Powerwatch and Swedish sites on Electrosensitivity

If you are, or think you may be, electromagnetically hypersensitive, ES-UK would like to hear from you. Click on this link and download the ES questionnaire, returning it to the address detailed on the form when completed. Your input is greatly appreciated.

It is not all in the mind. Michael Bevington, chair of ES-UK, has produced a new 43 page article, which can be purchased from ES-UK at the cost of £10. ES-UK is a charity that was founded in 2003, to help inform and support the growing number of people who are affected by electrical hypersensitivity. We include a link to the ES-UK website in our news section for those of you who would like to contact them.

Also in the news is the story of a man in Santa Fe, New Mexico, who is suing his neighbour over her use of electrical gadgets.

For more information, please visit our news section  <http://www.emfields.org/news.asp>


Electrical Hypersensitivity (ES) is an illness that is both highly controversial and little understood. The symptoms can vary a lot between sufferers, but will normally include some of the following: sleep disturbance, tiredness, depression, headaches, restlessness, irritability, concentration problems, forgetfulness, learning difficulties, frequent infections, blood pressure changes, limb and joint pains, numbness or tingling sensations, tinnitus, hearing loss, impaired balance, giddiness and eye problems. There have been reports of cardiovascular problems such as tachycardia, though these are relatively rare.

Many of the symptoms reported have a lot in common with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), and it is quite common for someone who suffers from one condition to suffer from the other[1]. It seems quite sensible to theorise that both syndromes therefore may affect particularly susceptible members of the population. It may also be that there is a 'synergistic' effect; i.e. people develop symptoms in the presence of both (or multiple) environmental exposures, whereas only one such exposure would not provoke the symptoms.

In February 2006, at a meeting of the Dutch working group on EHS, Hugo Schooneveld, a neurobiologist, and himself a sufferer, showed how different radiation can have different effects on different people. He showed that there may be some delay before health effects are experienced. Indeed they can be perceived as positive at first and negative after a lengthy exposure. Sometimes low and high exposure do not have effects, but exposure in between has (called a 'window' effect, see below). He also confirmed from his clinical experience that although EMFs may only cause small effects in biological systems, small effects on a cellular level can lead to large consequences on the organ level.

Hugo Schooneveld has now completed a questionnaire, which was completed by 250 electrohypersensitive (EHS) persons in the Netherlands over a 3-year period, who contacted the EHS Foundation on their own initiative. Self declared health problems were recorded along with the sources of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) - if known - that caused the health effects. The results were quite striking, and very consistent with other grey literature on EHS.

These variations make the study of, and medical acceptance of, ES very difficult. We present below a very brief summary of some of the findings of the research into the effects that electromagnetic fields have on living systems, or in the laboratory. The biological changes found may lead directly to a health problem, without provoking or aggravating ES; it is not always easy to make this distinction. There are many references cited for you to investigate any of the areas covered in more detail, if you wish to do so.

Powerfrequency EMFs

Powerfequency electric and magnetic fields are produced by powerlines, substations, electricity distribution faults, electrical appliances in the home or workplace, house wiring, cables, cars, trains, etc. Many people believe that their ill-health effects arise as a result of proximity to these sources, or as a result of living in the fields they generate. People exposed to EMFs may develop an illness such as childhood leukaemia[2][3][4], adult skin cancer[5], breast cancer[6], Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS - Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) [7][8][9] and miscarriage[10][11][12]. The research has looked at proximity to sources and also field levels and associated ill-health.

The exposure that results in an increased risk of developing these illnesses may not be the same as that which provokes and aggravates ES. People who suffer from ES tend to have a wider range of symptoms with a less well defined clinical outcome.[1]

Common electrical appliances, such as televisions and computers often provoke mild to moderate symptoms in ES people[13][14]. An increase in mast cells (such as found in people suffering from allergies) have been found in people watching television[15][16][17]. Different types of lighting, especially fluorescent fixtures (including the new low-energy bulbs) are difficult for many people with ES to tolerate[18]. This has wide implications, as fluorescent lighting is used in most offices, hospitals, shopping and leisure centres. This could make these facilities very difficult for people with ES to access. Transport such as cars, trains, planes, trams all contain equipment that give off levels of EMFs that sensitive people may find hard to tolerate.

