The author has written an informative and engaging account of her experience with electromagnetic sensitivity. Readers will learn a great deal about the condition through her summary and tips. Michelle is editor of FoodsMatter.com, an excellent resource for allergy, intolerance, and sensitivity based in the UK.
I am sitting in the sun on top of a mountain in the French Alps . . .
To get here I had to take the Eurostar to Paris, then a metro across Paris to The Gare de Lyon. A two hour wait in the station and then an electrified train with fluorescent lighting took eight hours to get me to Bourg-Saint-Maurice in the Haute-Savoie from whence I took a taxi to Tignes, a French skiing village.
Once in Tignes I checked into a hotel which has wi-fi enabled throughout the building and which is in direct line of fire of a three “eared” mobile phone mast less than half a mile away which saturates most the village with mobile phone radiation.
To get to the top of my mountain I had to take a bus to the funicular up to the “restaurant on the top of the world” which has three communication masts of its own which sent my radiation detection meter into free fall. But one téléphérique (cable car) ride from the restaurant and I am really on the top of the world with nothing except mountain and the odd skier whisking past me on their way down the glistening manicured slopes.
And I feel fine . . .
So what’s the big deal? Why wouldn’t I feel fine, you might ask? Well, a year ago, by the time I had made it as far as Paris, as a result of the electromagnetic radiation I would have been subjected to in the station and then in the train (wi-fi enabled, lit by fluorescent lights and alive with other passengers’ mobile phones, etc.) I would have been feeling exhausted, with an ache in my chest and an upset stomach, and I would have started to have difficulty in remembering the words I wanted to use. Now, apart from not sleeping very well and feeling rather uncomfortable if I do not remember to keep some solid mountain buildings between me and Tignes’ mobile phone masts, I am apparently unaffected by the radiation.
So, what have I done in that year to make such a significant difference to my electromagnetic sensitivity?
A little background . . .
For those who are not familiar with ES or EMS (electro sensitivity or electromagnetic sensitivity) — a short primer: ES or EMS occurs when an individual can no longer “repel” or shake off the massive levels of man-made electromagnetic radiation that swirl around anyone living in a densely inhabited, especially an urban environment.
The problem with man-made EMR (electro magnetic radiation), apart from its sheer quantity, is that, unlike the earth’s natural electromagnetic fields which are “smooth flowing,” man-made radiation is pulsed — meaning it flips on and off at very high speeds. While the cells in the human body, which communicate with each other through tiny electrical impulses, are well adapted to deal with the smooth flow of the earth’s EM radiation, pulsed man-made radiation can interfere with their delicate electrical networks.
Because of the body’s enormous flexibility and, this interference does not cause much apparent harm to most people (although ever more serious questions are now being asked as to how much hidden harm it is doing to everyone). Yet for a small but growing group, man-made pulsed EMR interferes with their own internal circuitry causing malfunctions throughout the body and the brain. These can include anything from violent skin flushes and tingling extremities to heart arrhythmias and fluctuating blood pressure, brain fog, memory loss, headache, aches in the chest, exhaustion, depression and untold other symptoms since the problem is systemic.
Longer term problems almost definitely include cancer and, quite possibly, many neurological problems such as Parkinson’s, MS, Alzheimer’s, etc.
Where do you find it?
Where do we find this radiation? Well, everywhere …. Mobile phones and the mobile phone masts which connect them are the most obvious source, rapidly followed by wi-fi which, while it may be being banned from a select number of enlightened libraries and schools, is spreading round our streets through wi-fi enabled lamp posts and, very soon, “smart” meters in our houses [already seen in the U.S. and elsewhere].
Within the home or work space wi-fi is, of course, used to connect many people’s computers to the internet. The computers themselves are another source of radiation, along with hands-free telephones, fluorescent lights, low energy compact fluorescent bulbs, phone and battery chargers, those beautiful big plasma TV screens and also in your home, “radio” baby alarms and even your bedside radio alarm. And that is not counting the radiation produced by the spikes created in the flow of electricity around your ring mains [electrical circuits] by all the electrical equipment that you have plugged into it….
As yet there is no established treatment for ES/EMS except avoidance — relatively easy if you live at the furthest reaches of the Shetland Isles but a lot harder if you live in an average British, European or American flat/apartment or terraced house and work in a standard office. And that is assuming, of course, that you know what is wrong with you in the first place.
