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From June 2001, health questionnaires were distributed to people who complained about symptoms of ill health which they ascribed to exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF). The objective of the survey was to gain a better knowledge of the anxieties of complainants, to obtain hints of possible problems and of actions that should be taken to solve the problems. The survey was not designed to establish a causal association between exposure to EMF and symptoms of ill health. Within one year, 429 questionnaires were returned of which 394 persons reported symptoms. The average age of the complainants was 51.0 years and 57 percent were female. The complainants were older, had a higher educational level and were more likely to be married compared to the general Swiss population. A mean of 2.7 different symptoms were reported. Sleep disorders (58%), headaches (41%), nervousness or distress (19%), fatigue (18%), and concentration difficulties (16%) were most common complaints. Complainants related their symptoms most frequently to exposure to mobile phone base stations (74%), followed by mobile phones (36%), cordless phones (29%) and power lines (27%). No distinct symptoms related to a specific field source could be identified. Eighty-five percent of the people who consulted a public authority because of their symptoms were unsatisfied with the response, whereas consultation of self-help groups or building ecologists usually fulfilled expectations. Two thirds of complainants had taken some action to reduce their symptoms. The most common measure was to avoid exposure if possible. Removing or disconnecting indoor sources was judged to be the most effective action.
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Int. J. Hyg. Environ. Health 207 (2004); 141 ± 150
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intjhyg
International Journal
of Hygiene and
Environmental Health
Symptoms of ill health ascribed to electromagnetic field exposure ±
a questionnaire survey
Martin Rˆˆslia, b, Mirjana Moserc, Yvonne Baldininia, Martin Meierc, Charlotte Braun-Fahrl‰ndera
aInstitute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
bDepartment of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
cSwiss Federal Office of Public Health, Bern, Switzerland
Received April 22, 2003 ¥ Revision received October 9, 2003 ¥ Accepted October 12, 2003
Abstract
From June 2001, health questionnaires were distributed to people who complained about
symptoms of ill health which they ascribed to exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF). The
objective of the survey was to gain a better knowledge of the anxieties of complainants, to
obtain hints of possible problems and of actions that should be taken to solve the problems.
The survey was not designed to establish a causal association between exposure to EMF and
symptoms of ill health. Within one year, 429 questionnaires were returned of which 394
persons reported symptoms. The average age of the complainants was 51.0 years and 57
percent were female. The complainants were older, had a higher educational level and were
more likely to be married compared to the general Swiss population. A mean of 2.7 different
symptoms were reported. Sleep disorders (58%), headaches (41%), nervousness or distress
(19%), fatigue (18%), and concentration difficulties (16%) were most common complaints.
Complainants related their symptoms most frequently to exposure to mobile phone base
stations (74%), followed by mobile phones (36%), cordless phones (29%) and power lines
(27%). No distinct symptoms related to a specific field source could be identified. Eighty-five
percent of the people who consulted a public authority because of their symptoms were
unsatisfied with the response, whereas consultation of self-help groups or building ecologists
usually fulfilled expectations. Two thirds of complainants had taken some action to reduce
their symptoms. The most common measure was to avoid exposure if possible. Removing or
disconnecting indoor sources was judged to be the most effective action.
Key words: Electromagnetic fields ± mobile phone base station ± electromagnetic
hypersensitivity (EHS) ± complaints
Introduction
Nowadays, technical electromagnetic fields (EMF)
are ubiquitously present in buildings and in the
natural environment. In parallel with the increasing
exposure to EMF over the last years, an increasing
number of people have been claiming that they are
hypersensitive to electromagnetic fields. Such pa-
tients suffer generally from unspecific symptoms of
ill health such as headaches, sleep disorders, skin
rash, dizziness, etc. Estimates of the prevalence of
people suffering from electromagnetic hypersensi-
1438-4639/04/207/02-141 $ 30.00/0
Corresponding author: Martin Rˆˆsli, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Finkenhubelweg 11, CH-3012
Bern, Switzerland. Phone: 41 31 631 3867, Fax: 41 316313520, E-mail: Roeoesli@ispm.unibe.ch
tivity (EHS) vary. While some earlier studies have
assessed that a maximum one percent of the general
population is afflicted (Bergqvist, 1997; Silny,
1999), a recently conducted population survey in
Stockholm reported that 1.5 percent of the popula-
tion identified themselves as suffering from EHS
(Hillert et al., 2002). In a survey in California 3.2%
(95%-CI: 2.8% ± 3.7%) of the population reported
hypersensitivity to exposure to EMF (Levallois
et al., 2002). A similar result came out in a recent
study which used a more objective procedure to
determine EHS (Leitgeb and Schrˆttner, 2003).
Though many acute health effects have been cited,
the results of controlled experimental studies have
been contradictory (Stenberg et al., 1995; Rea et al.,
1991; Radon and Maschke, 1998; Oftedal et al.,
1995; Mueller et al., 2002; Hietanen et al., 2002;
Flodin et al., 2000). Thus, a direct causal link
between exposure to electric or magnetic fields
below recommended reference levels and self-repor-
ted symptoms has not been established to date.
There is no specific symptom profile or validated
diagnostic criteria to diagnose EHS (Levallois,
2002). Apart from a pure EMF phenomenon, other
causes of EHS, such as distress, neuroticism, psy-
chiatric morbidity, and an influence of the public
debate have been considered (David et al., 2002;
Lonne-Rahm et al., 2000; Frick et al., 2002).
In Switzerland, the public discussion about EHS
rapidly increased during the mid nineties, when the
expansion of the mobile phone systems led to many
new base stations. Many people were concerned
about adverse health effects and some reported
symptoms of ill health related to mobile phone base
stations to public authorities, self-help groups,
building ecologists and physicians. A need to react
to increasing concerns about possible health hazards
from EMF has been recognised. Thus, the Swiss
Federal Office of Public Health commissioned the
authors to develop a questionnaire to measure
symptoms and to identify suspected EMF sources
of the afflicted population. A further objective of this
survey was to characterize the afflicted population
and to compare it to a representative sample of the
Swiss population. The third aim was to obtain hints
of possible associations between reported symptoms
and EMF. The fourth objective was to obtain a better
knowledge about who has been consulted and what
steps had been undertaken by the complainants to
improve their situation.
