This picture doesn’t show someone wearing a hazmat suit to install 5G

30 May 2019
What was claimed

A picture shows a person installing 5G wearing a hazmat radiation suit.

Our verdict

The person was probably not installing 5G, but wearing protective clothing to clean a 4G mobile phone tower.

We’ve seen an image on Facebook which claims to show someone installing 5G and wearing a ‘hazmat radiation suit’ to do so.

The image doesn’t look like it was taken in the UK, as the structure in the picture looks like a monopalm, which is a type of mobile phone tower seen in the US that’s adapted to look like a palm or other common tree.

Snopes have also factchecked the image, and were told by the director of the National Association of Tower Erectors’ Wireless Industry Network, Scott Krouse, that the photo looked to him like a worker painting or cleaning the structure, possibly removing bird droppings. If you look closely, the person is holding some kind of hose.

Mr Krouse said: “Therefore, the need for a [protective suit] to prevent back-splash onto his skin and clothing.”

He added that it wasn’t a 5G tower, but looked like a “standard 4G tower based on the antennas mounted to it”.

We showed Arqiva, a communications infrastructure provider in the UK, the image, and asked them whether 5G installers have to wear radiation suits. They told us: “Anyone undertaking works on a telecoms site, including ‘installing 5G’, would not be required to wear such equipment as the site would be turned off.”

And even if it was turned on, they wouldn’t need to wear hazmat equipment.

Honesty in public debate matters

You can help us take action – and get our regular free email

These suits don’t protect against radiation

5G is the next generation of wireless network technology, following on from 4G. Like 4G, 3G and 2G before it, 5G mobile data is transmitted over radio waves—a small part of the whole electromagnetic spectrum (which includes microwaves, visible light and X-rays).

These radio waves are non-ionising, meaning they don’t damage the DNA inside cells, as X-rays, gamma rays and UV rays are able to do. 5G, although at slightly higher frequencies than previous networks, is still in this radio part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Suits like the one in the image can protect wearers from biological contaminants (for example when working with people with infectious diseases) or particulates when working with chemicals, but would not protect against ionising radiation as the post suggests.

Full Fact fights bad information

Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people’s health, and hurts democracy. You deserve better.