"A lot of people report symptoms similar to yours, and there is even a name for it, electrical hypersensitivity (EHS)", writes Chiyoji Ohkubo of the EMF-radiation project of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in an e-mail to a patient. Though the WHO confirms the problem is serious, there will be a 'fact sheet' by the EMF-project within a few weeks, totally denying the existence of radiation sickness. The information is based on instructions by a working group of five people in Prague, 2004. It reads like a political manifesto, to hush up the epidemic and leave the patients behind without any care.

Symptoms of electromagnetic radiation sickness are for example sleep disturbances, dizziness, heart palpitations, headache, blurry sight, swelling, nausea, a burning skin, vibrations, electrical currents in the body, pressure on the breast, cramps, high blood pressure and general unwell-being. According to many testimonies of victims the symptoms appear in the vicinity of sources of electromagnetic radiation, like GSM- and 3G (UMTS)-antennas, cellphones, DECT wireless telephones and WIFI wireless networks. Many times the experiences are blind. Radiation measurements taken afterwards and investigations show, that the radiation density indeed is increased. Many sufferers find out the relationship with the radiation, when they stay for a while elsewhere, where the symptoms diminish or disappear. When they return home the symptoms immediately appear again. Many of the patients decide to move to another place. Others try to shield themselves against the radiation, for example building a Faraday cage of fine wire mesh.

Canary bird sings again

In one documented case a canary bird did not sing anymore and lost his feathers. The cage was at fifty metres distance from a GSM-antenna. After his owner had put a Faraday cage of fine wire mesh around the cage, shielding against part of the radiation, the bird started singing again and did not pick his skin anymore. So, the symptoms are real and not imaginative. That is confirmed by the co-ordinator of the EMF-radiation project, Michael Repacholi. He says, he has met many people who suffer from radiation sickness and electrical hypersensitivity. "I know how much it affects people and that the symptoms are real", he writes. But the EMF-project refuses to comment the many thrustworthy and verifiable testimonies. Repacholi says it is his responsibility, to tell the public that the problems do not exist, since science can not find 'electrosensitivity' in people. Of course not. Humans do not have a sense for the electromagnetic radiation of the relevant frequencies.

Secretariat only

The World Health Organisation does nothing at all to recognize and take care of the many sufferers reporting electromagnetic radiation sickness. Nothing is done to prevent future victims, nothing to map the epidemic and assess the high risks. The reports are not checked by anybody, not even on a national or local scale. The EMF-radiation project does not even answer highly relevant questions about individual and collected cases. Repacholi: "WHO does not make conclusions. WHO gets its information, conclusions and recommendations from experts worldwide. WHO staff only act as the secretariat to facilitate this process and then to promote the results through normal channels of communication. WHO staff do not make the conclusions and recommendations on any issue. They are merely the administrators of the project." However, that is in contradiction with the 'fact sheet'. The instructions for this information leaflet were formulated in Prague, October 2004, by a group of five people, including Emilie van Deventer of the EMF-project. These are more than recommendations - they are instructions of a political character.

Information for the public

The information leaflet will be a political document, though it is called 'fact sheet'. It gives information for the general public, the medical world and the governments. The instructions for the public: the symptoms of electromagnetic radiation sickness exist, but it is not allowed to attribute them to radiation. Electrical hypersensitivity (EHS) should not be registered or investigated. The public should be warned against products to measure radiation density and to shield against electromagnetic radiation from GSM- and 3G (UMTS)-antennas, DECT wireless telephones, WIFI wireless networks etcetera. Measurements are to be discouraged. There should not be made any correlation between the symptoms and following diseases and disabilities. The public should be reminded that only ionisating radiation, X-rays and radioactive radiation, is considered to be able to damage health. The symptoms of electromagnetic radiation sickness should be interpreted as the consequences of stress by the introduction of new technologies.

