Electrosensitivity: Caused by Wi-Fi and Mobiles?

The Daily Mail brings us the story of Sarah Dacre who suffers terribly from a range of symptoms including “hair loss, sickness, high blood-pressure, digestive and memory problems, severe headaches and dizziness. ” Sarah believes the symptoms are caused by the effects of the ‘electrosmog’ in our environment, the electromagnetic radiation (EMR) given out by mobile phones and Wi-Fi networks. She is so troubled by these devices that she resorts to wearing a metallic shield over her head. She covers her rooms with tin foil and avoids electrical equipment at all costs.

Sarah is not the only person in this position. More and more people report suffering as a result of electrosmog. The comment section in the Mail article testifies to this. Support groups have been set up and campaigning groups, such a Powerwatch, are on the case. Alasdair Philips of Powerwatch is a regular commentator on the effects of EMR. The newspapers are full of alarming reports about the problem and Alistair is there to offer his views.

As you might expect, some people are eager to cash in on the problem, selling useless devices to cure the problem, such as the QLink, and alternative ‘gurus’ like Patrick Holford selling devices to detect EMR. This could all be quackery as no-one really understands the nature of the illness yet. It may be one illness really caused by EMR exposure, but it could also be a group of unrelated problems where people just believe that it is the EMR causing their symptoms.

People do get upset though if you call an illness psychosomatic. They equate the word with ‘not real’ and see it as a threat. That could not be further from the truth. No-one is doubting that the eletrosensitives are suffering and need help, it is just that we do not need take their explanation of their illness at face value. Part of the problem is that lots is known about EMR and its effects on matter and people, and it is difficult to think up plausible explanations that could account for the wide range of symptoms and types of exposure being reported. Conversely it is quite easy to see how people could falsely believe that EMR was the cause – and be quite passionate about it.

People like explanations in their life. If you are suffering from debilitating symptoms and your doctor, or even your high street quack of choice, has no explanation, then it is easy to see how you might latch onto a ready-made explanation. We are very good at deceiving ourselves, and in particular applying post hoc logic to explain events. “I felt terrible today. It was the neighbours with their Wi-Fi on”, “Big headache came on after all those mobiles around me in town”. And so on. This self-deception may well be part of the psychosomatic illness.

Now, helping these people will depend very much on understanding the nature of the problem. Are they really being hurt by mobiles? Or, is a more subtle psychological problem at the root? Is there another problem that is being masked by their insistence on being electrosenstive? These are answerable questions where we can use science, experiment and observation to help come to some conclusions.

However, for many of the campaigners and the sufferers, there is already and answer – and it is mobile phones, it is WiFi, it is kettles and computers and modern life. No debate.

Powerwatch are already convinced it is EMR that causes these symptoms and they campaign and advise in accordance with that belief. The problem is, that if they are wrong, then they will not help their supporters get better and they will expose them to the quacks that wish to exploit the situation. If the illness is psychosomatic in nature, then it is likely that some form of talking therapy may be more beneficial than calling on governments to ban mobile phone masts and Wi-Fi hotspots.

The Powerwatch position can be seen on its ‘Dispelling the Wireless Myths’ page. It tackles the supposed myth that ‘People only got affected when the scare stories started, it must be psychosomatic’. The page counters this myth by saying,

this is a quickly dispelled myth (often also referred to as a ‘nocebo’ effect — basically a negative ‘placebo’ effect). A quick look at some of the science:

and then goes on to list four papers that we are supposed to take as evidence that the psychosomatic answer is wrong. The trouble is that all four papers appear to have nothing to do with determining if electrosensitivity is caused by EMR or if it is psychosomatic. There are papers on fruit fly eggs, sperm mobility, test-tube cells and stork nesting habits. But none on looking at humans and their exposure to EMR.

This is strange because there are plenty of papers written on the subject. So why do not Alasdair Philips and his team mention them? In fact there are well over thirty published studies looking into this question. The studies typically ask electrosensitive volunteers to record their symptoms in the presence of suspect devices like mobile phones. The trick is though that the researchers and the subjects are not told if the devices are really on or not, i.e. the trial is blinded. The thirty or so studies all do things a bit differently, but around this general theme.

Now of the studies, only seven so far have shown there is a difference between on and off, that is, that the mobile phone had some sort of affect. However, five of these positive results could not be repeated by the same researchers and the other two are thought to be statistical flukes. In other words, the vast majority of the experiments have shown that electrosensitivity has not been demonstrated to be due to exposure to EMR emitting devices.

A systematic review of most of the studies that have been done concluded,

The symptoms described by “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” sufferers can be severe and are sometimes disabling. However, it has proved difficult to show under blind conditions that exposure to EMF can trigger these symptoms. This suggests that “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” is unrelated to the presence of EMF, although more research into this phenomenon is required.

Why does Powerwatch not discuss this? Its a shame. If the people who care and campaign most on behalf of electrosensitive people are selective in their evidence, blind to alternatives and hold strong convictions, then people like Sarah Dacre in the Mail article may go on suffering. Rather than wearing that chain mail hood, perhaps Sarah may benefit from some other sort of therapy.

One thing I do on stories like this, is look for possible conflicting interests that may sway judgments. More often than not, it turns up interesting little facts that need a bit of thinking about.

In this case, I noted that Powerwatch recommend various products to help people like Sarah shield their house from EMR. Powerwatch provide a link to EMFields, a company that supplies all sorts of anti-EMR products. EMFields, also kindly provides a link to ‘consumer interest group Powerwatch that give good, practical advice’.

