Chronic diseases and illnesses associated with non-specific symptoms are on the rise. In addition to chronic stress in social and work environments, physical and chemical exposures at home, at work, and during leisure activities are causal or contributing environmental stressors that deserve attention by the general practitioner as well as by all other members of the health care community. It seems necessary now to take “new exposures” like electromagnetic fields (EMF) into account. Physicians are increasingly confronted with health problems from unidentified causes. Studies, empirical observations, and patient reports clearly indicate interactions between EMF exposure and health problems. Individual susceptibility and environmental factors are frequently neglected. New wireless technologies and applications have been introduced without any certainty about their health effects, raising new challenges for medicine and society. For instance, the issue of so-called non-thermal effects and potential long-term effects of low-dose exposure were scarcely investigated prior to the introduction of these technologies.
Common electromagnetic field or EMF sources: Radio-frequency radiation (RF) (3 MHz to 300 GHz) is emitted from radio and TV broadcast antennas, Wi-Fi access points, routers, and clients (e.g. smartphones, tablets), cordless and mobile phones including their base stations, and Bluetooth devices. Extremely low frequency electric (ELF EF) and magnetic fields (ELF MF)
(3 Hz to 3 kHz) are emitted from electrical wiring, lamps, and appliances. Very low frequency electric (VLF EF) and magnetic fields (VLF MF) (3 kHz to 3 MHz) are emitted, due to harmonic voltage and current distortions, from electrical wiring, lamps (e.g. compact fluorescent lamps), and electronic devices. On the one hand, there is strong evidence that long-term exposure to certain EMFs is a risk factor for diseases such as certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, and male infertility. On the other hand, the emerging electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) is more and more recognized by health authorities, disability administrators and case workers, politicians, as well as courts of law. We recommend treating EHS clinically as part of the group of chronic multisystem illnesses (CMI), but still recognizing that the underlying cause remains the environment. In the beginning,
EHS symptoms occur only occasionally, but over time they may increase in frequency and severity. Common EHS symptoms include headaches, concentration difficulties, sleep problems, depression, a lack of energy, fatigue, and flu-like symptoms. A comprehensive medical history, which should include all symptoms and their occurrences in spatial and temporal terms and in the context of EMF exposures, is the key to making the diagnosis. The EMF exposure is usually assessed by EMF measurements at home and at work.
Certain types of EMF exposure can be assessed by asking about common EMF sources. It is very important to take the individual susceptibility into account. The primary method of treatment should mainly focus on the prevention or reduction of EMF exposure, that is, reducing or eliminating all sources of high EMF exposure at home and at the workplace. The reduction of EMF exposure should also be extended to public spaces such as schools, hospitals, public transport, and libraries to enable persons with EHS an unhindered use (accessibility measure). If a detrimental EMF exposure is reduced sufficiently, the
body has a chance to recover and EHS symptoms will be reduced or even disappear. Many examples have shown that such measures can prove effective. To increase the effectiveness of the treatment, the broad range of other environmental factors that contribute to the total body burden should also be addressed. Anything that supports homeostasis will increase a person’s resilience against disease and thus against the adverse effects of EMF exposure. There is increasing evidence that EMF exposure has a major impact on the oxidative and nitrosative regulation capacity in affected individuals. This concept also may explain why the level of susceptibility to EMF can change and why the range of symptoms reported in the context of EMF exposures is so large. Based on our current understanding, a treatment approach that minimizes the adverse effects of peroxynitrite – as has been increasingly used in the treatment of multisystem illnesses – works best. This EMF Guideline gives an overview of the current knowledge regarding EMF-related health risks and provides recommendations for the diagnosis, treatment and accessibility measures of EHS to improve and restore individual health outcomes as well as for the development of strategies for prevention.