This is genuinely fascinating: from the article in today’s Independent, electrosensitivity now seems to be growing into an explicitly alternative diagnosis, to go with alternative therapies. For this article your Bad Science Bingo high scorers are: q-link, homeopathy, misrepresenting Sweden, and ignoring the provocation studies.
My war on electrosmog: Julia Stephenson sets out to clear the airwaves
How one woman fought back after being diagnosed by her naturopath with overexposure to Wi-Fi and mobile phone frequencies
Published: 31 May 2007
A few months ago I noticed I was feeling dog-tired and drained all the time. Usually a good sleeper, I’d suddenly begun waking up early in the morning and finding myself unable to go back to sleep.
It wasn’t only me that was drooping. My once-lush plants had lost their lustre too. Ridiculous, considering how well I look after myself – and my plants.
I am well-doctored, to put it mildly. I probably consult more doctors than Woody Allen, who has separate screenings of his movies for his doctors. Everyone is entitled to a hobby; mine just happens to be my health, and what a fascinating hobby it is.
When at a loss to explain my new malaise, I visited my naturopath. It may sound unorthodox, but if it works, who cares?
She insisted that my exhaustion was caused by electromagnetic “smog” in my flat. The problem, she explained, is that our dependence on office and communications equipment (especially mobile phones and the masts needed to power them, as well as microwaves, computers and electrical equipment), exposes us to frequencies that can have a detrimental effect on our wellbeing, especially if we are run-down, or if our immune system is compromised in some way.
This made sense, as my symptoms had begun soon after installing wireless technology in my sitting room. Wireless (Wi-Fi) technology allows you to access emails and the internet anywhere in your living space. It’s convenient but I could live without it if meant having more physical energy. So I immediately turned off my wireless network and replaced it with broadband.
My naturopath is not alone in her concern. There is growing evidence that Wi-Fi technology is harmful. When the Swedish town of GÃ¶tene activated their new Wi-Fi system in May 2006, within hours the local hospital emergency services were receiving calls from residents complaining of a number of symptoms: difficulty breathing, blurry vision, headaches and even cases of heart arrhythmia. On 23 May 2006, Sweden’s STV followed up the story on their current affairs programme “Debatt”.
The worldwide centre of the mobile phone industry, Sweden is where much of the research on environmental illness has been carried out. It was the first country to recognise electromagnetic hypersensitivity as a valid medical condition, and has set up a federal body to assist sufferers of those affected (www.feb.se). There have been calls for the Swedish government to close down the nation’s Wi-Fi networks, pending further investigation.
Those concerned about possible side-effects believe that our unprecedented exposure to electrical equipment, mobile phones and Wi-Fi mean that we are surrounded by a soup of electromagnetic smog at all times. In effect, we live in an electro-dictatorship: even if you haven’t voted for this technology by say, owning a mobile phone, you may still suffer the same effects as those who have. For example, although I’ve turned off my wireless access I can still tap in to my neighbour’s Wi-Fi downstairs.
Research being carried out by industry, the Government and academics has so far failed to find a persuasive link between mobile phone masts and health problems. The Department of Health and the Mobile Operators Association insist that British masts conform to international safety standards. A research group commissioned by the government-funded Health Protection Agency reported: “Exposure levels from living near to mobile phone base stations are extremely low and the overall evidence indicates they are unlikely to pose a risk to health.” But it continued: “Research has limitations and the possibility remains open that there could be health effects from exposure – hence continued research is needed.”
Many doctors are now convinced that this powerful technology is storing up huge problems for our future health. To date, 1,200 physicians in Germany, and 2,000 worldwide, have signed the Freiburger Appeal, a petition for severe restrictions on wireless technology. The doctors say they are seeing a dramatic increase in certain diseases and symptoms in their patients.
“Any imbalance in our electromagnetic field creates a disturbance in cell structure and function, which can lead to illness in sensitive individuals,” says London-based complementary health practitioner Dr Nicole de Canha.