Now, doing a whois look up on both ‘consumer interest group’ Powerwatch and commercial trading business EMFields, shows that both domains are registered to an Alasdair Philips of Ely. Are they by chance related?

On this theme…

52 Comments on Electrosensitivity: Caused by Wi-Fi and Mobiles?

  1. “hair loss, sickness, high blood-pressure, digestive and memory problems, severe headaches and dizziness. “

    Perhaps Ms Dacre needs the advice of her GP regarding potential HRT therapy and iron supplements rather than the ‘support’ of those who appear to ‘help’ such vulnerable individuals by hiding lucrative business interests behind the respectable veneer of a charity.

    I wonder how many more of these media-friendly woo therapists are doing exactly the same thing?

  2. Even if EMF was causing health problems, how would wearing a “metal shield” on your head stop them? Do EMF rays only fall from the sky like rain? Or is she protecting herself from the possibility of life threatening injuries from falling leaves?

  3. I think it’s hilarious that despite her illness she still allows herself three hours a day on her computer. I bet she has to own up to that because she probably posts on sites devoted to her issues all day long.

    I do feel for her neighbors, though. There will be no ambiguity about the source of their headaches.

    That story in the Daily Mail seemed very enabling to me. That author has probably contributed more to Ms. Dacre’s debilitation than all the electrical devices in the world.

  4. Don’t believe any of the studies you hear about in the news claiming to find no harm from cell phones – they are paid for by the industry and will only report what they want you to hear.

    Skeptics will eat their words in a few years when this condition is epidemic. If you dig deep enough, there is alarming evidence available.

    Bottom line is that you and I are the guinea pigs – I welcome all skeptics to use their cellphones even more so we can see the results quicker.

  5. Bottom line is that you and I are the guinea pigs – I welcome all skeptics to use their cellphones even more so we can see the results quicker.

    What’s it been, over 10 years without anything?

    Of course, we all know that if a company makes money off of something that emits low-power non-ionizing radiation, ambient magic levels transmute them into high power ionizing forms.

    The only EM I think I need to worry about has a simple form of protection: Sunscreen, to block out all those wholesome, natural, potentially carcinogenic UV rays.

  6. Hey Rod, not very nice comments about sceptics. I would contend that those who take a more balanced view of the problem will end up helping sufferers more than those people whose convictions are getting in the way.

    And to save us time ‘digging deep’, show us the evidence. That is all we ever ask.

  7. Heh; can’t believe no one else has highlighted the link between Powerwatch and EMFields. Behold the power of ‘whois’.

    Great stuff as usual, Ducky… 😉

  8. The first? Powerwatch and EMFields have been linked by many, and it’s not something we’ve (on either side) ever denied. I wasn’t aware that it was supposed to be a secret?

    The Wireless Myths article (written by myself, not Alasdair as it happens) was never aimed to address electrical hypersensitivity, nor does it claim to be. It doesn’t claim proof of harm either.

    What it does do is counter the ignorant and misinformed claims I see on a lot of tech blogs where people seem to be of the opinion that pulsed RF exposure is nothing new.

    For your information, Powerwatch are very specifically _not_ a campaign group, and most of the work we do that relates to the public is more behind the scenes (such as in government stakeholder groups like the EMF DG and SAGE – the latter has reported in the main media very recently). Whilst there are plenty of campaign groups out there, we are not one of them.

    “What’s it been, over 10 years without anything?”

    Well, there was plenty covering GSM exposure from both base stations in masts in 2006. Obviously there are the four links already commented on in the Wireless Myths article, but you also have another 4 to look at as follows (PubMed IDs):

    16962663, 16878295, 17034627, 16954120.

    All research from 2006, all into very relevant reactions to relevant exposures.

  9. If its quackery you’re after, then perhaps you should go to the HPA web site where you will find denial of the harmful effects of non ionising microwave radiation.
    If its financial links you’re after then think of the £15 billion pa in tax revenue the government gets from the mobile phone industry. The industry and government jointly fund the NRPB, now part of the HPA.
    If you want to know the validity of a piece of research then look to see who funds it.
    The Rubin study, funded by the government and industry, had flaws, in that the room was not shielded in which the participants sat and the ‘sham’ signal was in fact a very low signal, not a zero signal as one is led to assume. People with EHS have already in other research been shown to be effected by signals down to this ‘sham’ exposure level.
    If you really want to see it, then there is a lot of evidence but if you’ed rather ‘believe’ that mobiles are safe then carry on listening to the industry and government.

  10. First, graham and rod, looking for competing interests was done after I was suspicious of a bias in analysis. That is perfectly legitimate. It is not legitimate to dismiss well reported analysis solelyon the basis of funding. The meta-analaysis of sham EMF exposures needs to stand in its own right.

    Graham – apologies for misappropriation of authorship, your comment stands as correction. But, bizarrely, your four new papers still have nothing to d0 with electrosensitivity – the subject of this blog entry. This is exactly what i was criticising you for – inappropriateness of evidence.

    Rod, you don’t get it. The Rubin study was not a single study but a review of over 30 studies. Did they all get it wrong? Plus, it is perfectly reasonable to expect a dose-response relationship in EMR exposure, unless you are really off with the fairies and think EMR works homeopathically.

  11. “But, bizarrely, your four new papers still have nothing to do with electrosensitivity – the subject of this blog entry.”