Radiofrequency EMFs

There has been a lot of speculation in the media about ill-health effects such as these being caused by a number of modern wireless communication conveniences, such as mobile phones and their base stations, DECT cordless phones and WiFi. The research into ES has been very varied, with a number of papers finding effects on brain activity[19][20][21][22][23][24] (of which some found RF exposure actually enhanced cognitive ability[25][26][27][28][29]), altered EEG measurements[30][31][32][33][34][35][36], or other recordable cellular effects[37][38][39][40][41][42], of which some highlight a possibility that EMFs only effect cellular mechanisms on cells with a specific genetic background[43][44][45][46]. All of these are objective effects, and can ignore the possibilities of a nocebo effect as stimulated by the recent press coverage. There have been a number of papers finding these "Microwave Syndrome" effects from the usage of mobile and cordless phones and mobile phone base stations[47][48][49][50][51].

It is important to remember that there is also a good deal of literature failing to find an effect with most of the above (with the exception that very little epidemiological work has been done on mobile phone base stations, and that which has been carried out primarily shows an effect), probably in a ratio of around 1:1 (i.e. 50% show an effect, 50% don't). However, it is also important to remember that positive and negative/null studies do not cancel each other out. It is very easy to fail to cater for a certain important confounding factor (even if just through lack of understanding at the time of research), and therefore far easier to fail to find an effect compared to finding an effect. Unless the studies that find an effect are flawed in some way, then 3 or 4 separately conducted studies finding the same effect is exceptionally important evidence.

It is undeniable that there is no general consensus of agreement in the literature, but it is also very clear that the probability of low power RF EMFs having non-thermal effects is very high. The extent of such effects will likely remain unclear for quite some time, but the recognition of non-thermal effects by international bodies such as WHO will open the doors to significant progress in this field - it is hard to see why they are still clinging to the old paradigm of "if it doesn't heat you, it doesn't hurt you".

Health Protection Agency's "Irvine Report" on Electrosensitivity

Back in November 2005, the UK HPA produced the "Irvine Report"[1], which summarised that "It has not been possible to construct a meaningful definition of ES..." (Section 5.1 paragraph 1)" under the basis that the broad range of possible symptoms and attributed causes made it nigh impossible to diagnose with any degree of confidence, especially as the condition overlaps with other idiopathic intolerance based syndromes. However, whilst the conclusions and the recommendations were at best vague, it did a very good job of pooling much of the recent literature on investigating Electrical Sensitivity.

We have made a full response and analysis of the Irvine report, which is available here.

Symptoms and Causation

The report contains references to a number of questionnaire surveys that have found statistically significant increases in "Microwave Syndrome" effects[52][53][54][55], but the connection between these effects and the EMF sources are subjectively based on the participants' claims.

Some mobile phone studies which use questionnaire responses as the basis for their information, have been criticised as subject to recall bias and therefore are likely to be inaccurate. Often the criticisms suggested that the bias would result in risks being exaggerated. However, recent work by the Interphone group, an International research collaboration involving 13 countries[56], claim that heavy users tend to overestimate their total usage which, if correct, would mean that e.g. statistically significant increases may in fact be for less usage than actually reported. If so, this consequently implies that the brain tumour risk from mobile phone usage may be greater than that suggested. This uncertainty with regard to bias is likely to apply to other areas of research relying on questionnaire information.

Prevalence

The report also covers the prevalence of the condition and reports on the studies (primarily questionnaire surveys) that covered the type and proportions of people that claim to suffer from the condition[54][55][57][58]. All of these point towards the heterogeneous nature of the syndrome, and help describe why pinning down the precise causes can be so difficult.

Provocation Studies

This area will expand as we analyse a number of the older provocation studies in greater detail.

