Initial Report on Electro-hypersensitivity in Aotearoa, New Zealand by STANZ

January 4, 2022

The fact that we have people in Aoteraroa, New Zealand suffering from Electro-hypersensitivity (EHS) – an intolerance to non-ionising electro-magnetic frequencies at levels regulatory bodies deem safe is a key concern for STANZ.  The experiences of sufferers like *Daryl who develop Electro-hypersensitivity as a consequence of  exposure to radio frequency radiation (RFR)  emitting devices is not well understood or accepted in Aotearoa. “Daryl, then 19  began a sales job in Wellington, working lengthy hours daily using his cell phone. Before long he started experiencing increasing incidents of headaches and dizziness. After six months, Daryl’s  deteriorating health symptoms escalated into blackouts. With no medical explanation, yet too sick to continue working, Daryl left his job. From that time the blackouts ceased, but his other health problems (caused by the initial RFR injury ) persist. (Full article ‘Totally Wired’, Organic NZ, March/April 2018)

Another sufferer, *Alice is a mother of two pre school aged children who like most mothers of young children has to juggle many tasks during the course of each day.  However, Alice suffers from electro hypersensitivity which compromises not only her own quality of life, but also impacts on her family.

Alice’s condition developed gradually as a result of occupational exposure to digital wireless technologies.

When Alice was in her mid 30’s she purchased her first cell phone. When she had it in her pocket or used it for any length of time she noticed a burning sensation in her legs.  Although Alice kept her cell phone use to a minimum she began to experience ‘burning sensations at her workplace when she was close to electronic equipment. I always did my software work on a personal computer”.

During this time Alice and her partner wanted to start a family. In 2008 Alice suffered a number of miscarriages. She connects her two successful pregnancies with the fact that she conceived while on holiday – away from the office and cell phones.

Managing her workspace and keeping her electro- magnetic field exposure to the lowest possible load meant Alice was initially able to continue working…For Alice the introduction of stronger wireless technology was the tipping point which pushed her over the edge into electro-hypersensitivity syndrome…At work Alice was encircled in a wifi activated environment, with many of the staff using smart phones, all of which were signalling for wifi networks.

Alice’s symptoms increased. “I couldn’t concentrate: I was shaky, itchy, scratching myself.”  In the evenings after work her symptoms would slowly abate, only to return once back at the office…Alice resigned from her job and could no longer attend her daughter’s kindergarten or enjoy the use of public facilities such as libraries, cafes or malls where wireless networks were operating. Flight travel is problematic for the same reason…worst of all is the ill health she sufferers as a result of neighbour’s wifi which emits signals through her own home. Along with physical symptoms Alice has developed loss of concentration, memory loss, depression and anxiety…She finds that “since I have made contact with people who have the same experiences …this has helped me to know that this is a real condition, albeit with more recognition overseas.” (full transcript -Electrohypersneistivity – A new environmental impairment  Issue 8 Feb- May6 2013 The NZ Journal of Natural Medicine)

 [* not their real names]

The objective of the survey we are piloting is to gather data about the daily situations EHS sufferers face. This group need to avoid exposure to radio frequency radiation emitted by wireless technologies like wifi, smart meters, cell phones and cell towers in order to stay well. The difficulty is these technologies are ubiquitous in all spheres of public life. Access to critical facilities such as medical, educational and elder care are no longer  possible due to the proliferation of wifi.  It is deeply concerning and a further cause of harm to sufferers mental health that medical authorities, governmental bodies and the telecommunication Industry tend to favour the view of  of psychosomatic causation to explain their symptoms.

A small subgroup of our committee have surveyed as many New Zealand/Aotearoa EHS  sufferers as possible who were willing to share their experience.

In order to reach this subset of individuals we approached medical doctors throughout Aotearoa/NZ who were known to treat people with environmental intolerances asking they inform their patients of our survey. We asked that they forward our survey to other health practitioners working in this field. We also contacted Integrative health practitioner networks and allied wholistic health practitioners for their assistance in reaching out to EHS sufferers . We also approached EHS Facebook group convenors, editors working in environmental health areas, Building biologists working in emf remediation and such like asking that they post an advertisement about our survey on their social media sites and that they forward our survey questionnaire onto clients with this condition for their consideration. Additionally we directly approached contacts known to suffer this condition and asked they forward the survey to other suitable candidates.

