Safety Advice for Electromagnetic Fields (PDF)
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Safety Advice(PDF)
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Electromagnetic Sensitivity

Definition | Symptoms | Treatment | Risk Factors | Research


Electromagnetic Sensitivity, also known as Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS), Electrosensitivity, or Microwave Sickness is a condition in which an individual experiences symptoms like headaches, dizziness, unusual heart palpitations, or insomnia, around wireless technologies or electrical devices such as smart meters, cell towers, Wi-Fi, mobile phones, cordless phones, power line magnetic fields, intermediate frequencies, and electric fields from various electronics devices. The condition, whereby some "electrosensitive" people suffer from intolerance to electromagnetic fields has been acknowledged in the European Council's Resolution 1815 (2011), section 8.1.4.

Videos of Electromagnetic Sensitivity Around the World


-Taken from EMFacts Consultancy's Consumer Health and Safety Advice.

Warnings about Chronic, Continual Exposure

According to Hecht and Balzer's analysis of 878 scientific works from Russian medical literature, the symptoms may take 3-5 years of exposure to emerge. Within the first 5 years, avoiding or reducing exposure may eliminate symptoms. However, after 10 years, severe symptoms and disease may become evident.

Hecht and Balzer's Analysis Regarding Chronic Exposures to Microwaves

0-3 years3-5 years5-10 years10+ years
Few or No symptoms Mild symptoms Moderate symptoms
Severe symptoms
Approaching disease

Dr. Belpomme, Oncology Professor at Paris Descartes University, found there is more than one phase of electromagnetic intolerance syndrome. What starts out as symptoms to a particular frequency, e.g., ear pain from cell phone use, may in a later phase, develop into sensitivity to a wide range of frequencies.

Note: With acute levels of radiation, e.g., living directly under a cell tower, moderate to severe symptoms could arise in less than one year.

Scientific Research on EHS

The following are a few studies related to electromagnetic sensitivity or microwave sickness:

See also the Environmental Health Trust's Electromagnetic Sensitivity page.

Possible scientific explanations for the symptoms of electromagnetic hypersensitivity are provided in the following table:

Possible Scientific Explanations for EHS Symptoms

Symptom Possibly Related Objective Effects/Animal Research
Headache Opening of the Blood-brain barrier, effects on the dopamine-opiate systems of the brain, and blood cell clumping. See References
Cardiovascular problems Calcium efflux in animals' hearts; Arrhythmia in animals; Tachycardia in double-blind study with DECT cordless phones (See References.) High blood pressure found in double-blind studies (see Devra Davis' book Disconnect).
Tinnitus A study at the University of Vienna (Hans-Peter Hutter et al, 2010) found that risk of tinnitus increased with years of cell phone use.
Immune Problems The RNCNIRP 2011 mentioned that a number of papers published in 2010 showed immune response to RF EMF and that chronic RF EMF exposure may lead to "borderline psychosomatic disorders." See also the Bioinitiative Report section on immune system effects.
Memory loss Reduced synaptic activity in hippocampus neurons; Memory loss and neuronal death observed in rats; See References.
Sleeping Disorders like InsomniaEMF reduces levels of melatonin; 3 hours of exposure prolongs latency to reach first cycle of deep sleep, and decreases stage 4 sleep (see reference)
Depression Affects blood levels of serotonin in participants within 300m of a cell site. See References
EHS symptoms Certain types of EMF have been found to damage Myelin. Myelin provides electrical insulation for the nervous system.

Evidence of biological harm from EMF's consists of a variety of sources, including:

Read more about possibly related health conditions like infertility, cancer, sleep disruptions, arrhythmia, neurological disease, ADHD, immune system disorders, asthma, etc. For some scientific mechanisms which may explain the symptoms, refer to the science overview.

Mobile Phone Base Stations (Cell Tower) Studies

Typically within 300-400 meters of mobile phone base stations, increased reports of subjective symptoms are observed, including the following: Fatigue, headache, sleep disturbance, discomfort, irritability, depression, loss of memory, dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite, visual perturbations, concentration difficulty, and cardiovascular problems. See the links below for some sample abstracts:

Wi-Fi can provide even greater exposures than mobile phone base stations and therefore there are similar concerns for Wi-Fi exposure.

