EHS – what the experts say, part 1

May 21, 2023

Are some people more sensitive to electromagnetic fields than others? Is electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) real and, if so, where’s the evidence? On 13 April some of the world’s leading experts, including scientists, MPs and lawyers, came together to share their knowledge about electromagnetic hypersensitivity. The workshop, entitled ‘Electromagnetic-Hyper-Sensitivity: The State of Science’, was hosted by the European Parliament and held in a wifi-free environment so sufferers could attend.

What is electromagnetic hypersensitivity?

It’s the experience of symptoms or illness when exposed to man-made electromagnetic fields. It affects men, women and children, and some sufferers have experienced such hardship that they’ve taken their own lives.

The meeting began with a welcome to attendees by Parliamentary MP Michèle Rivasi who assured them that ‘the medical and scientific community at the international level is united in the momentum to secure the recognition of electrohypersensitivity.’

Here is a snapshot of talks by some of the experts and links to the video and transcript can be found below.

Dr Sam England

Dr Sam England, from Bristol University in the UK, talked about the electrical sense possessed by animals and other organisms – electroreception – that allows them to detect electric fields. He said, ‘we find that this sense is very widespread, mostly known from the aquatic environment. But recently, more evidence is coming to light about it being used in the terrestrial environment too, for example, by bumblebees, spiders and other insects. But one of the alarming things that we realized when we surveyed the literature is that actually a lot of the electric sensitivity thresholds for these species are sensitive enough that many anthropogenic [man-made] sources of electricity – for example, from subsea power cables or overhead power cables in the terrestrial environment – are within those detection thresholds. So, it’s possible that anthropogenic sources of electric fields may be interfering with the electric sense of many organisms.’

Dr Yael Stein

Dr Yael Stein, a physician and researcher from Israel, pointed out that ‘there is a lot of data’ on the link between microwaves and symptoms. She referred to:

  • symptoms of diplomats in Cuba (Havana Syndrome): ‘loud noises and they had headaches and head pressure and dizziness’;
  • research by Dr Alan Frey ‘about noises that people hear which are caused by microwaves’;
  • an MD’s report of a 50-year-old man exposed to microwaves. ‘In the beginning he had a sudden heating sensation and erythema. But later on, he suffered headaches, insomnia, irritability, emotional liability’;
  • irradiation of the American Embassy in Moscow (1952 – 1966) of ‘up to 18 microwatts per centimetres square’ [Below ICNIRP limit of 10,000,000 microwatts / sq m – Ed], resulting in symptoms ‘like depression, irritability, weakness, difficulty concentrating, memory loss.’

Stein also described the experiences of her patients. ‘Many of them have sleep difficulties. Many of them become anxious, even up to panic, because they don’t know what’s happening to them. They become very weak. Some of them have instability, dizziness, falls, nausea. Some of them have earaches and they hear sounds. Some of them describe heart palpitation, tightness in the chest, the muscle cramps, abdominal cramps, joint pain. It’s a very wide range of symptoms. But you see that the patients usually don’t have all of them. They have two or three specific ones for each patient out of all this range. And the patient will have the same symptoms every time they’re exposed.’

Stein explained what she had observed about patients with EHS. She said, ‘they have normal anatomy and you can’t see it, but when you do functional MRIs, then you see that actually, that the connections inside their brains are different from other people. They actually have neural damage or their brain has become different. Either that or they were initially different from other people.

‘They are sort of hyper-stressed. A sympathetic nervous system works too much, and the parasympathetic nervous system is not functioning. So, what they need, what helps them is qigong is breathing exercises. I know some clinics give GABA, and some clinics give melatonin to help them sleep. But regular medications, I have seen very, very few patients that respond to it. And the last thing is that in the long term, they do not get back to normal behaviour levels. They cannot be exposed. They cannot go in the public transport.’

Stein also discussed the characteristics of people who develop EHS. She said, ‘many of them really do have a genetic, genetic hypersensitivity. They are hypersensitive in their characters, in their behaviours and they are sensitive to other things as well. The second thing I saw is, some kind of, I call it priming, an event in early childhood. Many, many of the patients have a story. If you really dig in, and I’m good at occupational history-taking, you find things like a response to vaccines in early childhood, or a child who’s very sick with some disease, with some fever in early childhood, or someone who fell and hit their head. There is some trauma.’

Dr Dimitri Panagopoulos

Dr Dimitri Panagopoulos, from the University of Athens, explained why man-made electromagnetic fields (eg a mobile phone with an intensity of 0.1 milliwatts per square centimetre near the head) are much more damaging than natural electromagnetic fields (like the radiation from the sun which is 100 times stronger).

‘The answer is that solar, natural radiation is not polarized, while all anthropogenic [man-made] fields are totally polarized. And what do the totally polarized fields do?’

‘They can produce constructive interference and they can amplify their intensities at certain locations, which natural fields, non-polarized, cannot do. And moreover, the polarized and coherent fields can force all charged particles to oscillate in parallel and in phase with them.

‘And we are talking now talking about living tissue, we are talking about the free, the mobile ions which are in billions inside every single cell and tissue, and they are forced to oscillate in parallel and in phase with these fields. And this initiates biological effects.’

Is there scientific evidence that electromagnetic fields can harm the body?

Panagopoulos says that there are thousands of scientific studies on this topic. ‘About 65% to 70% of them … saw effects. … But if we look at studies that have used real-life signals [as opposed to simulated signals – Ed], then more than 95% of them do show effects.’

If asked to summarise the way effects take place, Panagopoulos says, ‘I would say man-made … polarized, electromagnetic exposure causes dysfunction of voltage-gated ion channels in cell membranes. This dysfunction alters the intracellular concentrations of critical ions such as calcium and potassium, and sodium and structure of the voltage-gated channels on cell membranes and how the dysfunction of those channels can cause all these effects that we’re talking about.’

Is the situation getting better or worse with more generations of technology? Panagopoulos says, ‘We have more pulsations and the unexpected variations of the signal, they become more and more with every new generation. So, taking this situation, we can reasonably expect that with every new generation, we have more intense biological and health effects. That’s my expectation.’

Do international (ICNIRP) guidelines for radiation protection actually protect us?

Dr Yael Stein points out a problem with the way the standards average exposures over time. She says, ‘you cannot base safety standards on averages. The body, the biology does not recognize the average. It’s like you hit someone’s arm five times with a hammer, then average, it doesn’t hurt them. But actually, it hurts them a lot for a short while, and part of the time it doesn’t hurt them. You cannot average this.’

Dr Panagopoulos also has concerns. He says, ‘we can see that the threshold intensities for which biological and health effects are recorded are thousands of times and even millions of times, in some cases lower than the recommended limits by ICNIRP [International Commission on Non-ionizing Radiation Protection].’

You can see the video of the workshop here

You can see the transcript of the workshop, edited by Vic Leech, here.

Look out for part 2 next week.

What can you do?

What else can you do?

  • forward this email to others to inform them, too
  • see the latest news in our May newsletter EMR and Health here
  • book a phone consultation to find answers to your questions here

Warm regards
Lyn McLean
EMR Australia PL
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