In an aim to pin down causation, a number of provocation studies have been carried out, where the aim is to expose the participant to EMFs and monitor their reaction. These are performed with a real and a sham (not emitting EMFs) signal, and the participant is "blinded" as to which they are being exposed to at any point. The balance of evidence from these studies points to there being a definite psychological effect, where the participants reacted to both the sham and real exposure.

In reality, whenever someone has a fear that something may cause them harm, or a belief that it may make them feel better, there is good evidence to suggest that this belief alone can be enough to trigger a genuine physiological response. The mechanism of this response is unknown, but it is documented well enough that it is accepted as real, and known as a "placebo" or "nocebo" effect (depending on whether a positive or negative physiological response has been triggered). It seems very clear that with phenomena that have received mainstream press coverage, such as the concerns over mobile phones and their base stations, the nocebo effect becomes very real for a subset of the population that believe themselves to be at risk.

As a result, the medical profession on the whole do not recognise ES, and GPs will often refer patients to the psychiatric profession saying that their symptoms are psychological in nature. There are some medical practitioners who, from evidence in their own practice, believe strongly that the syndrome can indeed by caused, or exacerbated, by EMFs, but these are few and far between.

Nocebo and Real Effects

However, the existence of a nocebo effect does not negate the existence of a real effect, which may be greater, lesser, or approximately as strong as the nocebo effect. The only real contribution provocation studies have made so far is to prove beyond reasonable doubt that a nocebo effect is real[59]. They show that a fair proportion of self-assessed electrosensitive people have the symptoms either aggravated, or amplified, by a perceived danger - They cannot summarise that there is no real effect however, as none of the recent studies that we are aware of have controlled for this effect.

Part of the difficulty of course lies in how to assess what response can be expected from a purely nocebo reaction. There are ways to attempt to combat this problem, such as excluding all those that seem to be unable to differentiate between sham and real exposure until you are left with either a) people that consistently react to real exposure but not sham exposure, or b) no-one left out of the original sensitive group. Another way to combat the nocebo effect would be to expose the participants (to real and sham exposures) without them knowing that the exposure had started. This removes the possibility of a reaction based on perceived risk, but is also likely to require having much more of a time commitment from the participants as tight schedules would not be possible.

Another big problem with provocation studies is how to ensure you have "relaxed" sensitive participants. Most electrosensitive people have arranged their homes in a way that they are largely free of electromagnetic fields, and as such a 4 hour journey along a motorway dotted with mobile phone masts could well be triggering a number of their responses before the tests even start. Again, this is almost impossible to control for as the research time will be relying on the "initial" measurements as a sensible baseline of subjective symptoms.

Exposure Metrics

It is also extremely difficult to try to simulate the sort of electromagnetic environment where electrosensitive people are finding their symptoms most aggravated. Naturally this is crucial for performing an accurate experiment, but there are two problems: firstly, it is both expensive and time-consuming to create equipment that produces an accurate simulation signal, such as a base station with an appropriate amount of fake "call traffic". Secondly, the more factors you add to the signal, the harder it is to pin down what exactly is causing the effects that are found.

There are also problems with removing the ambient background exposure that is present in the room, and this can only really be achieved by appropriate shielding. One recent study from this country was largely nullified by completely failing to either a) shield the test room, or b) measure the background ELF or RF radiation in the room - being based in the city of London there is a very good chance that the sham exposure wasn't a true sham[60]. Another study this year, this one from Norway, removed all the components from the signal other than RF - again, without knowing precisely what the sensitive group are responding to, it is impossible to judge what effect this may have. It is helpful for assessing responses to pure RF, but not to mobile phone radiation (as it was incorrectly titled)[61]. The latest study, by Essex University, did a good job of making very realistic exposure metrics, and shielded the room adequately. They found that there was a very clear psychological component to the participants' health effects, but also found some very interesting results that they failed to address appropriately in their analysis. Whilst the results are clearly not statistically significant, there are also some definite signs that the sensitive group were able to recognise the difference between sham and UMTS signal exposure[62]. We have a more detailed explanation for this comment and data analysis has been sent for publication in the same journal, "Environmental Health Perspectives".

