By Giles – [email protected]
Until last summer I was, like most people nowadays, very fond of all my modern communication gadgets from wifi to mobile, from Palm to laptops and all their advantages.
From 2006 onwards I went several times to see a doctor for heart palpitations, but they couldn?t find anything wrong with me.
Then in July 2008 I suddenly started experiencing dizziness on numerous occasions, till it got so bad one night, suffering even from speech problems, that I ended up in A&E thinking I had a stroke or heart attack; in the following weeks I underwent many tests. The results showed I was absolutely fine, but the symptoms stayed. The doctors told me I just had been stressed, but the thing is I wasn’t stressed at all prior to this.
To my own shock and confusion I realized that my dizziness always occurred, when I was in close vicinity to Wifi, mobiles, Blackberries and mobile masts.
Other symptoms added themselves to the list: excessive sweating during the night, memory and concentration problems, a pain in my head, and discomfort either side of my neck [ glands ] pins and needles in my hands, a feeling of being static (I gave people electric shocks in that early period, when I shook their hands), prickly skin and even skin rashes. The latter, when I was sitting in front of my computer or the tv. Even certain light sources (energy saving light bulbs and neon lights) caused the skin problem to occur.
After medical professionals weren’t able to help, I started my own research and found many websites and blogs by people, with exactly the same problems as mine. They are sufferers of electro-sensitivity (ES), a condition fully recognized in Canada and Sweden as a medical impairment (with 300.000 sufferers in Sweden alone) but unfortunately ridiculed in the UK. I had never heard of it (this to show I am not a hypochondriac), but once I realized that this was the source of my problems, I started clearing my home environment from Wifi, DECT phones and non-essential electrical items. My problems immediately started to get noticeably better.
Since I am suffering from this condition, I have spoken to many people about it and even if not everyone has fully blown symptoms of ES, I have encountered many people who have some of the described symptoms.
So the problem might lie on a bigger scale than the assumed 3-5% of sufferers worldwide. This is the main reason of me contacting you, as I have the feeling that more awareness needs to be raised, as many many people suffer of a small portion of ES symptoms. Especially prevalent seems the following:
Most men carry their mobile in their jacket or trousers for easy access. I used to carry mine in my motorbike jacket’s front left pocket. When I stopped doing that the unexplained palpitations I suffered from for 2 years vanished immediately.
In conversations with friends, colleagues and fellow bikers I heard that many of them experience similar symptoms like pain or tremors in the chest area or what the American media refers to as ?phantom text messages?. Every now and then I’d think I had a text message, when carrying my phone in my trouser pockets, but when I checked there was nothing there.
According to Swedish scientist and ES expert Olle Johansson this is caused by high intensity bursts of extremely-low frequency electromagnetic field charges that your phone is producing and (that are) affecting your nervous system.
This seems to affect mainly men, as men are more likely to carry their phone on their body than women, who mainly carry them in their handbags.
Of course I don’t know, if carrying your mobile is a cause of ES or if these phantom text messages are just another symptom and the causes could lie somewhere else, like problems with your immune system for example, which could to make you more susceptible to all the electromagnetic radiation around us, but in any case I guess it can’t be good to have heart palpitations.
I know: I have heard every joke about vibrating pockets and have been many times referred to Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science column. There are definitely pseudo-scientists out there making a lot of money from scaremongering, but we have to distinguish between those and the victims in all this.
Retrospectively I am convinced that my heart palpitations were an early warning sign for what was happening later on. I might have been able to avoid to come to down with electro-sensitivity, if I had known more about it. And believe me: ES is not an easy thing to live with.
During all this happening I thought for a short period of time, that it might just be my ancient phone causing trouble, so I opted for an iphone, but that just made things far worse, which brings me to another issue of widespread problems nobody seems willing to be talking about.
Now I know that the radiation emitted from an iphone/ Blackberry is far higher than the one of my old Nokia. (Measured in SAR ratings: iphone a whopping 2.0, the ancient Nokia a mere 0.57) In the US for example the guidelines are much tighter, the iphone on the market there has a lower rating.
Since then I have spoken to many proud owners of their Powerful 3G Phones.
Many of them experience sleep problems (most of them seem to wake up in the early hours of the morning (around 4.30 am) and find it difficult to get back to sleep) and/ or feel ill. Even though some of them admitted, that their problems started shortly after acquiring their new gadget, they are of course unwilling to put two and two together. As I was when it all started happening to me.
Our fast communication tools are just so wonderfully ‘BANNED WORD’, that we are very reluctant to think, there might be a problem.
And I’m not talking about some weird conspiracy theory. Just the reluctance to let go of something making our lives so much easier. But maybe the price we are all paying on the long run will be too high?
Even though it should be said, that of course the revenue of the communications industry is vast.
But smoking used to be a relaxing pastime, didn’t it?
If you are still sceptical, while reading this, maybe you can suspend your disbelief and convey an easy test: Maybe ask around in your office, if people are experiencing sleep problems and/ or the phantom text messages? Maybe ask willing participants to switch off their mobile and Wifi during the night, remove the DECT phone from the bedroom and not to carry the mobile on their bodies for a period to see if it makes any difference?