Materials and methods
The questionnaire was designed for people who com-
plained about symptoms of ill health that they associated
with exposure to electromagnetic fields. The question-
naire included questions about symptoms of ill health,
exposure to EMF sources, measures and consultations
that have been taken, the general health status and
demographic characteristics. Open questions were used
to ask about symptoms of ill health to reduce possible bias
in responses. Exposure situation was measured by a given
choice of the most important EMF sources in the daily life.
For each source the complainants had to estimate the
exposure in minutes per day or distance to living place or
work place. In addition, complainants were asked to state,
for each source, how sure they were that the source caused
their symptoms. With another set of questions complai-
nants were asked about measures and consultations they
had been undertaking and how satisfying those measures
and consultations were. Questions about the general
health status were mainly adopted from the Swiss Health
Survey (SHS) from 1997. Additionally, questions from the
Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations (CISS) (Endler,
1999) were incorporated. Demographic questions were
included to measure age, gender, education, living ar-
rangements, etc.
In June 2001, the EHS survey was presented to public
authorities, building ecologists, telephone companies and
other bodies which may be consulted by the afflicted
population. These institutions motivated people to fill in
the questionnaire if they were ascribing their symptoms of
ill health to exposure to electromagnetic fields. Then, the
Swiss Federal Office of Public Health sent a questionnaire
to complainants who agreed to participate. Question-
naires were collected throughout one year.
Data were analysed using S-Plus 6.0. Group differences
were tested using chi-square analysis. Statistical compar-
isons of proportions were conducted assuming binomial
distributed data. Comparisons between the EHS survey
and the Swiss Health Survey (SHS) were adjusted for sex,
age, education and marital status using a regression
model. In order to get hints about the existence of a
specific EMF symptom pattern, a cluster analysis was
performed to evaluate whether any symptom combination
was named more often than expected from chance.
Results
Symptoms of ill health and suspected EMF sources
Four hundred and twenty-nine individuals complet-
ed questionnaires between July 2001 and June 2002.
Of these, 394 complained about symptoms of ill
health. From the remaining 35 responders 7 claimed
that they were against mobile phone base stations in
residential areas and on schools, 6 were anxious
about a newly erected base station and expected
health disorders as a result of the new stations and
142 M. Rˆˆsli et al.
for 22 responders the reason for completing the
questionnaire was not clear. The analyses were
conducted with data from the 394 individuals who
were actually suffering from symptoms of ill health.
Overall, 114 different health complaints were
reported from the complainants. Those were sum-
marized into 47 different symptoms. The question-
naire allowed to state 5 symptoms at maximum. On
average 2.7 different symptoms of ill health were
listed per questionnaire. Figure 1 shows the number
of the 26 symptoms which were stated at least 6
times in decreasing order and classified by sex. Sleep
disorders (58%), headache (41%), nervousness or
distress (19%), fatigue (18%), and concentration
difficulties (16%) were most prevalent. The Pear-
son's chi-square test did not reveal a significant
difference between the symptom prevalence of men
and women (p 0.66).
The majority of the complainants stated that they
experienced symptoms of ill health at home. Occa-
sionally the symptoms occurred additionally at
other places (e. g. work place). Only 10 percent of
the complainants experienced the symptoms exclu-
sively outside the living place. Ninety percent of the
complainants reported that the symptoms appeared
after they had entered an ™exposure area∫ (e. g.
living place or the working place) and the symptoms
decreased after they had left it. The symptoms
appeared within a few minutes in 53 percent of the
complainants, within a few hours in 21 percent, and
within a few days in 17 percent. The decline in
symptoms after leaving the ™exposure area∫ was, on
average, similar but slightly slower.
Fifty-two percent of the complainants stated that
they suffered for less than 2 years from the described
symptoms, 71 percent for less than 3 years. Only 7
percent experienced the symptoms for longer than
10 years.
Most complainants declared that physical impair-
ment due to their symptoms was severe. Fifty-three
percent of them stated their physical impairment
with `very severe' or `severe', 35 percent reported
`medium' impairment. The mental impairment was
almost equally profound (41% severe and 33%
medium), whereas the social impairment was as-
sessed from none to medium by 76 percent of the
complainants. However, a few complainants stated
that they were not able to have a social live because
they were forced to avoid exposure situations.
Seventeen percent of the complainants stated that
they were at least partly incapacitated for work due
to their health complaints.
Fifty-six percent of the sample stated that they
were able to perceive electromagnetic fields. Most of
them specified a specific field type which they were
able to perceive such as radiation from mobile phone
Fig. 1. The 26 most frequently stated symptoms of ill health in decreasing order and classified by sex.
Symptoms of ill health ascribed to EMF 143
base stations, magnetic fields from power lines,
pulse modulated EMF, etc.
For a given choice of 11 EMF sources the
complainants had to estimate the utilization period
in minutes per day or distance to living place or work
place, respectively. Further they had to rate how sure
they were that their health problems were caused by
these sources. Seventy-six percent of the complai-
nants declared themselves as exposed to radiation
from mobile phone base stations either at the living
place or at the work place (Table 1). From those
exposed to mobile phone base stations 87 percent
reported that they were sure or rather sure that their
symptoms were due to this exposure. For other EMF
sources the proportion of worried persons was
considerably lower (Table 1). In the whole collective
(exposed and non exposed persons) 74 percent were
sure or rather sure that their symptoms were due to
exposure to mobile phone base stations (Figure 2).
Thus, some individuals associated their health
problems to mobile phone base station, although
they did not declare themselves as exposed at the
living or work place. The causality of other sources
than base stations was assessed considerably lower
in the collective (Figure 2). It was striking that the
complainants were very specific about the associa-
tions with different sources. Only 9 complainants
related their symptoms as sure or rather sure to all 11
sources. About a third of the afflicted population
quoted additional reasons for their symptoms. Of
the additional reasons, distress and environmental
factors (e.g. air pollution, noise, weather, amalgam)
were most commonly reported.
Demographic characteristics of the EHS sample
compared to the SHS sample
Table 2 compares the demographic characteristics
of the EHS complainants to subjects in the Swiss
Health Survey (SHS). In the EHS survey 57 percent
of the complainants were female. The average age of
the complainants was 51.0 years, which is statisti-
cally significantly older than in the SHS (mean:
46.1 y). The age group from 40 to 70 year was
particularly overrepresented in the EHS survey
collective compared to the SHS collective. Almost
two third of the complainants were married, which
was significantly more than in the SHS (52%). The
educational level of the EHS sample was signifi-
cantly higher than the one in the SHS. Differences in
marital status and educational level were not due to
the older age of the EHS sample. The proportion of
Swiss complainants was significantly higher in the
EHS survey than in the SHS.
