Personal Stories and Symptoms
Those who are unfortunate enough to suffer from an only partly recognised illness are frequently vulnerable to arbitrary and ill-informed diagnoses, even of psychiatric disturbance. They are not infrequently considered deluded or hypochondriac which is an especially difficult cross to bear when the symptoms commonly include confusion, fatigue and headaches. So ES sufferers can totter along a very strange and unsteady path to definition and possibly amelioration of some of the worst effects of their condition.
What is meant by electrosensitivity?
A small question but it covers a multitude. How does it come on? What does it feel like? Are there verifiable objective symptoms? Is it the same for everybody? How predictable is it? Will I get better? Is it constant or variable, increasingly debilitating as it worsens or just a nuisance? How does it relate to Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), sick-building syndrome and even cancer and other dire afflictions or does it stand-alone?
All these question and many more arise because ES or EHS is new. We have no experience, no folklore or shared coping strategies as we do with ‘flu’, colds, even rheumatism and heart disease. ‘Electrical Hypersensitivity, A Modern Illness’ is indeed the title of one explanatory booklet (from 'Powerwatch'). So does it come on like a bolt from the blue, a lightning strike? Or is it an insidious indefinable sensation, creeping up on you through fatigue and headaches, those common enough and non-specific conditions?
Rather than trawl through the medical jargon and regurgitate again a list of symptoms or warning signs which might be of doubtful use and relevance we are allowing the stories of individual ES sufferers to tell, in their own words where possible, just how it was for them.
Andrew Collet is a writer and says in:
‘Life Without Electricity’: My Story 1997 - 2000
My current state is one of being able to manage my illness through a strategy of avoiding most things electrical. There are times when I'm forced into 'hiding' at moments of extreme hypersensitivity, but I am normally able to predict and mitigate against such events with symptoms of electrical sensitivity varying from a slight sense of dizziness to extreme nausea.
I was first aware of being sensitive to something about six years ago. For three years I battled to understand just what it was that was giving me a regular bouts of dizziness and nausea. I paid visits to the ENT departments, tried 'therapies' and paid to have treatment at the Leicester Balance Centre. All without any success.
My first awareness of what I later understood to be electrical sensitivity was when using a mobile phone in 1997. I was never a heavy user, but found that this quickly gave me a sensation of pressure building inside my head. I quickly stopped using my phone. However, these same symptoms now began to feature in other aspects of my life from shopping, going for an evening walk and using my gym. Although not yet understanding the root cause, I was able to manage the condition to some degree through avoidance of such activities. And then, in 2000, I moved house and the symptoms seemed to disappear. But not for long.
In my new house I was quick to resume the evening walk. For several weeks I was able to do this without problems. And then the nausea and dizziness returned. At the same time I noticed that computer use was creating similar symptoms. I paid to see a neurologist who assured me that there was 'nothing wrong'. I continued with the walks and quickly found that the bouts of dizziness were becoming more frequent and were evident when using other electrical appliances. It was now that I began to make a tenuous link between my symptoms and electrical activity. On examination, I noticed that the route of my walk followed low-level, old-fashioned electricity cables. I bought a gauss meter and found the EMF levels to be high for the entire route; I had been bathing in a sea of electrical activity. I visited the route of my old walk and found similar readings from underground cables. Worse still, I recalled that all houses used Economy 7 at my last address - an arrangement which would throw out huge levels of EMF at the critical hours when the body was trying to repair itself. Equally, the gym I used had constant air-conditioning and fluorescent lighting. Even the exercise bikes threw-out huge levels of EMF through their magnetic mechanism. The catalyst for my illness would seem to have been mobile phone use and/or the high levels of EMF present at night.
2001 and Beyond
I now tried to manage my illness through prudent avoidance of all things electrical. I moved my computer case to the other side of the house and bought a low-emission LCD monitor. I slept with my head away from the wall where there were considerable electric fields. Appliances were turned-off at night. However, the symptoms were now never very far away. A trip to the dentist proved to be excruciating and visits to shopping centres had to be hurried affairs.
