A photograph of hundreds of dead birds has been shared with the claim that they died due to 5G technology. “I want to request the government with folded hands that please spare the lives of these birds who cannot speak for themselves,” reads the accompanying text.

[Viral test: मैं सरकार से हाथ जोड़कर कहना चाह्ता हुँ के मेहरबानी करके इस बेज़ुबान परिंदों की जान बख्श दिजीये हमलोग 3G 4G से बहुत खुश है आप इसकी जिन्दगी बचा लो🙏 हमें 5G नहीं चाहिये सरकार]

The claim has been shared by several Facebook users.

Fact-check

A reverse-image search of the photograph led us to a report published by The News Minute on April 21, 2016. The article quoted Shravan Krishnan of Chennai Wildlife Rescuers saying, “The picture that has been circulating on social media is not true. The picture has been made by using the editing software Photoshop. It can be clearly figured out by seeing the people’s costumes also. If it happens in Chennai (birds dying en masse), we will be the first ones to be informed about it.” The image was viral back then with the claim that birds were dying in Chennai due to heat. Ironically, the article also quotes Kumar stating that the photograph was taken seven years ago (12 years now) in Bihar after birds consumed seeds with a high dosage of pesticides.

Another reverse-image search led us to a Facebook post from March 12, 2016 which said that the incident took place in Kushtia, Bangladesh. The post carries the same image but better quality.

សត្វបក្សីរាប់ពាន់ក្បាល់បានស្លាប់កាលពីល្ងាម្សិលមិញពាសពេញនៅលើដី Kushtia នៅមានភ្លៀងធ្លាក់យ៉ាងខ្លាំង …នេះជាបាតុភូតចម្លែកទៀតហើយនៅប្រទេសឥណ្ឌា

Posted by You Bee – ខ្មែរ on Saturday, 12 March 2016

A Bangladeshi blogpost from March 7, 2016 also said that the incident happened in Kushtia.

Alt News was unable to confirm the location of the image but it is at least five years old. The birds could not have died due to ‘5G radiation’ when 5G technology was not even introduced. Moreover, this conspiracy theory against 5G has been debunked several times in the past.

Radiation from 5G cellular towers cannot kill birds

Mobile phones operate in the high frequency (HF) range of the electromagnetic spectrum – from 100 kHz (0.1 MHz) to 300 GHz (3 lakh MHz), per the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). India follows ICNIRP guidelines and has one of the most stringent standards on EMF radiations. Airtel and Vodafone currently offer 4G in the 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands, while Jio uses a lower band of 800 MHz. The 2021 auction includes band range till 2,500MHz.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is in talks to open up new spectrum bands for 5G in the 3300-3600 MHz frequency range. All the above-mentioned frequency ranges are well within the permissible limit.

An article in the BBC says, “The radio waves involved in 5G and other mobile phone technology sit on the low-frequency end of the electromagnetic spectrum. Less powerful than visible light, they are not strong enough to damage cells – unlike radiation at the higher frequency end of the spectrum which includes the sun’s rays and medical x-rays.”

American fact-checking website Snopes spoke to Dr Eric van Rongen, a member of the Health Council of The Netherlands and the Chairman of ICNIRP, after the rumour was viral in the country. Several hundred birds and sparrows died in The Hague between October 8 and November 3, 2018, which gave birth to the rumour. “The only way one could imagine the death of birds as a result of exposure to electromagnetic fields is with very high-level exposure that results in considerable heating…But the levels that are used by mobile telecom antennas are not strong enough for this to happen. There are maybe millions of such antennas around the world and this has never been reported. Even if there would have been 5G exposure, it is very unlikely that that could cause the [bird] mortality,” Dr Rongen informed.

The conspiracy theory that radiation from cellular towers cause birds to die was also circulating after 2G spectrum allocation.

Birds, however, are known to die of collision with communication towers. Migratory birds sometimes run into tall towers that go up to the altitudes they travel. The steady red light on top of towers also confuses birds during navigation.

The claim that birds in India are dying due to 5G trials is not backed by evidence. The hoax was also viral after the release of the Tamil science fiction movie ‘2.0’ in 2018 that showed the effects of electromagnetic field radiation on birds. 5G radiation has also been blamed for the coronavirus pandemic.

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About the Author

Pooja Chaudhuri is a senior editor at Alt News.