In the SHS and EHS survey the same questions
about general health status were asked. Raw and
adjusted prevalences of several diseases were sig-
nificantly higher in the EHS collective than in the
SHS collective (Table 2).
Based on 4 standardised questions, sleep disorders
were classified as either `none', `medium' or `patho-
logical' (Abelin et al., 2000). Not surprisingly the
prevalence of sleep disorders was much higher in the
EHS sample than in the SHS. Similarly, the propor-
tion of complainants who suffered from intense
headache during the last 4 week was considerably
higher in the EHS collective than in the SHS
collective (Table 2).
In the short version of the Coping Inventory for
Stressful Situations (CISS) (Endler, 1999) coping
Table 1. Number of persons declaring themselves as exposed to a variety of EMF sources, median and 90%-percentile of the self estimated
distance or utilization period, as well as proportion of exposed persons ascribing their health problems to the respective exposure.
All ( n 394)
Number
of exposed
median 90%-percentile Ascribed symptoms
to the exposure source
Power lines 126 100 m 1000 m 61%
Train and tram lines 158 100 m 500 m 36%
Train/tram (use of) 87 20 min 94 min 36%
Transformers 74 100 m 695 m 53%
Broadcast transmitters 77 1000 m 10 km 44%
Mobile phone base stations 317 150 m 500 m 87%
Mobile phone 86 9 min 60 min 48%
Cordless phone 129 10 min 60 min 36%
TV set 323 60 min 180 min 18%
Computer 193 60 min 480 min 29%
Low voltage lighting 134 60 min 180 min 18%
144 M. Rˆˆsli et al.
strategies are classified into the three main scales
`task-', `emotion-' and `avoidance ± oriented' based
on 12 standardised questions resulting in a score
ranging from 4 to 20. The scale avoidance is divided
into the two subscale distraction and social diversion
(score range: 2 to 10). The EHS collective was more
task orientated and less emotional oriented than the
general Swiss population (Table 3). Avoiding stra-
tegies did not differ between the two collectives,
however, hypersensitive persons rather chose social
diversion (e.g. talking to a friend) than other
distractions (e.g. go for shopping).
Hints of possible problems
Such a survey cannot establish or negate a causal
association between symptoms of ill health and
EMF. However, in order to get hints of possible
problems the symptoms were analysed in three
different ways. First, we checked whether any
symptom patterns were named more often than
expected from chance, to elicit the presence of a
specific EMF symptom pattern. Cluster analysis did
not reveal specific symptoms appearing more often
together in the same person than expected by chance.
Thus, there was no indication that specific EMF
symptom patterns exist.
Second, we examined whether specific symptoms
were associated with specific EMF sources. For that,
the suspected EMF sources were grouped into three
categories according to the electromagnetic frequen-
cy range. Mobile communication and broadband
technique emits in the radio and microwave fre-
quency range. Computer and TV displays emit
mainly in the frequency range of a few kilohertz,
and use of electricity (power lines, transformer,
lighting, electrical devices) is related to emission in
the extremely low frequency range (ELF). We
analysed whether complainants ascribed their symp-
toms to EMF sources from one specific frequency
range or whether they suspected sources from
different frequency ranges (e.g. mobile phone and
power lines). One hundred and sixty-six (42%) of
the complainants rated the association to sources
from the group `communication technique' (radio-
and microwave) systematically higher than to other
sources. Only 8 persons (2%) related their symp-
toms predominantly to displays and 34 (9%) to
sources in the ELF range. About half of the
complainants did not favour sources from a sole
frequency range. The frequency of the 10 most often
stated symptoms did not differ statistically signifi-
cantly with respect to the ascribed causal source
group (c2,p0.21) (Table 4). There was a trend that
persons, who ascribed their symptoms to displays
Fig. 2. Suspected cause of symptoms in the whole collective.
Symptoms of ill health ascribed to EMF 145
suffered more often from headaches whereas in
others sleep disorders were the most prevalent.
Concentration difficulties and tinnitus were some-
what overrepresented in persons who related their
symptoms to communication technique sources.
Persons associating their symptoms to sources in
the ELF range complained more about nervousness
or distress than the others.
In order to investigate the symptoms with respect
to the exposure situation, the symptom patterns of
persons living closer than 100 m from ELF sources
(power lines, train or tram lines, transformers) were
compared with those of persons who did not live in
the vicinity of any EMF sources. We did not find
statistically significant differences in the frequency
of the 10 most often stated symptoms (c2:p0.24).
Similarly, we did not observe a different symptom
pattern for persons living close (<1 km) to broad-
cast transmitters (c2:p0.33) or close (<100 m) to
mobile phone base stations (c2:p0.28). Analogous
analyses were performed for users of mobile phones,
cordless phones and computers compared to persons
Table 2. Demographic characteristics and prevalence of various diseases in the survey among persons hypersensitive to electric and
magnetic fields (EHS) and the representative Swiss Health Survey (SHS) collectives in absolute numbers and in percent.
Group EHS collective
raw [n (%) ]
EHS collective
adj [n (%) ]
SHS collective
[n (%)]
Proportion test
[p value]
Total complainants 394 (100%) 394 (100%) 13004 (100%)
Sex
Male 169 (43%) ± 5760 (44%) 0.609
Female 223 (57%) ± 7244 (56%) 0.683
Age (years)
0 ± 19 21 (5%) ± 577 (4%) 0.368
20 ± 39 71 (18%) ± 5132 (39%) <0.001
40 ± 59 170 (43%) ± 3864 (30%) <0.001
>60 129 (33%) ± 3431 (26%) 0.006
Education (highest level)
No/little professional education 63 (16%) 63 (16%)ß3165 (24%) <0.001ß
Apprenticeship 164 (42%) 173 (44%)ß7681 (59%) <0.001ß
Higher education/University 150 (38%) 158 (40%)ß2158 (17%) <0.001ß
Marital status
Single 81 (21%) 112 (28%)ß3769 (29%) 0.850ß
Married 247 (63%) 230 (58%)ß6705 (52%) 0.005ß
Widowed/divorced/separated 61 (15%) 52 (13%)ß2524 (19%) <0.001ß
Nationality
Swiss 346 (88%) 348 (88%)ß10955 (84%) 0.009ß
Other nationalities 41 (10%) 46 (12%)ß2049 (16%) 0.015ß
General health status
Rheumatism 43 (10.9%) 37 (9.4%)581 (4.5%) 0.001
Bronchitis 23 (5.8%) 23 (5.8%)159 (1.2%) <0.001
High blood pressure 47 (11.9%) 40 (10.2%)1102 (8.5%) 0.236
Cancer 18 (4.6%) 16 (4.1%)110 (0.8%) 0.001
Allergy 32 (8.1%) 34 (8.6%)341 (2.6%) <0.001
Depression 26 (6.6%) 27 (6.9%)272 (2.1%) <0.001
Sleep disorder
None 105 (27%) 110 (28%)9280 (71%) <0.001
Medium 131 (33%) 129 (33%)3085 (24%) <0.001
Pathological 158 (40%) 155 (39%)638 (5%) <0.001
Headache
Not at all 80 (20%) 74 (19%)7736 (59%) <0.001
Somewhat 150 (38%) 146 (37%) 4124 (32%) 0.025
Intense 164 (42%) 174 (44%)1144 (9%) <0.001
ß adjusted for sex and age
≤ adjusted for sex, age, education, and marital status
Table 3. Mean scores of the different coping strategies in the EHS
and the SHS collectives.