In July 2002 I bought a new VW Golf. Like most cars, this did have high levels of EMF. However, cars had only affected me very mildly. Within three weeks and 1000 miles I was unable to drive the car without a severe sensation of nausea. The symptoms spilled over into all other activities from cutting the lawn, watching television, computer use etc. VW accepted my reasoning and allowed me to return the car without penalty. (I understand that in Germany they have to publish levels of EMF from cars?) The residual symptoms lasted for some further three months and resulted in myself withdrawing from everyday activities for most of that time. I now drive a worn-out diesel Mondeo with mechanical fuel injection and little in the way of electrical wizardry. On long journeys, the symptoms can return.
THE BEHAVIOUR OF EMF
There does now seem to be a pattern and some logic to the way in which I react to electricity. Instances of chronic sensitivity are usually instigated by high levels of exposure in the preceding days. For example, a long car journey will then limit my ability to cope with everyday electrical items for the next week or so. However, although the level of sensitivity does subside, there is evidence to suggest that the illness is a progressive one and that, overall, my sensitivity is increasing. For example, three years ago I could use a normal phone and watch a standard television set. Today, a phone immediately makes me feel unwell and I can usually cope with about an hour of television.
WHAT I DO TODAY
Appliances/situations most likely to affect: Vacuum cleaner, beard trimmer, vicinity of mobile phone antennae, hotel rooms when not on ground floor.
Try to eat organically to boost immune system which is otherwise under attack from modern farming methods. Now rarely go out. Keep driving down to an absolute minimum.
QUESTIONS I DON'T HAVE ANSWERS TO
Conservatory - I often feel ill in conservatory. This is the usual UPVC variety. Assume metal inners may act as giant antennae?
LCD screen - Despite there being little in the way of electric or magnetic fields, this does still affect me.
Thank you Andrew.
Can you answer Andrew’s questions? Just for the kudos.
Maybe Faisal Khawaja can explain, he also has been on a mighty hefty learning curve, by necessity, having to leave his high-flying , glamorous, urban life-style, received 12/2/ 04 :
I first realised that I was “sensitive” to electrical radiation after developing headaches whilst using a mobile phone. Naively I ignored these symptoms as the headaches got more and more intense after shorter and shorter phone calls. By the time I finally stopped using a mobile I realised that I had begun "reacting" to all sorts of electrical appliances including T.V.'s, computers, cordless phones, digital cameras and mobile phone masts. After exposure from these appliances my headaches and tinnitus like symptoms would often take a while to calm down depending on how badly "zapped" I had been.
My modern lifestyle was becoming increasingly difficult and I found little solace in my peer group, doctors or the powers that be, who often dismissed my symptoms as psychologically based rather than physical.
Two years after the initial problems started and my life has changed a great deal. I had to quit my job as a studio photographer due to the high electric fields of the studio. I have moved from London to Gloucestershire to get away from the barrage of microwave signals in the city and currently work from home in an electrically stable environment.
I have spent thousands of pounds on treatment and shielding methods since the NHS do not recognise ES as an official condition. Wearing silver-plated gloves allows me to use the computer for short periods without receiving electric shocks in my fingers from the keyboard. I am rarely able to watch T.V. but when I do I sit at least 20ft away from the set. I sleep under a silver plated " mosquito net- type canopy" when sleeping over at friends or on holiday as the signal levels from nearby mobile phone masts, Wi-Fi transmitters or DECT cordless phones provoke symptoms.
I have become not only allergic to electrical radiation but also some foods and chemicals for which I have had treatment in the form of Multiple Allergy Vaccines. The electrically provoked symptoms persist and I find that avoidance of triggers is often the best way to deal with the condition although homeopathy, meditation, a toxin free diet and plenty of exercise have helped me to deal with it better.
Well its obvious dear old Faisal is mad as a hatter isn’t it from the way he cannot string a concise yet detailed account of years of distressing experience into five short paragraphs. Studio photographer! His photos must be good or he should become a wordsmith. Thank-you from all of us Faisal.
