The National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) is carrying out a review of existing scientific studies into 'electromagnetic hypersensitivity' (EHS)… The Swedish government, which recognised EHS as a physical impairment in 2000, calculates that 3.1 per cent of its population – 200,000 people – suffer from the condition.(24 Jan 2005 The Telegraph, Swedish Assn. for the ElectroSensitive, http://www.feb.se/NEWS/news2005.html#TEL20050124B)
Research Studies into Electrical Sensitivity
The publication "Black on White – Electro-Hypersensitivity – The Swedish Experience", edited and published by Rigmor and John Lind, is an excellent compendium of some 400 Swedish electro sensitive case studies compiled in 2000, where people have stated what caused their ES and what their symptoms are. There are chapters on multiple chemical sensitivity; field strength reduction and shielding; and emf refugees.
The following is a brief summary of the research that has found positive associations between the suspected electromagnetic causes and the symptoms of those with Electrical Sensitivity, in reverse date order:
Landgrebe M et al, (March 2008) Cognitive and neurobiological alterations in electromagnetic hypersensitive patients: results of a case-control study, Psychol Med. 2008 Mar 26;:1-11 [View on Pubmed]
"These results demonstrate significant cognitive and neurobiological alterations pointing to a higher genuine individual vulnerability of electromagnetic hypersensitive patients"
Karinen A et al, (February 2008) Mobile phone radiation might alter protein expression in human skin, BMC Genomics. 2008 Feb 11;9:77 [View on Pubmed]
"This is the first study showing that molecular level changes might take place in human volunteers in response to exposure to RF-EMF. Our study confirms that proteomics screening approach can identify protein targets of RF-EMF in human volunteers."
Arnetz BB et al, (2007) The Effects of 884 MHz GSM Wireless Communication Signals on Self-reported Symptom and Sleep (EEG)- An Experimental Provocation Study, PIERS Online Vol. 3 No. 7 2007 pp: 1148-1150 [View Summary on PIERS] [View Full Paper]
"Another study has just been published showing clear evidence that mobile phones can negatively affect human sleep. This study also clearly demonstrates non-thermal responses that cannot be due to a nocebo reaction"
Abdel-Rassoul G et al, (March 2007) Neurobehavioral effects among inhabitants around mobile phone base stations, Neurotoxicology. 2007 Mar;28(2):434-40 [View on Pubmed]
"Inhabitants living nearby mobile phone base stations are at risk for developing neuropsychiatric problems and some changes in the performance of neurobehavioral functions either by facilitation or inhibition"
Landgrebe M et al, (March 2007) Altered cortical excitability in subjectively electrosensitive patients: results of a pilot study, J Psychosom Res. 2007 Mar;62(3):283-8 [View on Pubmed]
"Electrosensitive patients showed reduced intracortical facilitation as compared to both control groups, while motor thresholds and intracortical inhibition were unaffected. 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"
Lin JC & Z Wang, (June 2007) Hearing of microwave pulses by humans and animals: effects, mechanism, and thresholds, Health Phys 92(6):621-8 [View on Pubmed]
"Microwave auditory effect is the most widely accepted biological effect of microwave radiation with a known mechanism of interaction: the thermoelastic theory. The phenomenon, mechanism, power requirement, pressure amplitude, and auditory thresholds of microwave hearing are discussed in this paper. A specific emphasis is placed on human exposures to wireless communication fields and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) coils"
Huss A & M Röösli, (October 2006) Consultations in primary care for symptoms attributed to electromagnetic fields – a survey among general practitioners BMC Public Health 6:267 [View on Pubmed]
"An overview of the most recent EMF-related consultation per GP (in Switzerland) yielded sleep disorders, headaches and fatigue as the most often reported symptoms and mobile phone base stations, power lines and the own use of mobile phones as the main EMF sources suspected to be associated to symptoms. GPs judged the association between EMF and the symptoms to be plausible in 54% of the cases"
Johansson O, (2006) Electrohypersensitivity: state-of-the-art of a functional impairment, Electromagn Biol Med.2006;25(4):245-58 [View on Pubmed]
"In summary, it is evident from our preliminary data that various alterations are present in the electrohypersensitive person' skin. In view of recent epidemiological studies, pointing to a correlation between long-term exposure from power-frequent magnetic fields or microwaves and cancer, our data ought to be taken seriously and further analyzed"
Hutter HP et al, (May 2006) Subjective symptoms, sleeping problems, and cognitive performance in subjects living near mobile phone base stations, Occup Environ Med. 2006 May;63(5):307-13 [View on Pubmed]
