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Environmental and Resource Studies, Trent University , Peterborough, ON , Canada.
This is a replication of a study that we previously conducted in Colorado with 25 subjects designed to test the effect of electromagnetic radiation generated by the base station of a cordless phone on heart rate variability (HRV).
In this study, we analyzed the response of 69 subjects between the ages of 26 and 80 in both Canada and the USA. Subjects were exposed to radiation for 3-min intervals generated by a 2.4-GHz cordless phone base station (3-8 μW/cm(2)). A few participants had a severe reaction to the radiation with an increase in heart rate and altered HRV indicative of an alarm response to stress.
Based on the HRV analyses of the 69 subjects, 7% were classified as being “moderately to very” sensitive, 29% were “little to moderately” sensitive, 30% were “not to little” sensitive and 6% were “unknown”. These results are not psychosomatic and are not due to electromagnetic interference. Twenty-five percent of the subjects’ self-proclaimed sensitivity corresponded to that based on the HRV analysis, while 32% overestimated their sensitivity and 42% did not know whether or not they were electrically sensitive. Of the 39 participants who claimed to experience some electrical hypersensitivity, 36% claimed they also reacted to a cordless phone and experienced heart symptoms and, of these, 64% were classified as having some degree of electrohypersensitivity (EHS) based on their HRV response.
Novel findings include documentation of a delayed response to radiation. Orthostatic HRV testing combined with provocation testing may provide a diagnostic tool for some sufferers of EHS when they are exposed to electromagnetic emitting devices. The protocol used underestimates reaction to electromagnetic radiation for those who have a delayed autonomic nervous system reaction and it may under diagnose those who have adrenal exhaustion as their ability to mount a response to a stressor is diminished.