Even cordless hands-free home telephones – such a boon to multitaskers, enabling one to patiently listen to friends and family for hours while cleaning cupboards, re-potting house plants and reorganising the CD collection – are now off-limits. Their electrical force-field is nearly as powerful as that of a mobile phone. Since I’m now chained to a phone on a lead, my cupboards are filthy and my friends are neglected. But at least I’m less radioactive.
It’s much harder to avoid mobile phone masts, however. Over the past 10 years they have sprouted all over the country to power the mobile phones owned by over 95 per cent of the population. To find out how close you live to a mast go to www.sitefinder.radio.gov.uk. The results may shock you: there are now 35,000 mobile phone masts in the UK, and chances are that several are in your immediate vicinity. It’s supposed that you are never more than 10 feet away from a rat in London; you may find yourself even closer to a phone mast.
Despite being implicated in a number of health problems – something that alarms parents of the one in 10 schools located close to masts – these masts need no planning permission and are often disguised in trees, petrol stations, shop signs, even church steeples. For instance, the support pole for the golden angel weathervane on Guildford Cathedral is actually a mobile mast, supporting several antennas. In return for access to the coveted hilltop site, the golden angel was regilded. It seems that even God cannot offer protection from this insidious pollution.
Fortunately there are steps that concerned individuals can take to reduce the amount of “electro-smog” to which they are subject. Like many people, I’m mobile-dependent, but I now use a headset that delivers sound through an air-filled wireless tube similar to a doctor’s stethoscope (but much smaller, so you don’t look like you’re on call). Conventional headsets transmit sound to the earpiece through a wire, but as wire is an electrical conductor it may also deliver radiation directly to your head. Since I’ve started using the tube I no longer experience headaches or a slight ringing in my ears.
You could also try the Q-Link pendant, which employs “sympathetic resonance technology,” something that the makers declare “repairs and tunes your biofield”. Friends who wear a Q-Link report that they feel healthier and more energetic.
The homeopathic medicine company, New Vistas, and the Australian flower essence company, Bush Flower Remedies, both make drops that claim to reduce the amount of radiation stored in the body.
Also, for the past two months I’ve been using an electro-magnetic field protection unit plugged into a wall at home. The device was created by engineer and homeopath Gary Johnson. Disturbed with the increasing number of patients coming to him with skin problems, exhaustion, blurred vision, and symptoms similar to chronic fatigue syndrome, he suspected that they might be sensitive to electromagnetic radiation (EMR).
“The heart of the unit is a programmed microprocessor unit that produces a holograph field that is amplified through an internal aerial system. This protection field protects the human system from the negative effects of EMR,” says Johnson. He says he has had great success in alleviating patients’ symptoms, and claims the unit offers unlimited protection from any negative electromagnetic emissions in a 700-square metre radius.
Professor Leif Salford, of Sweden’s Lund University, has been researching the effects of phone masts for 15 years. He says that exposure to radiation emitted by mobile phones and masts can destroy cells in the parts of the brain responsible for memory, movement and learning, and calls mankind’s dependence on mobile phones “the world’s largest biological experiment ever”.
As yet, no one knows what price we will pay for our dependence on modern technology.
Additional research by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, USA (www.niehs.nih.gov) and the Office of Communications, the independent regulator for the UK communications industries (www.ofcom.org.uk)
How to block the rays
* Magnetic field protection boxes start at Â£235 and are available from www.subtlefieldtechnologies.com
* Q-Link pendants cost from Â£70 at www.qlinkworld.co.uk
* Anti-radiation mobile phone headsets are available at www.rf3now.com or the Sloane Health Shop, London SW3 (020 7730 7046)
* Australian Bush Flower Essences can be found at www.ausflowers.com.au
I should add that I feel it is unacceptable for anyone in the comments to be rude about people who suffer with symptoms; however this is a journalist writing in a newspaper, both should take responsibility for what they print, and so the science content of the article is very very much fair game.