In contrast to his slow onset was the experience of a lady of fifty as recorded in the case studies of EMR safety:
CASE No. 23 1987 .
While walking ‘for health’ on the footpath, this lady was unexpectedly and suddenly breathless. She became drained of energy, had muscle weakness and her legs felt very heavy as though there were “sandbags tied to her feet” She noticed power lines overhead, (11kV) crossed the road to the side where there were no power lines and touched grass to ‘ground’ herself. Her energy returned within a few minutes and she continued walking with no further problems. She has resolved to avoid walking under all power lines, if possible.
You know we’ve put that one in but I’m not so sure about it, maybe we’re just testing you, it seems like a sudden ES effect that passes, even a bit like old fashioned electric shock, but different. Then on the other hand no it doesn't, there'd be cinders, I just don't get it..., maybe... we don't know enough on this one, rather odd and inconclusive, which in a way is how it can be early on for some ES sufferers.
I’m not surprised she is taking more care but, you know, as Tony would say, wouldn’t that be rather difficult, avoiding ‘walking under all power lines’, and avoiding the cables that are buried even more so.
For the reverend Jennifer Griffiths from Devon, what also commenced with different suspicions and with no specific symptoms around electricity changed :
“In the summer of 1996 I went to live in Findhorn and this is where I started to be unable to watch TV without discomfort. The house where I was staying was very badly geologically stressed and was next to Kinloss Air Base which I understand is ‘sensitive’ and obviously has radar. The house was all electric and I only had a microwave oven to cook on.”
Things became much worse:
“I do everything I can to avoid radiation. I cannot go into public places in winter, especially supermarkets for more than 5 minutes or so and even then I feel ill. Even friends don’t really understand (or believe me?) and make little effort to curtail electrical use when I’m around. It is very distressing to constantly have to remind people of this condition as I feel like I am having to fight for a condition I don’t even want. I try not to over-identify with it but the constant need to explain it to people just re-inforces the trauma.” 10/1/04
Yes, with no common experience of dealing with an illness that’s unrecognised, even by doctors, there are no rules or generally understood ways of assisting. Being powerful or famous does not help that much either, as former Prime Minister of Norway and then Head of The World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland told Dagbladet’s Aud Dalsegg on March 9, 2002:
“In the beginning I felt a local warmth around my ear. But the problem grew worse, and turned into a strong discomfort and headaches every time I used a mobile phone”.
At first she tried to avoid the pain by cutting her calls short, but this did not work. Nor was it sufficient to stop using the phones herself, because everyone around her, including at her workplace at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, used them.
“I gradually understood that I had developed sensitivity to this type of radiation and in order not to be suspected of being hysterical - that someone should believe that this was only something I imagined - I have made several tests: people have been in my office with their mobile phone hidden in their bag or pocket. Without my knowing whether it was off or on, we have tested my reaction. I have always reacted when the phone has been on – never when it is off. So there is no doubt.”
As for wireless home phones, Brundtland said :
“I get an instant reaction if I touch such a phone”
About her reactions to computers:
“If I hold a laptop in order to read what is on the screen it feels as if I get an electric shock up through my arms. So I must keep portable computers away from me. I have a regular desktop computer in my office, but only the secretary uses it. I have not noticed the same symptoms near it, but I turn it off as soon as I come in.”
Hello, who is this shambling figure? Ah it's Mystic Messiah come to tell us all and everything.
"Hi there my people, somehow I used to believe that massive institutions like WHO with millions of dollars, and pounds, marks etc. knew what goes down man, and what gives. Hey! these are the experts and paid to be, not like me, a hairy broke old re-tired bumbling old hippy-guru telling it like it is man. And the WHO cannot even diagnose let alone help their own big boss-woman! Hey there has to be some dodgy-doos here. Know what I mean? nod nod, wink wink, blind horses next and I must not forget the dinosaurs in this here menagerie."
