Electrosensitivity (EHS)

Musings on the subject of radio frequency energy.

Faraday House, London
Faraday House, London

Let me first be completely open about this.  Despite spending a number of years studying for a Diploma in Electrical Engineering at Faraday House, Southampton Row, London and becoming a UK Radio Amateur at the age of 17 (G3PUK), my memory of this subject has become less focused!  Bit like my eyesight!  (I’ll wallow in this nostalgia for Saturday’s post!)

There’s a wealth of information available if you do a web search on the subject of ‘radio frequency spectrum‘ including diagrams such as this one.

Radio Spectrum in demand

In fact, if you use the image above with this one below, you will get a quick idea of the range of frequencies and how almost every aspect of modern life is connected to ‘RF’.  (NB: I find the one below a little out of focus but hope it’s legible.)

rf spectrum

If you look at the frequency band 300 MHz to 3GHz, known as the Ultra-High Frequency or UHB band you will see that it is used by devices including mobile or cell phones as well as wireless phones and the newer DECT phones; these latest phones operating at 900 MHz.

Now I don’t understand the physics of Radio Frequency (RF) transmissions but I do know that the higher the frequency, the more energy is carried.  Living cells are not happy in the presence of RF particularly at those higher frequencies.  Just go back to that top diagram and think about being zapped by X-Rays, Gamma Rays or Cosmic Rays!  Here’s an extract from a Wikipedia article on Radiation burn.

The most common type of radiation burn is a sunburn caused by UV radiation. High exposure to X-rays during diagnostic medical imaging or radiotherapy can also result in radiation burns. As the ionizing radiation interacts with cells within the body—damaging them—the body responds to this damage, typically resulting in erythema—that is, redness around the damaged area. Radiation burns are often associated with radiation-induced cancer due to the ability of ionizing radiation to interact with and damage DNA, occasionally inducing a cell to become cancerous. Cavity magnetrons can be improperly used to create surface and internal burning. Depending on the photon energygamma radiation can cause very deep gamma burns, with 60Co internal burns are common. Beta burns tend to be shallow as beta particles are not able to penetrate deep into the person; these burns can be similar to sunburn.

Radiation burns can also occur with high power radio transmitters at any frequency where the body absorbs radio frequency energy and converts it to heat.[1] The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considers 50 watts to be the lowest power above which radio stations must evaluate emission safety. Frequencies considered especially dangerous occur where the human body can become resonant, at 35 MHz, 70 MHz, 80-100 MHz, 400 MHz, and 1 GHz.[2] Exposure to microwaves of too high intensity can cause microwave burns.

We marvel at the efficiency of microwave ovens but possibly don’t connect those with holding a cell phone or cordless phone next to the head!  If you didn’t watch yesterday’s film Beings of Frequency then I really do recommend that you put some time to one side and watch it.

Like so many aspects of modern life, once one has been made aware of something one finds a mountain of information.  So it is with Electromagnetic hypersensitivity.

Again, Wikipedia.

Idiopathic environmental intolerance attributed to electromagnetic fields (IEI-EMF) is a descriptive term for symptoms purportedly caused by exposure to electromagnetic fields.[1] Other terms for IEI-EMF include electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), electrohypersensitivityelectro-sensitivity, and electrical sensitivity (ES).

Although the thermal effects of electromagnetic fields on the body are established, self-described sufferers of electromagnetic hypersensitivity report responding to non-ionizing electromagnetic fields (or electromagnetic radiation) at intensities well below the limits permitted by international radiation safety standards. The majority of provocation trials to date have found that self-described sufferers of electromagnetic hypersensitivity are unable to distinguish between exposure to real and fake electromagnetic fields,[2][3] and it is not recognized as a medical condition by the medical or scientific communities.

The reported symptoms of EHS include headache, fatigue, stress, sleep disturbances, skin symptoms like prickling, burning sensations and rashes, pain and ache in muscles and many other health problems. Whatever their cause, EHS symptoms are a real and sometimes a disabling problem for the affected persons.