Summary

Our belief is that there is now plenty of evidence to support the possibility that some people are very genuinely affected by electromagnetic radiation to varying degrees. We believe that as many as 5% of people could be affected (exhibiting typical stress symptoms such as headaches, tiredness and concentration difficulties), and a fraction of a percent affected to quite severe degrees (such as not being able to use even a mobile phone without suffering from severe symptoms).

It is unknown what exactly triggers electrical sensitivity, though a number of possibilities (such as VDUs, fluorescent lighting, mobile phones or mobile phone masts, or by chemical exposure such as a damp proof course installation, garden or farm sprays, cavity wall insulation, etc) have been suggested.

We have written an extensive book on this subject, Electrical Hypersensitivity (ES), a Modern Illness, which includes chapters on what ES is, what triggers it, how it develops and affects people. It describes the known biology of ES and some of the theories that are being researched. Most importantly, there is a chapter on what to do if you think you have ES. The changes that are important to make, including reducing your exposure, using shielding materials in the home, having complementary therapies that help your body cope better and making lifestyle changes that will help you prevent your health from deteriorating. Remember once ES is initiated it does not seem to go away of its own accord, it frequently continues to get worse, and can lead to the necessity of living in an electricity-free environment with all the limitations that involves, if it is not taken seriously and acted on early enough. The book has references, information about support groups and websites of interest. If you want help to convince someone else, including your GP, that what you are suffering is real and not "all in the mind", this is well worth reading through.

The Ecologist has also done an excellent article on Electrical Hypersensitivity, available from their archives here.

Radio Interview with Magda Havas

In April 2006, the SCI-TECH programme of Radio Canada International (see link - 07/04/2006) covered the topic of ELECTRICAL HYPERSENSITIVITY.

Roman Pitt interviewed Magda Havas - Associate Professor at the Environmental Studies Department of Trent University in Ontario Canada about a disorder that comes as a result of exposure to electromagnetic fields that can be found in all things electrical around us. How severe can the disorder get to be? She is an expert on the adverse health claims regarding EMFs from electricity and explains "dirty electricity" and talks about research experiments that she has conducted with special filters and talks about what she has found are the likely benefits of using those filters.

The full interview can be heard from here (wma - 6.45 MB)

Magda Havas has also written an excellent precautionary paper, prepared for the Board of Supervisors, City and County of San Francisco. This 51 page document is available from here, and covers a wide range of literature and scientific findings on RF research, and presents them in a logical and progressive manner.

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FEB - The Swedish Association for the ElectroSensitive

 International


 

This is a translated information document from the Swedish FEB-association. 
Copyright (C) 1994 FEB

 

FEB - The Swedish Association For the Electrically and VDT Injured TECHNICAL GUIDE for the Electrically Sensitive


The Purpose of this manual

..is to provide people who have become hypersensitive to electricity with some advice on how to manage everyday life in their normal enviroment. The object is mainly to reduce the electric and magnetic fields by which we are surrounded.

Most of those who suffer from hypersensitivity to electricity experience tangible problems when they are exposed to certain types of electric equippment.

The only common characteristics of these devices, as regards their effect on the enviroment, are, as far as we know today, that they all generate electric or magnetic fields.

The measures described in this manual are all directed towards decreasing the exposure to electromagnetic fields, as this has proved to be the most successful way to deal with hypersensitivity to electricity. People who are suffering from this affliction have at least experienced an improvement int their condition when reducing their exposure.

The former part of the manual is concerned with the origin of electric and magnetic fields and how they are extended. The latter part contains practical advice on how it is possible to decrease some of the electric and magnetic fields by which we are surrounded in our everyday life, employing very simple solutions. This manual is not to be regarded as a guide to so-called "electrical sanitation". 


Current, voltage and different types of fields

VDTs, computers and most other electric appliances generate (emit = radiate) alternating fields, magnetic as well as electric. They also often emit radio waves (i.e. electromagnetic radio frequency fields).