The phones, if kept switched on by your bed (i.e. used as an alarm clock) will not let your brain go into a proper sleep pattern and thus not allowing for your body’s necessary recuperation process to work over night.
There should be warnings on phones: Do not keep by your bed.
I am sure that the results of such a test will be very convincing.
Since all this has happened to me I have spoken to many fellow sufferers, as well. Many people, completely left alone by the NHS, forced to leave their jobs and in some cases even their homes. I am in writing contact with a woman who is now living in a tent, as it is the only place, where she can be symptom free. A desolate and lonely existence.
The people I have spoken to come from all walks of life: lawyers, bankers, actors, lighting technicians, librarians etc. They all suffer the same symptoms. If they were all hypochondriac, how come they all have the same set of symptoms? Surely this can’t be some sort of mass hallucination or hysteria.
Even the though numbers are growing ES sufferers and anyone trying to ask for more research are being ridiculed.
So far research hasn’t come up with any conclusive results, but as a sufferer of ES I know, that has just to do with the fact that the scientists undertaking the trials don’t understand (or worse don’t take it seriously) and so the lab environment is a problem in itself for most sufferers.
The whole scenario reminds me very much of the case of ME (especially because of some of the similarities in symptoms between the two illnesses). Sufferers of ME were ridiculed for years as having yuppie flu? Maybe there is even a link?
Other problems to come include the widespread ideas of rolling out wifi over whole cities and the installation of so-called smart-meters, that will send your electricity usage reading wirelessly to the providers.
I am already scared, how I will be able to live my life and cope at my job with the increasing EMFs and Wifi everywhere.
Looking back it would have been great, if I had known more about the possible problems of overexposure to modern communication.
We all should be more careful until it is really proven that there are no dangers involved in using wireless technology to the extent we do at the moment.
Personally I’m really worried for the future of all my friends and family living in this country. I believe we are sleep walking into a really big problem for our health.
Please take the time to look at the sites above, and talk to others!
Recent good article in GQ USA . warning-cell-phone-radiation
This section is taken from the 3G iphone manual. How can this be allowed?
iPhone’s SAR measurement may exceed the FCC exposure guidelines for body-worn operation if positioned less than 15 mm (5/8 inch) from the body (e.g. when carrying iPhone in your pocket). For optimal mobile device performance and to be sure that human exposure to RF energy does not exceed the FCC, IC, and European Union guidelines, always follow these instructions and precautions: When on a call using the built-in audio receiver in iPhone, hold iPhone with the dock connector pointed down toward your shoulder to increase separation from the antenna. When using iPhone near your body for voice calls or for wireless data transmission over a cellular network, keep iPhone at least 15 mm (5/8 inch) away from the body, and only use carrying cases, belt clips, or holders that do not have metal parts and that maintain at least 15 mm (5/8 inch) separation between iPhone and the body.
If you are still concerned about exposure to RF energy, you can further limit your exposure by limiting the amount of time using iPhone, since time is a factor in how much exposure a person receives, and by placing more distance between your body and iPhone, since exposure level drops off dramatically with distance.
By Tyler Hamilton for the Toronto Star
It started with nausea and vomiting in the morning, followed by insomnia and the annoying sound of clicking in her ears. Marika Bandera, sitting in her east-end Toronto apartment, begins to cry as she recalls how her symptoms gradually got worse over the course of a year. They included everything from shaking hands and blurred vision to burning skin and mild convulsions. Sessions at a sleep clinic, brain scans, an epilepsy test and numerous visits to her family doctor and various specialists in Toronto failed to determine the cause.
“They would not listen, they are not hearing their patients,” she says.
It wasn’t until a trip to Europe that a doctor there suggested her symptoms may be related to extreme electrical sensitivity, or ES, a suspected allergic-like reaction to radio and electrical frequencies associated with cellphones, wireless base stations, computer screens, power lines and common household appliances that use electricity.
Little is known about the phenomenon of ES or how many people think they have it, but the government of the United Kingdom took a small step last week toward recognizing the controversial condition after its health protection agency released a report calling for more research into sufferers’ stories.
“The starting point for this review is recognition … of the need to consider ES in terms other than its etiology (causes), as this position alone is failing to meet the needs of those who consider themselves affected by ES,” the report stated.
The report emphasized there’s no scientifically proven link between symptoms and exposure to electrical and magnetic fields. It’s the main reason health agencies in countries such as Canada don’t recognize ES.
This hasn’t stopped Sweden, with an estimated 250,000 suffers, from accepting ES as a physical impairment. Dr. Olle Johansson, associate professor of experimental dermatology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, says residents of some municipalities can get their home “sanitized” from electromagnetic frequencies.
Ordinary electricity cables in the home are often replaced with special cables and electric stoves can be changed to natural gas. If the problem persists, roofs and floors can be covered with special wallpaper and paint that can block outside frequencies. Windows can also be fitted with tinfoil.