Now seriously let us proceed :
In a vivid and detailed account Mrs Smith, who must be anonymous while legal action is considered, could not just switch offending computers off like the folks up on the hill, as a professional woman she puzzles about ‘what may have triggered my ES and chronic fatigue’:
“I believe that I was vulnerable because I was in a very stressful job and had had many hard years as a divorced single parent. I had a difficult menopause, with blood sugar disturbances and candidiasis. I had always had a sensitive body with some common allergies to foods, perfumes, chemicals, fur, pollens and moulds. However I did not take any medication for these and I was not concerned about them. I live and worked near to a large transmitter mast.
As for computer use, for 18 months I sat at a 45 degree angle and within about ½ a metre of an old computer during some of my working hours. This may have caused flickering to my peripheral vision. I had very unpleasant feelings (facial tingling, disorientation and headache) when near this machine, and I eventually stopped using it. Later, a young child was made temporarily very ill after using this 486PC machine for 17 minutes, became unable to speak and for 5 minutes could only grunt in trying to communicate. The programme malfunctioned at the same time. Fortunately the child recovered fully within 10 minutes.”
Pity the machine didn’t.
Unfortunately things did not turn out so well for Mrs Smith (a cunning pseudonym) herself, as she continues with what ensued after prolonged computer use when already sensitised :
“Later, I used a modern computer intensively to write reports. The program was very poor and everyone had problems with its use. When it repeatedly crashed, I assumed that this was because of the poor quality program. I worked intensively all the weekend and evening hours for three weeks, but the program continually crashed and would not save or print. I think that a ‘pathway’ had been created for the invasion of radiation/static electricity into my body, which then became highly charged. This charge affected the writing of the reports program; the harder I worked the more it crashed.’ During this period I had raised and volatile blood pressure and an erratic heart beat. This was followed by two bouts of flu in the next month, which confined me to bed. I felt ill and extremely tired. Reactions started to other EMF sources. Eventually after struggling on at work for several months, I suddenly developed gripping chest pain and throat constriction and then shock. Then chronic fatigue set in, with continuing extreme sensitivities.
I feel that exposure to EMFs when my body was vulnerable caused a physical burn-out, affecting my immune, nervous and endocrine systems. EMFs act as a major stressor on my body”.
Whew! The sense you get of this lady’s determination and drive as she slowly succumbs under this confusion of illnesses indicates the strength she now has to find within to go on living at all normally. Yet her final concerns are for others:
“The ES people who have managed to travel this far in understanding what is happening to their bodies are the fortunate ones. How many people are there who have not been able to access help? Living with this syndrome is tough and can be depressing, frustrating and lead to social deprivation. Being unable to work means not enough money to live on, let alone pay for private medical help and the cost of medication and supplements. We ES people are ‘the canaries down the mine’ of modern living with the explosive increase in modern technology and its unknown effects on the body”.
‘Canaries down the mine’, a telling phrase, both in its implications of spreading poison, and its evocation of the industry of a previous era, coal-mining, and how slowly and crudely we awoke to its inherent but invisible dangers as well as the multifarious boons it provided in energy, heating and so on. We can have a menagerie soon, along with being guinea pigs by the way, dinosaurs will make an appearance later.
Now the isolation of ES sufferers is reducing as they come together in common awareness and form groups, a vital activity. Organisation means common understanding and an end to the powerlessness of isolation (a particularly piquant punishment performed by ES) so more profound questions are being raised about policy and direction at higher levels. Interaction with various authorities is more advanced in Sweden where their Association for the ElectroSensitive, FEB, was formed back in 1987. They have gathered individual experiences and generalised from personal cases to put together this summary of symptoms:
Electrical Oversensitivity or Electrical Hypersensitivity is a fairly new phenomenon, the first cases and discussions came to public knowledge in the early seventies.