    Yes, and this is my point. Actually citing my article at all with regards to this entry is inappropriate. My article was not about electrosensitivity, and therefore claiming it is an “unbalanced opinion” on that subject is unreasonable. I do confess that our Electrical Sensitivity page is now woefully out-of-date, and I will prioritise updating that.

    For your interest, the extra four papers were in response (as quoted in my post), to:

    “Bottom line is that you and I are the guinea pigs – I welcome all skeptics to use their cellphones even more so we can see the results quicker.”

    “What’s it been, over 10 years without anything?”

    I assumed that in this case the cellphones were the context here, and thus produced research looking at cellphone effects. If I missed the point then my bad, but the aim wasn’t to misrepresent here.

    I have no actual problem with the point the blog entry is making, with the exception of the long focus on our Wireless Myths article which simply had nothing to do with the content of the blog.

  12. As animals don’t read the newspapers or blogs, will the sceptics tell me why they have not commented on the research into animal electro-sensitivity?

    3 years ago, the Irish
    Doctors Environmental Association reported that “International studies over the last 30 years have shown the potentially harmful effects of exposure to
    electro-magnetic radiation. In observational studies, animals have shown consistent distress when exposed to EMR. Experiments on tissue cultures and rats have shown an increase in malignancies when exposed to mobile telephone
    radiation.”

    As this information has always been available to government bodies, the phone companies and the public, it’s easy to see why people are now accepting the reality of electro-sensitivity and the growing seriousness of the matter.

    End

  13. Graham, forgive me. But the myths page has everything to do with my blog entry:

    Myth 2: People only got affected when the scare stories started, it must be psychosomatic

  14. As animals don’t read the newspapers or blogs, will the sceptics tell me why they have not commented on the research into animal electro-sensitivity?

    because you are talking about experiments on rat tissues in a test tube. i can harm cells in a petri dish in a million sorts of ways if I wish. I can poor Stella Artois over them and conclude that beer is lethal.

    Scientists are often accused of being reductionist, but there is nothing more reductionist that looking at test tube results and then extrapolating that to completely different realms – that of the electrosensitive. test tube experiments are indicators for further research, for uncovering possible mechanisms and, sometimes, for providing helpful results to campaign groups. They are often unrepeated by independent groups and bear little relevence toreal life examples.

  15. And where exactly is electrosensitivity mentioned?

    I have heard time and time again people complaining that anyone claiming to be affected by RF EMF exposure (e.g. mobile phones, digital cordless phones, base stations, wifi) must be entirely in their mind because there is no evidence to support it. I was therefore providing links to existing evidence where effects have been found that are not psychosomatic.

    That is it, that’s the entire of the point being made. It was an entirely “appropriate use of evidence” to support a non-psychological response to RF EMF exposure. Any connection that you make between that part of the article and supposed “causes of electrosensitivity” is entirely by implication on your part, and therefore a misinterpretation at your end rather than a misrepresentation on ours.

  16. Graham – are we talking about the same article. In what way is myth 2 not talking about electrosensitivity?

    I was therefore providing links to existing evidence where effects have been found that are not psychosomatic.

    But the links you provide are about non-human effects and therefore cannot address the hypothesis that electrosensitivity is a neurosis. Many studies do – and you do not discuss them. Why?

  17. Graham – are we talking about the same article. In what way is myth 2 not talking about electrosensitivity?

    Erm, because it isn’t. The entire page does not mention hypersensitivity or electrical sensitivity once. Psychosomatic effects and electrical hypersensitivity are not synonyms, unless you are already of the pre-conceived opinion that any ES effects must by psychosomatic.

    I don’t discuss any studies on ES because the article wasn’t talking about it at any point. Psychosomatic effects (or, more accurately, non-psychosomatic effects) yes, Electrical Sensitivity, no. There should be a very clear distinction there – what am I missing?

    But the links you provide are about non-human effects and therefore cannot address the hypothesis that electrosensitivity is a neurosis.

    Again, I’m not trying to address the hypothesis, you are. Stop putting words in my mouth please.

  18. So when you say:

    Myth: People only got affected when the scare stories started, it must be psychosomatic

    What affect are you talking about if it is not some sort of electrosensitivity?

  19. Ok, the basis of the argument comes up because there is still a large claim that, with RF exposure, “if it doesn’t heat you, it doesn’t hurt you”. ICNIRP guidelines were set up for precisely that reason, to prevent against thermal effects. We have often had to combat the claim that “any other effects must be non-existent, and therefore psychosomatic”, and felt that this needed addressing.

    Sure, the effects I have pointed to are behavioural effects in storks and denaturating effects in human spermatazoa. This may or may not have any connection, implied or otherwise to “Microwave Sickness”, but the aim was not to address that. It was merely to point out that non-thermal effects clearly can exist, and therefore there must clearly be a mechanism that we, as yet do not understand (though there has been a recently postulated mechanism for a mechanism from GSM phone exposure).

    As such, my point is to emphasise some clearly non-psychosomatic response to RF EMFs that we do not understand.

    Electrical Sensitivity however, is now an accepted debilitating condition for which the cause is not yet understood, where the evidence to support it epidemiologically is varied [Irvine Report 2005]. In the discussion of this paper, it was discussed that it was not possible to even define ES accurately. How then we can know what to look for is extremely difficult, and too big a work for half a page on a new article: To address this would be a completely separate issue that as such I did not have the time to do appropriately – and therefore excluded ES from the article entirely.

    Additionally, there is no research (not even from Rubin, Wessely et al) on WiFi and ES, so technically no conclusions can really be drawn.