"Despite very low exposure to HF-EMF, effects on wellbeing and performance cannot be ruled out, as shown by recently obtained experimental results; however, mechanisms of action at these low levels are unknown"
Papageorgiou CC et al, (April 2006) Acute mobile phone effects on pre-attentive operation, Neurosci Lett. 2006 Apr 10-17;397(1-2):99-103 [View on Pubmed]
"These findings provide evidence that the MP-EMF emitted by mobile phone affect pre-attentive information processing as it is reflected in P50 evoked potential. The basis of such an effect is unclear, although several possibilities exist and call for potential directions of future research"
Rajkovic V et al, (July 2005) Histological characteristics of cutaneous and thyroid mast cell populations in male rats exposed to power-frequency electromagnetic fields, Int J Radiat Biol. 2005 Jul;81(7):491-9 [View on Pubmed]
"The results indicate certain alterations of cutaneous and thyroid MC in rats exposed to EMF"
Leitgeb N et al, (May 2005) Does "electromagnetic pollution" cause illness? An inquiry among Austrian general practitioners, Wien Med Wochenschr 155:237-241 [View on Pubmed]
"An overwhelming percentage of (Austrian) general practitioners (up to 96%) to some degree, or totally, believe in a health-relevant role of environmental electromagnetic fields"
Belyaev I et al, (2005) 915 MHz microwaves and 50 Hz magnetic field affect chromatin conformation and 53BP1 foci in human lymphocytes from hypersensitive and healthy persons, Bioelectromagnetics. 2005 Apr;26(3):173-84 [View on Pubmed]
"In conclusion, 50 Hz magnetic field and 915 MHz microwaves under specified conditions of exposure induced comparable responses in lymphocytes from healthy and hypersensitive donors that were similar but not identical to stress response induced by heat shock"
Bortkiewicz A et al, (2004) Subjective symptoms reported by people living in the vicinity of cellular phone base stations: review, Med Pr. 2004;55(4):345-51 [View on Pubmed]
"The results of the questionnaire survey reveal that people living in the vicinity of base stations report various complaints mostly of the circulatory system, but also of sleep disturbances, irritability, depression, blurred vision, concentration difficulties, nausea, lack of appetite, headache and vertigo. The performed studies showed the relationship between the incidence of individual symptoms, the level of exposure, and the distance between a residential area and a base station"
Oberfeld G et al, (October 2004) The Microwave Syndrome – Further Aspects of a Spanish Study, Conference Proceedings [View Full Paper]
Al-Khlaiwi T, Meo SA, (June 2004) Association of mobile phone radiation with fatigue, headache, dizziness, tension and sleep disturbance in Saudi population, Saudi Med J. 2004 Jun;25(6):732-6 [View on Pubmed]
"Based on the results of the present study, we conclude that the use of mobile phones is a risk factor for health hazards and suggest that long term or excessive use of mobile phones should be avoided"
Westerman R, Hocking B, (May 2004) Diseases of modern living: neurological changes associated with mobile phones and radiofrequency radiation in humans, Neurosci Lett. 2004 May 6;361(1-3):13-6 [View on Pubmed]
"Some of these observations are not consistent with the prevailing hypothesis that all health effects of RFR arise from thermal mechanisms. It is concluded that RFR from mobile phones can cause peripheral neurophysiological changes in some persons. The effects occur at exposure levels below the present safety levels for RFR. Possible non-thermal mechanisms are discussed and may point to future directions of research"
Röösli M et al, (February 2004) Symptoms of ill-health ascribed to electromagnetic field exposure – a questionnaire survey Int J Hyg Environ Health 207(2):141-50 [View on Pubmed]
"A mean of 2.7 different symptoms were reported. Sleep disorders (58%), headaches (41%), nervousness or distress (19%), fatigue (18%), and concentration difficulties (16%) were most common complaints. Complainants related their symptoms most frequently to exposure to mobile phone base stations (74%), followed by mobile phones (36%), cordless phones (29%) and power lines (27%). No distinct symptoms related to a specific field source could be identified. Eighty-five percent of the people who consulted a public authority because of their symptoms were unsatisfied with the response, whereas consultation of self-help groups or building ecologists usually fulfilled expectations. Two thirds of complainants had taken some action to reduce their symptoms. The most common measure was to avoid exposure if possible. Removing or disconnecting indoor sources was judged to be the most effective action"
Navarro EA et al, (December 2003) The Microwave Syndrome: A Preliminary Study in Spain, Electromagn Biol Med 22(2-3): 161-169
Santini R et al, (September 2003) Symptoms experienced by people in vicinity of base stations: II/ Incidences of age, duration of exposure, location of subjects in relation to the antennas and other electromagnetic factors, Pathol Biol (Paris). 2003 Sep;51(7):412-5 [View on Pubmed]
