Electromagnetic hypersensitivity

Marc Greenhill in The Press reports:

A Christchurch woman with a rare medical condition has been forced to sleep outdoors or suffer migraines and insomnia because of repairs in her -damaged street.

Anne Gastinger, of Dallington, has electromagnetic hypersensitivity, or an adverse reaction to electromagnetic waves and wi-fi, and severe chemical allergies, including to treated wood. …

Her symptoms, which include migraines and insomnia, worsened in April last year when overhead powerlines were installed because of damage to underground cables.

“I was managing really well here. When the high-voltage lines went up, I was no longer able to tolerate for any length of time being at home. My body seems to lack the tolerance.”

Since then, to avoid migraines and insomnia, she has spent most nights sleeping outside at a friend’s home in an abandoned red-zoned area with no electricity or wi-fi.

She rarely spoke about the condition because it was a not an acknowledged diagnosis in New Zealand, although a Christchurch GP had provided a medical certificate confirming her symptoms.

I have no doubt Ms Gastinger suffers migraines and insomnia, and is in considerable distress from what has happened.

However the reference to the condition of electromagnetic hypersensitivity not being acknowledged in New Zealand did make me curious.

As is often the case, the Wikipedia article provides a lot of useful info on this condition. The article states:

Although the thermal effects of electromagnetic fields on the body are established, self-described sufferers of electromagnetic hypersensitivity report responding to non-ionizing electromagnetic fields (or electromagnetic radiation) at intensities well below the limits permitted by international radiation safety standards. The majority of provocation trials to date have found that self-described sufferers of electromagnetic hypersensitivity are unable to distinguish between exposure to real and fake electromagnetic fields, and it is not recognized as a medical condition by the medical or scientific communities.

The WHO fact sheet also states:

A number of studies have been conducted where EHS individuals were exposed to EMF similar to those that they attributed to the cause of their symptoms. The aim was to elicit symptoms under controlled laboratory conditions.

The majority of studies indicate that EHS individuals cannot detect EMF exposure any more accurately than non-EHS individuals. Well controlled and conducted double-blind studies have shown that symptoms were not correlated with EMF exposure. …

There are also some indications that these symptoms may be due to pre-existing psychiatric conditions as well as stress reactions as a result of worrying about EMF health effects, rather than the EMF exposure itself.

With this in mind, I do wonder the wisdom of The Press giving this story considerable prominence, as it may in fact itself increase the stress reactions caused by people worrying about EMF.

Note that I repeat my earlier point that I am sure Ms Gastringer does suffer from the symptoms she describes, and she is convinced they are caused by EMFs. In no way am I suggesting she is not in distress by the situation the earthquake has caused.

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