Electromagnetic hypersensitivity

February 17th, 2012 at 10:47 am by David Farrar

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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48 Responses to “Electromagnetic hypersensitivity”

  1. slightlyrighty (2,496 comments) says:

    http://zapatopi.net/afdb/

    I hope this helps?

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  2. Cobolt (82 comments) says:

    I have to admit reading the first part of this story I thought it was psychosomatic. As you say DPF, she will be feeling the symptoms even if the cause is not real.

    Perhaps giving her a blind test of exposing her to mild EMF will prove this the case and may even help her to realise it’s all in her head.

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  3. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    Definitely a job for the loony bin, not the doc. Chuck the reporter in too.

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  4. Brian Smaller (4,000 comments) says:

    I would suggest she is prescribed a giant crystal to sit inside while she watches 48 hours of non-stop Penn & Teller ‘Bullshit’.

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  5. wat dabney (3,685 comments) says:

    Perhaps she’s like Magneto?

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  6. davidp (3,540 comments) says:

    She might also be at risk of fan death. Fan death kills thousands of South Koreans and causes paranoia in the survivors. It is unheard of anywhere else in the world so far, but it can only be a matter of time before it spreads to NZ.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fan_death

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  7. insider (1,003 comments) says:

    So she slept outside to avoid the emf from her electricity and wireless. Wouldn’t that have exposed her more to the Xrays and gamma rays and all other em waveforms from the sun? Oh that’s right, it was night so they didn’t pay a visit….

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  8. Rich Prick (1,557 comments) says:

    Nothing a sheet of tinfoil wouldn’t fix.

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  9. Brian Smaller (4,000 comments) says:

    Nothing a sheet of tinfoil wouldn’t fix.

    That is alright for you rich pricks, Rich Prick, but does the government fund medical tin foil? NO!! It is a disgrace I tells ya.

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  10. RRM (9,478 comments) says:

    Of course electromagnetic Hypersensitivity is real!

    How do you think Ken Ring predicts earthquakes? You don’t think he just makes that stuff, do you?

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  11. Viking2 (11,147 comments) says:

    rrm, troll.,

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  12. lastmanstanding (1,210 comments) says:

    Im with you Brian Smaller. Infact I have just sent a letter to the Min of Health ,the CEO of the Canty DHB, my local MP telling them its a bloody disgrace that tin foil hats are not funded.

    I said it was discrimination of the same type as poor Mojo is suffering.

    Its got to stop the voices inside my head are telling me its got to stop I tell you.

    Must go and have a lie down.

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  13. peterwn (3,168 comments) says:

    This became a hot issue in the early 1990s and was further fired up by ‘alternative’ health people ‘diagnosing’ people as suffering from the effects of radiation. It has generally died down now, but there are stll odd pockets of resistance to cell sites, pylons, etc.

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  14. Lance (2,461 comments) says:

    Considering everyone’s brain generates a good 100 watts of electricity then I guess she is really really screwed.

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  15. Longknives (4,471 comments) says:

    I suffered EMF at High School- Thankfully it was a short-lived thing…

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  16. adze (1,873 comments) says:

    Lance, she’s just going through a phase.

    Ok my apologies

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  17. mara (726 comments) says:

    No doubt there are many high-priced quacks ready, willing and able to cure this poor lady and any others who suddenly realise that they have the same problem. I see $$$$ here.

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  18. wreck1080 (3,735 comments) says:

    ahhh dpf you are boring.

    It is much cooler to believe in witches and goblins and fairies dancing in the garden.

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  19. cha (3,779 comments) says:

    She’s probably suffering from a polarity disorder.

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  20. davidp (3,540 comments) says:

    peterwn>but there are stll odd pockets of resistance to cell sites, pylons, etc

    Odd pockets = NZ Green Party.

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  21. Lance (2,461 comments) says:

    @adze
    Her ‘current’ problem is ‘watt’ is bothering her. I am ‘neutral’ on the ‘phase’ theory.

    Ahhhh I can’t take these awful puns anymore

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  22. Elaycee (4,305 comments) says:

    “That is alright for you rich pricks, Rich Prick, but does the government fund medical tin foil? NO!! It is a disgrace I tells ya.”

    “Im with you Brian Smaller. Infact I have just sent a letter to the Min of Health ,the CEO of the Canty DHB, my local MP telling them its a bloody disgrace that tin foil hats are not funded. I said it was discrimination of the same type as poor Mojo is suffering.”

    Perhaps they can both get in touch with Penny – no shortage there…. :D

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  23. Pete George (22,867 comments) says:

    @peterwn : This became a hot issue in the early 1990s and was further fired up by ‘alternative’ health people ‘diagnosing’ people as suffering from the effects of radiation. It has generally died down now,

    Why has it died down now, tell me that?? How many dyings will it take for you see what’s happening to us?

