Electrosensitivity Science

Scientific Literature

Electrohypersensitivity:

“A phenomenon where individuals experience adverse health effects while using or being in the vicinity of devices emanating electric, magnetic or electromagnetic fields (EMFs)”. Bergqvist et al. (1997) Sweden

Updated 9/25/20

Please scroll down for lists of scientific literature

Electrosensitivity to electronic and wireless devices such as cell phones, tablets, laptop computers, Wi-Fi routers and nearby cell towers is a condition that is increasingly recognized by the medical community.  In the 1970’s, the broad neuropsychiatric symptoms of “Microwave illness”  (aka electromagnetic sensitivity or electrosensitivity or electrohypersensitivity or EHS or microwave syndrome) in military personnel was described by NASA in military research literature with a wave of ensuing research confirming these effects.  Studies show that up to 30% of people report severe to mild symptoms of electrosensitivity.   A 2017 comprehensive systemic review and meta analysis (Wang et al)  showed a significant association between mobile phone use and headaches. The mechanism is not fully understood but appears to be linked to membrane calcium channel effects, blood brain barrier effects or neurotransmitter effects. Bevington  in 2019 published the results of his extensive review of prevalence rates. He estimates about 0.65% of the general population are restricted in their work access due to disabling symptoms of electrosensitivity (EHS-EMF/IEA), about 5% of the general population have moderate symptoms and up to 30% have mild symptoms. He highlights that if employers were aware of the disability and ways to mitigate the symptoms by reducing wireless and magnetic radiations, many more people would be able to work. 

Irigaray (2018) looked at in vivo biomarkers of oxidative stress and cellular antioxidant activity in 32 self reported electrosensitive patients versus controls. They tested for several biomarkers including MDA (lipid peroxidation),  glutathione oxidation, superoxide dismutase, and  found about 80% of those with electrosensitivity had “one, two or three detectable oxidative stress biomarkers in their peripheral blood, meaning that these patients-as is the case for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease or other pathological conditions-present with a true objective new pathological disorder.”

Stein and Udasin (2020) wrote a clear summary of electrosensitivity mechanisms, noting the similarities with multiple chemical sensitivities. The mechanism is related to oxidative stress and alteration of calcium channel signaling. Both groups of patients, he states, can have impaired detoxification systems that contribute to symptomatology. The mechanisms are biologically plausible. They recommend reducing the spread of wireless networks and favor safer wired networks to protect the public. They also suggests public places without wireless technology to accommodate those who are electrosensitive.

Belpomme and Irigaray (2020) report that he and his colleagues have built up a data base of patients that have multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) and electrosensitivity (EHS). Their data show a crossover in symptoms of 30% with MCS and EHS and in 37% of patients MCS preceded EHS.  Dr. Belpomme has demonstrated again in this study as well as his seminal article in 2015, the presence of oxidative inflammatory biomarkers that can be used diagnostically.  The authors conclude, these data strongly suggest that EHS is a neurologic pathological disorder which can be diagnosed, treated, and prevented. Because EHS is becoming a new insidious worldwide plague involving millions of people, we ask the World Health Organization (WHO) to include EHS as a neurologic disorder in the international classification of diseases.”

Occupational Exposures to Radiofrequency Radiation

Workers can be exposed to excessive emissions of radiofrequency radiation if they or their company are not careful. A Verizon telecommunications tower worker was inadvertently exposed to excessive radiation when the tower he was working on was remotely turned again after he had carefully turned it off before working on the tower. He now suffers signs of multiple sclerosis, whereby the protective fatty health around nerve cells is destroyed. The published article is Delayed-Onset multiphasic demyelinating lesions after high dose radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure: A multiple sclerosis (MS) mimic. (2020) Raefsky SM et al. Mult Scler Relat Disord.  See list of Occupational exposure science below.   Radiofrequency (RF) Radiation Awareness Guide for the Construction Industry explains safety measures telecommunication workers can take to protect themselves. https://www.cpwr.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/RF_Radiation_Awareness_Program_Guide_8_2016.pdf