The first signs of electrical hypersensitivity are often experienced as a minor irritation when working with VDTs (Computer monitors, surveillance monitors, common TV - Television sets). A frequent symptom is that of warmth or a burning sensation in the face, not unlike a strong sunburn. Some people develop a reddish skin blemish or rash at the same time. These can also be accompanied by a tingling sensations in the skin, both facially and/or over other parts of the body. In addition eye problems can occur. You might get the feeling that the mucus membranes have dried.
These initial symptoms must be regarded as a serious first warning! Switch of the VDT when not in use, cut down time before the VDT, move the VDT far away from the user, buy a new low emission, grounded, monitor with a Cu-net embedded into the front glass (shielding glass).
These are symptoms that people experience with eg. VDT work. For some individuals the problem becomes gradually worse, the symptoms are sustained for longer periods.
An unnatural warmth or burning sensation in the face.
A tingling, stinging or pricking sensation in the face or other areas of the body.
Dryness of the upper respiratory tract or eye irritation.
Problems with concentration, dizziness and loss of memory.
Swollen mucus membranes resulting in nonviral/bacterial swelling of nose, throat, ear and sinuses.
Feeling of impending influenza that never quite breaks out.
Headache and nausea.
Teeth and jaw pains.
Ache in muscles and joints.
Naturally the differences between individuals are great, some may only have one or a few symptoms, some have many, some have light symptoms, some may have severe difficulties.
If you like your science dry and your symptoms further summarised from an even larger array of sources the link below will take you to :
Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity As A Progressive Disease a report on an investigation of the scientific literature for the US government Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration Technical Data Section. This concludes its overall survey with:
“The worldwide introduction of computers and other electronic equipment into our environment make it urgent that this catastrophic disorder (my emphasis) be given widespread attention by the international scientific community”.
For the individuals we have just heard from it does not seem an exaggeration to have it thus described.
M.M. Hughes of the US. Government Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Technical Data Center, Washington, District of Columbia 20210, USA, presents this rather dry and factual as well as lengthy summary
ELECTROMAGNETIC HYPERSENSITIVITY AS A PROGRESSIVE DISEASE.
We are including a case from the USA because it is so graphic and emphasises how we cannot exagerate the importance and urgency of this issue. Some emphasis is added by ES-UK, but text is true to original otherwise.Please forward to where it may be heeded.
Telecommunications vs. The Environment
by Arthur Firstenberg
In 1982 I was in my fourth year of medical school, a promising career ahead of me. Today I am homeless. My money does not provide me shelter. My good health does not ensure my survival. My friends are unable to help me. I am being killed, but the law offers me no protection.
For eight years I have run an advocacy and support network for people in similar circumstances. No one else has been doing this kind of work in North America. I am afraid time has run out for us. I will outline, later, the emergency measures that are needed in order to reverse a grave, imminent and largely unacknowledged threat to all life.
I am electrically sensitive, and I advocate and provide information and support for electrically sensitive people in North America and worldwide. The assault we are suffering is a radical increase in electromagnetic pollution, or electrosmog, that is engulfing the earth. Let me explain some terms. "Electrical sensitivity" means sensitivity to, or illness caused by exposure to electricity, electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and electromagnetic radiation (EMR). Now we are all electrical beings, living in and affected by our electromagnetic environment, but most people are not aware of it. The term "electrically sensitive" has been applied to those of us who have become so reactive that we are not only aware of it, but our reactions are immediate and cause us disability and illness. It is applied to those whose reactivity is so obvious and disturbing that we cannot be talked out of it by well-meaning family, friends and doctors. This cuts our numbers down to only 2-3% of the population.
You see, electrical sensitivity is a political as well as a medical term. It is not politically correct to be injured by electromagnetic radiation. Our injuries cannot be acknowledged; the implications for modern communication technology would be too enormous.