    Remember that Rubins latest study (not the review, but the last double-blind trial he produced) involved selecting people based on entirely subjective self-assessed symptoms, and entirely subjective self-assessed responses. I personally don’t consider this to be a particularly scientific approach to the problem – an issue I will go into in much greater detail when I properly review some of the literature (Rubin and others) as part of redoing the ES part of our site.

    If you think I have misworded Myth 2 in a way that I am implying something other than intended, then provide an alternative that I could change the page to that I would also be happy with, but I would really rather you didn’t simply assume my intent outside of the words of the article — hardly signs of balanced reporting from your side.

  20. We have often had to combat the claim that “any other effects must be non-existent, and therefore psychosomatic”, and felt that this needed addressing.

    Conversely, the sites I talk about appear to dismiss the psychocmatic hypothesis out of hand. Even if storks have problems around mobile phone masts does not mean that ES is essentially a neurosis. You need to test that claim diretly – and people are trying e.g. Rubin.

    How you argue does not make sense, just because you find reports of some non-thermal effects, does not mean that ES is not ‘in the mind’. You need to be explicit about that. The myth should be ‘non-thermal effects are non-existent and do not effect biologial systems’ not ‘ES is psychosomatic.’

    As for the non-thermal mechanism. Great! Bring on the research. There is a long way to go though before a genuine link can be made to ES sufferers.

    As for the ES sufferers in the studies being ‘self-selected’, are n’t all ES sufferers self-selecting? As no clinical test applies yet, don’t we just have to take their word for it? It is quite valid to test whether these people really are electrosensitive in some way. Establishing that may well lead to a proper medical definition and test. So far, the results do not look good.

  21. Conversely, the sites I talk about appear to dismiss the psychocmatic hypothesis out of hand. Even if storks have problems around mobile phone masts does not mean that ES is essentially a neurosis. You need to test that claim diretly – and people are trying e.g. Rubin.

    Agreed, but that is a separate issue to the Wireless Myths article.

    How you argue does not make sense, just because you find reports of some non-thermal effects, does not mean that ES is not ‘in the mind’. You need to be explicit about that.

    Agreed, but I don’t need to be explicit as I am not arguing for or against ES in the article.

    The myth should be ‘non-thermal effects are non-existent and do not effect biologial systems’ not ‘ES is psychosomatic.’

    The myth wasn’t “ES is psychosomatic”, that’s your wording and way off what I was writing. You just misinterpreted it, that’s all.

    As for the non-thermal mechanism. Great! Bring on the research. There is a long way to go though before a genuine link can be made to ES sufferers.

    Actually, I’d frankly rather there wasn’t one. I’d rather it was all psychological and could be dealt with via CBT. If there is a link then there is a responsibility to investigate it, but I wouldn’t call it “great news” except perhaps for the peace of mind for the sufferers who don’t want to believe it is a nocebo effect.

    As for the ES sufferers in the studies being ‘self-selected’, are n’t all ES sufferers self-selecting? As no clinical test applies yet, don’t we just have to take their word for it?

    Does that make it scientific? I think that the issue should be left until a biological reaction can be found that can therefore be objectively tested for. There is in my mind no point in testing for subjectiveness. Take a metaphorical example where 80% of sufferers are entirely psychosomatic and 20% are entirely real. The real sufferers will simply get lost in the noise when results are published. Far better would be to find people that consistently guess the exposure correctly, and conduct biological experiments on those few to see what is being affected. Charles Wessely (of whom Rubin is the protege – Wessely is on most of the Rubin papers) is a epidemiologist and psychiatrist, and will therefore be more likely to be looking for a psychological explanation anyway — bring on the biologists… however, this is still unrelated to my initial objection – that the reference to my Wireless Myths article as “supporting evidence” for ES is entirely inappropriate.

  22. I think that the issue should be left until a biological reaction can be found that can therefore be objectively tested for. There is in my mind no point in testing for subjectiveness.

    This is nonsense! Subjectivity can be romoved by an RCT. The idea that ES is not caused by EMR and is psychosomatic is a perfectly respectful and scientific hypothesis that can be tested by experiment. It is tested and passes. One does not need to know the biological mechanism to show that an ES’s symptoms dissapear when they think the mobile is off.

    Take a metaphorical example where 80% of sufferers are entirely psychosomatic and 20% are entirely real. The real sufferers will simply get lost in the noise when results are published.

    Again, unfair. A well designed RCT should be able to spot this.

    There is just no internal consistency in ES yet. We are led to believe that the effect of EMR on sperm and storks is catastrophic and yet ES only affects a few people and then in differnt ways. We are expected to take their word for it when perfectly good alternative explanations fit the experimental data – ie a neurosis. Plausible mechanisms are few and far between and cannot be demonstrated outside of a test tube. Meanwhile, people profit from selling kit to ‘help’ ES sufferers, some of which is blatantly fraudulent, and others marginal in its utility, even if ES is ‘real’.

    There is real need to take a big deep breath here and sit back and think about where all this might be going. This is a high risk game and there is no going back. If you are adding to suffers neuroses then you are making matters worse, not better. You do not go around telling anorexics thay really are fat and need to do go on a diet. Prudence is required. No?

  23. This is nonsense! Subjectivity can be romoved by an RCT. The idea that ES is not caused by EMR and is psychosomatic is a perfectly respectful and scientific hypothesis that can be tested by experiment. It is tested and passes. One does not need to know the biological mechanism to show that an ES’s symptoms dissapear when they think the mobile is off.