Symptoms of Electromagnetic Sensitivity

Symptoms regularly reported by researchers and physicians like Dr. Scott Eberle  with  An Underworld Journey: Learning to Cope With Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity   or in What’s the Diagnosis Doctor? as well as in dozens of studies below, including effects experienced by those living adjacent to cell towers, such as Navarro’s , include:

  • headaches
  • insomnia
  • dizziness
  • irritability
  • fatigue
  • heart palpitations
  • nausea
  • loss of appetite
  • feeling of discomfort
  • poor concentration
  • memory loss
  • and neuropsychiatric problems such as depression.

The EUROPAEM EMF Guideline 2016 

The EUROPAEM EMF Guideline 2016 for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of EMF-related health problems and illnesses is a comprehensive guide written by many scientists and physicians in Europe who are part of the European Academy for Environmental Medicine (EUROPAEM) – EMF working group who have recognized and treated those with electrosensitivity for many years. This is a thorough, well researched and well-referenced scientific paper that is based on the 2012 Austrian Medical Association Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Treatment of EMF Illness.

Abstract here EUROPAEM EMF Guideline 2016 

Full Paper here  EUROPAEM EMF Guideline 2016 Full Paper

 

Accommodation for Environmental Sensitivities: The Canadian Human Rights Commission

The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) commissioned a research project, Canadian Human Rights Commission on EHS legal Accomodation, examining legal assessments of accommodation for environmental sensitivities, including relevance of building codes and standards.  They have sections on *medical evidence of disability, *accommodations for environmental sensitivities, *government policies, and *best  practices.

They note, “Individuals with environmental sensitivities experience adverse reactions to environmental agents that are prevalent throughout the built environment and include electromagnetic fields and the chemicals found in building materials, furniture, cleaning and copying products, fragrances and pesticides.

Canadian and Australian approaches to disability are very broad, and environmental sensitivities are readily accepted. In contrast, the Americans with Disabilities Act applies a very restrictive test for an individual to qualify as a person with a disability, and individuals with environmental sensitivities are regularly denied protection. Because of the scientific confusion regarding sensitivities, individuals have difficulty finding and providing expert evidence in the United States, and may have this difficulty in Canada as well.”

They list organizations involved with this issue and conclude, “There are many more obstacles to accommodation for environmental sensitivities than there are to many other disabilities. A person with sensitivities may find it difficult to understand his or her condition and its triggers, and may then find it difficult to explain and document these to employers and service providers…Employers and service providers must be willing to develop and utilize enforcement mechanisms to compel compliance where it is not provided voluntarily. These hurdles are largely unique to environmental sensitivities.”

United States Access Board: Electromagnetic Sensitivity is a Disability

The United States Access Board whose role is to advance “Full Access and Inclusion for All“, issued a guideline recommending inclusion of both chemical sensitivity as well as electromagnetic sensitivity as disabilities. They stated in a review, The Board recognizes that multiple chemical sensitivities and electromagnetic sensitivities may be considered disabilities under the ADA if they so severely impair the neurological, respiratory or other functions of an individual that it substantially limits one or more of the individual’s major life activities.”

Electrosensitivity as a Definitive Diagnosis 

In the thoroughly referenced PST  Electrosensitivity  review articles it is noted that electrosensitivity should be recognized by the American Access Board as a true disability- See American Access Board Recommendations for Accommodation.  In a Clinical Approach to Electrosensitivity there is information on diagnosing and treating EHS as well as recommendations for ICD 10 codes. See also on this site- Austrian Medical Association Electrosensitivity Questionnaire  and  Electrosensitivity Stories. 