EMF raw EMF adj.SHS p-Wert
Task 15.4 15.3 12.2 <0.001
Emotion 9.7 9.7 10.6 <0.001
Avoidance 9.9 10.1 9.8 0.196
Social diversion 6.0 6.1 5.5 <0.001
Other distractions 4.1 4.1 4.4 0.049
adjusted for sex, age, education, and marital status.
146 M. Rˆˆsli et al.
who did not use either of these devices. No
significant differences were observed (mobile phone
users: p 0.22; cordless phone users: p 0.19;
computer users: p 0.24). The symptom patterns
differed with respect to the persistency of the
symptoms (c2,p<0.01). In the category of short-
term symptoms (1 year) headache was more often
named than sleep disorders. In contrast, sleep
disorders were significantly more often persistent
(>4 year).
In the third type of `hint ± analysis', reported
symptoms in different demographic groups were
compared. Differences in the symptom patterns
were found with respect to the age of the complai-
nants (c2,p<0.01). Complainants in the age group
below forty complained more often about headache,
concentration difficulties and fatigue than older
ones. In contrast, complainants above 60 years
suffered considerably more from sleep disorders,
tinnitus and heart disease. Associations between
symptoms and marital status of the complainants
(c2,p0.01) as well as educational level (c2,p
0.01) were also observed. Headache was decreasing
with increasing educational level, in contrast ner-
vousness was more prevalent in persons with higher
educational level. No significant differences were
observed in the symptom patterns with respect to
gender (c2,p0.46), nationality (c2,p0.07) and
region (c2,p0.15) of the complainants. The
symptom pattern was independent of the ability to
perceive EMF (c2,p0.42).
Measures and consultations
Two hundred and eighty-one complainants (70%)
stated that they had at least one consultation due to
their health complaints. Family doctors and muni-
cipal authorities were contacted most often (Fig-
ure 3). Complainants consulted in average 3.0
different bodies. The complainants were asked to
state whether the consultations were satisfying or
not. Advise from public authorities and source
related companies were judged mostly as dissatisfy-
ing. Advises from self-help groups, therapists, build-
ing ecologists and others obtained a considerably
higher rating.
Two hundred and fifty-seven complainants (65%)
had taken measures to reduce their symptoms
(Figure 4). Among those, most (45%) stated that
they try to avoid exposure situations, if possible. For
instance, they changed the places of residence, the
office, or the place of the bed. Shielding of the
dwelling area with a curtain or net (25%), removing
indoor sources (22%) and drugs (22%) were quite
popular. For each step taken, the complainants were
asked to grade the efficiency from 1 (ineffective) to 6
(very useful). Highest rating received disconnecting
of the electricity (4.5), removing indoor sources
(4.3), avoiding exposure (4.3), and reconstruction
(4.2). In contrast, law complaints (1.1), change in
lifestyle (2.3), shielding of the dwelling, and com-
plementary medicine (3.1) obtained lowest rating.
From the 257 complainants who had taken steps to
reduce the symptoms, 25 percent stated that the
symptoms were unchanged, 37 percent felt a little
and 29 percent a substantial improvement after-
wards (the remaining gave no comment). When the
complainants were asked in an open question about
the best help for them they stated removing of a
specific EMF source (39%), a ban of EMF radiation
(13%), reduction of field levels (11%), information
and appreciation of their symptoms (9%), changing
living place (9%) and lower EMF standard limits
(7%).
Table 4. Frequency of the 10 most often stated symptoms with respect to the frequency range of the ascribed sources.
Symptoms of ill health ELF Display RF/MW unspecific
Total 34 (100%) 8 (100%) 166 (100%) 186 (100%)
Sleep disorder 19 (56%) 4 (50%) 100 (60%) 106 (57%)
Headache 12 (35%) 7 (88%) 74 (45%) 69 (37%)
Nervousness/distress 10 (29%) 2 (25%) 29 (17%) 32 (17%)
Fatigue 7 (21%) 2 (25%) 28 (17%) 32 (17%)
Concentration difficulties 4 (12%) 0 (0%) 38 (23%) 23 (12%)
Tinnitus 2 (6%) 1 (12%) 29 (17%) 22 (12%)
Dizziness 2 (6%) 1 (12%) 12 (7%) 30 (16%)
Limb pain 5 (15%) 2 (25%) 17 (10%) 20 (11%)
Heard disease 4 (12%) 1 (12%) 13 (8%) 24 (13%)
Arthropathy 4 (12%) 1 (12%) 7 (4%) 15 (8%)
Symptoms of ill health ascribed to EMF 147
Fig. 3. Proportion of complainants who consulted different bodies as well as satisfaction rating of these consultations.
Fig. 4. Proportion of complainants who took different measures to reduce the symptoms and grading of those measures from 1 (very
ineffective) to 6 (very effective). Measures are ordered in decreasing mean efficiency (figure at the end of the bar).
148 M. Rˆˆsli et al.
Discussion
The first aim of the survey was to examine the
experienced symptoms and suspected EMF sources.
In general, the reported symptom pattern is similar
to that of patients suffering from multiple chemical
sensitivity (MCS) or from sick building syndrome
(SBS) (Wiesm¸ller, 1998; Winder, 2002; Eberlein-
Kˆnig et al., 2002). However, sleep disorders were
considerably more prevalent in the EHS collective,
whereas irritative and allergic symptoms of the skin
and the respiratory tract are more common in MCS
and SBS patients.