“If these alterations turn out not to be optimal, they have the possibility to rent small cottages in the countryside that the Stockholm municipality owns,” says Johansson, who investigates cases of ES. “The municipality also intends to build a village with houses that are specially designed for persons who are electrohypersensitive.”
In the workplace, Swedish employees can request special computer monitors and lighting fixtures that dramatically cut down frequency emissions.
The issue of electrical sensitivity first gained a profile in 2002 when Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, then director-general of the World Health Organization, confirmed in a media report that she banned cellphones from her office because they gave her headaches.
Brundtland, a medical doctor and former prime minister of Norway, told the Star during a visit to Toronto late last month that the condition needs to be taken more seriously by health authorities, and that little is known because research to date has focused largely on the potential links between electromagnetic frequencies and more severe illnesses, particularly cancers.
“I get headaches and feel terrible when I am in contact with mobile phones, even if I’m not using it but it’s 1 or 2 metres away. I can identify it by feeling a mobile phone in a room without knowing it’s there,” says Brundtland, adding that it may not be life-threatening but can affect quality of life.
The U.K. health agency was quick to point out that the conclusions of its review were drawn largely from the study of electromagnetic fields from power lines and electrical appliances, as the widespread use of mobile phones is relatively new. “Similar symptoms have been reported from exposure to radio frequency transmissions and there is some research being carried out in the U.K. on this topic,” according to the agency.
Acknowledging that the prevalence of ES — also known as electrohypersensitivity — has not been measured in the United Kingdom, it estimates as many as a few people per thousand among the population could be affected.
Dr. Magda Havas, a professor of the environmental and resource studies program at Trent University in Peterborough, is one of the few trying to track the condition in Canada.
Havas estimates as much as 35 per cent of the population may be suffering from moderate ES, with the severe form Bandera experiences affecting 2 per cent. She speculates that ES may have an association with diseases such as multiple sclerosis and diabetes.
“MS and diabetes are both on the increase and I wonder how much of this is due to dirty electricity and our inundation with radio frequency radiation,” says Havas, who has experimented with filters that help block what she calls “electropollution.”
“I have videos of MS patients who walked with a cane and can now walk unassisted after a few days or weeks with the filters.”
In a church basement in St. Catharines last month, dozens of people gathered to hear Havas talk about ES. It was part of an event organized by the SWEEP Initiative, which stands for “safe wireless electrical and electromagnetic policies.”
The group, led by Brock University professor David Fancy, was created in the summer as part of a grassroots effort to raise awareness and begin documenting cases of ES in Canada. The hope is that health authorities and politicians will recognize it as a problem.
“There is a lot of front-line work happening, as people reach out to those with a variety of symptoms who are having to move out of suburbia and live in the woods,” says Fancy, who wears special protective clothing to help block signals.
He compares the condition to an allergy that affects certain people in different ways. Other SWEEP members, such as retired police officer Martin Weatherall, former head of legal services at the Toronto Police Association, prefer to think of it like a poison that accumulates in the body.
Havas says one of her missions is to engage medical professionals in Canada to help them understand ES. Many of those at the St. Catharines event were doctors, she says.
One physician, working at a high-profile Toronto hospital, told the Star she’s seeing an increasing number of patients exhibiting unexplainable, often disabling, ES-like symptoms and feels compelled to learn more. But she’s afraid to speak openly about it because of skepticism in the medical community, which tends to treat such patients like they’re crazy.
“They think it’s a bunch of hooey,” she says, asking that her name be withheld. “But we don’t understand everything. We don’t know everything. So we have to take these people seriously.”
Bandera, suspecting that nearby hydro lines and a neighbour’s home wireless network may have contributed to her symptoms, moved a few weeks ago to a different apartment, only to find a wireless phone tower nearby. Her symptoms persist, but so does denial from the medical community.
“I’m still searching to get well from this,” she says, sounding tired and defeated. “People need to be aware that this condition exists.”
Tyler Hamilton is the Star’s technology reporter.
Ever worry that that gadget you spend hours holding next to your head might be damaging your brain? Well, the evidence is starting to pour in, and it’s not pretty. So why isn’t anyone in America doing anything about it?
BY CHRISTOPHER KETCHAM February 2010
(ESS Editor comment – This well read publication decided to compare the dangers of cell phone use and cigarettes to inform the public that big business tries to do it’s best to hide the dangers of the ill effects their products have.)
Click HERE to read the article.
Your cellphone does not in itself cause cancer. But in the daily sea of radiation we all travel, there may be subtler dangers at work, and science is only just beginning to understand how they can come to affect people like Per Segerbäck so intensely.
By James Geary. March 2010.
Click HERE to read the article.
Is Dirty Electricity Making You Sick?
Too many electromagnetic fields surrounding us–from cell phones, wifi, and commonplace modern technology–may be seriously harming our health. Here’s how to minimize your exposure. By Michael Segell Jan. 2009
Click HERE to read the article.