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  24. Scott Chris (5,896 comments) says:

    Cobolt is right. Give her the blind test as therapy. Problem with psychiatiric disorders is that the symptoms are as real to the sufferers as any other disease so simply saying “pull yourself together” is not an effective remedy.
    _____________________________________________________________________________________________________

    David Farrar says:- “I do wonder the wisdom of The Press giving this story considerable prominence”

    Perhaps the issues surrounding phsychiatric disorders are worth discussing… that’s what we’re doing isn’t it?

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  25. Paulus (2,503 comments) says:

    A number of Insurance Policies refer to Electro Magnetic Fields, as claims for liability as a result of say, living beneath power lines and making a liability claim, is excluded. This is world wide.

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  26. KevinH (1,132 comments) says:

    I to suffer from EMS especially when Trevor Mallard appears on the news. At first I thought my TV was faulty, crackling due to the fibs about scalping tickets, but then I realised it was Trevor that was causing the problems.
    My symptons are that my hair stands on end, I feel nauseous, and I experience a sudden loss of hearing. My doctor tells me that the EM waves transmitted down the TV from Trevor’s interviews is a common illness experienced by many New Zealanders and that the only cure is abstinence ie Don’t watch him.

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  27. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Fuck where are the Melons? .They should be all over this story like a rash, something like this is their bread and butter. Que Red Russel and assorted fruitcakes, this is obviously modern day pollution and the issue should be addressed at once by ripping out all power lines.

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  28. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    the tin foil hat is just a scam to keep the sheeple under control! They don’t realise it’s pointless to cover the top of the head when all the mind control beams are coming upwards from underground electrical cables

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  29. chiz (1,119 comments) says:

    dpf: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

    The Press is scientifically illiterate.

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  30. Than (425 comments) says:

    As soon as I read this story I wondered how a person with this condition could survive in the modern world. They certainly could not live in a large city without being in a constant state of pain. A bit of online research soon brought me to the same conclusion David reached. I completely agreed that this woman’s symptoms are real and that she believes that she is hypersensitive to EM fields. But I also believe this to be completely psychosomatic.

    This woman should be offered counselling alongside some introductory classes on electromagnetic physics.

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  31. Steve (4,500 comments) says:

    Let me tell you about this ‘electromagnetic hypersensitivity’

    A cock relation has this awful condition. She is unable to make a cup of coffee, has to get her partner to make the coffee for her.
    If she then feels unwell it is because the electric jug was boiled too long.
    Some sweets will make her ill and she can name which type after trying many types. It is to do with the electrical environment at the place of manufacture.
    She works for the Australian Govt but has not been able to work since mid Dec last year. Quite able to holiday in NZ for 3 weeks though.
    What an emotion train wreck she is. Fallen into the trap of something is wrong with me and I need to be helped for the rest of my life. Um, she won’t be back at my place for some time.
    Electromagnetic hypersensitivity is just another scam

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  32. tas (596 comments) says:

    I know someone who claims to suffer from this condition. Basically, whenever she wakes up with a migraine she finds some piece of electronics to blame it on. A shocking pattern emerges: whenever she has migraine, some gadget was left on overnight. I can’t be bothered arguing it with her, as I’m sure she would just claim that the electronics industry is covering up the evidence.

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  33. nasska (10,696 comments) says:

    Steve

    Send her to a chiropractor & then a colour therapist. If we are to believe their claims they can cure coughs, colds, sores, moles & pimples on the dicky.

    A bit of electricity would be a walk in the park to charlatans such as them.

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  34. Steve (4,500 comments) says:

    nasska

    I am actually aware of ‘phantom pain’ having experienced chronic arm and shoulder pain. Nothing wrong with my arm or hand, just a nerve root pinched by a herniated disc in the neck, almost fixed now.
    The snake oil salesmen will always try to convince you that ‘their product’ will cure you.
    This living beneath powerlines seems to create the paranoia, but underground powerlines are ok? How come all of the guys that work on the lines live are ok, but Ms Dipshit that lives near a powerline has mental issues?

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  35. Steve (4,500 comments) says:

    You have to give it up for the first comment today:
    slightlyrighty (2,117) Says:
    February 17th, 2012 at 10:51 am
    http://zapatopi.net/afdb/

    I hope this helps?

    Best comment

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  36. nasska (10,696 comments) says:

    Steve

    The purveyors of snake oil get up my goat because they prey on people who are desperate & at a pretty low ebb. As far as the electricity lines goes if the sex, the drugs & the rock & roll haven’t killed me yet I’ve got bugger all to fear from a few volts.

    Slightlyrighty’s link would take some beating.

