II. Definition of EMS
Electromagnetic hypersensitivity, called also electro sensitivity or electro hypersensitivity is a disorder in which a person presents symptoms of a sickness caused or aggravated by magnetic fields or waves. These symptoms are recognized by the WHO and by numerous scientific studies (ref. Bioinitiative Report). Here is the WHO’S definition:
“For some time, numerous individuals complained of diverse health problems attributed to exposure to electromagnetic fields. While certain individuals report mild symptoms and are able to avoid these fields, others are so gravely affected that it becomes necessary to stop working and to modify their lifestyle totally. This sensitivity is presumed to be from electromagnetic fields and is generally called electromagnetic sensitivity (EMS).”
The sources of these symptoms can be multiple: computer monitors, antennas, high tension wires, electric transformers or mobile telephones. The proportion of individuals who suffer from electro sensitivity varies; certain studies indicate 8% of the population interviewed. Each case of electro sensitivity is unique; also, the symptoms and their gravity vary from one person to another.
2.2.1 Symptoms described by the patients:
Neurological symptoms : headache, vertigo, nausea, difficulty concentrating, loss in memory, irritability, depression, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, weakness, muscle spasms, change in reflex reaction, sore joints, leg pain, fever, as well as more severe symptoms causing paralysis or psychosis.
Cardiac symptoms: palpitations, arrhythmia, chest pain, change in blood pressure, change in cardiac rhythm, shortness of breath.
Respiratory symptoms: sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma.
Dermatological symptoms: redness, itchiness, burning sensations.
Ophthalmological symptoms: pain and burning sensations, deterioration of vision, cataracts.
Other symptoms : digestive problems, abdominal pain, thyroid problem, pain in the ovaries or the testicles, dryness of the mouth, the tongue or the eyes, extreme thirst, dehydration, nosebleeds, bleeding, change in sugar level, immunity problems, loss of hair, tooth pain, deterioration of the senses, loss of the sense of smell, ringing in the ears.
2.2.2. Scientific Proof
This report covers the state of knowledge on the effects of non-ionized rays of electrical wires and mobile telephones on man or living organisms.
“The studies made on animals as well as people show great immunological changes when exposed to electromagnetic fields (EMF) in the environment. Some exposure levels are similar to the levels in those products presented by the wireless technologies in everyday life.”
The Bioinitiative Report describes for example:
- “The effects on cognitive and neurophysiology function are fairly well documented: It notes of neurological problems, as well as behavioural problems, and speaks of the risk of cerebral tumours.”
- “There is strong epidemiological proof that long-term exposure to low-frequency magnetic fields constitutes a risk factor in Alzheimer disease.”
TNO Report – Dutch Government Report – September 2003
This double-blind study indicates a general reduction of wellbeing at 0.7 V/m (maximum exposure at 1 V/m) after 45 minutes of exposure under mobile telephone signals.
It confirms the results on people living close to antennas and tells of the reality of how people experience cognitive problems (see the syndrome of microwaves: language problems, attention and memory problems. The principal symptoms are listed in two groups: the electro sensitive and the non-electro sensitive.
- weakness in parts of the body
- muscular pain
- cardiac irregularities
- nervousness or anxiety
- attention span
- irritability, anger
Click to download the report
Hillert et al Study (2002)
In Hillert et al (2002) Study, the most frequently mentioned symptom is fatigue, followed by dermatological problems on the face, sensations of heaviness in the head, eye irritation, nose blocked or clogged, headaches, difficulties in concentration, etc.
Hillert, L., Berglind, N., Arnetz, BB., Bellander, T. (2002). Prevalence of self-reported hypersensitivity to electric or magnetic fields in a population-based questionnaire survey. Scand J Work Environ Health, 28(1):33-41.
Roosli et al Study (2004)
They listed in descending order sleeping problems, headaches, nervousness/distressfulness, fatigue, difficulties in concentrating, whistling in ears, vertigo, and limb pains. The authors did not observe differences between the symptoms of men and women.
Röösli, M., Moser, M., Baldinini, Y., Meier, M., & Braun-Fahrländer, C. (2004). Symptoms of ill health ascribed to electromagnetic field exposure - a questionnaire survey. Int. J. Hyg. Environ. Health, 207:141-150.
2.2.2 Example of symptoms affected by antenna-relayed riverbanks.
Results of a study completed in 2006 by an electro sensitive group in Belgium:
- Disturbed sleep
- Internal nervousness, hyperactivity
- Whistling in the ears
- Irritability, hostility
- Worry, anxiety
- Difficulty in concentrating, in learning, in memorizing
- Rheumatic and articular pains
- Pains, pressures and tightness in the head
- Pressures at the back of the head, in the nape of the neck, and in the shoulders
- Tingling in the body
- Dull pains in the body
- Change in the sense of touch
- Pangs in the stomach
- Cardiac and vascular distress
- Change in eyesight
Click to download detailed list (french pdf)