The introduction of the fifth generation (5G) of wireless communication will increase the number of high-frequency-powered base stations and other devices. The question is if such higher frequencies (in this review, 6-100 GHz, millimeter waves, MMW) can have a health impact. This review analyzed 94 relevant publications performing in vivo or in vitro investigations. Each study was characterized for: study type (in vivo, in vitro), biological material (species, cell type, etc.), biological endpoint, exposure (frequency, exposure duration, power density), results, and certain quality criteria. Eighty percent of the in vivo studies showed responses to exposure, while 58% of the in vitro studies demonstrated effects. The responses affected all biological endpoints studied. There was no consistent relationship between power density, exposure duration, or frequency, and exposure effects. The available studies do not provide adequate and sufficient information for a meaningful safety assessment, or for the question about non-thermal effects. There is a need for research regarding local heat developments on small surfaces, e.g., skin or the eye, and on any environmental impact. Our quality analysis shows that for future studies to be useful for safety assessment, design and implementation need to be significantly improved.
Keywords: MMW; in vitro; in vivo; radiofrequency electromagnetic fields.