For instance, as soon as a power cord is connected to a wall socket, an electric field will appear. The cord is now a live wire and will consequently generate an electric field. When the voltage is switched on, an electric field will appear at all times.

When an electric appliance is connected to the cord and then switched on, there will appear an electric current, which in turn will generate a magnetic field surrounding the cord.

A current in a live wire will at all times generate a magnetic field surrounding the wire. However, magnetic fields generating from individual wires are of little importance. The sources that generate powerful magnetic fields are to be found in electric equipment containing conductive wire that has been wound thousands of times in order to intensify the magnetic fields.

Electric motors, transformers, loudspeakers and monitors are examples of equipment containing such wire windings.

This means that an electric appliance (e.g. a standard lamp) when connected to an outlet (which has not been grounded), will immediately generate an electric field. When the lamp is switched on, there will also appear a weak magnetic field. Both fields will disappear as soon as the appliance is disconnected from the outlet.

Oscillations and frequencies

In the electric mains, we now use an alternating current (a.c.), which means that the current is continuously changing its direction. In Europe the normal standard is fixed at 50 changes back and forth per second, i.e. the frequency is 50 cycles per second (c/s). The American standard is 60 c/s. When an alternating current is used, the electric and magnetic fields will continuously change their direction, and consequently electric and magnetic alternating fields will appear. Modern electronic equipment, as well as some late model lamps are, however, fitted with frequency converters, in order to make the voltage change direction at much shorter intervals than the original 50 c/s of the mains. We are now talking about thousands of cycles per second, kilo cycles (kc/s), and in some cases even of millions of cycles per second, mega cycles (mc/s). As regards satellites and cable-TV we are confronted with incomprehensible billions (thousands of millions) of cycles per second, giga cycles (gc/s).

A previously unknown environmental factor

Due to the presence of high frequency fields in everyday life, man is now exposed to an electric and magnetic environment that is without precedent in the history of mankind. This dramatic, but invisible change has taken place only during the very last few years. This is why it is erroneous to dismiss hypersensitivity to electricity by saying that we have been exposed to electricity during entire 20th century without having been affected by it.

We are now being exposed to a totally different type of electricity. Today, at their jobs, in stores, and in their homes, people are surrounded by an ever growing invisible, dense, electric vibrating mist, the biological effect of which we only now are beginning to comprehend.

We know that people who are hypersensitive to electricity respond to equipment generating magnetic and electric fields. It is possible that radio waves too, may have a negative effect. As yet, however, we are unfamiliar with which fields or frequencies (or combinations of different fields and frequencies) that are causing the problems. Furthermore, people react differently to the same phenomenon.

Measuring electric and magnetic fields

Electric fields generating from the mains are easily detected with a simple voltmeter. When exposed to electric fields generating from the mains, the device will give a buzzing sound and a light will be turned on. Measuring instruments that will provide more detailed information are far more expensive.

When measuring different types of fields, one should bear in mind that people do not always react in a way that corresponds to the measuring instrument that is being used. A measuring instrument will only measure a specific type of field lying within one or a few defined frequency ranges (i.e. the instruments band width). No information is given on fields lying outside of these limited frequency ranges. Even more unusual is information regarding what is known as wave form and transient contents.

In short, you will only find out how the instrument is responding to the fields, but nothing about what the fields contain. This is why individual instruments are unable to give a satisfactory description of the total electric and magnetic environment.

If you are experiencing problems, even though the measuring instrument has a low reading, you should not dismiss your problems as being imaginary. You should trust your own body signals. There have been instances where people who are hypersensitive to electricity have responded more to so-called reduced-emission VDTs than to ordinary VDTs.

The fields generating from reduced emission VDTs may not only have an average of lower readings; the fields themselves are different. This means that the field strength within certain frequency bands may have been raised as compared to other monitors.

LCD-monitors, for instance, generate substantial high-frequency fields due to the background lighting. You should always be careful, even when you are dealing with so-called reduced-emission monitors. Monitors that are void of electric or magnetic fields are non-existent.