No diagnosis, no classification

The political message is clear. Health problems caused by electromagnetic radiation are not allowed to exist, even if a lot of people report them in thrustworthy and verifiable testimonies. The base of the coming information leaflet is a political document. Governments are instructed to develop tailored information for medical practitioners. The working group writes, that governments are not allowed to propose an official diagnosis, nor to introduce a classification for handicap status. That is a reaction to Sweden, where the Federation of Electrical Hypersensitive (FEB) is a member of the umbrella organization of federations of handicapped. Indirectly FEB receives some funds from the government. A few hospitals in Sweden even have a radiation free room. Governments who ignore the instructions of the WHO, are accused by Repacholi to foster victimisation and "to perpetuate a myth". Institutions who take the reports of citizens seriously, get a warning shot across the bows.

Appropriate interaction

The EMF-project makes a small exception. The instructions say the symptoms may be registered, as Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance attributed to Electro Magnetic Fields (IEI-EMF). But the political instructions continue. Governments have to make an end to measurements of radiation densities and structures. They have to develop 'appropriate interaction' with self-help groups. At last governments have to promote dialogue, to take away the anxiousness about the electromagnetic radiation sickness. After reading these instructions the questions are: how do the lots of reports by people who are sick by electromagnetic radiation relate to this 'fact sheet'? Why WHO refuses to give comment on the many thrustworthy and verifiable testimonies and cases? Why are these reports not registered and investigated?

Epidemiological research

The scientific foundations of the instructions and the leaflet are weak. Like with asbestos the only research that can give proof is epidemiological research, because electromagnetic radiation is a man-made environmental factor. According to the website http://www.stopumts.nl of Etwald Goes all epidemiologic research until now found negative impact on well-being and health, from sleep disturbances to death. Moreover, it is impossible that the negative impact does not exist, since more than half of the in vitro and in vivo laboratory and provocative research finds damage. Such investigations can never fully represent true life with all the parameters of permanent exposure of living people, animals and plants. However, if most of these investigations show a negative impact, something must be the matter. Indeed there is a problem, according to the lots of reports WHO mentions.

Swiss study

Politicians should play the ball now. A growing amount of municipalities takes the anxiousness of citizens seriously, but they don't register or investigate the reports of electromagnetic radiation sickness. Politicians are not much interested in this part of public health. They wait for the results of a study in Switzerland, about 3G (UMTS) and well-being. Coordinator Peter Achermann: "we are currently in the process of analyzing the data. We hope to have a publication ready by the end of 2005." Before he warned the politicians that whatever are the results of the study, it does not say anything about postponed effects and the consequences of permanent radiation. It has been established already, that these effects exist. In a report for T-Mobile by the J'lich Institute of May 9 2005, the experts report effects on the central nervous system, cerebral bloodflow, neuronal activity, EEG, working of the brain and cognitive function. The European Reflex study found damage to DNA, which is an confirmation of earlier research and has been confirmed afterwards.

Political manifesto

Scientifically the harmfulness of electromagnetic radiation is proven, based on the many testimonies and anamneses, epidemiological research and most of the laboratory and provocative research. Nevertheless, the EMF-project of the WHO denies the existence of electromagnetic radiation sickness and even promotes the non-existence, though many scientists give a warning. The EMF-project works together with scientists who serve the wireless providers, not even keeping the appearance of independency. They simply do not take notion of or wipe away the epidemiologic research and make laboratory studies cancel each other out, which is scientifically inadmissible. The 'fact sheet' therefore is not a scientifically responsible and independent document. The information leaflet is based on instructions by a working group of only five people, organised by and participated by the EMF-project itself. It is reasonable to call it a political manifesto.

correspondence with Chiyoji Ohkubo, Michael Repacholi of the EMF-project, WHO, Geneva
correspondence with Peter Achermann of the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Zurich
'Bobje zingt weer' (canary bird sings again) in Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, August 19 2005
sauvonsleon.fr (42 testimonies in French around one antenna installation)
stopumts.nl (questions about health and radiation: email info@stopumts.nl)
who.int/peh-emf/meetings/hypersens_wgrep_oct04.pdf (page 8)
http://www.feb.se and many other websites, like microwavenews.com

Written by Frans van Velden
Frans is an accredited journalist

Questions about this press article: e-mail fransp@dds.nl