Introduction to Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS)
By Rohini Peris
ASEQ is contacted regularly by people who suffer from EHS. Similar symptoms are reported by people of all ages from Quebec, and from across Canada, on exposure to electrical and magnetic fields.
The stories reported to us have common themes. For instance, it is a common occurrence that patients are sent for psychiatric evaluation and counseling because most doctors do not understand the condition. This course of action does not resolve the condition and often leads to a lack of self esteem and a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness for the patient. Medications are sometimes prescribed, which may dull the patient, but the physical problems persist on exposure to electrical and magnetic fields.
Often, due to a lack of proper diagnosis, support and care, family and friends doubt the sufferer and are unwilling to provide required accommodation. In addition, unless accommodation is provided in the workplace, the sufferer finds it increasingly hard to function and work and this often leads to increased sick days, non-productivity and discord with the employer; the end result of which is unemployment. With no earnings and limited income, life becomes increasingly hard. The sufferer is unable to afford specialized equipment or changes within their living accommodations in order to avoid exposures and maintain good health.
Life takes on a downward spiral as the sufferer becomes ostracized from society - unable to work, visit places and carry out the activities that they loved doing, or maintain meaningful relationships with family and friends.
Dr. Olle Johansson, Associate Professor, Karolinska Institutet, Department of Neuroscience, Experimental Dermatology Unit, Stockhold, Sweden, states that ‘In Sweden, electro hypersensitivity (EHS) is an officially fully recognized functional impairment (i.e., it is not regarded as a disease).’ According to Dr. Johansson, out of a population of nine million, between 230,000 and 290,000 Swedes report a variety of symptoms when ‘in contact with electromagnetic field (EMF) sources.’
‘In Sweden, impairments are viewed from the point of the environment. No human being is in itself impaired, there are instead shortcomings in the environment that cause the impairment (as the lack of ramps for the person in a wheelchair, or rooms not electro sanitized for the person with electro hypersensitivity). This environment-related impairment view, furthermore, means that even though one does not have a scientifically based complete explanation for the impairment electro hypersensitivity, and in contrast to disagreements in the scientific society, the person with electro hypersensitivity shall always be met in a respectful way and with all necessary support with the goal to eliminate the impairment. This implies that the person with electro hypersensitivity shall have the opportunity to live and work in an electro sanitized environment.’
From his letter it is evident that Swedish citizens suffering in this manner are accommodated, supported and respected. To read Dr. Johansson’s letter, please click here.
What are Electromagnetic Fields?
Electromagnetic fields, a combination of electrical and magnetic fields, are not visible. Electrical fields are the result of a difference in electrical potential (this can result in electrical shocks), while magnetic fields are associated with moving charges (i.e. an electrical current). They are envisioned as lines of force associated with electrical devices, appliances, electrical wiring, wifi emitters, cellular and cordless phones, power lines, etc.
Several sources can cause exposure to electromagnetic fields, including working or living close to high-tension electrical transmission wires, houses with faulty wiring, cell phone towers, being near video display terminals and computers, using electrical appliances including electric blankets, most electric heated floors and other electric gadgets and tools.
Evidence is emerging that these fields are detrimental to human health. Scientific studies have demonstrated that EMF exposure can affect immune system markers, neurotransmitters, glucose metabolism in the brain, heart rate variability, and sperm in humans. EMF exposure in the womb has been linked to asthma, behavioural problems and obesity in children. They are also more susceptible to lymphoma, leukemia, brain cancer and other serious conditions. Breast cancer in males is more common in men who work closely with high EMFs, such as those found in power stations, along telephone lines and in trains and trams.
Our website carries information from various sources on EMF sensitivity/electrohypersensitivity. We have included links, books, videos, articles and solutions for affected individuals. Often, people who suffer from this condition cannot sit in front of a computer without getting ill and sometimes disabled. If you know of someone with this condition, please refer them to the website or print out information that they can read and/or, have them contact us for help.
• LA MAISON DU 21E SIECLE, Le magazine de la maison saine. Éditions du 21e siècle inc. (1-800.217.0591)
• L'HABITAT SAIN J. M. Danze, P. Le Ruz, M. Bousquet, B. Louppe - risques liés aux pollutions électriques et magnétiques - nuisances, mesures et protections.
• GUIDE PRATIQUE EUROPÉEN DES POLLUTIONS ÉLECTROMAGNÉTIQUES DE L'ENVIRONNEMENT
Roger Santini, Jean-Marie Danze, Marius Seigne, Benoît Louppe - informations pratiques pour permettre de gérer les risques pour la santé.
• BASIS OF ELECTROMAGNETIC HYGIENE Dr. J. Kulczycki, environmental toxicologist - EMF: ELF, VLF, radiofrequency, microwave bioeffects; geomagnetics,
• CROSS CURRENTS, THE PERILS OF ELECTROPOLLUTION.Dr. Robert O. Becker -Champs électromagnétiques et la vie,
• ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS B.Blake Levitt – A consumer’s guide to the issues and how to protect ourselves.
To learn more...
Definition of an electro magnetic field by the WHO
Definition of EHS
Canadian Human Rights Commission
How to cope with EHS
Austrian Medical Association. “Guideline of the Austrian Medical Association for the Diagnosis and Treatment of EMF-related Health Problems and Illnesses (EMF Syndrome). Consensus Paper of the Austrian Medical Association’s EMF Working Group,” March 2012. http://www.ehsf.dk/dokumenter/7810-Austrian-EMF-Guidelines-2012.pdf.