Electrical Hypersensitivity – Is It Real, Does It Exist?

EMFs and health is a controversial subject.

Electrical hypersensitivity even more so.

This guest post, written by Evelyn Savarin, does an excellent job of outlining why the telecoms and utility companies denial of electrical hypersensitivity (EHS) has no foundation and lacks logic.

EHS was first identified in the Russian research of ‘50s and 60s under the term ‘Microwave syndrome’. The term described a litany of symptoms and illnesses observed in Russians workers occupational exposed to higher levels of electromagnetic/ microwave radiation.

The first of many subsequent critiques and reports on the Russian Studies was the Dodge Report 1969 and later by Glaser, 1971. Their reports documented over 2300 Russian studies and references that identified a plethora of symptoms and illnesses ranging from those frequently ascribed to EMF exposure as; sleep disorders, headaches, depression, dizziness, nervousness, memory problems, digestion, heart irregularities, tinnitus, to the more obscure, trembling eyelids, changes in olfactory sensitivity, loss of hair as well as many bio-chemical effects. (1,2)

electrical sensitivityBased on many of those early studies most East European countries, Russia and China adopted RF emission standards 1000 to 10,000 times lower than the West. The Eastern Countries believed lower emission thresholds were justified in order to protect the population from the Biological effects that was evidence in the Eastern research at the time. Meanwhile the West justified their higher RF safety thresholds simply using a safety factor from the physical heating health effects of RF/microwave emission. According to Western science physical heating was the only definitive health risk from RF /microwave emission observed in the research up to that time. (3)

Reports generated by Western government have been critical of the Russian, Eurasian lower Safety standards and the efficacy of their original research. The West’s assessment of the Russian studies did not demonstrate a rationale for the 1000 times lower Eastern Emission Standards. (4) However a later 1979 more obsure government paper, the McCree Report, did in fact confirm Euro-Soviet research was valid. (5) Despite that confirmation, American and Western countries never found a justification to change to our 1000 times higher RF emission standards.(4) Interestingly, while US and other Western countries held dear to the higher emission standards using ‘Heating’ of tissue rationale, the US Military at the same time was conveniently looking into offensive RF – electromagnetic weaponry that could disrupt bodily functions and alter behavior at below heating thresholds. (15)

In recent years conflicting evidence has pitted Industry against Independent sponsored research as to whether Electro Hypersensitivity (EHS) is real or imagined disorder. In industry supported research EHS is considered an idiopathic disorder. Essentially, a series of health complaints looking for a cause. In their opinion EHS reporting patients have wrongly associated Electromagnetic radiation as the cause of their symptoms and disabilities. Instead those scientists subscribe it to psychosomatic reasons. (6)

From a series of provocation studies Industry supported scientists have come to the conclusion EHS self reporting individuals CANNOT detect whether an RF signal is On or Off with any degree of accuracy, and do not show any biological differences from Non-reporting individuals during exposure.(6) The scientists conducting the studies automatically assumed self proclaimed EHS patients should a show clear response distinction in those 2 areas from the non-reporting group to be legitimately designated as electrosensitive.

Much of the research on those provocation studies was heavily funded by Mobile Telephone carriers 7 and led by Dr. James Rubin, a trained psychiatrist working at Kings College in London.(6)

Closer examination on the methodology of these studies shows a disregard for science, common sense and a clear obfuscation and misinterpretation of the results

Common sense dictates that after prolong or repeated exposure to a stimulant or depressant the body reduces its initial ability to respond or detect the stimulus in the same original manner., i.e. smoking, alcohol, drugs, smells etc. Instead , with continued and greater exposure, we find the body may begin to adapt, or experience changes and disorders very different and potentially more damaging to health than the original physical reaction to the exposure, i.e..cirrhoses of the liver, lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, violent behavior, etc.

The Russian studies of 1960’s clearly lay out how the process EHS develops over times: It begins with period of stimulation and heightened awareness, followed by a period of adaptation and eventually followed by a period of organism decline. However if EMFs are removed during the stages of stimulation and adaptation the organism can potentially recover from many of the disabilities experienced throughout the exposures. Reintroduction of EMFs can often lead to more severe disabilities and illness. (8)

In a series of provocation studies 2005 – 2009, Langrebe & Frick found EHS individuals were NOT capable of detecting a magnetic stimulating device (on/off), while, in contrast, non- reporting test subjects were able to detect the device emissions with great percent of accuracy. The researchers concluded EHS individuals lack of accuracy was probably due to ‘dysfunctional cortical process leading to reduced adaption’. 9 This is an interesting conclusion which clearly contradicts Dr. Rubins’s original premise that EHS people should theoretically be able to detect the signal/EMF stimulus, while NON – -EHS individuals should not..

