Electro-Hypersensitivity Syndrome (EHS)

Electro-Hypersensitivity Syndrome (EHS)

 

The mother of a teen who committed suicide after suffering from what she calls a rare allergy to Wi-Fi is accusing her daughter’s school of failing to protect her (see https://www.yahoo.com/parenting/teen-allergic-to-wifi-commits-suicide-parents-say-223912154.html).

It would be easy to dismiss this story as something bizarre or irrelevant to reality. Many of my friends did so when they first read the article. We all use wireless devices every day that emit electromagnetic radiation. From cell phones to fitness trackers, watches, and many other devices, there are probably very few (and actually, extremely rare) days where as we don’t come in contact with electromagnetic radiation.

My friends and many of my colleagues were not only dismissive of the situation, they believe people with Electro-Hypersensitivity Syndrome (EHS) are faking the symptoms. EHS is a condition in which electromagnetic radiation emitted from wireless technology, including Wi-Fi, cellphones, and cell towers causing debilitating physical symptoms. If it truly existed as a medical condition, why would we not hear about it much more often? You would think many more people would be impacted by it.

An overwhelming percentage of health care professionals do not acknowledge electro-hypersensitivity syndrome (EHS) as a medical condition. A 2005 report from the World Health Organization (WHO) found that well-controlled, double-blind studies showed that EHS symptoms did not correlate with exposure to electromagnetic fields. Interestingly enough, WHO did conclude that, “The symptoms are certainly real and can vary widely in severity. Whatever the cause, EHS can be a disabling problem for the affected individual.”

Many of my friends and colleagues suggest that the fear of living in a hyper-connected world is causing a placebo or a nocebo effect on some individuals. The uncertainty of potentially being impacted by EHS is something that may trigger a physiological and physiological response rather than experiencing direct effects of electromagnetic radiation.

It is my understanding that electromagnetic radiation occurs naturally in the universe without being sourced and propagated by humans

(see http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/educators/lessons/xray_spectra/background-em.html).

This certainly adds a dimension to the issue as well. Sorry….I digress…

Does an EHS problem really exist? My quick and limited research on this article resulted in finding organizations that support research to help people with EHS. One example is The Canadian Initiative to Stop Wireless, Electric, and Electromagnetic Pollution (WEEP), found at:

http://www.weepinitiative.org/livingwithEHS.html.

Their goal is to inform the Canadian public about the potential environmental impact associated with various forms of electric and electromagnetic emissions. It was somewhat difficult to find other international or large US-based organizations.

We sometimes have a tendency to dismiss that which we do not understand or things that would complicate our life. There is no doubt in my mind that WiFi and other technologies emitting electromagnetic radiation provide strong social benefit. I also think it is easier to ignore a potential problem rather than investigating it when it jeopardizes a technology that has not only helped society tremendously from a convenience point of view, but has also provided huge benefit from an efficiency and productivity perspective.

I don’t know much about EHS. Nor do I personally know anyone who suffers from EHS. I do know we have a horrible track record of treating medical issues that we do not understand. I also know the medical community has difficulties in obtaining funds for research when a disease does not effect a large quantity of people, regardless of individual impact.

We are living in a world that is more connected than ever. The Age of Information became the Age of Instant and Global Information, and it is now the Age of Information about Everything. We are connecting ourselves to technology at a more rapid pace than any other time in history. Automobile tires have pressure sensors with individual, discreet IP addresses. Electromagnetic radiation is growing in usage and diversity never thought possible a decade ago.

As we evolve as a species, I wonder if we will hit a threshold of wave energy concentration that reveals EHS as a true issue. The few that claim to be impacted by EHS may be the low percentage that are hypersensitive to something that can, as dosage increases, impact us all. They would be the equivalent of the proverbial canary in the cave. The Early Adopters, so to speak.

If so, I have hope that we can use technology to reverse the effects. Meantime let’s not forget our humanity and watch this potential issue in the next few years.

References

Special thank to Keith Rayle for editing and proofing this article. Thanks Keith for adding your thoughts!

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