Electro-Sensitivity: the Research

MCS A M E R I C A used as part of ElectroSensitivity Awareness Month: May, 2011
Copyrighted © 2011 MCS America

Scand J Work Environ Health. 2002 Feb;28(1):33-41.
Prevalence of self-reported hypersensitivity to electric or magnetic fields in a population-based questionnaire survey.
Hillert L, Berglind N, Arnetz BB, Bellander T.
Department of Environmental Health, Norrbacka/Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.lena.hillert@medhs.ki.se
OBJECTIVES: The prevalence of medically unexplained symptoms attributed to exposureto electromagnetic fields is still largely unknown. Previous studies have investigated reported hypersensitivity to electricity in selected groups recruited from workplaces or outpatient clinics. The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of selfreported hypersensitivity to electric or magnetic fields in the general population and to describe characteristics of the group reporting such hypersensitivity with regard to demographics, other complaints, hypersensitivities, and traditional allergies.
METHODS: A cross-sectional questionnaire survey was conducted in 1997 among 15,000 men and women between 19 and 80 years of age in Stockholm County. The response rate was 73%.
RESULTS: One and a half percent of the respondents reported hypersensitivity to electric or magnetic fields. Prevalence was highest among women and in the 60- to 69-year age group. The hypersensitive group reported all symptoms, allergies, and other types of hypersensitivities included in the survey (as well as being disturbed by various factors in the home) to a significantly greater extent than the rest of the respondents. No specific symptom profile set off the hypersensitive group from the rest of the respondents.
CONCLUSIONS: The results should be interpreted with caution. But they suggest that there is widespread concern among the general population about risks to health posed by electric and magnetic fields. More research is warranted to explore ill health among people reporting hypersensitivity to electric or magnetic fields.
PMID: 11871850 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
M C S A M E R I C A
Copyrighted © 2011 MCS America (page 9)

Environ Health Perspect. 2002 Aug;110 Suppl 4:619-23.
Study of self-reported hypersensitivity to electromagnetic fields in California.
Levallois P, Neutra R, Lee G, Hristova L.
Unité de Recherche en Santé Publique, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Québec,
Beauport, Canada. patrick.levallois@msp.ulaval.ca
Cases of alleged hypersensitivity to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) have been reported for more than 20 years, and some authors have suggested some connection with the "multiple chemical sensitivity" illness. We report the results of a telephone survey among a sample of 2,072 Californians. Being "allergic or very sensitive" to being near electrical devices was reported by 68 subjects, resulting in an adjusted prevalence of 3.2% (95% confidence interval = 2.8, 3.7). Twenty-seven subjects (1.3%) reported sensitivity to electrical devices but no sensitivity to chemicals. Characteristics of the people reporting hypersensitivity to EMFs were generally different from those of people reporting being allergic to everyday chemicals. Alleging environmental illness or multiple
chemical sensitivity diagnosed by a doctor was the strongest predictor of reporting being hypersensitive to EMFs in this population. Other predictive factors apart from selfreporting chemical sensitivity were race/ethnicity other than White, Black, or Hispanic; having low income; and being unable to work. The perception of risk of exposure to EMFs through the use of hair dryers (vs. exposure to power and distribution lines) was the factor the most associated with self-reporting about hypersensitivity to EMFs. However, risk perception was not sufficient to explain the characteristics of people reporting this disorder.
PMID: 12194896 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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Copyrighted © 2011 MCS America (page 10)

Soz Praventivmed. 2006;51(4):202-9.
The prevalence of symptoms attributed to electromagnetic field exposure: a crosssectional representative survey in Switzerland.
Schreier N, Huss A, Röösli M.
Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Bern, Switzerland.
Comment in:
Soz Praventivmed. 2006;51(4):183-4.
OBJECTIVES: To investigate health risk perception as well as to assess the prevalence of self-reported symptoms attributed to electromagnetic fields (EMF) and other environmental exposures in the general population of Switzerland.
METHODS: Between May and June 2004, telephone interviews of a representative sample of the Swiss population (n=2048, >14 years old) about: (1) health symptoms attributed to five environmental factors (one of which was EMF), (2) health risk perception related to 12 environmental risk factors (five of which were different EMF sources).
RESULTS: We found a prevalence of 5% (95% CI 4-6%) for electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) in our study sample. The most common health complaints among EHS individuals were sleep disorders (43%) and headaches (34%), which were mostly attributed to power lines and mobile phone handsets. In addition, 53 percent (95% CI 51- 55%) were worried about adverse health effects from EMF, without attributing their own health symptoms to them.
CONCLUSIONS: The large proportion of the population who is concerned or attributesown symptoms to EMF may cause societal conflicts given the ubiquity of EMF in our everyday life.
PMID: 17193782 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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Copyrighted © 2011 MCS America (page 11)