Grounding

The electric term grounding is frequently to be found in the text. Grounding means that the equipment is connected to an electric ground. Measures that include grounding are subject to considerable security risk and such work should at all times be carried out by a qualified electrician. When an increasing amount of equipment is connected to the ground, there will be a demand for a ground leak security system. This too must be installed by a qualified electrician.

It is by no means certain that the electric fields will be completely eliminated by grounding. The origin and extension of an electromagnetic field may be quite difficult to survey. Local disturbances and individual conditions can make it difficult to reduce the fields to a level where they cease to cause problems.

Electric fields

Electric fields generating from an electric appliance can usually be shielded by completely encapsulating the appliance in a conductive cover (made of metal sheet or foil), which is subsequently grounded (the principle is called ÓFaradays cageÓ). Whether the shield is made of thick sheet metal or very thin foil, is of no importance. A very tight net of metal will also be sufficient. If the cover or shield is constructed by assembling different parts, then all of the parts must have conductive contact with each other, and also be grounded. If the cover is not grounded, it will have no shielding effect whatsoever. Instead, the effect will usually be the opposite; the fields will be strengthened. All appliances should be connected to grounded outlets.

Metal objects

that are located in the vicinity of an electric field can Ópick upÓ the electric field , so that the metal object will generate an electric field. This phenomena is called a capacitance coupling. Example: A cord that is connected to the mains is placed close by a metal tablestand. If the stand is placed on an insulating floor, the entire metal stand will generate an electric field. What to do: Disconnect the cord (or change it to a shielded cord) or ground the tablestand. The same phenomenon causes old electric cables, wires for loud-speakers, telephone wires, aerial wires, metal beds, radiators, ventilation conduits, sheet metal fronts, tin roofs, reinforcing iron etc. to generate electric alternating fields.

Equipment that has been switched off

but is still connected to the mains, can - if not properly shielded and grounded - generate strong electric fields. It is a good idea to disconnect the cord to those appliances that are not being used.

Electric cords

connecting appliances to the mains, generate electric fields even though the appliance have been switched off. It is better to disconnect the cord, rather then just turning off the switch. The fields generating from a cord can be weakened by using a shielded cable; these cables may, however, be hard to obtain.

Electric installations

Electric wires

in the walls are located with a voltmeter. One of the reasons that you are not feeling well, may be that you are sensitive to the hidden wires in the walls. When it comes to shielding the electric fields, wood or plaster partitions and plastic tubes are not very suitable. Concrete walls are better for shielding the electric fields generating from the wiring. The wiring will function as long transmitting aerials for electric fields. The fields partially come from the ÓcleanÓ 50 c/s voltage of the mains, but also from high-frequency disturbances in the mains. Fluorescent tubes, energy-saving lamps, computers, thyristor couplings, TV-sets etc. are all emitting high frequencies back into the mains. Thus, electric equipment can cause disturbing fields which are distributed via the mains and carried far away from the initial source of disturbance.

There are some suspicions that hypersensitivity to electricity is triggered by high-frequency electric fields. The electric fields generating from the wires are easily eliminated by removing the fuses. You can, for instance, try and see if it will make you feel better if you remove the fuse for the bedroom during the night (be sure to check that the freezer is not turned off as well). Automatic fuses with buttons make the connecting and disconnecting of fuses easier.

Shielded electric wires

are wires where the live thread or the whole wire has been encapsulated in a grounded metal cover. Thus, the electric field generating from the wire is eliminated. ÓElectrical sanitationÓ of offices and homes consist among other things, of exchanging non-shielded wires for shielded ones.

Outlets

such as wall and ceiling sockets, should be suited for grounding, otherwise it is not possible to ground the equipment and shield the electric fields. The plug and cord must also be suited for grounding, so that the grounded connection will reach the applicant.

Magnetic fields

Magnetic fields can usually be shielded only with the greatest difficulty. To weaken the magnetic fields generating from an appliance, it is necessary to move, rebuild or exchange the appliance. Unlike an electric field, however, a magnetic alternating field generating from an appliance will disappear when the appliance is switched off. Magnetic fields are not stopped by walls, floors or ceilings.

