In recent years, many individuals have reported a variety of health problems which they attribute to exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from sources such as radio and TV broadcast transmitters, cell phones, cell phone towers, computer monitors, household electrical appliances and wiring, light bulbs, power lines, and automotive electrical systems. Symptoms commonly reported include headache, fatigue, nausea, ringing in the ears, digestive disorders, skin redness and burning sensations. These physical and/or psychological symptoms, usually appearing at exposure levels tolerated by the general public, have been generally termed "electromagnetic hypersensitivity," or EHS.
At levels normally encountered in our daily lives, EMFs are unperceived by our senses. While the symptoms attributed to EHS conditions are real, numerous scientific studies to date have failed to demonstrate that these health effects are actually associated with EMF exposure. In studies where subjects were intentionally exposed to EMFs, there was no evidence that individuals were able to detect whether EMFs were present or not, or showed symptoms which correlated with their actual exposure condition.
The causes of these symptoms are unclear. There are suggestions that they might arise from environmental factors unrelated to EMFs (e.g. "flicker" from fluorescent lights or glare and other visual problems with computer monitors). Other possible factors include poor indoor air quality, stress in the workplace or living environment, or pre-existing medical conditions.
In summary, there is no scientific evidence that the symptoms attributed to EHS are actually caused by exposure to EMFs.
Learn more about electromagnetic hypersensitivity by consulting the following resource:
- Electromagnetic Fields and Public Health, 2005
This World Health Organization (WHO) fact sheet describes what is known about EHS and provides information to help people with such symptoms.
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