J Psychosom Res. 2007 Mar;62(3):283-8.
Altered cortical excitability in subjectively electrosensitive patients: results of a pilot study.
Landgrebe M, Hauser S, Langguth B, Frick U, Hajak G, Eichhammer P.
Department of Psychiatry, Psychosomatics, and Psychotherapy, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany.
OBJECTIVE: Hypersensitivity to electromagnetic fields is frequently claimed to be linked to a variety of unspecific somatic and/or neuropsychological complaints. Whereas
provocation studies often failed to demonstrate a causal relationship between electromagnetic
field exposure and symptom formation, neurophysiological examinations highlight
baseline deviations in people claiming to be electrosensitive. METHODS: To elucidate
a potential role of dysfunctional cortical regulations in mediating hypersensitivity to
electromagnetic fields, cortical excitability parameters were measured by transcranial
magnetic stimulation in subjectively electrosensitive patients (n=23) and two control
groups (n=49) differing in their level of unspecific health complaints. RESULTS: Electrosensitive
patients showed reduced intracortical facilitation as compared to both control
groups, while motor thresholds and intracortical inhibition were unaffected. CONCLUSIONS:
This pilot study gives additional evidence that altered central nervous system
function may account for symptom manifestation in subjectively electrosensitive
patients as has been postulated for several chronic multisymptom illnesses sharing a
similar clustering of symptoms.
PMID: 17324677 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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Psychol Med. 2008 Dec;38(12):1781-91. Epub 2008 Mar 26.
Cognitive and neurobiological alterations in electromagnetic hypersensitive patients:
results of a case-control study.
Landgrebe M, Frick U, Hauser S, Langguth B, Rosner R, Hajak G, Eichhammer P.
Department of Psychiatry, Psychosomatics, and Psychotherapy, University of Regensburg,
Regensburg, Germany.
Comment in:
Psychol Med. 2009 Jun;39(6):1050-2.
BACKGROUND: Hypersensitivity to electromagnetic fields (EMF) is frequently
claimed to be linked to a variety of non-specific somatic and neuropsychological complaints.
Whereas provocation studies often failed to demonstrate a causal relationship
between EMF exposure and symptom formation, recent studies point to a complex interplay
of neurophysiological and cognitive alterations contributing to symptom manifestation
in electromagnetic hypersensitive patients (EHS). However, these studies have examined
only small sample sizes or have focused on selected aspects. Therefore this
study examined in the largest sample of EHS EMF-specific cognitive correlates, discrimination
ability and neurobiological parameters in order to get further insight into the
pathophysiology of electromagnetic hypersensitivity. METHOD: In a case-control design
89 EHS and 107 age- and gender-matched controls were included in the study.
Health status and EMF-specific cognitions were evaluated using standardized questionnaires.
Perception thresholds following single transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
pulses to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex were determined using a standardized blinded
measurement protocol. Cortical excitability parameters were measured by TMS. RESULTS:
Discrimination ability was significantly reduced in EHS (only 40% of the EHS
but 60% of the controls felt no sensation under sham stimulation during the complete
series), whereas the perception thresholds for real magnetic pulses were comparable in
both groups (median 21% versus 24% of maximum pulse intensity). Intra-cortical facilitation
was decreased in younger and increased in older EHS. In addition, typical EMFrelated
cognitions (aspects of rumination, symptom intolerance, vulnerability and stabilizing
self-esteem) specifically differentiated EHS from their controls. CONCLUSIONS:
These results demonstrate significant cognitive and neurobiological alterations pointing
to a higher genuine individual vulnerability of electromagnetic hypersensitive patients.
PMID: 18366821 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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Bioelectromagnetics. 2009 May;30(4):299-306.
Blood laboratory findings in patients suffering from self-perceived electromagnetic
hypersensitivity (EHS).
Dahmen N, Ghezel-Ahmadi D, Engel A.
Department of Psychiatry, University of Mainz, Germany.
Risks from electromagnetic devices are of considerable concern. Electrohypersensitive
(EHS) persons attribute a variety of rather unspecific symptoms to exposure to electromagnetic
fields. The pathophysiology of EHS is unknown and therapy remains a challenge.
We hypothesized that some electrosensitive individuals are suffering from common
somatic health problems. Toward this end we analysed clinical laboratory parameters
including thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), alanine transaminase (ALT), aspartate
transaminase (AST), creatinine, hemoglobine, hematocrit and c-reactive protein
(CRP) in subjects suffering from EHS and in controls that are routinely used in clinical
medicine to identify or screen for common somatic disorders. One hundred thirty-two
patients (n = 42 males and n = 90 females) and 101 controls (n = 34 males and n = 67
females) were recruited. Our results identified laboratory signs of thyroid dysfunction,
liver dysfunction and chronic inflammatory processes in small but remarkable fractions
of EHS sufferers as potential sources of symptoms that merit further investigation in future
studies. In the cases of TSH and ALT/AST there were significant differences between
cases and controls. The hypotheses of anaemia or kidney dysfunction playing a
major role in EHS could be unambiguously refuted. Clinically it is recommended to
check for signs of treatable somatic conditions when caring for individuals suffering
from self-proclaimed EHS. Copyright 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
PMID: 19259984 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
M C S A M E R I C A
Copyrighted © 2011 MCS America (p. 14)

