An Allergy Called Electrohypersensitivity (EHS)

If you’ve seen ‘Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World’, a film about the internet by Werner Herzog, you’ll know that apart from the history of the internet, the film depicts many other aspects of it. Including the issues of people who suffer from sensitivity to electromagnetic fields. This kind of discomfort is called electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS). It was also a running theme throughout AMC’s ‘Better Call Saul’.

What is EHS?

Electrohypersensitivity (EHS) is a controversial ‘allergy’, caused by electrosmog or electromagnetic radiation present in the vicinity of all kinds of electrical appliances[1]. In the middle of the last century it was identified as an ‘occupational disease’, these days it’s not only a problem for those who work in places where the electromagnetic radiation level is high. In fact, a lot of people claim to be sensitive to radiation, to some extent. There are people, however, who are hypersensitive to it and suffer even when the electromagnetic field is weak.

What are the symptoms?

We can’t detect electromagnetic radiation using our senses — we can’t see it, hear it or feel it. What we can observe are the signs of those with sensitivity towards it, although there is no scientific basis and it is not a recognised medical diagnosis. In 2005 the WHO stated that there are a number of non-specific symptoms that people with EHS associate with their illness. They include mainly dermatological problems, such as redness, tingling, and burning sensations, but also fatigue, tiredness, concentration difficulties, dizziness, nausea, heart palpitation or digestive disturbances.[2]

Electro-refugees

People who feel as though they are suffering from EHS exclude themselves from social life. In Green Bank, West Virginia, the U.S. government banned the use of wireless devices due to an operating radio telescope[3].

As a result, the town has become a refuge for electro hypersensitive people. If you’re interested in this topic, here’s an article we recommend: The town without WiFi. If you’re wondering what the life of a person who suffers from EHS looks like, read an article about Peter Lloyd: Court hearing for man ‘allergic’ to electricity fighting for a suitable home or Per Segerbäck: The Man Who Was Allergic to Radio Waves.

EHS in Sweden

Over 300,000 people in Sweden get benefits due to EHS[4]. In 2000, the Swedish government officially recognized EHS as a disability which may interfere with daily functioning[5]. Swedes affected by EHS are provided full health care and can count on the understanding of both employers and doctors, who ensure conditions for life and work in an environment free from electrosmog.

More on EHS:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-14887428

http://www.bmj.com/content/332/7546/886.full

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/electrical-sensitivity-definition-epidemiology-and-management

http://www.bioinitiative.org/

http://www.iemfa.org/

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[1]WHO (2005) Electromagnetic fields and public health [Online] http://www.who.int/peh-emf/publications/facts/fs296/en/ (Accessed 22/06/2017)

[2]WHO (2005) Electromagnetic fields and public health [Online] http://www.who.int/peh-emf/publications/facts/fs296/en/ (Accessed 22/06/2017)

[3]Drawh, W. (Uknown) America’s Quietest Town: Where Cell Phones are Banned [Online] http://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2015/07/us/quiet-town-american-story/ (Accessed 22/06/2017)

[4]Elöverkänslighet (Unknown) [Online] https://eloverkanslig.org/eloverkanslighet/ (Accessed 22/06/2017)

[5]Johansson, O. (2009) #1014: Electrosensitivity in Sweden [Online] www.emfacts.com/2009/02/1014-electrosensitivity-in-sweden-by-olle-johansson/ (Accessed 22/06/2017)