In Dr. Rubin’s review he states that the cause of headaches during a cell phone call is psychological and probably caused by the more neurotic, fearful responses observed in EHS individuals. Then he proceeds to attribute the neurotic behavior to perhaps a lack of sleep, implying that headaches are symptomatic of EHS reporting individuals, while loss of Sleep is NOT. (6) This is blatant ignorance of EHS science which repeatedly identifies sleep disorders as a bioeffect of EMF-RF exposure.

A review of the literature of the following 4 provocation electro-sensitivity studies, rather than less, one finds more similarity between EHS individuals and non-reporting test subjects (10,11,12,13)

    • Both groups shared sleep problems, headaches, stress related cellular changes, and cognitive performance changes when exposed to cell phone simulation signals.
    • The interesting distinction between the two groups is the timing and the magnitude of reactions that was reported and observed by 2 groups.

Dr Paul Dart, a distinguished M.D, naturopathic medical physician and author, who has treated many EHS individuals in his practice, clearly lays out in his report the misleading conclusions & methods of provocation studies. He describes, instead, research that shows the many bio- chemical changes experienced by a percentage of population exposed to current levels of RF emissions (14) Perhaps big distinction between EHS reporting individuals and the non- reporting group can be summarized by saying that EHS individuals may be more non-conforming as they seek out causes and solutions to their physical problems. Rather than accept the popularly prescribed ways to resolve, suppress or dismiss their physical symptoms, they feel compelled to search deeper and wider into their environment for causes and solutions.

For information on research, diagnosis and the treatment of electrical hypersensitivity click here.

Studies & References on Hypersensitivity

1) Dodge, Christopher; “Clinical and Hygenic Aspects of Exposure to Electromagnetic radiation”; Bioscience Division of US Navy, 1969


2) Glaser,, Zorack R Ph.D,; “BIBLIOGPHY OF REPORTED BIOLOGICAL PHENOMENA (‘EFFECTS') AND CLINICAL MANIFESTATIONS ATTRIBUrED TO MICROWAVE AND RADIO-FREQUENCY RADIATION”; Naval Medical Institute, Oct 1971 http://www.radiationresearch.org/pdfs/20091016_naval_studies.pdf

3) Cleary, Stephen; “Biological Effects & Health Implications of Microwave Radiation” ;Biophysics Dept Virginia Commonwealth Uuiv & Dept of Health Human Services produced report on documenting American research work and discussion on the wide array Microwave effects at High emission levels, 1969.

http://www.magdahavas.com/wordpress/wp- content/uploads/2011/02/Biological_Effects_and_Health_Implications_of_Microwave_Radiation.pdf

4) Foster, Kenneth R.; “Criteria for EMF Standards Harmonization”.; Department of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia PA 19104 http://www.who.int/peh-emf/meetings/day2Varna_Foster.pdf

5) McCree Donald PHD; “REVIEW OF SOVIET/EASTERN EUROPEAN RESEARCH ON HEALTH ASPECTS OF MICROWAVE RADIATION”; ‘Presented at a Symposium … Public Health subcommittee of the New York Academy of Medicine on April 9 and 10, 1979; reprints- NIEHS…National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Research Triangle Park, North Carolina;…Bulletin N.Y. Academy of Medicine, Vol. 55, No. 11, December 1979 http://www.scribd.com/doc/13549404/Review-SovietEastern-Microwave-Research

6) Rubin, James G; “ Electrosensitivity: A Case for Caution with Precaution” ; King’s College London, Institute of Psychiatry

7) International Scientific Conference on EMF and Health, 2011; sponsored by Scientific Committee

on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR , P.4

http://www.elektrosmognews.de/Brussels_2011_EMF_Conference_- _CONFLICTS_OF_INTEREST.pdf#page=4&search=”James Rubin

I SANITARlYA, No 8, 1972 , Moscow; translation by Joint Publication Services of the Dept of Commerce
http://www.magdahavas.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Russian- HYGIENIC_PROBLEMS_OF_THE_EFFECT_OF_MICROWAVE_ELECTROMAGNETIC_FIELDS_ON_THE_BO DY.pdf

9) Shows our inability to distinguish when signals occur may be a result of dysfunctional cortical processes that can not adapt to on/off situations. Showed more tinnitus (ringing of the ears) from exposure conditions
Langrebe M, Frick U; “ELF exposure to hypersensitive individuals and analysis of hypersensitivity, perception, effects on motor skills, and tinnitus”; Psychiatric University Hospital in Regensburg, Ger; 2005- 2009;


10) Improved performance on cognitive tasks by EHS as exposure continued.
Wiholm, C et al.; “900 (GSM) exposure to humans and analysis of cognitive function (working memory in a virtual water maze)”; WHO Database on Electromagnetic Radiation, ID # 256; Bioelectromagnetics, (2008) http://apps.who.int/peh-emf/research/database/IEEEdatabase/viewstudy.cfm?ID=256

11) Both groups reported headache symptoms to cell frequency exposure, however it appears the Non- symptom group had slightly more reported headaches and lasted longer after exposure turned off. Both groups showed skin symptoms when the exposures were on.
Hillert L1, Akerstedt T, et al: “The effects of 884 MHz GSM wireless communication signals on headache and other symptoms: an experimental provocation study”.; Department of Public Health