In the summer of 1996 I was living in Brooklyn, New York. I had more-or-less come to terms with my electrical sensitivity, and was dealing with it as best I could. I was not a doctor, having had to leave medical school during my fourth year due to an illness of unknown cause. At first, I had had headaches and difficulty concentrating and remembering things. Then, while on a surgery rotation, I had had crippling pains in my hips, making it difficult to assist in operations. My heart rate had slowed to less than 50. One day I collapsed and was unable to get up. My chest hurt, and I could not get enough breath. I was sure I was having a heart attack. During the next two weeks I lost 15 pounds, and I was a slim man to begin with. It wasn't a heart attack, but it was still six months before I could walk up a flight of stairs without getting short of breath. It was three years before I was strong enough to ski again. It was seven years before I met someone else who experienced pain from being near certain electrical appliances, including television sets and computers, and before I first heard the term "electrical sensitivity." It was 17 years before I gained back those 15 pounds.
In the meantime I researched the world literature on bioelectromagnetics, or the biological effects of electromagnetism, and made myself an expert. I learned that electro-machines, used in every modern surgical operation to cut through tissue and to stop bleeding, expose surgeons to much higher levels of radio frequency radiation than is permitted for workers in any industry. I learned that there was a disease thoroughly described in the Russian and Eastern European medical literature called radiowave sickness, whose existence was usually denied by western authorities. The description recalled to me my "unknown illness" which had derailed my medical career. A bradycardia, or slow heart rate, was said, in these texts, to be a grave sign.
Because there are virtually no workplaces without computers any more, I have not held a job since 1990. I had resigned myself to living on Social Security Disability, and learned, together with other members of a support group I had found, how best to live with my disability, which mostly meant learning to avoid exposure to EMFs. But in July, 1996, I learned to my dismay that an innovation was coming to my city which threatened to make it impossible to avoid exposure any more.
At that time, cell phones were still a luxury item which only worked in some locations. People were not accustomed to staying connected whenever they left their home, and even at home most still had a cord, not an antenna, attached to their telephone. Most were not accustomed to holding devices that emit microwave radiation next to their brain. In 1996, the telecommunications industry began a marketing campaign designed to change all that. For Christmas that year, all over the country, digital cell phones were going to be on a lot of shopping lists. And to make them more practical, tens of thousands of antennas were going to be erected on towers, buildings, church steeples and lampposts, all over the country, before Christmas, and hundreds of thousands more during the next few years.
In response to this emergency, a few friends and I created the Cellular Phone Task Force, and contacted all the public officials we could think of, and the press, to warn them of the danger. But on November 14, 1996, Omnipoint, New York City's first digital cellular provider did open for business, broadcasting from thousands of antennas newly erected on the rooftops of apartment buildings. According to the health authorities, an early flu hit New York City - but not Boston, and not Philadelphia - on about November 15. The flu was severe and ran a prolonged course, often dragging on for months instead of the usual two weeks.
At Christmas time, the Cellular Phone Task Force placed a small classified ad in a free weekly newspaper. It read: "If you have been ill since 11/15/96 with any of the following: eye pain, insomnia, dry lips, swollen throat, pressure or pain in the chest, headaches, dizziness, nausea, shakiness, other aches and pains, or flu that won't go away, you may be a victim of a new microwave system blanketing the city. We need to hear from you." And we did hear from them. Hundreds called, men, women, whites, blacks, Asians, Latinos, doctors, lawyers, teachers, stockbrokers, airline stewards, computer operators. Most had woken up suddenly in mid-November, thinking they were having a stroke or a heart attack or a nervous breakdown, and were relieved to know they were not alone and not crazy.
Later, I analyzed weekly mortality statistics, which the Center for Disease Control publishes for 122 U.S. cities. Each of dozens of cities recorded a 10-25% increase in mortality, lasting two to three months, beginning on the day in 1996 or 1997 on which that city's first digital cell phone network began commercial service. I published both the raw data and the complete analysis, with graphs.
I learned that in February, 1996, Congress had passed a law prohibiting local governments from denying permits for cell phone antennas because of environmental concerns - so long as they comply with Federal Communications Commission rules. And I learned that the FCC had just issued regulations setting public exposure limits for microwave radiation at levels at least ten thousand times higher than levels which, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, were causing reports of illness from all over the world, and at least ten thousand times higher than the levels which had forced me to leave behind my home, my family, and my friends, and to run for my life, never to be able to return home again.