Typically, the reported symptoms had been ex-
perienced relatively recently (71% suffered for less
than 3 years), what certainly correlates to the
development of the mobile communications. The
majority of the complainants stated that the symp-
toms were appearing when they enter the area of
exposure (e.g. their home) and were decreasing
when they had left it.
A second objective of the survey was to character-
ize the afflicted population and to compare it to a
representative sample of the Swiss population.
Compared to the Swiss population, complainants
were older, more often married and had a higher
educational level. The adjusted prevalence of the
most common diseases was significantly higher than
in the representative Swiss Health Survey collective.
The coping strategy of the complainants was on
average more task oriented and less emotional than
the one of the SHS collective. This may reflect the
method used to distribute the questionnaires. Per-
sons were asked to fill in a questionnaire after they
had become active and consulted a body such as
public authorities, building ecologists or telephone
companies, etc. The other possibility was that they
heard about it and asked directly at the Federal
Office of Public Health. Thus, it was most likely that
active persons had been addressed. More difficult to
interpret is the considerably lower emotional score
of the complainants. It might reflect the request of
the complainants to be taken more seriously. Over-
all, it was concluded that questions about coping
strategies may be biased and inadequate in this
specific setting.
A further aim of this survey was to obtain hints of
possible associations between reported symptoms
and EMF. The symptom pattern which was found in
this survey corresponds to the symptom pattern
which is associated to exposure to electromagnetic
fields in the public and scientific debate. Never-
theless, the result of this survey has to be interpreted
carefully with respect to causal associations. The
survey was not designed to establish or negate a
causal association. One might hypothesize that ELF
fields may cause symptoms different from those of
sources in the Megahertz range. However, we could
not find such differences. From the fact that no
symptom patterns were revealed with respect to
EMF sources it can be concluded that either EMF
acts very unspecifically or the symptom ascription is
significantly influenced by other causes. Public
debate may play an important role. In order to get
more insight into EHS further studies are needed.
This survey has not revealed an ™a priori' hypothesis
which should be examined. With respect to the
number of complainants sleep disorders and head-
ache should be investigated under blinded and
controlled exposure conditions. Such provocation
studies would be in particular adequate for the
majority of the complainants who stated that their
symptoms were appearing or disappearing within a
short time after they entered or left the area of
exposure.
The fourth aim of the present study was to get
suggestions of actions that should be taken to solve
the problems. The survey revealed that consultations
of public authorities showed to be very unsatisfac-
tory. It has to be taken into account that public
authorities may be consulted with other expecta-
tions than a self-help group or a building ecologist.
For instance, the removal of a mobile phone base
station is expected from the former but not from the
latter. Nevertheless, the results of this survey shows
that consultation of public authorities should be
improved. At least some of the complainants desire
more information and want to be taken more
seriously. A considerable proportion of complai-
nants' estimated distances to sources suggest that
measured field levels would be quite low. Never-
theless, the complainants considered themselves as
exposed. Thus, in many cases measurements might
contribute to a clarification. Individual consultation
of an environmental specialist and/or a medical
doctor may be helpful in many cases. However,
undoubtedly, in some cases help is limited as
inevitable conflicts of interest exists.
Acknowledgement. This study was funded by the Swiss
Federal Office of Public Health, Bern, Switzerland. Many
thanks to Sara Downs for careful proofreading of this
manuscript.
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... The types of reported symptoms vary between individuals. The most commonly reported symptoms are headaches, sleep disturbances and tinnitus, among many others (Baliatsas et al., 2012a;Eltiti et al., 2007;Hillert et al., 1999;Oftedal et al., 2000;Röösli et al., 2004). To date, cluster analyses have not identified specific symptom clusters related to specific EMF exposure sources or to EMF exposure in general (Röösli et al., 2004) and the pattern of symptoms does not seem to be part of any recognized syndrome (ANSES, 2018). ...
... The most commonly reported symptoms are headaches, sleep disturbances and tinnitus, among many others (Baliatsas et al., 2012a;Eltiti et al., 2007;Hillert et al., 1999;Oftedal et al., 2000;Röösli et al., 2004). To date, cluster analyses have not identified specific symptom clusters related to specific EMF exposure sources or to EMF exposure in general (Röösli et al., 2004) and the pattern of symptoms does not seem to be part of any recognized syndrome (ANSES, 2018). ...
... A substantial proportion of IEI-EMF individuals report to react within minutes to EMF exposure (Röösli et al., 2004). However, various studies indicate a nocebo effect (Munnangi et al., 2020) as a potential explanation of the symptoms in contrast to or in addition to physical exposure (e.g. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background The technological applications of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) have been steadily increasing since the 1950s across multiple sectors exposing large proportions of the population. This fact has raised concerns related to the potential consequences to people’s health. The World Health Organization (WHO) is assessing the potential health effects of exposure to RF-EMF and has carried out an international survey amongst experts, who have identified six priority topics to be further addressed through systematic reviews, whereof the effects on symptoms is one of them. We report here the systematic review protocol of experimental studies in humans assessing the effects of RF-EMF on symptoms. Objective Our objectives are to assess the effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields (compared to no or lower exposure levels) on symptoms in human subjects. We will also assess the accuracy of perception of presence of exposure in volunteers with and without idiopathic environmental intolerance attributed to electromagnetic fields (IEI-EMF). Eligibility criteria We will search relevant literature sources (e.g. the Web of Science, Medline, Embase, Epistemonikos) for randomized trials (comparing at least two arms) and randomised crossover trials of RF-EMF exposure that have assessed the effects on symptoms. We will also include studies that have measured the accuracy of the perception of the presence or absence of exposure. We will include studies in any language. Study appraisal and synthesis Studies will be assessed against inclusion criteria by two independent reviewers. Data on study characteristics, participants, exposure, comparators and effects will be extracted using a specific template for this review, by two independent reviewers. Discrepancies will be solved by consensus. Risk of bias (ROB) will be assessed using the ROB Rating Tool for Human and Animal Studies and the level of confidence in the evidence of the exposure-outcome relations will be assessed using the GRADE approach. For the perception studies, we will use adapted versions of the ROB tool and GRADE assessment. Where appropriate, data will be combined using meta-analytical techniques.