New ICD 10  Billable Codes for Exposure to Nonionizing Radiofrequency Radiation

Screen Shot 2019-09-01 at 5.08.31 PM

The newest revised  ICD 10 code book 2020 includes codes for physicians to use for those patients with electrohypersensitivity (EHS)  or microwave sickness. The codes are

  • ICD 10 – W90.0 – Exposure to Radiofrequency Radiation
  • ICD 10 – W90.8 – Exposure to Other Non-ionizing Radiation

ICD 10 Coding for Environmental illness and radiation Screen Shot 2020-09-27 at 8.07.47 AM

Formal Criteria Diagnosis of MCS and Push to do the Same for EHS

There is a push to have a consensus statement for Electrohypersensitivity (EHS) that is similar to the 1999 consensus statement for Multiple Chemical Sensitivities  (MCS). An article on MCS was published in the Archives of Environmental Health in 1999, signed by 34 physicians and researchers experienced in the study, evaluation, diagnosis and care of those with MCS.  Studies they reviewed showed a high prevalence of MCS with “2–6%, respectively, already had been diagnosed with MCS and that 16% of the civilians reported an “unusual sensitivity” to common everyday chemicals.” In addition, the authors recommended that MCS be formally diagnosed considering a, “1994 consensus of the American Lung Association, American Medical Association, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission that “complaints [of MCS] should not be dismissed as psychogenic, and a thorough workup is essential.”

Consensus Criteria for MCS

“The following consensus criteria for the diagnosis of MCS were gleaned from the study by Nethercott et al.(14) (funded in part by grants from US NIOSH and US NIEHS):

  • “The symptoms are reproducible with [repeated chemical] exposure.”
  • “The condition is chronic.”
  • “Low levels of exposure [lower than previously or commonly tolerated] result in manifestations of the syndrome.”
  • “The symptoms improve or resolve when the incitants are removed.”

 

The Americans for Disability Act and EHS

According to the Americans for Disabilities Act: Title II regulations, Sections  35.140 and 35.141-35.148   non discrimination on the basis of disability in state and government services

§ 35.140 Employment discrimination prohibited

  • (a) No qualified individual with a disability shall, on the basis of disability, be subjected to discrimination in employment under any service, program, or activity conducted by a public entity.
  • (b)
    • (1) For purposes of this part, the requirements of title I of the Act, as established by the regulations of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 29 CFR part 1630, apply to employment in any service, program, or activity conducted by a public entity if that public entity is also subject to the jurisdiction of title I.
    • (2) For the purposes of this part, the requirements of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as established by the regulations of the Department of Justice in 28 CFR part 41, as those requirements pertain to employment, apply to employment in any service, program, or activity conducted by a public entity if that public entity is not also subject to the jurisdiction of title I.
    • Subpart D—Program Accessibility

      § 35.149 Discrimination prohibited.

      Except as otherwise provided in § 35.150, no qualified individual with a disability shall, because a public entity’s facilities are inaccessible to or unusable by individuals with disabilities, be excluded from participation in, or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any public entity.

    •  

Electrosensitivity Documented with Functional Brain Imaging

A new and fascinating study identifying functional brain changes in those with electrosensitivity was published in July, 2017. Researchers used functional  Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to observe active changes. Hueser and Hueser found among the subjects that there were similar brain alterations in the medial orbitofrontal areas.  Functional brain MRI in patients complaining of electrohypersensitivity after long term exposure to electromagnetic fields.    The MRI images are listed here Images of Electrosensitive Individuals with Functional MRI .

Navarro Study Indicates Much Lower Levels of Exposure Cause Symptoms

The Navarro (2003) study on cell towers and “Microwave Syndrome” in Spain found that in those living near cell towers symptoms occurred at low power. He looked at distance from the towers and electromagnetic field exposures and concluded, ” Based on the data of this study the advice would be to strive for levels not higher than 0.02 V/m for the sum total, which is equal to a power density of 0.0001 µW/cm² or 1 µW/m², which is the indoor exposure value for GSM base stations proposed on empirical evidence by the Public Health Office of the Government of Salzburg in 2002.”