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  37. jonno1 (79 comments) says:

    I once attended a planning hearing where one of the commissioners, a councillor, stated in the middle of the hearing that he had installed a copper coil in his house to ward off non-ionising radiation/electric & magnetic fields. There was a stunned silence, even from opponents of the proposal. The independent commissioner, a professional, contained himself with great difficulty.

    Over time I got to know one of the opponents who had had a cancer scare in his youth – he was well aware that his fear was irrational, but he couldn’t overcome it. Ultimately the risk was mitigated in the time-honoured manner. To his credit, this particular person did sell up and move, so at least he was true to himself.

    Others found that they could live with the situation after all! OK, I’m being a little cynical here, but I also believe that, at least to some extent, most of the original opponents came to realise that their initial fears had been based on misinformation.

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  38. mikenmild (10,766 comments) says:

    I’m pretty sure one of those magnetic Woolrest underlays they flog on Radio Sport will fix her up.

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  39. MikeS (20 comments) says:

    Electromagnetic hypersensitivity: evidence for a novel neurological syndrome.
    McCarty DE, Carrubba S, Chesson AL, Frilot C, Gonzalez-Toledo E, Marino AA.

    Source
    Department of Neurology, LSU Health Sciences Center, Shreveport, Louisiana 71130-3932, USA.
    Abstract

    OBJECTIVE:
    We sought direct evidence that acute exposure to environmental-strength electromagnetic fields (EMFs) could induce somatic reactions (EMF hypersensitivity).

    METHODS:
    The subject, a female physician self-diagnosed with EMF hypersensitivity, was exposed to an average (over the head) 60-Hz electric field of 300 V/m (comparable with typical environmental-strength EMFs) during controlled provocation and behavioral studies.

    RESULTS:
    In a double-blinded EMF provocation procedure specifically designed to minimize unintentional sensory cues, the subject developed temporal pain, headache, muscle twitching, and skipped heartbeats within 100 s after initiation of EMF exposure (p < .05). The symptoms were caused primarily by field transitions (off-on, on-off) rather than the presence of the field, as assessed by comparing the frequency and severity of the effects of pulsed and continuous fields in relation to sham exposure. The subject had no conscious perception of the field as judged by her inability to report its presence more often than in the sham control.

    DISCUSSION:
    The subject demonstrated statistically reliable somatic reactions in response to exposure to subliminal EMFs under conditions that reasonably excluded a causative role for psychological processes.

    CONCLUSION:
    EMF hypersensitivity can occur as a bona fide environmentally inducible neurological syndrom

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  40. chiz (1,119 comments) says:

    MikeS – that study has attracted a number of responses in the literature, presumably criticising it.

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  41. chiz (1,119 comments) says:

    Personally, I think Neil Cherry has a lot a to answer for. Without his constant harping on about the dangers of electromagnetic radiation this sort of nonsense would have received a lot less publicity. The greens didn’t help either, no surprises.

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  42. Johnboy (15,011 comments) says:

    Had that problem with a few of my sheep a few years ago. Connected them straight to the electric fence with a couple of alligator clips on their nipples. Cured them straight away.

    For the faint hearted who think this is cruel use an S50.

    http://www.gallagher.co.nz/energizer.aspx?mktprodid=3042

    Very green! :)

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  43. fatnuts (164 comments) says:

    The report that was often quoted back in the 90′s in opposition to cell site RMA applications has the ‘Hocking’ report, that from memory found increased incidence in childhood leukemia nearby to a TV transmitter. The standard response was the second part to the report, that looked at other TV transmitters and found no correlation. Apparently the incidence pf cancer is not uniform in a population, but also not correlated with RF.

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  44. nasska (10,696 comments) says:

    Johnboy

    Ever noticed how the dogs wise up without psychiatric help or counselling? The doziest bugger who wouldn’t know left from right nor up from down has electricity sussed out in minutes.

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  45. Johnboy (15,011 comments) says:

    Most of the dogs I’ve ever had the pleasure of being acquainted with nasska have a vastly superior IQ in comparison with the feral underclass of jolly old Aotearoa! :)

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  46. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    Oh fer fucks sake. She’ll be straight for the loony bin if she hears about what’s holding the particles in her body together. Fuckin Winston conspiracy theory voters. Hooves in the night? more likely to be horses than zebras.
    What’s the mirth theme on GD tonight?

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  47. nasska (10,696 comments) says:

    Johnboy

    Ain’t it the truth!

    Monique

    Yet 2B decided. At the moment it’s a toss up between Luc & his new found passion for BDSM & my collection of jokes on necrophilia.

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  48. chiz (1,119 comments) says:

    Monique:Fuckin Winston conspiracy theory voters.

    Probably a green voter more likely. Sue F Kedgely used to be quite keen on this nonsense from memory.

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