Increased magnetic fields

may appear in a home or in a complete building as a result of stray currents. Due to the primitive standard of distributing energy in Sweden ( i.e. four-wire network), currents may appear in the ground at the slightest disturbance of the three-phase mains. In reality, however, the mains is never in such a perfect state that stray currents will not occur.

These currents mainly follow water, gas and heat conduits etc., both on the inside and outside of buildings. Stray currents generate measurable magnetic fields, which can be very strong. Due to the fact that the source of these stray currents is extended, the magnetic fields will cover large areas, and in direct relation to the distance of the source. As a result, a great many of those living in densely populated areas will continuously be ÓbathingÓ in a vibrating magnetic field, which will be strengthened and weakened depending on the power usage during the day. Direct current (dc) rather than alternating current (ac) seems to offer a solution to some of the problems mentioned above. Apparently, most people suffering from hypersensitivity to electricity are less sensitive to direct current - their symptoms may actually disappear altogether. Installing direct instead of alternating current in a home or in an office is subject to such great technical problems that we are unable to deal with such a solution here.

Electric equipment

Battery powered

equipment will, as a rule, cause lesser problems than equipment connected to the mains. This is an easily accessible source of direct current. Note, however, that sensitive persons may also experience problems from battery powered equipment.

Fluorescent tubes, energy saving lamps, and halogen lamps

are equipment to which many people who are hypersensitive to electricity will react strongly. All of the above emit ultraviolet radiation, and they are all equipped with a drossel, a transformer, or electronics generating magnetic fields. Fluorescent tubes and other types of lamps employing gas discharge tubes are also small high-frequency radio transmitters. Energy saving lamps is another term designating these highly unsuitable compact fluorescent tubes. You should also be wary of the new high-frequency fluorescent tubes.

Light-bulbs

usually cause a lesser amount of problems. Unfortunately sensitive persons may also react to light- bulbs. Indirect lighting may improve matters.

Metal lamps

that have been grounded are in many cases excellent, since they will effectively shield the electric fields. The effectiveness of the shielding will depend on how well the light-bulb is encapsulated. You should also remember that to obtain sufficient shielding, you may also need to shield the wires (see above). Metal fittings that have not been grounded are usually quite unsuitable. The ungrounded metal lamp is like a Ótransmitting aerialÓ for electric fields (another instance of capacitance coupling).

Switches

may, due to faulty installation, cause wires and sockets to generate electric fields. Use a voltmeter to check that those appliances that have been switched off do not give readings. If a wall or a ceiling socket should happen to give a reading let a qualified electrician interchange the wires going into the switch, so that the disconnection will take place at the phase conductor.

Thyristors

(dimmers) are a kind of electronic ÓswitchesÓ by which a continuous softening or raising of the light is made possible. A thyristor will transform the current into short pulses. As a result, high-frequency disturbances will be transmitted into the mains. They are definitely to be avoided. Thyristors often control the starting rheostat of kitchen fans and other types of ventilation. If this is the case in your home, you should disconnect the kitchen fan or let a qualified electrician exchange the thyristor for an ordinary switch. Thyristors will occasionally also control direct action electric radiators, heating pads, the heating for water beds etc.

Small transformers

i.e. adapters of battery eliminators, are the little boxes (often black) that you will find plugged into the wall socket or fixed to the cords of calculators, radios, charging sets, doorbells etc.

They look completely harmless but they will as a rule generate very strong magnetic fields. They are also to be found in mains operated alarm clocks or transistor radios. Heating pads, blankets and water beds should be avoided at all times, even if they do not employ thyristors.

Mains operated alarm clocks or clock-radios

should be avoided in the bedroom. Exchange such clocks for a mechanical or battery powered alarm clock. On the whole, you should avoid all mains operating appliances in the bedroom.