The Cellular Phone Task Force, along with over 50 other grass roots organizations and individuals around the U.S., became involved in a legal challenge of the FCC's absurd standards and its preemption of local control. This was taken all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Many cities and towns, several U.S. Senators and Representatives and dozens of other public officials submitted briefs urging the high court to hear our case. But in January, 2001, the Supreme Court, without comment, declined.
You will hear statements by supposed experts - always the same few, in the pay of the telecommunications industry - to the effect that cell phones/cell towers/microwave radiation have been proven safe in countless studies. It is an easy lie, one that the news media have been eager to propagate. But the fact is, just as for x-rays, there is no safe level of exposure to microwave radiation, and it is so easy to demonstrate harmful effects that it takes some skill to design experiments that don't show them. It is easier today than ten years ago because now the "controls" are also exposed, the whole planet is exposed, so where can you go to do a good experiment, but most experiments still show effects anyway - effects on heart rhythms, brain waves, the blood-brain barrier, sleep, eyes, gonads, skin, hearing, calcium, melatonin, glucose, metabolism, human well-being. If you look, you will find. Zorach Glaser reviewed over 5,000 such studies for the United States Navy during the 1970s alone.
From the volumes of literature I have seen, certain results stand out in my mind: Allan Frey's work on microwave hearing. Milton Zaret's work on microwave cataracts. The work of Canadians Tanner, Romero-Sierra and Bigu Del Blanco on birds, including demonstrations that birds are particularly sensitive because feathers are good microwave receiving aerials. A Swiss government study on sleep, which shut down a short wave transmitter because the researchers were able to show it caused sleep disturbances up to several miles away. An international effort which found a very wide range of environmental effects caused by a Latvian radar station at extremely low levels of exposure, including: smaller growth rings in trees, premature aging in pine needles, chromosome damage in cows, decreased memory, attention, learning, and pulmonary function in school children, increased white blood cells in adults, and an altered sex ratio (more girls) in children born during the years of the radar's operation. Loscher and Kas's work on farm animals sickened by cell towers in Germany. The work of Wolfgang Volkrodt, and that of Ulrich Hertel, linking forest dieback to microwave radiation, rather than acid rain. Roger Santini's study of the health of people living at varying distances from cell towers in France. Claudio Gomez-Perretta's similar study in Spain. A Dutch government study exposing normal and electrically sensitive people to cell tower signals finding disturbing effects on both groups. Neil Cherry's study of childhood cancer rates as a function of distance from Sutro Tower in San Francisco. Leif Salford's recent work on the blood-brain barrier, verifying the earlier work of Allan Frey and others, but with additional, ominous findings: l) sometimes, decreasing the amount of radiation 1,000 times increased the damage to the brain (the "window" effect); (2) animals exposed to a cell phone once for two hours were found to have areas of brain cell death two months later.
In Germany, 2000 physicians have signed a petition (the Freiburger Appeal) calling for severe restrictions on wireless technology because they are seeing such a dramatic increase in certain diseases and symptoms in their patients, which they can only attribute to ambient microwave radiation. The diseases include: attention deficit disorder, extreme fluctuations in blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, heart attacks and strokes in young people, Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, leukemia, and brain tumors. The symptoms include: headaches, migraines, chronic fatigue, agitation, sleep disorders, tinnitus, nervous and connective tissue pains of unexplained origin, and susceptibility to infection. The appeal calls for a massive reduction in exposure limits; no further expansion of cell phone technology; cell phone-and antenna-free zones; a ban on cell phone use by children; and a ban on cell phones and digital cordless phones in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, public buildings and public transportation.
The California Department of Health Services has concluded, on the basis of a telephone survey, that 120,000 Californians have left their jobs because of electromagnetic pollution in the workplace. The people who have left their homes for such a reason are not being counted by anyone.
