The determinants of legislation for radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) with the onset of 5G

Mobile communications are increasingly pervasive, leading to an unprecedented exposure of RF-EMF to humans. This article is the first empirical analysis on the determinants of RF-EMF exposure legislation, using a novel cross-sectional database of 164 countries worldwide.
In order to investigate the existence of a 5G-specific effect, the determinants of RF-EMF exposure legislation for 164 countries are compared with 61 countries within the sample that have deployed the 5G technology. The analysis shows that RF-EMF exposure limits are influenced by decentralization, competition, and technological factors. Political and fiscal decentralization, and mobile competition (for low levels of initial deployment) have a positive and significant impact on RF-EMF exposure limits across all the countries. Moreover, the smaller the area covered by local government and, more importantly, the smaller the population living in that area, the higher the RF-EMF exposure limits. These results are consistent with the changes observed following the advent of mobile technology in the 2000s.
In more decentralized countries, the regions had a greater influence on national legislation and could accommodate local demands. In contrast, political and fiscal decentralization, and mobile competition (for high levels of initial deployment) have a negative and significant impact on the limits of RF-EMF exposure in the sample of countries with 5G technology. Restrictive RF-EMF exposure limits are constraining 5G deployment in a context of widespread adoption of mobile broadband technologies. In addition, some efforts have been made at the local level to accommodate the concerns of the population regarding mobile network stations.
These results should be useful for policymakers and mobile operators alike, to anticipate the outcome of legislation in countries which have yet to introduce 5G technology. The results should also be useful when reviewing policies and strategies in the implementation of the upcoming 6G technology in frequency bands that will be increasingly higher (above 6 gigahertz up to terahertz for very local usage), and hence where the health effects on humans are less well studied..