Electric irons

may sometimes cause problems. One solution may be to use the type of iron that is not connected to the mains while you are ironing, but only when the iron is returned to the stand for heating.

Electric ranges or stoves

may cause problems. If this is the case with you, you should avoid being close to the stove for unnecessarily long periods of time. For those who are very sensitive, a solution may be to employ a gas ring. The problems may, however, also be caused by the kitchen fan (see ÓThyristorsÓ above). Avoid all types of electronic stoves, including microwave ovens.

Vacuum cleaners

have a powerful electric motor that generates magnetic fields. Late model vacuum cleaners are even worse, since they are equipped with thyristors that controls the starting rheostat. Another reason for avoiding vacuum cleaners is that you will not be exposed to pathogenic mites and other micro- organisms which will be exhausted into the air while you are vacuum-cleaning. Use a broom and damp rag instead.

Electric beaters

can preferably be exchanged for manual beaters. Nowadays you can find manual beaters that are nearly as effective as electric ones.

TV, stereo and telephone.

When you watch TV you should be seated at some distance from the TV-set and you should exercise a certain amount of caution. Many people who are hypersensitive to electricity cannot watch TV at all or even have a switched-on TV-set in their homes. Many are bothered by their neighbours TV. Do not switch off your TV-set by merely using the remote control - switch it off properly by using the switch on the TV-set. The best thing to do is to unplug the TV-set when it is not being used. You should also switch off equipment that is connected to the TV-set, e.g. video cassette recorders, cable or parabolic receivers. The same goes for stereo equipment. Badly shielded cable-TV installations can generate high-frequency leakage flux, the biological effects of which are still unknown. Remember that a TV- set generate strong electric and magnetic fields. The magnetic fields are not stopped by walls, floors, ceilings or roofs. VDTs and TV-sets are constructed by using the same basic technique and they are comparable as regards radiation.

Telephones

generate magnetic fields due to the loud-speaker that is built into the receiver. In some telephones the magnetic fields are enhanced for the use of hearing aids.

They also emit high frequency signals, especially when the telephone wire connecting the house is air-born.

It is possible to ease some of the problems caused by the telephone. Below you will find three different alternatives, from the simplest (and most inexpensive) to the more elaborate (and most expensive):

  1. Cut out a hole (the size of a quarter) in the bottom of a plastic cup. Use scotch tape to fasten the bottom of the cup to the receiver. You will hear just as well, but the receiver will be at a longer distance from your head.

  2. Buy a stethoscope and use electricity-safe tape to fasten the cone of the stethoscope to the loudspeaker located inside the receiver. The hoses of the stethoscope can be exchanged for longer ones, so that the receiver can be placed at an even farther distance away from you. The person you are speaking with will still be able to hear you.

  3. If the inexpensive solutions listed above are not sufficient you can order remodelled telephones with reduced fields. These, however, may be available in Sweden only.

Telephone circuits

often generate measurable high-frequency electronic fields even when the phone is not being used. This may explain why some people who are hypersensitive to electricity experience discomfort, not only when speaking over the phone, but also when they are just near a phone. The problem may be solved by, for example disconnecting the conduit to the bedroom. One can also install shielded grounded telephone wires.

Car phones or wireless phones

are not to be recommended! A wireless phone that is switched on will generate strong electric fields, even though no conversation is taking place.

Cars

Modern cars are filled with electric equipment. This is above all true of late model cars. The electric systems used in cars are direct current systems. The direct voltage in cars is affected by strong disturbances from accumulated alternate voltage, mainly generating from the generator and the ignition system.

Persons who are hypersensitive to electricity usually experience great differences between different car models. Older models are often to be preferred. Diesels do not employ an ignition system, but there may be an electric injection pump, which can cause disturbances. There are no certain answers - you will have to find out for yourself which cars will give you the least problems.

As far as it is possible, you should avoid using the fan or windscreen wiper. Electronic equipment, such as car stereos and car phones, will usually generate strong electromagnetic fields. It is possible to disconnect the heating conduits for the rear window and for the seats (switch is underneath the seat).

 


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