... The types of reported symptoms vary between individuals. The most commonly reported symptoms are headaches, sleep disturbances and tinnitus, among many others (Baliatsas et al., 2012a;Eltiti et al., 2007;Hillert et al., 1999;Oftedal et al., 2000;Röösli et al., 2004). There is the possibility that different symptoms could result from different types of EMF exposure. ...
... There is the possibility that different symptoms could result from different types of EMF exposure. However, cluster analyses have not identified that specific symptom clusters are related to specific EMF exposure sources or to EMF exposure in general (Röösli et al., 2004) and the pattern of symptoms is not part of any recognized syndrome (ANSES, 2018). ...
... For instance, in a three-year environmental counselling study in the German part of Switzerland only 70 individuals per year asked for medical advice despite advertising the study to relevant stakeholder groups . Some individuals with IEI-EMF report to react to EMF exposure within minutes (Baliatsas et al., 2012a;Baliatsas et al., 2012b;Röösli et al., 2004) but adverse effects may occur only after longer-term exposure or be the consequence of a delayed response. It is also conceivable that RF-EMF causes symptoms but that afflicted persons do not directly attribute them to EMF exposure. ...
Article
Background Applications emitting radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF; 100 kHz to 300 GHz) are widely used for communication (e.g. mobile phones), in medicine (diathermy) and in industry (RF heaters). Concern has been raised that RF-EMF exposure affects health related quality of life, because a part of the population reports to experience a variety of symptoms related to low exposure levels below regulatory limits. Objectives To systematically review the effects of longer-term or repeated local and whole human body RF-EMF exposure on the occurrence of symptoms evaluating migraine, tinnitus, headaches, sleep disturbances and composite symptom scores as primary outcomes. Methods We will follow the WHO handbook for guideline development. For the development of the systematic review protocol we considered handbook for conducting systematic reviews for health effects evaluations from the National Toxicology Program-Office of Health Assessment and Translation (NTP-OHAT) and COSTER (Recommendations for the conduct of systematic reviews in toxicology and environmental health research). Eligibility criteria Peer-reviewed epidemiological studies in the general population or workers aiming to investigate the association between local or whole-body RF-EMF exposure for at least one week and symptoms are eligible for inclusion. Only cohort, case-control and panel studies will be included. Information sources We will search the scientific literature databases Medline, Web of Science, PsycInfo, Cochrane Library, Epistemonikos and Embase, using a predefined search strategy. This search will be supplemented by a search in the EMF-Portal and checks of reference lists of relevant papers and reviews. Study appraisal and synthesis method Data from included papers will be extracted according to predefined forms. Findings will be summarized in tables, graphical displays and in a narrative synthesis of the available evidence, complemented with meta-analyses. We will separately review effects of local, far field and occupational exposure. Risk of bias The internal validity of included studies will be assessed using the NTP-OHAT Risk of Bias Rating Tool for Human and Animal Studies, elaborated to observational RF-EMF studies. Evidence appraisal To rate certainty of the evidence, we will use the OHAT GRADE-based approach for epidemiological studies. Framework and funding This protocol concerns one of the ten different systematic reviews considered in a larger systematic review of the World Health Organization to assess potential health effects of exposure to RF-EMF in the general and working population. Registration PROSPERO CRD42021239432.
... Des études épidémiologiques ont montré que les troubles du sommeil avaient une prévalence de 42,7 % à 62 % (Frick et al., 2002;Hagström et al., 2013;Schooneveld and Kuiper, 2008;Schreier et al., 2006 (Johansson et al., 2010a;Röösli et al., 2004Röösli et al., , 2010. En parallèle, une étude qualitative du sommeil a été faite selon l'index de Pittsburg (étude subjective de la qualité du sommeil) et a montré que les personnes souffrant d'EHS avaient une qualité de sommeil moindre par rapport aux non-EHS (Landgrebe et al., 2009). ...
Thesis
Avec le développement des nouvelles technologies, l'exposition aux champs électromagnétiques est de plus en plus importante. En marge de ce développement, nos sociétés ont vu émerger des personnes présentant des symptômes qu'ils attribuent à une exposition aux champs électromagnétiques. Les résultats des études expérimentales antérieurs restant à controverse, l'objectif de ce travail est de voir si une exposition conjointe entre les champs électromagnétiques et le bruit conduit à une apparition ou une exacerbation des symptômes des champs électromagnétiques. Cette étude s'est portée sur différentes fonctions physiologiques chez une population juvénile : le sommeil, le système immunitaire, la prise alimentaire, la respiration et le comportement. Nos résultats montrent un comportement anxieux, une diminution de la locomotion ainsi qu'une augmentation du poids des animaux, associé à des variations dans le pattern alimentaire. Le sommeil et la respiration sont peu modifiés chez les animaux exposés aux champs électromagnétiques. Le système immunitaire des animaux exposés aux champs électromagnétiques présente des altérations au niveau du système immunitaire acquis avec une redistribution des sous-populations lymphocytaires en faveur d'une activation des cellules et de l'immunité humorale, mais sans variation du système immunitaire inné. L'altération de ce dernier système est observée lors de la co-exposition mais est différente de celle d'une exposition au bruit. Ce travail de thèse a permis de mettre en évidence différents effets des CEM, notamment un comportement anxieux et des variations immunitaire
... With the increased use of mobile phones, there has been an increasing frequency in the reported development of symptoms such as headache, sleep disturbance, memory loss, dizziness, and burning sensations during or after mobile phones. 3,4 Users attributed these symptoms most frequently to an exposure to mobile phone base stations (74%), followed by mobile phone (36%), and cordless phones (29%). 5 There has been increasing concern regarding the health effects of excessive use of mobile phones, as well as the emission of electromagnetic radiation from mobile phone. ...
... A savoir le diagnostic de maladies comme la sensibilité chimique multiple ou la maladie de Lyme encore appelée borréliose. Au-delà de la caractérisation des personnes déclarant une EHS et leurs troubles, ce type de questionnairepourrait servir ultérieurement à l'estimation de la prévalence de ce syndrome.Comme résultat de cette enquête, les caractéristiques démographiques des participants (âge, genre) et la symptomatologie ressemblent fortement à celui rapporté dans la littérature[Levallois et al., 2002] [Röösli et al., 2004a] [Kato and Johansson, 2012a]. Toutefois, le questionnaire met en évidence les nouvelles sources dont les réseaux sans fil ou « Wi-Fi » comme étant les premières sources à l'origine des symptômes selon les participants. ...