Double-Blind Studies

The following are some double-blind studies regarding EMF biological effects:

Note: For a list of common deficiencies of double-blind studies which claim that patients cannot sense radiation better than chance, see Common Deficiencies of Double-blind Studies on Electrosensitivity.

Individual Risk Factors for Electrosensitivity

Some of the following potential risk factors for electrosensitivity may account for the variation of responses from different people:

Treatment for Electrosensitivity

The Emergence of Electrosensitivity Worldwide

Electrosensitivity is a growing problem, which can restrict a person's access to society and access to work. As early as the late 1980s, Swedish telecom engineer, Per Segerback, and many of his colleagues, developed electrosensitivity near a cell tower. His story has been featured in Fortune magazine, Popular Science magazine, and the video documentary, Public Exposure: DNA, Democracy, and the Wireless Revolution. Since then, the problem has now spread worldwide. Below is a partial list.

Names for electrosensitivity, e.g., electrosensibilidad,electrosensitivity,electrosensibilit?,elektrosensibilit?t

In 2011, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution on the potential dangers of electromagnetic fields on the environment. This resolution includes evidence for electrosensitivity and calls for measures to protect electrosensitive individuals. Sweden, Canada (the Canadian Human Rights Commission), and Spain have also provided some limited level of recognition for electrosensitivity as an environment-related disability. Efforts are being made to gain formal recognition from the World Health Organization for both EHS and MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity).

Country Reports of Electrosensitivity
USA - The BBC reported in 2011 that many EHS are flocking to the radio-free zone of West Bank, Virginia to escape EMF's.
- The EMR Policy Institute compiled personal affidavits across the USA to protest FCC's upcoming broadband wireless plan.
- Recently, the roll-out of smart meters is rapidly adding even greater numbers to the EHS population, since some of these devices transmit frequently and at levels stronger than cell phones.
Canada Schoolchildren in Simcoe county develop symptoms of EHS due to Wi-Fi installations in the school. See CBC News and Safe School Committee.
Sweden Electrosensitivity (Eloverkansligas) is today recognized as a disability in Sweden, where it is estimated to affect as many as 230,000 Swedes. See "Black on White" which includes Swedish testimonies.
France - In 2008, France National Library switches from Wi-Fi to wired internet as a result of health complaints of staff workers.
- Later, in 2009, Next-Up created the first radiation free refuge in the Drome in France for people with electrosensitivity (electrosensibilite) who are having difficulty living in urban environments.
-Dominique Belpomme performed research on more than 200 people who considered themselves electrosensitive, with clinical and biological analyses to support that the condition is real.
Italy A similar refuge zone as the one in France was opened in Italy in 2010.
Spain In 2011, a Labor Court recognized a college professor as permanently incapacitated by electrosensitivity (electrosensibilidad). In 2016 and 2018, two other cases of electrosensitivity were also recognized by Spanish Courts.
UK Anecdotes of electrosensitivity abound in the UK as well, for example, in this article, Making Waves in The Guardian from 2004.
Germany See videos of electrosensitivity (elektrosensibilitat) in Germany.
India In India, there are recent 2010 reports from Tehelka that India's urban areas may violate safety standards, including Delhi, Mumbai, and others, and at least one person has developed electrohypersensibility, and many have developed cancer. Note that the individual mentioned with electrohypersensibility is one of the earliest adopters of cell phones in India.
Taiwan See videos of concerns in Taiwan of long-term health effects of wireless technology (last video).
Korea A Korean epidemiology study on 501 high school students found greater rates of depression amongst those who used cell phones the most. See Mental Health Studies on Children.
Japan See a video on Electrosensitivity in Japan from cell towers.
New Zealand Health symptoms were found around the radio tower in Ouruhia, New Zealand, including ringing in the ears and cardiac symptoms.


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