"Significant increase (p < 0.05) in relation with age of subjects (elder subjects are more sensitive) and also, that the facing location is the worst position for some symptoms studied, especially for distances till 100 m from base stations. No significant difference is observed in the frequency of symptoms related to the duration of exposure (from < 1 year to > 5 years), excepted for irritability significantly increased after > 5 years. Other electromagnetic factors (electrical transformers, radio-television transmitters,…) have effects on the frequency of some symptoms reported by the subjects"
Caress SM & AC Steinemann (September 2003) A review of a two-phase population study of multiple chemical sensitivities Environmental Health Perspectives, 111(12):1490-7 [View on Pubmed]
"A significant percentage (27.5%) reported that their chemical hypersensitivity was initiated by an exposure to pesticides, whereas an equal percentage (27.5%) attributed it to solvents. Only 1.4% had a history of prior emotional problems, but 37.7% developed these problems after the physical symptoms emerged. This suggests that MCS has a physiologic and not a psychologic etiology"
Leitgeb N & Schröttner (September 2003) Electrosensibility and Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity, Bioelectromagnetics; 24; 387-394 [View on Pubmed]
"Evidence could be found for the existence of a subgroup of people with significantly increased electrosensibility (hypersensibility) who as a group could be differentiated from the general population"
Hocking B & Westerman R (October 2002) Neurological changes induced by a mobile phone, Occup Med (Lond). 2002 Oct;52(7):413-5 [View on Pubmed]
"The case is supportive of a neurological basis for some cases of dysaesthesiae associated with mobile phone use"
Stenberg B et al, (October 2002) Medical and social prognosis for patients with perceived hypersensitivity to electricity and skin symptoms related to the use of visual display terminals, Scand J Work Environ Health. 2002 Oct;28(5):349-57 [View on Pubmed]
"Patients with hypersensitivity to electricity, particularly women, have extensive medical problems and a considerable number of them stop working. Many patients with skin symptoms related to VDT use have a favorable prognosis. Both groups need early and consistent management"
Levallois P et al, (August 2002) Study of self-reported hypersensitivity to electromagnetic fields in California, Environ Health Perspect. 2002 Aug;110 Suppl 4:619-23 [View on Pubmed]
"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). 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"
Santini R et al, (July 2002) Investigation on the health of people living near mobile telephone relay stations: I/Incidence according to distance and sex, Pathol Biol (Paris) 2002 Jul;50(6):369-73 [View on Pubmed]
"Comparisons of complaints frequencies in relation with distance from base station and sex, show significant (p < 0.05) increase as compared to people living > 300 m or not exposed to base station, till 300m for tiredness, 200m for headache, sleep disturbance, discomfort, etc. 100m for irritability, depression, loss of memory, dizziness, libido decrease, etc. Women significantly more often than men (p < 0.05) complained of headache, nausea, loss of appetite, sleep disturbance, depression, discomfort and visual perturbations. This first study on symptoms experienced by people living in vicinity of base stations shows that, in view of radioprotection, minimal distance of people from cellular phone base stations should not be < 300m"
Edelstyn N, Oldershaw A, (January 2002) The acute effects of exposure to the electromagnetic field emitted by mobile phones on human attention, Neuroreport. 2002 Jan 21;13(1):119-21 [View on Pubmed]
"The experimental group were exposed to an electromagnetic field emitted by a 900 MHz mobile phone for 30 min. Cognitive performance was assessed at three points using six cognitive neuropsychological tests. Significant differences between the two groups were evident after 5 min on two tests of attentional capacity and one of processing speed"
Johansson et al, (November 2001) Cutaneous mast cells are altered in normal healthy volunteers sitting in front of ordinary TVs/PCs – results from open-field provocation experiments, J Cutan Pathol; 28: 513-519 [View on Pubmed]
"The present results might lay a foundation to understand the underlying cause of so-called "screen dermatitis" with special reference to mast cells"
Lyskov E et al, (November 2001) Neurophysiological study of patients with perceived "electrical hypersensitivity" International Journal of Psychophysiology, 42, 233-241 [View on Pubmed]
"The study investigated baseline neurophysiological characteristics of the central and autonomous regulation and their reactivity to different tests in a group of persons with so-called 'electrical hypersensitivity'"