Thesis
Les personnes auto-déclarant une "électrohypersensibilité" (EHS) signalent des problèmes de santé dont des maux de tête, stress, douleurs cutanées, qu'ils lient à l'exposition aux champs électromagnétiques. L'origine, ainsi que le mécanisme de développement des symptômes associés à l'EHS sont à ce jour inexpliqués. L'objectif de la thèse était d'accroître le niveau de connaissance de ce syndrome et ainsi d'identifier d'éventuels troubles biologiques. Ce travail a exploré le fonctionnement des systèmes endocrinien, nerveux autonome, immunitaire et le sommeil chez les EHS à l'aide de marqueurs physiologiques (variabilité du rythme cardiaque, activité électrodermale et rythme respiratoire) et biologiques (marqueurs salivaires et urinaires). Deux études ont été réalisées : une enquête par auto-questionnaire combinée à une étude de caractérisation sans exposition aux champs électromagnétiques et une étude de provocation avec exposition à quatre signaux électromagnétiques successifs. A l'aide du questionnaire, nous avons fourni un aperçu général sur l'EHS en France. Nos résultats sur le sommeil indiquent des perturbations chez les EHS. De plus des marqueurs (alpha amylase et nombre de réponses électrodermales) diffèrent entre les groupes EHS et non EHS. La majorité des marqueurs physiologiques et biologiques n'indiquent pas d'effet en réponse à une exposition électromagnétique chez les EHS.
... 56 Delay. Symptoms can be delayed after acute exposure for a few hours 32,57 or even days. This is said to become more common the longer the patient has been sensitized. ...
Chapter
Electrosensitivity exists as a very real problem. There is ample biological evidence to enable an understanding of this widespread phenomenon. Recent studies suggest possible genetic links, confirm positive subjective evidence, and confirm that voltage-gated calcium channels are an established mechanism for EM effects at nonthermal levels. Problems stemming from the conceptual context explain why even well-intentioned investigators may be tempted to deny, defer, obscure, or otherwise divert truth. It is also noted that there are vested interests at stake. As a result a great deal of EM and RF technology has been developed on the mistaken “presumption of no harm.” Unfortunately, ES not only exists but affects many, many people, the great majority of them undiagnosed (because of lack of medical knowledge) and either expensively investigated or mistreated, or worse still ignored, dismissed or ridiculed. Three case studies are noted, including one of the authors, which may of course incur criticism of bias, but perhaps may achieve an acknowledgement of the use of the human as an instrument of experimentation as well as an honest scientifically trained witness to symptoms. The Austrian Medical Association Guidelines provide a useful tool for the Practitioner.
Article
Full-text available
IEI-EMF refers to a self-reported sensitivity characterized by attribution of non-specific physical symptoms to exposure to weak EMFs. The majority of empirical results do not support the existence of a causal relationship between EMF and IEI-EMF. However, this conclusion was drawn from environmental and experimental studies that are not without methodological limitations. In the current study, as part of a complex biopsychosocial approach, an ecological momentary assessment (EMA) protocol was applied for the investigation of the temporal relationship between actual radio frequency (RF) EMF exposure and IEI-EMF, at the individual level. Continuous measurement of autonomic variables by holter electrocardiogram (ECG) monitors and the ambient RF EMF by personal dosimeters, as well as repeated (8/day) paper-and-pencil assessments of momentary internal states (symptoms, mood, perceived EMF intensity) and situational factors was conducted for 21 days with the participation of three individuals with severe IEI-EMF. Temporal relationships were examined by time series analyses. For two participants, the results did not support the association between the suspected EMF frequency range(s) and symptom reports. Nevertheless, the results revealed a reverse association with respect to another frequency range (GSM900 downlink), which contradicts the IEI-EMF condition. Autonomic activation related findings were inconsistent. For the third participant, the claimed association was partly supported, both for symptom reports and autonomic reactions (UMTS downlink, total RF; RMS values). The findings of this study suggest that IEI-EMF does not have a unitary aetiology. For certain individuals, a biophysical background cannot be excluded, whereas no such underlying factor appears to be at work for others. EMA is a useful method for the investigation of the aetiology of IEI-EMF.
Article
Résumé L’électrohypersensibilité (EHS) est un phénomène, apparu dans les années 1980, qui semble attribuer la survenue de certains symptômes à une exposition aux champs électromagnétiques (CEM). Depuis cette apparition, le nombre de cas n’a cessé d’augmenter, laissant imaginer une sorte de contagion. Cependant, le lien de corrélation entre exposition et apparition des symptômes a été testé à de nombreuses reprises et n’a jamais été confirmé. L’hypothèse qu’un effet psychogénique, l’effet nocebo, pouvait être à l’œuvre a alors pris corps, amenant avec elle une prise de conscience quant à notre exposition sans cesse croissante à des informations anxiogènes sur la présence des CEM. Ce contexte d’attentes négatives démultiplie l’action de l’effet nocebo, déjà contagieux en lui-même, mais n’explique pas, à lui seul, le cheminement d’une majorité des victimes chez qui la survenue des symptômes a précédé la connaissance d’un possible effet nocif des CEM. Différents travaux ont montré que dans ce dernier cas, il pourrait s’agir d’un phénomène de mauvaise attribution des symptômes. Les victimes, laissées sans réponse par la communauté médicale, vont se mettre en recherche d’une cause et seront confrontées à l’orientation du marché cognitif vers les CEM. Cette confrontation sera d’autant plus déséquilibrée que la victime ignore qu’elle est soumise à de nombreux biais cognitifs dans sa manière d’appréhender les informations qui lui sont proposées. Dès lors que l’attribution est constituée, l’effet nocebo pourra à nouveau entrer en jeu et venir consolider la sensation, pour la personne, d’être atteinte d’EHS. Quel que soit le cheminement, la victime entre dans un cercle vicieux duquel il apparaît très compliqué de s’extraire.
Article
For more than fifteen years electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are intensively discussed in connection with health hazards in mass media as well as questions of standard setting by the authorities. The present elaboration gives an extended overview over the actual situation of the special electromagnetic hypersensitivity issue in relation to electromagnetic field research in the international scientific community. There are parallels and analogies between the symptoms of electromagnetic hypersensitivity and those of the Multiple-Chemical-Sensitivity-Syndrome and other environmental diseases. The first part deals with the biophysical fundamental knowledge of interactions between electromagnetic fields and biological systems such as man or animal including threshold values and threshold philosophy. Then hypothetical mechanisms of action of EMF are demonstrated, with a special focus on the melatonin hypothesis, which has not been proved in all its parts up to now. Additionally, in the context of our biomedical research into disorders of well-being we conducted an analysis of written and telephone questions about the EMF issue which are sent to our center. The results are of scientific and political interest and. are demonstrated in detail.