    No, it is not nonsense. How can you remove subjectivity when that is the entire source of your information? The information on “sensitivity” was collected by questionnaire, as was the information on “response”. You cannot make this objective.

    Also, the theory that ES being psychosomatic has not been tested and passed. There is evidence to support it, and consistent support for the sufferer being able to detect correct exposure is not there is not there in the Rubin trials. To say this is proof of a theory is just as bad as saying altered stork behaviour is proof of ES being EMF caused (not a line of logic we have used btw).

    “Junk science” goes both ways.

    In the double-blind Rubin study the room was not shielded, so the ambient exposure was not controlled. Incidentally, neither was it measured. The sham exposure should have been “no exposure”, but in fact it was exposing the participants to RF at lower levels (by admission of the author and content of the paper itself). So there are serious flaws in the study metric without even touching on the variance in adverse responses from alleged sufferers. For example, if participant X responds to EMFs but not for 6 or 7 hours, then this will be seen as “not responding” by the metric of the Rubin trial.

    In their defence, it is actually very difficult to draw up a proposed method that will adequately cover these issues. It is also very clear from their initial results that there are certainly a decent proportion of ES sufferers that are likely to be entirely psychosomatic. However, having seen some of the individual results from the Essex study (another double-blind study into ES due to be published in the next few months) some people seem to be consistently accurate – >90% of the time – in their estimation of whether or not they are being exposed. Likewise, also from individual results, some supposed sufferers appear to suffer when they are under the slightest impression that they _might_ be exposed.

    It’s all very well claiming RCT will always be the answer, and that they should be easy to set up, but with all due respect, how would you know?

    Again, unfair. A well designed RCT should be able to spot this.

    Really? And how would you propose that then? Where is the support for the argument that you can design a way of extracting the real sufferers from the noise without treating the participants’ results on a case by case basis. If you think that would be a suitable way to do it, then it may be news to you that none of the trials on ES have yet done this – at least to the point of never publishing individual results (with identifying information obviously removed) or commenting on them as individuals.

    Certainly, the Rubin double-blind studies I have gone through with a fine tooth-comb did not control for this possibility.

    Like I said, we will put a proper review of the ES science up there in due course, but until then it is speculation on both sides, and deserves to be recognised as such.

    Please don’t take this the wrong way, but it is a waste of both our times continuing this debate on here. No-one is reading it anymore I suspect and I am being paid for this time to be put elsewhere.

    My original objection was that my article was being misrepresented for something outside what it was written for, and that still stands. The debate on the true nature of ES is contentious even between groups of scientists, so for either of us to assume it to be resolved is inappropriate.

    Best Regards,
    – Graham

  24. “If you think that would be a suitable way to do it, then it may be news to you that none of the trials on ES have yet done this”

    But looking at the tables in the Rubin review paper (the bit labelled “number of participants apparently demonstrating electromagnetic sensibility”) I count 18 studies that provide relevant info on this. For example, the two Johansson studies mentioned on p225 (2nd column, last para) tested 77 people between 3 to 12 times each looking for any who could consistently discriminate between mobile phones switched on and off, and finding 1 who could (not a significant result). So surely this has been done?

  25. To: UK dietician
    As dieteticians are not trained in radiation medicine, I suggest that you look up ‘microwave sickness’ or ‘microwave illness’. This condition has been recognised for decades by Russian medical doctors – who are trained in radiation medicine – and who have extensively researched this area.

    I too have been affected by high levels of radiation from nearby phone mast. Not as severely as Ms. Dacre. Powerwatch has been very helpful and I for one am glad that they are in existence.

    le canard noir
    I suggest that you look up the Swiss Shield website.
    This kind of silver covered Swiss Shield netting has been used by the military for screening personnel against health risks of microwave radiation and also as a security measure. Ms Dacre uses a shielding material that has the approval of the military.

    I have used it myself to screen my home against the high level signals from a nearby mobile phone transmitter mast and been satisfied with the performance. Confirmed by meter readings.
    I have now got my sleeping area down to the much lower maximum permitted levels allowed in Salzburg. The instigator of these levels was Dr Gerd Oberfeld of the Public Health Department.
    Look up his work.

    To those individuals who ignorantly dismiss Ms. Dacre’s complaints – Take care. It could be you next.

    UK Psychologist

  26. Anon – you are too easily swayed by ‘authority’ – the military use it (show me the evidence), this Doctor says so (show me his research papers)

    And as for ‘the Russians were trained in radiation medicine’, maybe you should do some research on Lysenko, if you want an insight int soviet-stlye science.

  27. Jumping in rather late on this thread, but… Is Sarah Dacre, crazy tin-hat lady, related to Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail itself, by any chance?

    I can’t say it’s a surname I’ve encountered often.

    BTW, isn’t the belief that “invisible rays sent by a hostile conspiracy are making me sick” a classic symptom of schizophrenia?

    Andrew.

  28. I had been electrosensitive and I could describe an environment that easily could produce short-term electrosensitivity due to the joining
    of different electromagnetic factors:

    – A flat without electrical earth grounding.
    – near a mobile mast.
    – near power lines.
    – over a power transformer.
    – with geopathic stress in your room
    including:
    * water veins
    * curry lines crossings
    * hartmann lines crossings.
    – TV (CRT) in the room
    connected for sleeping!
    – A bed table with:
    * electrically powered
    radio-alarm clock
    * cell phone
    * DECT
    – A desk table with:
    * A PC with CRT monitor.
    (If you work during hours
    near the CRT monitor and your
    legs touching electrical wires
    without grounding)
    * A laptop with WiFi
    – Using an electrical
    blanket with no grounding
    – An using a microwave owen.