Bioelectromagnetics. 2007 Feb;28(2):137-51.
Development and evaluation of the electromagnetic hypersensitivity questionnaire.
Eltiti S, Wallace D, Zougkou K, Russo R, Joseph S, Rasor P, Fox E.
University of Essex, Colchester, UK. seltiti@essex.ac.uk
Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) syndrome is usually defined as a condition
where an individual experiences adverse health effects that he or she believes is due to
exposure to objects that emit electromagnetic fields. The aim of this study was to develop
a questionnaire that would identify the key symptoms associated with EHS and
determine how often these symptoms occur in the general population of the United
Kingdom. In the pilot study, an EHS questionnaire was developed and tested. In Study 1
the EHS questionnaire was revised and sent to a randomly selected sample of 20,000
people. Principal components analysis of the symptoms resulted in eight subscales:
neurovegetative, skin, auditory, headache, cardiorespiratory, cold related, locomotor, and
allergy related symptoms. Study 2 established the validity of the questionnaire in that
EHS individuals showed a higher severity of symptoms on all subscales compared to the
control group. The two key results of this study were the development of a scale that
provides an index of the type and intensity of symptoms commonly experienced by people
believing themselves to be EHS and a screening tool that researchers can use to preselect
the most sensitive individuals to take part in their research.
PMID: 17013888 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
M C S A M E R I C A
Copyrighted © 2011 MCS America (p. 15)

Electromagn Biol Med. 2008;27(2):197-203.
Increased concentrations of certain persistent organic pollutants in subjects with
self-reported electromagnetic hypersensitivity–a pilot study.
Hardell L, Carlberg M, Söderqvist F, Hardell K, Björnfoth H, van Bavel B, Lindström G.
Department of Oncology, University Hospital, Orebro, Sweden. lennart.
hardell@orebroll.se
Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) is used for a variety of subjective symptoms related
to exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF). The aim of this pilot study was to
analyze the concentrations of certain persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in subjects
with self-reported EHS. In total, 13 EHS subjects and 21 controls were included, all female.
The concentration of several POPs was higher in EHS subjects than in controls.
Lower concentrations were found for hexachlorobenzene and two types of chlordanes.
The only significantly increased odds ratios (ORs) were found for polybrominated diphenyl
ether (PBDE) #47 yielding OR=11.7, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.45-94.7
and the chlordane metabolite MC6 with OR=11.2, 95% CI=1.18-106. The results were
based on low numbers and must be interpreted with caution. This hypothesis generating
study indicates the necessity of a larger investigation on this issue.
PMID: 18568937 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
M C S A M E R I C A
Copyrighted © 2011 MCS America (p. 16)

Electromagn Biol Med. 2008;27(2):135-46.
Dirty electricity elevates blood sugar among electrically sensitive diabetics and may
explain brittle diabetes.
Havas M.
Environmental & Resource Studies, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.
mhavas@trentu.ca
Transient electromagnetic fields (dirty electricity), in the kilohertz range on electrical
wiring, may be contributing to elevated blood sugar levels among diabetics and prediabetics.
By closely following plasma glucose levels in four Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics,
we find that they responded directly to the amount of dirty electricity in their environment.
In an electromagnetically clean environment, Type 1 diabetics require less insulin
and Type 2 diabetics have lower levels of plasma glucose. Dirty electricity, generated
by electronic equipment and wireless devices, is ubiquitous in the environment. Exercise
on a treadmill, which produces dirty electricity, increases plasma glucose. These
findings may explain why brittle diabetics have difficulty regulating blood sugar. Based
on estimates of people who suffer from symptoms of electrical hypersensitivity (3-35%),
as many as 5-60 million diabetics worldwide may be affected. Exposure to electromagnetic
pollution in its various forms may account for higher plasma glucose levels and
may contribute to the misdiagnosis of diabetes. Reducing exposure to electromagnetic
pollution by avoidance or with specially designed GS filters may enable some diabetics
to better regulate their blood sugar with less medication and borderline or pre-diabetics
to remain non diabetic longer.
PMID: 18568931 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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