Of those contacted 26 were willing to complete our confidential pilot survey. The questionnaire we disseminated was an online survey. Printed questionnaires were available to those unable to access digital technology.

The results from our survey constitute our initial report and will not be published as it is a pilot survey. Instead after reviewing the survey a new round of invitations will be disseminated for the final survey.

Elements of the questionnaire touched on:

Age: All respondents were adults, half of which were aged between 40 – 60.

Gender: The majority were female

Onset of disease: The majority saw a gradual onset of this disease over years with a minority experiencing a sudden onset of the condition.

Causes: Most sited occupational exposures to electromagnetic fields from the likes of High Voltage power lines, work exposure to wifi, regular cellphone use or living close by cell Towers.

Diagnosis: Barely a quarter of respondents received a medical diagnosis with over half self diagnosing. Arriving at a correct diagnosis was for most a drawn out process. Just under half received incorrect medical diagnosis before finally determining EHS to be the problem. This resulted in inappropriate medication and therapies being prescribed for 35 % of the respondents – the outcome of this time delay being progression of the disease and a worsening of symptoms due to unawareness of the need to avoid exposures to sources of emfs.

Most  respondents found Medical professionals consulted lacked knowledge of this condition.

Few doctors in Aotearoa New Zealand claim to have experience or training in electro-hypersensitivity which overseas surveys estimate affects 3-5 percent of the general population. The hazards of daily exposure to radio frequency waves is seemingly not taught to medical professionals although the hazards are acknowledged in the electricity industry’s work safety regulations.

Unsurprisingly the condition had a severe impact on most respondents ability to earn a living. The older respondents typically retired prematurely.

We found that survey respondents ability to access essential services such as health care, education, public transport, council sports and recreation facilities, libraries and housing is severely restricted due to the need to avoid Wifi.

Avoidance of wifi was crucial for all respondents well being and health. Many used emf meters to help them gauge levels of wifi exposure and carefully planned visits to wifi environments so as to keep their exposures to a minimum.

All reported their social lives are harshly curtailed and their ability to engage in social activities is highly dependent on family and friends willingness to turn off their cell phones and house wifi networks.

The most common symptoms EHS sufferers experienced on exposure to wireless radiation emitted from the likes of cell phones, wifi routers, smart meters and cell towers where extreme fatigue, vertigo and balance issues, severe insomnia,  heart palpitations, tinnitus and depressed mood. Some of these symptoms had delayed onset and would continue over a period of days.

The majority of respondents had tried various shielding solutions for their home and clothing. Just over 50% found them of no benefit.

When it came to discussion about the best course of action to remediate their health all were in agreement that  avoidance of emfs was the key, most effective course of action, yet also the  most difficult course of action to achieve in our current wifi saturated climate.

All the respondents had spent thousands – to tens of thousands of dollars on medical and other health care therapies in a bid to treat their EHS.

Asked what their primary needs and concerns were regarding EHS, there was a general consensus  that 

  1. Access to safe housing free of neighbouring wifi exposure or neighbourhood 5G antenna’s was essential.
  2. That there be medical recognition and consequently appropriate treatment for this condition.
  3.  That their basic human rights to health, education,elder care and housing be recognised and thus accommodated.
  4. That the profile of this condition be raised so as to prevent others from also developing an EHS injury due to excessive wifi exposure.

As a result of the pilot our next survey aims to tap into solutions for those living with this condition.

Those living with this condition have answers/suggestions for ways society can accommodate them in our modern world but can’t do it on their own. They are a voice of caution advising safer practices in the use of wireless technologies using radio frequency radiation.

The pilot version of this survey has enabled improvements to be added into the next and final next stage of the survey, which will also incorporate the results from participants in the pilot survey.

STANZ thanks those who have already contributed to our pilot study and welcomes  contact from any other New Zealand Aotearoa citizen who has electro – hypersensitivity and wishes to participate in our final survey.

Author: Anne Gastinger

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