    We use tecnology without sufficient
    studies…

    I think that electrosensitivity is not
    for joking, is not for laughing, is something serious and strange that happens in our world due to our lack
    of knowledge of the reality.

  29. Thanks for that.

    One observation. The electrics in your house, without proper electrical earthing, sound illegal. best consult a qualified electrician before you do anything else.

    electrosensitivity […] is something serious and strange that happens in our world due to our lack of knowledge of the reality.

    Couldn’t agree more.

  30. Le Cannard…

    It was only an example of a place that could have high levels of electromagnetic
    and microwave radiations. It was not
    a real place, but I suppose that there are probabilities that this place exists
    somewhere in our world.

    I think that electrical earthing is really needed to avoid problems derived from unwanted electrical fields. I had serious mental and anxiety problems living in a room without grounding and working with a PC, but not in UK.

    I used a bio-voltmeter VM20 to check the amount of electrostress that the electrical installation gave me in the bed. It was really high (7 Volts).
    In Bau-biologie 0.1 V is the maximum recomended to sleep. 0.5 V is the maximum recommended at work or in activities.

  31. It was not recommended for anyone. I’ve done my own research in electromagnetics and bau-biologie. I reached the conclusion that given a bad electrical installation like mine, this sensor could help me to test empirically
    how much bio-voltage I was receiving from electric fields. I picked up the first one that could do this readings and I could purchase easily in my city.

    The sensor helped me to check my levels of bio-voltage (körperspannung in the
    SBM-2003 standards in bau-biologie) in
    different parts of the house, and gave me the opportunity to see that I really need to change the installation.
    The sensor was useful to me to check the levels of electrostress at work.
    I checked a friend of mine in his office and I found that his laptop lacked of
    earthing connections, this was giving him readings of aprox. 1.2 V. He told me that he was good at work but given the recommended SBM readings he prefered to buy a new AC adaptor in order to prevent.

  32. Electrosensativity is real and does exist. Microwave sickness is known about and the people who have the problem suffer symptoms of this and the military teach it. Dirty electricity Electrosmog ect are causing problems and the people who deny it are the same type who denied Smoking and cancer, Asbestos mad cow disease ect. The do us all a diservice and when the recognise and admit the problem we may be able to get safe communications and no effects. We will not get this while the liars and ignorant keep the problem from being looked at..

  33. Irene –

    1) I do not doubt the symptoms Electrosensitivity are real – it is the explanation that is being discussed. Not a hard concept to get.
    2) Microwave sickness may well exist – if you stand in front of a military radar.
    3) There is no such thing as ‘dirty electricity’. Unscientific. Explain what you mean.
    4) I am not denying anything about electrosensitives. The people in denial are those that ignore the provocation studies into the issue that show categorically that EMF is not the cause of the symptoms. When the ES campaign groups recognise these, they may be able to start helping their sufferers. By sticking their heads in the sand, it looks like they are more interested in being the ‘heros that showed mobiles were bad’ than helping ES sufferers. By not condemning the quack products that are being sold to sufferers, these groups are aiding fraud.

    If you think I am a liar and a fraud, point out exactly where I have lied or misled.

  34. [quote]4) I am not denying anything about electrosensitives. The people in denial are those that ignore the provocation studies into the issue that show categorically that EMF is not the cause of the symptoms. When the ES campaign groups recognise these, they may be able to start helping their sufferers. By sticking their heads in the sand, it looks like they are more interested in being the ‘heros that showed mobiles were bad’ than helping ES sufferers. By not condemning the quack products that are being sold to sufferers, these groups are aiding fraud. [/quote]

    I don’t think you can rule out EMF’s causing ES in spite of the conclusions from double blind studies to date. Because ES symptoms could have other causes, determining that EMF’s are causing symptoms at a particular time is problematic, especially if the symptoms are not severe or occuring only when there is an EMF present.

  35. What you can pretty much rule out now is very simple cause and effect. Many ES sufferers say things like “When I use a mobile, my face burns/I get a headache’ or “when I go into a room with WiFi I feel sick etc”. The provocation studies have failed to show anyone who can really do this blinded.

    There may well be more ‘subtle’ effect, but again there is no plausible mechanism for such effects and no evidence that health effects exist. It is therefore wise to assume (at the moment) that psychological effects are the cause and that we need to explore ways of helping sufferers on that basis.

  36. Please read ‘Cell Towers: Wireless Convenience? or Environmental Hazard’ by B. Blake Levitt for the truth about how ‘safe’ EMF exposure is. And this isn’t ‘just’ cell towers and WiFi. No. None of this electromagnetic junk we’ve been creating is safe, and there are profitable industries intent at keeping the truth from the public.

    I suffer from ES, and I’ve proven it with a gaussmeter. Turn in your cell phone and buy a gaussmeter instead and prove it to yourself f you are sick! And then get tested for Lyme and coinfections, too, because the two work hand-in-hand – artificial electromagnetic fields CAUSING my chronic Lyme!

  37. It is interesting, so many people on here debating an issue that is already recognized as been real (those who deny need to wake up and catch up). Did you know some surgeons get this from work? Some doctors have it? Some scientists have it? In Sweden, it is a disability? Some personnel get it from working with MRI’s. This issue is quite old actually, and has been around since 1940s. It is not new, and not psychological. We should not equate psychology to things we do not understand, as that is just a witty way of saying “I’m ignorant on this one”. One “provocative” research study proves nothing. History has talk us that if the research isn’t conducted right, you will not get the results you seek. You cannot create every “wordly” situation in a lab.

