A woman who billed herself as a health and safety advisor at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) took to LinkedIn last week to promote a 5G conspiracy site.
Last Tuesday, Pat Copp posted a link to a site that alleged there was secret 5G testing in Russia in 1972. Without citing any evidence, the site says the military experiments on human and animals caused "severe medical and neurological problems," including immune system "dysfunction" and damaged respiratory systems, after as little as 15 hours.
It also says, again with no documentation, that the 5G (fifth-generation) mobile network upgrades already underway in Europe have caused nose-bleeds, cardiac problems and vomiting, among other symptoms.
"Why is this not being talked about here in NZ?", Copp asked.
In fact, concerns about fifth-generation mobile technology have been widely canvassed in New Zealand, and other countries.
While scientific debate continues, a physicist points out that radiofrequency emissions from cellphones, celltowers and wi-fi are not harmful. In brief,
Dr Michelle Dickinson says they are an example of non-ionising radiation, which can't damage cells, as opposed to ionising radiation (e.g. X-Rays) which can be harmful in high doses. It's not a case of two-sides to the story. It's black-and-white physics.
Correspondingly, the cellphone age has seen no brain cancer spike (in fact, NZ rates have dipped slightly since 4G was introduced).
And as scientist Michelle Dickinson recently explained, 5G has even less ability to penetrate a human body than 4G.
Asked why Copp, as an apparent advisor to the PM's department, had linked to a scaremongering site, a spokeswoman for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet said, "She is not an employee of DPMC. She was on a short term contract which ended last month. Any views she may express do not represent those of DPMC."
The spokeswoman said it was against policy to disclose the nature of Copp's work for the DPMC or the length of her contract.
Copp did not respond to questions, though did remove "Department of the Prime Minister" reference from her LinkedIn bio after the Herald's approach.
A representative of Copp later responded: "As a health and safety advisor, Ms Copp, is required by the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 to actively identify and avoid possible risks. It is unfortunate that her level of commitment is not shared by others who have the responsibility and/or ability to protect workers health and safety."
Copp maintains "It is important we think about new technologies before they are rolled out, so we can make mindful decisions for the benefit of our health and environment. Do we need the technologies, what are the benefits, what are the risks and how can we manage harm?"
The Prime Minister's chief science advisor, Professor Juliet Gerrard has not offered the PM any advice on 5G. She told the Herald she did not want to duplicate work done by the Ministry of Health. Health Minister David Clark recently said, "I am advised by Ministry of Health officials that the balance of research evidence suggests that exposure to the radiofrequency produced by any transmitter, including those that will be used by 5G services, do not cause health problems."
And the UN's World Health Organisation (WHO) says, "A large number of studies have been performed over the last two decades to assess whether mobile phones pose a potential health risk. To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use."
The WHO classifies radio frequency emissions as a Group 2B carcinogen.
Group 2B is outside WHO's risk categories and includes hundreds of substances, phenomena and activities, including dry cleaning, engine exhaust, gasoline, pickled vegetables, carpentry and joinery.
That won't satisfy conspiracy theorists of course, who will only see a cover-up.
But anyone who has reached the level of advising the DPMC should know that there are other, more genuine issues to consider.