Yet, in countries like Sweden, doctors recognize ES as a widespread condition that affects up to 3 per cent of the population (Johanssson O, Liu P-Y. ‘Electrosensitivity, electrosupersensitivity and screen dermatitis: preliminary observations from ongoing studies in the human skin’, in Simunic D, ed. Proceedings of the COST 244: Biomedical Effects of Electromagnetic Fields, 1995: 52–7).
Part of the reason for professional scepticism is the lack of an explanation for why it happens.
The core of the problem may be that orthodox science still doesn’t recognize that body cells communicate electromagnetically—the orthodox view is that it’s all chemistry. Yet, 30 years ago, Dr Robert Becker showed that the body produces tiny electro-magnetic fields to regulate the immune system in general, and self-healing in particular (Becker RO, Selden G. The Body Electric. William Morrow, 1987).
This discovery was later con-firmed and extended by scientists such as Fritz-Albert Popp and Jacques Benveniste, giving us at least a theoretical basis for even relatively small artificial electrical fields having a potentially disruptive effect on the body.
However, precisely how they might do harm isn’t yet known. “The generally received opinion is that microwaves act as stressors of the immune system, particularly in vulnerable people,” says Alasdair Philips. Support for this comes from Professor Kjell Mild, of Örebro University, who has found that ES sufferers also tend to have allergic conditions or chemical sensitivity (Bioelectromagnetics, 2001; 22: 457–62). In fact, it turns out that up to 75 per cent of ES sufferers are chemically sensitive.
But many ES campaigners contend that we are all victims of microwave pollution—it’s just that we either haven’t noticed the symptoms, mistake them for something else or have particularly strong immune systems.
Growing evidence suggests they may be right. Although Wi-Fi technology is relatively new, we’ve had over a decade of experience with mobile phones and mast transmitters. Like Wi-Fi, mobiles and masts use pulsed digital microwaves. In the last five years, a cascade of studies and reports has catalogued some increasingly disturbing effects on health.
An international review of nine studies found a 3.5-fold increased risk of acoustic neuromas (brain tumours near the ear) and 4.2-fold greater risk for uveal melanoma (cancer of the eye) in mobile users (J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev, 2004; 7: 351–84). A German study found that long-term use (more than 10 years) of mobile phones more than doubled the risk of a glioma (tumours of the brain and spinal cord) (Am J Epidemiol, 2006; 163: 512–20).
However, some studies have shown no cancer effect at all--although most of these were funded by the mobile industry, according to a Powerwatch analysis.
An EU project called Reflex—involving 12 labs across Europe—tested the effect of mobile-phone radiation on isolated cells. Although the final report played down the findings, the small print revealed that significant DNA breaks were seen in human and animal cells at exposures far below official radiation limits (European Union. Risk Evaluation of Potential Environmental Hazards From Low Frequency Electromagnetic Field Exposure Using Sensitive in vitro Methods. December 2004).
This confirms nearly 30 years of research by Professor Henry Lai, of the University of Washington, showing damage by electro-magnetic fields to rat DNA, particularly in the brain (Environ Health Perspect, 2004; 112: 687–94).