A Primer On Electromagnetic Sensitivity
Ottawa resident Pamela Schreiner describes herself as electrically sensitive. She reports “brain fog” and headaches brought on by sitting in front of a computer screen and feels her electrical sensitivity (ES) was triggered by employment in Vienna, Austria, where she worked for several years surrounded by computer displays in an office close to an electric railway. She felt very uncomfortable sitting at her desk and at that time lost half her hair. Pamela also reports being chemically sensitive, noting reactions to perfume and outgassing offices. “Regular doctors have no idea what to do about ES”, claims Pamela who sought the help of an environmental medicine specialist. Based on her experiences, she believes “that there is a lot more hope in getting help from complementary medicine with the new ailments we now have in this modern world.” She has made improvement in her condition after a variety of treatments, including removal of amalgam dental fillings.
A New York City-based periodical reporting on research, policy and politics surrounding the human interaction with non-ionizing electromagnetic energy - cited the case of Per Segerback, an engineer at Ellemtel, a Swedish telecommunications firm. Segerback, one of the most severe of a number of cases of electrical hypersensitivity at the company, progressed from mild computer-induced symptoms like slight nausea and eye irritation in the mid 80’s, to more severe symptoms in the late 80’s. After spending long hours at his computer workstation, the engineer was stricken with nausea, dizziness and burning skin.
Despite the fact ES is still in the first of the three stages described by William James, some pioneering medical and scientific people are tackling the problem. William Rea, a medical doctor specializing in the treatment of chemical and electrical sensitivity at the Dallas-based Environmental Health Center, has carried out clinical research on electromagnetic hypersensitivity. In a 1991 paper published in the Journal of Bioelectricity, for example, Rea and his colleagues reported on an effective method to evaluate electromagnetic field sensitivity of patients. The scientists and medical personnel created a special environment with low background levels of chemical and electrical contamination. They tested patients for sensitivity to individual frequencies of electromagnetic energy over a wide range. Reactive patients were repeatedly sensitive to the same frequencies, leading Rea to conclude that “this study gives strong evidence that electromagnetic field sensitivity exists and can be elicited under environmentally controlled conditions”.
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