stating, “The Representatives urged the Commission to not risk the U.S. aviation industry on which the public, the economy, and critical services depend in the race to win 5G.”

Congress Writes Letter to FCC on 5G Spectrum and Air Safety Concerns

While business argues that we need to march forward with 5G to prevent “costly delays” and that all the safety concerns have been addressed, individuals and government agencies feel otherwise. The Chairs of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and House Aviation Subcommittee, Peter De Fazio and Rick Larson, wrote a pointed letter to FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel on Nov 19, 2021 regarding use of the 3.7-4.2 GHz millimeter wave spectrum that has been sold to wireless carrriers for 5G service. After a year of communicating concerns to the FCC the letter states, “The FCC’s and the telecom industry’s approach of ‘deploy now, fix later’ is anathema to the strong safety culture we have created and nourished in aviation over the last 20 years. In aviation, we never roll the dice with safety. We never run headlong into a possible hazard to the safety of flight without a full and complete assessment and mitigation of those risks.” They later remind the FCC of the human costs of aviation failures, “The aviation industry analysis put it in starker terms: the proposed wireless services in the C-band could cause “catastrophic failures leading to multiple fatalities.”.

5G Needs to be Turned to “Airplane Mode” Before Takeoff

The Canadian Government is also concerned that 5G transmissions will interfere with aviation equipment, particularly altimeters. The 2021 announcement states, “The most undesirable outcome of interference is the indication of an undetected wrong height information given by the radio altimeter. Depending on operations, equipment model and aircraft type, this kind of error could have significantly adverse impacts on flight safety. It may impact Terrain Awareness Warning Systems (TAWS), Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance Systems (TCAS) and Airborne Collision Avoidance Systems (ACAS), Wind Shear detection systems, flight control systems, and autoland systems (including auto-throttle and automated landing flare and rollout) and loss of situational awareness due to erroneous or unexpected behavior.” They go on to recommend, “All 5G PEDs (Portable Electronic Devices)  carried in the aircraft should be set to non-transmitting mode so they do not transmit on the cellular networks (e.g. airplane mode) or switched off. For essential communications, e.g. during emergency medical service operations (EMS), crew should only use 3G or 4G communication devices.”

It Is Time

Human existence and the future of our children depends on protecting the fragile web of biodiverse organisms, each contributing essential resources to the living community on Earth. Environmentalist have worked tirelessly and heroically to reduce chemical toxins, air pollution, and nuclear radiation among many other hazards and protect complex ecosystems against industry manipulation and profits. 255 EMF scientists who work in the field have appealed to the UN for greater health protections from EMF and another group of scientists have called for a 5G Moratorium. Environmental groups who have not yet understood the critical impacts on wildlife from the rapid deployment of wireless radiation in land and in space will hopefully find Levitt, Lai and Manville’s article useful. Perhaps this well-written, thorough publication will provide the scientific information necessary to move forward. 

As Bandara and Carpenter (2018) pointed out, “It is time” now to address another emerging planetary toxin that is proliferating at warp speed in land and in space… wireless technology, which may prove to be a more immediate existential threat than climate change. Yes, it is time.

MOEF Recommendations for Wildlife Protection from Radiofrequency Radiation


  1. EMF should be recognized as a pollutants/ regular auditing of EMF should be conducted in urban localities/educational/hospital/industrial/residential/recreational premises and around the protected areas and ecologically sensitive areas. 
  2. Introduce a law for protection of urban flora and fauna from emerging threats like ERM/EMF as conservation issues in urban areas are different from forested or wildlife habitats. 
  3. Bold signs and messages on the dangers of Cell phone tower and radiation which is emitted from it are displayed in and around the structures where the towers are erected. Use visual daytime markers in areas of high diurnal raptor or waterfowl movements. 
  4. To avoid bird hits, security lighting for on-ground facilities should be minimized and point downwards or be down-shielded. 
  5. Independent monitoring of radiation levels and overall health of the community and nature surrounding towers is necessary to identify hazards early. Access to tower sites should be allowed for monitoring radiation levels and animal mortality, if any. 
  6. Procedure for removal of existing problematic mobile towers should be made easy, particularly in and around protected area or urban parks and centers having wildlife . 
  7. Strictly control installation of mobile towers near wildlife protected areas, Important Bird Areas, Ramsar Sites, turtle breeding areas, bee colonies, zoos, etc up to a certain distance that should be studied before deciding and should also be practical. Ecological assessment / review of sites identified for installing towers before their installation also may be considered in wildlife / ecologically / conservational important areas. 
  8. The locations of Cell phone towers and other EMF radiating towers along with their frequencies should be made available on public domain. This can be at city/ district/ village level. Location wise GIS mapping of all cell phone towers be done by DoT. This information will help in monitoring the population of birds and bees in and around the mobile towers and also in and/or around wildlife protected areas. 
  9. Public consultation to be made mandatory before installation of cell phones towers in any area. The Forest Department should be consulted before installation of cell phone towers in and around PAs and zoos. The distance at which these towers should be installed should be studied case by case basis. 
  10. Awareness drive with high level of visibility in all forms of media and regional languages should be undertaken by the Government to make people aware about various norms in regard to cell phone towers and dangers from EMR. Such notices should be placed in all wildlife protected areas and in zoos. 
  11. To prevent overlapping high radiations fields, new towers should not be permitted within a radius of one kilometer of existing towers. 
  12. If new towers must be built, construct them to be above 80 ft and below 199 ft. tall to avoid the requirement for aviation safety lighting. Construct un-guyed towers with platforms that will accommodate possible future co-locations and build them at existing ‘antenna farms’, away from areas of high migratory bird traffic, wetlands and other known bird areas.

See Also

News Articles

Report says wireless radiation may harm wildlife. Feb 5, 2022. Scott Wyland. Sant Fe New Mexican.  https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/report-says-wireless-radiation-may-harm-wildlife/article_1ae80fc0-7d5d-11ec-8c13-4f3411ea8ea1.html#tncms-source=signup


 Wildlife, Wireless, Electromagnetic Fields and Environmental Effects. Science, Legal and Policy Webinar on Wildlife and Wireless Radiation: The Ecosystem and Environmental Impacts of Cell Towers and Electromagnetic Radiation. EHTrust. July 15, 2023. Video You tube . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOt0sNWN_VM&t=2s

My Life for the Birds & Bats: Friends of Merrymeeting Bay’s (FOMB) sixth presentation of their 26th annual Winter Speaker Series, My Life for the Birds & Bats features retired USFWS Senior Wildlife Biologist, Al Manville.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3flmA03BVlk&t=482s

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