Unfortunately, because ES/EMS is a relatively “new” condition, very few people do know anything about it — especially doctors! And because its symptoms can also be caused by so many other conditions it is rarely recognized for what it is; many sufferers do not understand what is making them feel so ill and therefore fail to take the avoiding action which is the only thing that, in the short term, is going to improve their condition.
Avoidance and protection: Locating the source
The first thing to do is to try to establish where your major sources of radiation are coming from. You can rent or buy detectors from EM Fields and The Health House and these will give you an idea whether your area is being directly “targeted” by a phone mast, a wi-fi system or a hands-free phone — all major sources of radiation.
Although the more sophisticated meters are obviously more accurate, I have found that the hand held A-COMED Electrosmog Detector, which is relatively cheap to buy, is not only useful for establishing EMR around your home or office but to carry with you on a daily basis so that you can dodge the worst areas of electromagnetic pollution.
Although phone masts emit 360 degree radiation, they do also have a strong directional beam which you want to avoid if you possibly can. Although radiation can, and does, penetrate through buildings, the buildings enormously reduce its levels so moving around in your own house may even help. For example, I managed to escape the direct beams from my local masts by moving my office from the first floor (in direct line of fire) to the basement where the main beam was two floors above my head.
If you can possibly avoid it, do not use a mobile. If you have to, then text only and turn the phone off when you have finished with it.
For what it is worth, I thought that I would really miss my mobile when I stopped using it but, apart from the odd occasion when I have been trying to meet someone and failing to link up, I have not missed it at all. I do now carry a mobile but only use it for texting and do not turn it on unless I wish to send a text or am expecting to receive one.
For a huge amount of research and comment on phone masts, mobile phones and their effects on health see mobile phone section of our website.
If at all possible change your computer systems to wired rather than wireless — more reliable than wi-fi anyhow, although less flexible. If you cannot change, then turn the wi-fi off except when it is actually being used. Check also that the Bluetooth facility is turned off on any equipment that you are using.
Avoid the installation of any sort of smart meters or electricity usage monitoring systems, all of which use internal wi-fi systems in your house.
Hand free phones, baby alarms and chargers
Standard hands free phone systems and wireless baby alarms are transmitting from their base station all the time whether you are using them or not. Get rid of them and replace them with an old fashioned wired phone and wired alarm.
And unplug all of those chargers (cameras, phones, etc.) when you are not actually charging them. As long as they remain plugged in they are “charging” even though the device is not plugged into them.
Lighting, dirty electricity
Both fluorescent bulbs and compact fluorescent bulbs create small electromagnetic fields all round them so get rid if them! Replace either with old fashioned incandescent bulbs if you can get them, the combined halogen/incandescent low energy bulbs or LED bulbs — expensive but very long lasting.
At the same time you might want to try to minimize your “dirty electricity” – if you have read the article about lighting above you will already have read about dirty electricity; if not, read now.
TVs and computers
Old fashioned cathode ray TVs and computers give out a lot of radiation but although more modern flat screens are better they are not radiation free. And take care regarding those gleaming plasma TV screens; they produce very high EMR levels.
In terms of computers, “all in one” computers such as IMacs, especially if they are in plastic rather than metal cases, tend to be bad news as you are getting a “full frontal” of whatever radiation they are producing. Laptops are better but the ideal is to have a computer, in a metal container, with a separate screen so that you position the computer as far away from you as possible.
Ideally, you would also have an LED screen (see my piece on LED screens). Since I got mine I have been able to use a computer fairly normally whereas before I was having to sit about three feet away from the screen and could only work in relatively short bursts!
If you find that there are high levels of radiation coming from specific areas outside your house you can, to a certain extent, shield your home or office with paint, netting and film on windows. Check EM Fields for all three. They can be used on walls and windows.
I have either painted or netted all the rooms above ground floor level in my house that face our local phone masts. This entirely blocks the radiation coming from our masts and our neighbors’ wi-fi and phones. However, be careful as not only will it block radiation coming into the room from outside, but it will also block any radiation that it is in the room from getting out.
I made this mistake with the first room I tried to convert into an EMR-free office. I painted all four walls and netted the windows, then set up my computers. But although no radiation was getting in from outside, that generated by my equipment could not get out either, so I was no better off that when I started! I now work in a room at the back of the house which is shielded from outside by the rest of the house (which has its own shielding) with my computer about three metres away from me and a separate LED screen.