Lyskov E et al, (October 2001) Provocation study of persons with perceived electrical hypersensitivity and controls using magnetic field exposure and recording of electrophysiological characteristics Bioelectromagnetics, 22(7), 457-462 [View on Pubmed]
"Persons reporting EHS differed from the control subjects in baseline values of investigated physiological characteristics. Perhaps EHS patients have a rather distinctive physiological predisposition to sensitivity to physical and psychosocial environmental stressors"
Gangi S & Johansson O (April 2000) A theoretical model based upon mast cells and histamine to explain the recently proclaimed sensitivity to electric and/or magnetic fields in humans, Medical Hypotheses, April 2000 54(4), 663-71 [View on Pubmed]
"We present a theoretical model, based upon observations on EMFs and their cellular effects, to explain the proclaimed sensitivity to electric and/or magnetic fields in humans"
Freude G et al, (January 2000) Microwaves emitted by cellular telephones affect human slow brain potentials, Eur J Appl Physiol. 2000 Jan;81(1-2):18-27 [View on Pubmed]
"In addition to the VMT, EMF effects on SP were analysed in two further, less demanding tasks: in a simple finger movement task to elicit a Bereitschaftspotential (BP) and in a two-stimulus task to elicit a contingent negative variation (CNV). In comparison to the VMT, no significant main EMF effects were found in BP and CNV tasks. The results accounted for a selective EMF effect on particular aspects of human information processing, but did not indicate any influence on human performance, well-being and health"
Bergdahl J et al, (October 1998) Odontologic survey of referred patients with symptoms allegedly caused by electricity or visual display units, Acta Odontol Scand 56(5):303-7 [View on Pubmed]
"No or low secretion of the minor mucous glands was found in 43% of the patients. One patient showed hypersensitivity to gold and cobalt. The present study showed that various odontologic factors might be involved in some of these patients' suffering"
Eriksson N et al, (December 1997) The psychosocial work environment and skin symptoms among visual display terminal workers: a case referent study, Int J Epidemiol. 1997 Dec;26(6):1250-7 [View on Pubmed]
"This study supports the idea that the aetiological basis of facial skin symptoms among VDT-workers includes physical as well as psychosocial factors, and that the interaction between such factors might be significant in the understanding of skin complaints among VDT workers"
Gangi S & Johansson O, (December 1997) Skin changes in "screen dermatitis" versus classical UV- and ionizing irradiation-related damage — similarities and differences, Exp Dermatol. 1997 Dec;6(6):283-91 [View on Pubmed]
"The results of this literature study demonstrate that highly similar changes exist in the skin of "screen dermatitis" patients, as regards the clinical manifestations as well as alterations in the cell populations, and in skin damaged by UV light or ionizing radiation"
Sandstrom M et al, (January 1997) Neurophysiological effects of flickering light in patients with perceived electrical hypersensitivity, J Occup Environ Med. 1997 Jan;39(1):15-22 [View on Pubmed]
"The sensitivity of the brain to this type of visual stimulation was tested by means of objective electrophysiological methods such as electroretinography and visual evoked potential. A higher amplitude of brain cortical responses at all frequencies of stimulation was found when comparing patients with the control subjects, whereas no differences in retinal responses were revealed"
Johansson O et al, (October 1994) Skin changes in patients claiming to suffer from "screen dermatitis": a two-case open-field provocation study, Exp Dermatol. 1994 Oct;3(5):234-8 [View on Pubmed]
"The high number of mast cells present may explain the clinical symptoms of itch, pain, edema and erythema. Naturally, in view of the present public debate, the observed results are highly provocative and, we believe, have to be taken seriously"
Electrosensitivity (ES) is an illness which flares or intensifies upon or following exposure to electromagnetic radiation emitted from electrical appliances, especially computer monitors, power lines, fluorescent lights, mobile phones, cordless phones, wireless computers (wLANs), mobile phone cell phone towers, etc.. EHS is defined by the World Health Organization as: “…a phenomenon where individuals experience adverse health effects while in the vicinity of devices emanating electric, magnetic, or electromagnetic fields.”
People who have developed EHS have a physiological disorder, characterized by neurological and immunological symptoms which normally include some of the following:
· Concentration problems
· Aches in the head, throat and chest
· Impaired balance
· Numbness, tingling, or pain in an area
· Red skin blotches/eczema
The symptoms of electrosensitivity diminish with distance from the EMF source. However, it can take several days, weeks or even months if the person has become severely affected.