Sciences, Division of Occupational Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.; Bioelectromagnetics. 2008 Apr;29(3):185-96. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18044740

12) Both Non-group & ES group experienced headaches when phones were turned on, and could detect the signal with the same degree percentage of accuracy.
Rubin GJ et al; “Are some people sensitive to mobile phone signals? Within participants double
blind randomised provocation study.”; 1King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, Department of Psychological Medicine, ; BMJ. 2006 Apr 15;332(7546):886-91. Epub 2006 Mar 6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16520326

13) Similar sleep brain wave disturbances by both hypersensitive and non group under similar exposure conditions. Slight differences in amount of brain wave changes between groups
Lowden A1, Akerstedt T , Ingre M, Wiholm C, Hillert L, Kuster N, Nilsson JP,
Arnetz B ; “Sleep after mobile phone exposure in subjects with mobile phone-related

symptoms.”; Stress Research Institute, Stockholm University, Sweden: Bioelectromagnetics. 2011 Jan;32(1):4-14.

14) Dart P. MD, Cordes K. MD, Elliott A. ND, Knackstedt J. MD, Morgan J. MD, Wible P. MD, Baker S. ; “BIOLOGICAL AND HEALTH EFFECTS OFMICROWAVE RADIO FREQUENCY TRANSMISSIONS: A REVIEW OF THE RESEARCH LITERATURE “; Report to the Staff and Directors of the Eugene Water and Electric board, Eugene, Oregon, June 2 013 http://skyvisionsolutions.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/paul-dart-md-lead-author-report-to-eweb-june- 2013.pdf


15) THE ELECTROMAGNETIC SPECTRUM IN LOW-INTENSITY CONFLICT By Capt Paul E Tyler MC USN; Center for Aerospace Doctrine, Research and Education; Maxwell Air Force Base Alabama
Original Document:


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  • Andrew Maxwell said,

    Excellent. A really good post to show to friends who believe that we are being protected enough, and think you’re a wierdo for talking about it!

  • ted said,

    hey lloyd,

    a little while back you mentioned the cornet ed78s as the right meter for having the goods for one that wants to check for the different types of emf’s. i have seen more expensive meters from the same company and others for a real good price but dont want to buy if wont fit the bill on all counts. what are my options in your opinion. thx. ted

  • Marsha said,

    Good article and good summary. Thanks!

  • Cecilia said,

    I knead your help: I was born with HEALING ENERGY as young girl a notice of my energy. Last week (good friday) out township install LED light – because my house is on corner of Court I get 5 different LED beaming, my living room, kitchen and my bedroom. They are so strong if I just glance the light my eye are watering,
    bearning,have severe heading, (never had heading before) can’t sleep, I weak up at 2 A.M. my pituitary gland is beating very fast.
    How could I prove to them that LED light are not Healthy for us.
    Please advise me – what to do?? Thank you Cecilia

  • Skyler said,

    Fantastic job, Evelyn.Thank you!

  • Lloyd Burrell said,

    Thanks for all your comments.
    @Ted – There’s no “best” meter….you need to decide what the “best” meter is for you…your needs….your budget. See my EMF meter reviews https://www.electricsense.com/category/emf-meters/
    @Cecilia – It’s very difficult to prove this kind of thing….I started this website because I got sick from technologies everyone assumes are safe….even when I point people to the studies that show EMFs can be very dangerous many people still don’t take any heed….rather than try and ‘convince’ better to take steps to protect your own health…in your case avoidance would seem the best approach.

  • Andrew Maxwell said,

    @ted: If it helps, I have the ed78s. It’s my first emf/emr meter and I find it to be really good. It’s not built in a way that would inspire me to use it in a professional capacity, and I am very careful not to drop it but it does the job well for me.
    I use it for looking for emf/emr around my home and workplace and have confidence in what it tells me.
    It allows me to see if there are any ‘pulsed’ emf’s around (because it has a graph with history on it).
    And it allows me to hear the difference between signal types so I can pinpoint what’s wifi radiation and what’s mobile phone mast.
    Also it’s both a emr and emf meter – brilliant!
    To sum up. For the price it’s a no brainer. If you find yourself wanting a more rugged unit in the future you can sell it on or if you don’t find anyone who wants it you haven’t lost much money.
    I bought mine from http://www.radmeters.com/Cornet-ED78S-fr.html who did a great job. [And as the payment is in dollars, as a UK resident, it felt like I was getting a discount when I read my bank statement!]

  • ellie said,

    Thank you Evelyn. Excellent information. The Telecom industry has hired the same PR companies as the tobacco industry used to obfuscate data, argue/disregard science, and overall, create doubt, their greatest tool. I recommend the new documentary Merchants of Doubt, to become aware of the many devious tactics ‘spin doctors’ use: http://www.takepart.com/

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