Screening works really well if you live in a house rather than an apartment, so you do not have to worry about people above and below you. But I would suggest that you take the helpful advice given here EM Fields if you live in a flat.
You can also achieve some personal shielding by using the netting and material to make clothes, hats and head nets. I have several silver net jackets (very smart they are, too) and a fine collection of large brimmed hats, all lined with silver netting which I wear whenever I go out. They do not protect you entirely but they certainly help.
Dr Deitrich Klinghardt, one of the leading therapists in this area, refuses to work with anyone who has not slept in an electrically “clean” environment for at least three months. His theory is that the period when we sleep is the time that the body can recharge and repair the damage done to it when we are awake. But to do so efficiently it must be in a stress-free (e.g., an EM-free) environment.
To achieve this you need to ensure that you sleep in a room with the lowest possible level of electromagnetic radiation with walls or windows shielded if necessary. You can also get shielding bed canopies (like a mosquito net) if it is not possible to shield the room. Again, see EM Fields.
You should have no electrical equipment in your bedroom (no TVs, phones, phone chargers, electric blankets, radio alarms) and ideally you should not have any metal either as metal is a good electricity/radiation conductor, so if possible use a wood framed bed.
However, to get a really clean sleeping environment, the ideal is not just to unplug all electrical items but to be able to turn off the electricity altogether while you are asleep. Depending on how your wiring is organized you may be able to do this by installing an “on demand” meter (from EM Fields and others). Due to the quirky installation of our wiring I cannot turn off my bedroom without turning off the burglar alarm and the central heating, but I can, and do, turn off the ring mains [power source] for my bedroom floor every night.
Getting away from it all
If you live in a high density urban area, no matter how well you shield yourself and your house, you will never be able to entirely escape the electrosmog.
Some ES sufferers have been forced to move out of urban environments altogether as the electrosmog was always too high for them to tolerate. (Check out Gunilla Ladberg’s book.) However, I have been fortunate enough to be able to create a relatively clean environment in which to live. When I was very sensitive, I found it very helpful every six to eight weeks, to go and bury myself in the country, far away from phone masts and all habitation, for three or four days to “recharge.” My most successful trip was ten days in a friend’s “bothy” — a simple shelter in the Highlands of Scotland, a mile down a track from the nearest house with no electricity at all!
Mind you, finding such a place is not easy. Sadly, even the humblest Bread and Breakfast these days has proudly installed a wi-fi system, so expect to spend some time searching for your haven. At one point I thought I might have to invest in a caravan as that way I could travel by car (I could not use trains or planes because of the high levels of electricity or EMR) and could park up somewhere “safe” and sleep “clean” by turning all electricity off!
“Supporting” the system
Of course, along with all of these avoidance measures, it is good to try and “build up your forces” as the French would say.
Most people who suffer from electrical or electromagnetic sensitivity also suffer from a range of other allergies, usually chemical. This probably means that their immune system is depleted and that their nutritional status is not what it might be. I am lucky that, apart from my ES, I am in excellent health.
If you are chemically sensitive you will already be avoiding excess chemicals in both your home care and your personal care. But even if you are not aware of being chemically sensitive it would certainly be wise to try to minimize your use of chemicals and aim for “free-from” household personal care products wherever you can. Take a look at some of the products and the articles on www.skinsmatter.com. Meanwhile it might be wise, while having your nutritional status evaluated, to have your “toxic” levels checked as many people with ES have high levels of heavy metals such as lead and mercury in their systems. (See our therapists directory for some helpful sites.)
Many people also find other complementary therapies helpful — I regularly have acupuncture from a Chinese medicine practitioner — others find many of the relaxing therapies such as yoga very good. You really need to experiment with what works best for you.
No cure . . . but what about oxygen?
Now, none of this is going to “cure” you – there is, to my knowledge no cure for ES, but, by reducing the EM stress on your body and giving it the best possible support, you will hopefully strengthen your resistance to the radiation and therefore be able to tolerate higher levels without too disastrous results.
In addition to the environmental changes discussed in this article, I share my experience with oxygen therapy, through carefully managed hydrogen peroxide therapy, near the end of my online article here. I have found this helpful for myself and share it in case it could be useful for others.