Microwave Syndrome: The Cuba Mystery Illness and Electrosensitivity

“Microwave Syndrome” Symptoms described in military compendiums such as the 1981  NASA Report, showed nonspecific neurologic and physiologic symptoms. These are strikingly similar to the strange sounds and sensations recently experienced by Cuban diplomats and their family members in 2016 and 2017, by an unknown energy source, in what are called acute “health attacks”. The team of physicians from the University of Miami, who were the first to carefully examine and treat the 25 Havana victims, recently published  an article with their objective findings in the December 2018 issue of Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology.  Those affected reported feeling a force wave, noise or pressure followed by longer term symptoms of dizziness, loss of balance, nausea, hearing loss, difficulty concentrating, slowed processing speed, tinnitus, ear pain and headaches.  100% of the patients were found to have otolithic abnormalities in the inner ear and cognitive dysfunction.  A potential mechanism was identified as cavitation bubbles forming in bodily fluids from targeted energy sources, (high intensity focused ultrasound), which was also reported in a Miami Herald news report .  The physicians conclude “This report is intended to facilitate an objective diagnosis of this disorder as new actual or potential cases continue to be reported.”  In a prior report by Swanson, physicians at the University of Pittsburg  concluded that these effects were more consistent with traumatic brain injury and concussion. It is notable that these symptoms were also reported in Chinese embassy workers and highlighted in an investigative  New York Times news article, September 2018.

Mystery Illness Identified as Microwave Sickness

University of California San Diego Professor, Dr. Beatrice Golomb, has extensively reviewed the literature and the data on the diplomats. She provides, in her 2018 published article in Neural Computation, the most comprehensive explanation for the diplomat’s mystery illness, stating that the constellation of symptoms are consistent with exposure to microwave radiation and similarly identified in those with electrosensitivity.

 

Firefighters Have Also Reported Electromagnetic Sensitivity Symptoms

Within a week of installation of first responder cell towers on fire stations many firefighters developed unusual symptoms of headaches, fatigue, insomnia, memory loss, confusion, nausea and weakness.  A study of several firefighters was commissioned by the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) in 2004. The  SPECT scan studies of the firefighters revealed a pattern of abnormal change which was concentrated over a wider area than would normally be seen in brains of individuals exposed to toxic inhalation, as might be expected from fighting fires. Because of this study and a compelling amount of research on health harm from non-ionizing wireless radiation the IAFF wrote an IAFF Resolution No. 15, dated August 2004, to prohibit cell towers from being placed on their fire stations.

The IAFF Resolution No. 15 states, “The International Association of Fire Fighters’ position on locating cell towers commercial wireless infrastructure on fire department facilities, as adopted by its membership in August 2004, is that the IAFF oppose the use of fire stations as base stations for towers and/or antennas for the conduction of cell phone transmissions until a study with the highest scientific merit and integrity on health effects of exposure to low-intensity RF/MW radiation is conducted and it is proven that such sitings are not hazardous to the health of our members.”

Firefighter Stations Have Been Given Legal Exemptions for Cell Towers in Californias AB 57 (Quirk 2015)  which states, “Section 65964.1.  (f) Due to the unique duties and infrastructure requirements for the swift and effective deployment of firefighters, this section does not apply to a collocation or siting application for a wireless
telecommunications facility where the project is proposed for placement on fire department facilities.” See also 

Susan Foster, who commissioned the IAFF study wrote a detailed account of her experience with electromagnetic sensitivity and what she has learned in the process as a comment to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This is a detailed eye opening story which she submitted to the FCC regarding the Expansion of 5G to Rural Communities.