The highest profile person yet to declare that she is electrically sensitive, and thus unable to use a cordless phone or a computer, or to use or be near anyone else using a cell phone, is none other than Gro Harlem Brundtland, a medical doctor, master of public health, former Prime Minister of Norway, and until 2003 the Director-General of the World Health Organization. Yet even so public a figure on the world stage has been unable to draw the world's attention to our collective plight, or in any way to slow down the growth of telecommunications, or even to put it on the map as an environmental issue.
This must happen. Too many intelligent, professional, useful people are wandering this country's barren deserts, homeless, ostracized, robbed of their civil rights, with no place to land. Too many have committed suicide because they have lost all hope, have suffered too long, have had to pick up roots and flee for their lives once too often.
Within the telecommunications industry, too many equipment testers, installers, and repairpersons with radiowave sickness are afraid to speak out, or do not even know why they are ill.
So many radars, antennas, and communication devices are being deployed for government, military, emergency, commercial, and personal uses in both the developed and developing worlds, and in space, that there is nowhere left to hide. Even radio astronomers are seriously talking about the far side of the moon as the only place left that is quiet enough, in the radio spectrum, to still be able to see the stars.
The following are urgently needed:
Sanctuaries. Radiation-free zones. Places without radio antennas, cell phone service, or television cable (cable is often a significant source of radiation). These are needed right now, to save lives. Legal help. Environmental and disability rights attorneys able to take on this issue. Funding for land acquisition and legal expenses. Volunteer help for phone calling, letter writing, grant writing, etc.
To make our world safer, keep in mind these two principles:
1. Distance counts. The power drops off as the square of the distance. Antennas should be few, and as far as possible from people and environmentally sensitive areas. 2. Digital hurts. Digital (pulsed) technology is more harmful at lower levels of power than analog. The FCC's mandate to replace all analog TV, radio, and telecommunications transmissions with digital during the next few years is very dangerous.
The following are things that individuals can do:
o If you have a cell phone, cancel your service. Cell towers and antennas degrade the environment for miles around. They kill and injure more people than they save in emergencies. A cell phone in use pollutes its own environment for a distance of 100 yards. Even when not in use, cell phones emit radiation if they are turned on to receive calls.
o If you have a cordless home phone, trade it in for one with a wire. For the sake of convenience you are microwaving your brain and polluting your neighborhood. Never expose your baby to a wireless baby monitor.
o School administrators: Developing children should not be exposed to wireless computers, keyboards, or mice.
o Community radio stations: Resist the temptation to increase your transmitter power, or to add repeaters in areas of poor reception. Better receiving antennas on the listening end will accomplish the same purpose without more pollution. Areas of poor reception are the healthiest places to live.
o Low power FM enthusiasts: Low power FM is not a good idea. No matter how low the power, antennas should never be located in residential communities.
o Concert and event organizers: Make your event safe and accessible by banning cell phones and doing security without two-way radios.
o Health spa owners: Please don't pollute your grounds with cordless phones or two-way radios.
o Wildlife scientists: Radio collars pollute the wilderness and injure the animals you are tracking. Please don't use them.
o Park administrators: Keep our parks and wilderness areas as sanctuaries. Keep antennas out of them.
o Local public officials: Public health must come first. Vote against proposals to put towers and antennas in your community.
o Members of Congress: Support the efforts of Senators Patrick Leahy and James Jeffords, and Representative Bernie Sanders, to repeal Section 704 of the Telecommunications Act, which purports to deny to local officials the right to protect their constituents' health.
Arthur Firstenberg is a founder and director of the Cellular Phone Task Force, and the editor of its publication, No Place To Hide. He is the author of the book, Microwaving Our Planet: The Environmental Impact of the Wireless Revolution. He does not have e-mail or a website. He can be contacted at P.O. Box 1337, Mendocino, CA 95460, or by leaving a message at (707) 964-5196 or (718) 434-4499. [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]