Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity “EHS”or Electrical Sensitivity
Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS), sometimes referred to as Electrical Sensitivity (ES) or Microwave Sickness, is a condition in which a person experiences adverse health effects and loss of homeostasis in the presence of man-made electromagnetic fields (EMFs).
It is currently estimated that 3-5% of the world’s population is severely electrosensitive, with 30-50% moderately affected symptomatically. These numbers are predicted to rise significantly with the proliferation of smart cities, smart homes, 5G wireless, and the Internet of Everything, along with the smart grid and increasing electrical power density.
Often classified as an “Environmental Illness” with EMFs considered an environmental toxin, this potentially debilitating condition typically manifests in a range of neurological, immunological, and endocrinological symptoms when a person is exposed to radiofrequency radiation, magnetic fields, electrical fields, and harmonic distortion (i.e. “dirty electricity”). Symptoms tend to vary with dose, duration, and intensity of EMF exposure, often remitting when the person is removed from the EMF source, but returning once the EMF source is re-introduced into the person’s environment.
Internationally, scientists and epidemiologists have published thousands of peer-reviewed research studies showing harmful biological effects (including DNA damage, oxidative stress, and breaks in the blood brain barrier) resulting from exposure to radiofrequency and other artificial EMFs. These biological effects are all precursors to chronic disease and cancer, and occur at the intracellular and intercellular levels, regardless of whether a person feels symptomatic or not. Like the canary in a coal mine, those with EHS are just the first to feel it.
Mechanism of action:
Based on the available scientific literature, there is evidence pointing to a biochemical mechanism behind the interactions of EMFs with biological systems. In other words, what does electrosensitivity mean biologically?
Specifically, Dr. Martin Pall’s work shows that microwave and other low-frequency EMFs activate a cell’s voltage gated calcium channels (VGCCs), with resulting biological effects due to elevated intracellular calcium, consequent nitricoxide elevation and either peroxynitrite or nitric-oxide signaling.
What that all means is: there is a definitive mechanism by which EMFs release free radicals to cause chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, and damage to cell structures, including DNA. The EMF doesn’t directly damage the cell. But, the resulting change in metabolism produces free radicals which ultimately cause the damage. Simply put: non-ionizing EMFs (i.e. radiofrequency radiation and low-frequency electrical fields) can cause serious physiological damage at non-thermal (non-heating) levels, which are far below government safety guidelines.
Common Symptoms of EHS:
- Insomnia/sleep disturbances
- Headaches, sharp pains
- Tingling, numbness
- Pressure in head/throat/chest/ears
- Ringing in ears / tinnitus
- Dizziness, balance issues
- Electrical buzzing or ‘zapping’ in head
- Visual/hearing disturbances
- Eye irritation
- Short-term memory loss, mental/thought block, concentration problems
- Skin rashes, eczema
- Chronic dehydration, insatiable thirst
- Altered heart rate, palpitations, blood pressure anomalies
- Tremors, tics, seizures
- Extreme fatigue
- Joint dysfunction, musculoskeletal pains
- Increased chemical sensitivity and/or allergies
- Sensory overload, inability to rest/relax/heal
The initial stages of EHS may present with slight discomfort when a person is in the presence of EMFs. If not addressed, EHS can progress to a more long-term, chronic stage, in which the person becomes debilitated by increasingly smaller and weaker EMF exposures.
The primary approach for treatment should focus on both prevention and reduction of EMF exposure, ideally eliminating or dramatically reducing all sources of high EMF exposure (both at home and at work) so the body has a chance to recover. Other environmental toxins (i.e. chemical, biological) as well as psycho-social stressors should be reduced as well, to alleviate a person’s total body burden, support healing mechanisms and restore homeostasis. Often working with a well-informed environmental medicine physician, functional medicine practitioner or metabolic specialist is suggested.
Safe Living Technologies specializes in helping sensitive individuals detect and mitigate electrical pollution in their homes and work spaces.
Belyaev I, Dean A, Eger H, Hubmann G, Jandrisovits R, et al. “EUROPAEM EMF Guideline 2016 for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of EMF-related health problems and illnesses.” Reviews on Environmental Health. 2016 Sep 1;31(3):363-97. doi: 10.1515/reveh-2016-0011.
Austrian Medical Association. “Guidelines of the Austrian Medical Association for the diagnosis and treatment of EMF related health problems and illnesses (EMF syndrome).” http://www.magdahavas.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Austrian-EMF-Guidelines-2012.pdf
Environmental Health Trust. “Electromagnetic Sensitivity.” https://ehtrust.org/science/electromagnetic-sensitivity/
Mallery-Blythe M. Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity: A Summary. December 2014 WORKING DRAFT Version 1.
Pall, M.L. “Electromagnetic fields act via activation of voltage-gated calcium channels to produce beneficial or adverse effects,” Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. 26 June 2013; 17(8):958-965. doi: 10.1111/jcmm.12088.
Diagnosis and management of electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS): rapid overview for a mixed audience—a highly informative presentation by Dr Erica Mallery-Blythe at the British Society of Ecological Medicine convention in March 2014. https://vimeo.com/100623585.
WEEP Initiative. “Living with Electrohypersensitivity: A Survival Guide.” http://www.weepinitiative.org/livingwithEHS.html