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EHS is defined by the World Health Organization as: “…a phenomenon where individuals experience adverse health effects while in the vicinity of devices emanating electric, magnetic, or electromagnetic fields.”
In Sweden, it is classified as a disability and health care facilities with low levels of exposure to electromagnetic fields and radiofrequency radiation are available. The Canadian Human Rights Commission report also acknowledges environmental sensitivity attributed to electromagnetic exposure. (28) Researchers estimate that approximately 3% of the population has severe symptoms of EHS, and another 35% of the population has moderate symptoms such as an impaired immune system and chronic illness (Havas, 2007).
Having Electromagnetic Field Sensitivity means experiencing recurring stress or illness when near active EMF sources or emitters of EMR. Symptoms normally diminish with distance from these sources but typically require considerable time to vanish after exposure. The World Health Organization identifies this collection of symptoms and triggers as Electrohypersensitivity, often referred to as Electrosensitivity. It is not recognized as a medical diagnosis. However, it is accepted as a functional impairment in Sweden and the Canadian Human Rights Commission recognizes it as an environmental sensitivity and classifies it as a disability.
- Mild combinations of some of the common symptoms – typically headaches, concentration & memory problems – while working with electronic equipment.
- Longer lasting symptoms after working with electronic equipment. Similar reactions in the vicinity of transmission towers and relay antennae. Symptoms often require medical care.
- Inability to work full-time; frequent sick leaves taken to cope with symptoms.
- Acute adverse reactions from electromagnetic pollution, both in outdoor and indoor environments. Results in unemployment and severe curtailment of freedom. Requires expensive reengineering of home environment or relocation to spartan, EMF/EMR-free rural or wilderness areas.
The biological effects from exposure to EMF/EMR include both adverse health effects and loss of homeostasis and well-being. Symptoms vary from patient to patient depending on their physical biology and exposure intensity and duration. Symptoms quickly improve when away from EMF/EMR sources, particularly when the patient moves away from computers, fluorescent lighting, transformers, wireless antenna, cell and cordless phones, appliances and out of proximity to cell phone towers, electrical substations and power lines. All these are potential sources of higher than normal EMF/EMR exposure. Symptoms recur on returning to the irradiated environment. Over time, sensitivity is increased to smaller and smaller EMF/EMR exposures. (Sage, 2001)