All EMF’d Up: A Personal Journey of EMF Sensitivity

Annie Mills, the wife of a Sieman’s engineer who moved to Germany also experienced typical but severe symptoms of EHS that were later found to be caused by a nearby cell tower downloading sensitive government data in the middle of the night. She kept a diary and wrote about her story in “All EMF’d Up”. See the PST blog and book review  on “All EMF’d Up: My Journey Through Wireless Radiation poisoning” with related content and research

Scientific Studies Below 

The scientific studies below are divided into both an uncategorized list of research, as well as a categorized list divided into sections, including: Overviews, Case Studies, Diagnosis and Treatment, Health/EHS effects of cell phone and cell towers, Prevalence, Public Health/Policy Implications and Occupational Exposures

See Also Scientific Research at

 

IEEE List of Research Articles on Electrosensitivity and Allergy

http://ieee-emf.com/IEEEstudysearch.cfm?FrequencyRangeID=4&FrequencySubRangeID=&IEEE_SubTypeID=&AccessionNo=&LastName=&RefKeyWord=&DateStart=&DateEnd=&Country=&StudyTypeID=2&&StudySubTypeID=35

 

Newest Research

Published Articles and Research

Note:  These are listed by date and author, and include different sources of wireless radio frequency radiation such as Cell Phone and Cell Tower Health Effects and Smart Meters (Lamech 2014) – Scroll to the bottom of this list to see theses articles categorized by Overview/History, Case Studies, Diagnosis and Treatment, Cell Phone Effects, Cell Tower Effects, Prevalence Studies, Public Health and Policy Decisions.

Categorized Articles on Electrosensitivity

Overview/History

 

Case Studies Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity

 

Diagnosis and Treatment

 

Cell Phone Electrosensitivity Symptoms

Cell Tower Electrosensitivity Symptoms and Health Effects

Occupational Exposures

The Center for Construction Research and Training  in Maryland works to reduce or eliminate safety and health hazards that construction workers face on the job. They have compiled an abundance of useful information on the hazards for RF exposures as well as identifying RF exposures with different antenna. This is a great resource for information on cell antennae and FCC requirements.

Their Radiofrequency (RF) Radiation Awareness Guide for the Construction Industry is especially useful. https://www.cpwr.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/RF_Radiation_Awareness_Program_Guide_8_2016.pdf

Occupational Exposures in Hospitals and Medical Clinics

  • Non-Ionizing Radiation in Swedish Health Care-Exposure and Safety Aspects. (2019)  Hansson Mild K et al. Int J Environ REs Public Health. 2019 Apr 2;16(7). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30987016
  • Evaluation of the electromagnetic field intensity in operating rooms and estimation of occupational exposures of personnel. (2018)  Sept;10(3):121-126.Interv Med Appl Sci. 2018 Sep;10(3):121-126. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30713749
  • Environmental impact of the use of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields in physiotherapeutic treatment.(2014)  Gryz  K. Rocz Panstw Kakl Hig. 2014;65(1):55-61. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24964580
  • [Patient exposure to electromagnetic fields in magnetic resonance scanners: a review]. (2013) Radiologia. 2013 Dec;55 Suppl 2:2-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24246885
  • Assessment of physiotherapists’ occupational exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields from shortwave and microwave diathermy devices: a literature review. (2013) Shah SG.  J Occup Environ Hyg. 2013;10(6):312-27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23570423
  • [European Directive 2004/40/EC on workers’ exposure to electromagnetic fields from MRI]. (2009) Moratal D et al. Radiologia. 2009 Jan-Feb;51(1):30-7; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19303478
  • Intensity of extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields produced in operating rooms during surgery at the standing position of anesthesiologists. (2009) Roh JH et al.  Anesthesiology. (2009) Aug;111(2):275-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19568164
  • An evaluation of safety guidelines to restrict exposure to stray radiofrequency radiation from short-wave diathermy units. (2004)Shields N et al. Phys Med Biol. 004 Jul 7;49(13):2999-3015. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15285261
  • How much are anesthesiologists exposed to electromagnetic fields in operating rooms? (2003) Lee JH et al. Yonsei Med J. 2003 Feb;44(1):133-7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12619186

Prevalence Studies

 EMF Public Health Implications and Policy Decisions

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Articles

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