  38. I’m on the fence on this one but….if someone were to claim that they had allergic reactions to seafood or nuts, (this is similar in that it is experienced in a relative minority of people) they would not be met with so much scepticism.Maybe some people are wrongly attributing symptoms to EMF’s but are these people always wrong in their perceived link between cause and effect? Whilst we don’t fully understand a mechanism which could cause such symptoms in ‘hypersensitives’ I will be cautious of dismissing EMF’s as a cause of such symptoms – there’s a lot which remains unknown with regards to EMF’s.

  39. One point to make is that when removed from sources of EMF's for long enough, sufferers of electrosensitivity have no symptoms.

    If they are exposed again, their symptoms return, even if they are not aware of exposure.

    Sometimes it may take a cumulative effect of EMF exposure to give a response in a controlled experiment, or the response be delayed according to internal homeostatic balance. One cannot just sit a person down with a mobile phone and expect them to react immediately, they may become ill hrs or days after the exposure, unrecorded. Thus the results may be biased. From what I understand one of the major studies cited, the Essex study, a number of individuals most sensitive, had to be removed from the experiment as they became too ill. This would have biased the eventual results, removing subjects from the experimental group that showed potentially the greatest effects.

    In Russian studies they have used much longer term exposure to RF and microwave frequencies, and shown much more profound bioeffects at very much lower exposure limits. Long term exposure appears to eventually push the body's capacity to adapt to the stress of microwaves over a threshhold . The sensitivity then becomes apparent. This has been shown in Russian experiments. Western experiments have generally been too short term.

  40. Anonymous – the best of these tests are taking your considerations into account, for example comparing unblinded with blinded reactions.

    I am also very suspicious of 'Russian Experiments'. If we cannot get access to translated versions of the papers then we really cannot discuss them. All we are doing is discussing second hand hearsay about them – and there has been lots of misrepresentation in this field.

    You are right though about drop outs in some studies – this is a concern. But it is also not evidence that there is an effet. Remember, plausibility counts against the hypothesis that EM has direct health implications. We are still short of any good data or science to suggest that this is real.

  41. I am a biomedical scientist (retired) and have been trained not to trust anything you cant test for! After years of terrible headaches fatigue and feeling sick when I stay indoors, I removed my dect phone, switched off my mobile and am slowly painting the connecting wall as my neighbour has WiFi.
    This has helped quite a bit, but I still cant stay in my home all day. My main problem is not really believing what I cant test for but until I get an answer, I'll carry on doing whatever is needed to stop the headaches.

  42. how are all these electro-sensitive people using their EMF junk computers?

    I guarantee that everyone claiming this would not be able to tell if a power source is on or off any better than the ‘energy healers’ exposed by Emily Rosa could feel her energy – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Rosa

    Which is to say, no better than guessing

  43. Oh dear! I have just read these postings and for the most part how uninformed they are. Electrosensitivity exists. Wi-fi can be a trigger (EU Journal of Oncology, Oct 2010, Havas, Dr Magda, proves wi-fi / cordless phones cause heart irregularities) and like any ‘allergic’ reaction the only solution is to avoid it. Easy right? No, not when there is no environmental law protecting people in their own homes from their neighbours (as is the case with noise and light pollution). Ah but neighbours should be allowed to do what they want in their homes right? Yes, and surely the same right belongs to those people’s homes which are being invaded by harmful frequencies?

    How many people know wi-fi operates at a brainwave frequency and therefore interferes with cells’ ability to communicate with one another causing chaos to proteins, neural pathways etc? Do people know routers are 3 times more powerful than mobile phone masts?

    The Council of Europe has just reiterated the need for member states to recognise and help electrosensitives. This is not big brother stuff; thank god there is an impartial body not susceptible to the corruption of mobile phone companies who are undoubtedly making billions from government licences and who are all too aware of the health risks. Why otherwise are more than 60% of them not covered by insurance companies against health claims?

  44. Jules, I can’t get access to that journal/article via Google, PubMed, my University Library etc. and Dr. Havas’ website only lists ‘publications’ up to 2009; most of which, I note, are non-peer reviewed items such as letters (to newspapers etc.) and conference/meeting abstracts. This seems a little odd for a scientist who has proven a such a link…

    Could you please provide a little more info/text/abstract? Dr. Havas’ science has clearly impressed you and I’m sure you’d like us to benefit from what you learned from it.

  45. I KNOW I suffer when exposed to EMF fields of various sorts I have proved this to myself .Why is it so hard to believe that some people are more sensitive to these fields than others.It is that it is just so inconvenient to believe for the cell phone based society and for the little individuals who prefer popularity to truth.

    To draw a parallel between the Cell phone companies and the oil companies let me ask ‘Why don’t oil companies get involved with bio fuel instead of ignoring the fact that they are polluting our cities at an unacceptable rate (or don’t you believe that)?’The reason is they (obviously) have huge financial interest in NOT emphasizing the fact of fossil fuel pollution.Cell phone companies have everything to loose if even a couple of people are ‘allowed’ to talk about their electrosensitivity (…something that is not beneficial to those individuals suffering and that they normally wouldn’t want to talk about if it wasn’t ruining every aspect of their lives).I hope that one day (when the facts finally get out) the people who knowingly ‘irradiated the entire human race 24 /7 ‘ will be brought to face criminal charges.