Article
An increasing number of people are claiming that they are hypersensitive to electricity. A double blind provocative study was carried out using a 3- AFC method to verify the possible perception of pulsed electromagnetic fields (carrier frequency 900 MHz pulse modulated with 217 Hz) as emitted from modern digital wireless telecommunication devices (GSM standard). The reactions of 11 persons were observed who claimed to be hypersensitive to electricity. Each subject was tested twelve times over one day. A hypersensitivity to electromagnetic fields could not be confirmed for these persons because neither the mean of the group nor one of the individuals reached the classical perceptive threshold. When the first six tests were compared to the last six, no differences could be observed. Thus, too short breaks between retesting or a habituation to the electromagnetic fields could not be verified. However, because of the small number of cases, further investigations are necessary. The results of the study helped to optimize the design and performing conditions for subsequent tests with more subjects and more tests per subject.
Article
Twenty-four patients with self-reported sensitivity to electricity were divided into two groups and tested in a double-blind provocation study. These patients, who reported increased skin symptoms when exposed to electromagnetic fields, were compared with 12 age- and sex-matched controls. Both groups were exposed to 30-minute periods of high or low stress situations, with and without simultaneous exposure to electromagnetic fields from a visual display unit. The matched controls were tested twice and given the same exposure as the patients but had the fields turned on every time. Stress was induced by requiring the participants to act in accordance with a random sequence of flashing lights while simultaneously solving complicated mathematical problems. Blood samples were analyzed for levels of the stress-related hormones melatonin, prolactin, adrenocorticotrophic hormone, neuropeptide Y, and growth hormone, and the expression of different peptides, cellular markers, and cytokines (somatostatin, CD1, factor XIIIa, and tumor necrosis factor-α). Skin biopsies were also analyzed for the occurrence of mast cells. Stress provocation resulted in feelings of more intense mental stress and elevated heart rate. The patients reported increased skin symptoms when they knew or believed that the electromagnetic field was turned on. With the blind conditions there were no differences between on or off. Inflammatory mediators and mast cells in the skin were not affected by the stress exposure or by exposure to electromagnetic fields. The main conclusion was that the patients did not react to the fields.
Article
A multiphase study was performed to find an effective method to evaluate electromagnetic field (EMF) sensitivity of patients. The first phase developed criteria for controlled testing using an environment low in chemical, particulate, and EMF pollution. Monitoring devices were used in an effort to ensure that extraneous EMF would not interfere with the tests. A second phase involved a single-blind challenge of 100 patients who complained of EMF sensitivity to a series of fields ranging from 0 to 5 MHz in frequency, plus 5 blank challenges. Twenty-five patients were found who were sensitive to the fields, but did not react to the blanks. These were compared in the third phase to 25 healthy naive volunteer controls. None of the volunteers reacted to any challenge, active or blank, but 16 of the EMF-sensitive patients (64%) had positive signs and symptoms scores, plus autonomic nervous system changes. In the fourth phase, the 16 EMF-sensitive patients were rechallenged twice to the frequencies to which they were most sensitive during the previous challenge. The active frequency was found to be positive in 100% of the challenges, while all of the placebo tests were negative. we concluded that this study gives strong evidence that electromagnetic field sensitivity exists, and can be elicited under environmentally controlled conditions.
Article
The Office Illness Project in northern Sweden, comprising both a screening questionnaire study of 4943 office workers and a case-referent study of facial skin symptoms in 163 subjects was recently completed. Previously published results from the survey showed that female gender, asthma/rhinitis, high psychosocial work load, visual display terminal (VDT) and paperwork were related to an increased prevalence of facial skin symptoms. The case-referent study presented in this paper used data from the questionnaire supplemented by information from a clinical examination, a survey of psychosocial factors at work, building data and VDT-related factors from inspection and measurements taken at the work site. Psychosocial conditions and exposure to electromagnetic fields or conditions associated with such factors were related to an increased occurrence of skin symptoms. The results also indicated that personal factors such as atopic dermatitis and physical exposure factors influencing indoor air quality, such as paper exposure and cleaning frequency were related to an increased prevalence of symptoms. The results suggest that skin symptoms reported by VDT users have a multifactorial background.
Article
The objective of this work was to determine whether facial skin symptoms are reduced by decreasing static and low-frequency electric fields produced by visual display units. The electric fields were reduced by electric-conducting screen filters. Twenty subjects took part in the study while working at their ordinary jobs, first two weeks without any filter, then two weeks with an inactive filter and two weeks with an active filter (or in reversed order). The inasctive filters were identical to the active ones except that the ground cable was cut. Measurements showed that the inactive filters reduced the static electric fields nonsignificantly less than the active filters. For extremely low-frequency fields the difference was greater, and the active filters reduced the very low-frequency fields significantly more than the inactive ones. Most symptoms were less pronounced with active filters than with inactive filters. The differences were small, and for one symptom only, tingling, pricking or itching, the result was statistically significant. The recorded physical and psychosocial factors did not explain the reduction with the use of active filters. Days with a long period spent near a visual display unit resulted in significantly more pronounced symptoms than days with short time. The findings registered by a dermatologist did not reveal any consistent difference between the two periods with filters. The results weakly support the hypothesis that skin symptoms can be reduced by a reduction of electric fields.
The phenomenon of the so-called electrical hypersensitivity in the weak electromagnetic fields of everyday life, potentially causing different health symptoms, is reviewed under consideration of current results from in-vivo and in-vitro investigations as well as of statistical data. Electrical hypersensitivity cannot be explained by means of the known and validated influence mechanisms of electromagnetic fields in humans, as their thresholds are at least 50 times higher for harmless effects, and more than 1000 times higher for adverse effects than the strengths of the environmental fields. Present statistical data reveal clear inconsistencies in many respects. The prevalence varies by a factor 1000 although the reporting countries have comparable field and exposure situations. Neither the apparently random combination of symptoms on the side of the suffering patients nor the problematic attribution of the symptoms to certain electromagnetic field situations do support the hypothesis of a electrical hypersensitivity. On the other hand, the statistical data must be considered unsubstantiated because of the small number of cases and the procedures of survey. Consequently, there is a need for additional, systematic investigations of this group of patients under participation of different medical and biomedical disciplines.