Later on that WikiPedia reference states:

A 2001 survey found that people related their symptoms most frequently to mobile phone base stations (74%), followed by mobile phones (36%), cordless phones (29%) and power lines (27%). The survey was not designed to find any causal connection between electromagnetic field exposure and ill health.[5]

A report from the UK Health Protection Agency said that self-described “electrical sensitivity” sufferers have symptoms that can be grouped into two broad categories: facial skin symptoms and more general, non-specific symptoms across a range of body systems. The facial skin symptoms and their attribution to visual display units was mostly a Nordic phenomenon. The report pointed out that it did not “imply the acceptance of a causal relationship between symptoms and attributed exposure”.[6]

Recently a smaller group of people in Europe as a whole and in the USA have reported general and severe symptoms such as headache, fatigue, tinnitus, dizziness, memory deficits, irregular heart beat, and whole-body skin symptoms.[7] A 2005 Health Protection Agency report noted the overlap in many sufferers with other syndromes known as symptom-based conditions, FSS (Functional Somatic Syndromes) and IEI (Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance).[6] Levitt proposed ties between electromagnetic fields and some of these 20th-century maladies, including Chronic Fatigue SyndromeGulf War Syndrome, and Autism.[8]

Anyone find what was described in that last paragraph touch a sore point! Go here to read the full item and the numbered references.

There’s a host of other websites on the subject.  Just picking one more or less at random reveals this:

Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS) is a “growing worldwide health concern” according to a December 2005 press release issued by the World Health Organization. EHS can be difficult to understand and even more difficult to diagnose. Many doctors and other health professionals here in North America are not yet aware of the recent scientific evidence surrounding electromagnetic energy (EMF) and its effects on human health.

Symptoms of Electrical Hypersensitivity may include skin rash, sleep disorders, muscle and joint pain (fibromyalgia), chronic fatigue, depression, headaches, dizziness, nausea, difficulty concentrating, memory loss, irritability, anxiety, weakness, muscle spasms, numbness, tingling, leg and foot pain, “flu-like” symptoms and fever.

So that’s enough for today.

Tomorrow, I will explore what we can do to lessen the effects of Electro-Magnetic Fields.

16 thoughts on “Electrosensitivity (EHS)

  1. roughly get what your mean, lurking in our environment are various ‘traps’ or health hazard , the thing we use, the food we eat, that’s why lots people have cancer and the problem is that most of us are not aware of this at all!


  2. In simple terms kinetic energy is like a bullet, some bounce off a person, other can cut straight through destroying anything in its path including cells and DNA.

    Potential energy that is trapped creates mass, and mass creates an energy field such as magnetism, the damage this can do I am hazy on.


  3. There’s a lot more research to be done before we really can state with certainty what the long term effects of microwaves in particular will have. Right now I believe most of what’s published — whether pro or con — is such that further research is needed. ‘random’ results are still a possibility. Skepticism of both sides is the right way to go at this point. In the meantime, while I love my smartphone, I try to minimize the amount of time it’s held to my head :>) BTW–majored in physics so know just enough to be dangerous.


      1. …very dangerous? No, just kidding! But seriously–quite a few things in today’s world are understood far less than people are comfortable letting on. In this case, the effects of various types of EM radiation on living tissue are not known well enough for anyone to make statements with certainty. So…my response will be reasonable caution and continued skepticism of strongly held opinions from either side of the fence.


      1. You, you… cur!

        On a more serious note, having revisited this article after having watched Beings of Frequency, I am reminded of the ultimate fate of Marie Curie: an expert in her field at the time, and totally unaware that her studies were killing her. What can happen to one, in one field, can easily happen to many, in another.

        You’ve highlighted another reason to believe that we humans are too smart for our own good; we should put far more emphasis upon the precautionary principle than we do because if we don’t wise up, one day we’ll do something that will jump up and bite us.


      2. Indeed so. A great number of people, including thee and me I don’t doubt, sense the shape of ‘bite’. We don’t have too long to wonder. (And at heart I am an optimist – just.)


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