    To me it is quite clear that the more obvious argument should really be ‘how can grown up people believe that microwave radiation can do them any good at all ‘
    Unless they are thinking they might anger their boss I can’t understand them not questioning this and other ‘accepted’ yet (obviously) unacceptable ills in our ‘technology’

    Dave

    • dave said:

      Why is it so hard to believe that some people are more sensitive to these fields than others.

      Because, when you blind people who claim to be sensitive to whether or not they are being subjected to emf, they cannot tell.

      let me ask ‘Why don’t oil companies get involved with bio fuel

      Biofuels and alternative transport fuels – Shell Global

      BP Biofuels   a growing alternative

      However, this is irrelevant. If you have good evidence that emf is a problem, please present it.

      • Conveniently for the cell phone pushers one cannot really conduct any ‘Blind’ experiment on the subject of EMF because it is everywhere at all times so it is difficult to remove people from it for any extended period that would be necessary for researchers to even notice a difference in any facility.Also… removing a boxer from the ring does not mean that he will not show signs of trauma (from recent past events perhaps).You would have to create a long term separation area(like the entire planet…why not) for true observation.

        Anyway what is it with you …If someone Tells you they are affected by emf radiations (mainly from Wi Fi and cell phones) and has observed this first hand for a long time that you find it necessary to doubt their veracity.Maybe respecting their viewpoint would be a new option ???
        I could show you what my skin looks like after being in any shopping
        center but you see you are somehow already biased NOT to believe in this by the so called Scientific community (no offence to the truly open minded people …scientists or not).

        Biofuels argument is relevant to me as one of numerous other examples where ‘accepted’ science turns its back on something which could make the quality of life (and future life) better for people here.
        The mention of this alternative technology was just in my earlier comm to say that if you don’t believe that ‘vested interests’ are running our world then I suggest it is time to open your eyes!

        You see I am in the frame of mind of not trying to have a debate about real conditions but looking for a solution to what ,in fact, a five year old could clearly see is a problem/future problem.

        I feel that if one levitated two feet off the ground,upside down and blew bubbles none of it would make any difference to your outlook on the world…so lucky I am that I am not going to try to convince you here.

        Listen to what the children are really saying by this I mean find out who is influencing your basic rights and abilities for direct observation!

      • dave said:

        Conveniently for the cell phone pushers one cannot really conduct any ‘Blind’ experiment on the subject of EMF because it is everywhere at all times so it is difficult to remove people from it for any extended period that would be necessary for researchers to even notice a difference in any facility.

        No. It is very easy – and indeed trivial – to do so.

        But I would suggest you read up on the numerous sources of bias that need to be recognised and accounted for in any experiment if you are at all interested in finding out what is really happening. This Wikipedia article is a good staring point: Experimenter’s bias.

  46. The problem is that we still understand very little about how the human body works. Every day we learn something new that we couldn’t measure yesterday, so to assume that something isn’t real because we can’t measure it yet is rather arrogant. Yes of course there are nocebo effects and of course there is a psychosomatic component once the potential relationship has been pointed out to the patient. That still does not preclude the potential influence of electromagnetic fields.

    Today we know that function in the body depends on signalling and that there are many types of signals. There are chemical signals, electrical signals, electromagnetic signals, and even discrete photons that all comprise and influence communication. If a field is weak and transient, the brain can adapt and compensate, but the longer a field is present, the more it would tend to create a pattern or skew the balance.

    We have to remember that there is a functional consequence before there is a symptom. Some people say that MRI’s don’t “do” anything to you because there are no symptoms associated with them. I’m not going to say that they are detrimental, because I think the brain and nervous system can adapt because even though the field is very strong it is also very temporary. But to say that nothing happens is ignorant. The very fact that MRI’s can create an image at all is that the magnetic field rearranges the protons and ions inside the cells. The field makes very tiny things move around in a dance inside your body which is why it works in the first place. Is this dangerous? Probably not, but we must realize that the body is an information processor and everything matters.

    The nervous system is very difficult to study, because there is a lot of individual variability and it is virtually impossible to account for all the variables since the nervous system processes everything in your environment. There would be thousands of variables to account for.

    We have always had “sensible” people in our society who are ever so eager to help us “think straight”, but we have to remember that what makes logical sense today depends on what we learned yesterday. Some of the most blatant examples of course being that the earth is not actually flat, the earth is not the center of the universe and it is not a good idea to assist in child birth immediately after performing an autopsy without washing your hands.

    Of course the reverse holds true as well; something isn’t true just because we can’t measure or explain it, but we must start looking at the body more as a quantum information processor than as a mechanical device that can only be manipulated with chemicals and mechanics.

    Dr Sten Ekberg

    • “The problem is that we still understand very little about how the human body works.”

      Are you speaking about just chiropractors or science in general?

      “to assume that something isn’t real because we can’t measure it yet is rather arrogant.”

      I cannot measure invisible tiny unicorns in your body, but it is not arrogant to to suggest they are not real.

      Your second paragraph is just pseudoscientific gibberish. Your third is trivial.

      Your fourth paragraph. Are you talking about chiropractors again? I appreciate chiropractors have made absolutely no breakthroughs in understanding the nervous system but that does not mean scientists haven’t.

      Ahhh, the the ‘we used to think the Earth was flat’ gambit. Can you think of any crackpot idea where this argument could not be used?

      BINGO! We have an appeal to QUANTUM. Where do I claim my prize?

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