Archive | September, 2011

I Wasn’t Too Impressed By The BBC’s piece on ‘Wifi Refugees’ and EHS

13 Sep

Hey @bbchealth this article on EHS http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-14887428 was under researched and failed to be at all informative.

WHO have already issued an official report on electromagnetic radiation. It’s very thorough. You’ll find their results on Electromagnetic Hyper-Sensitivity (EHS) on the second page http://www.who.int/peh-emf/about/WhatisEMF/en/index1.html. In the section on electromagnetic radiation’s effect on health in general they state

“In the area of biological effects and medical applications of non-ionizing radiation approximately 25,000 articles have been published over the past 30 years. Despite the feeling of some people that more research needs to be done, scientific knowledge in this area is now more extensive than for most chemicals. Based on a recent in-depth review of the scientific literature, the WHO report concluded that current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low level electromagnetic fields.”

On EHS specifically the WHO report states

“There is little scientific evidence to support the idea of electromagnetic hypersensitivity. Recent Scandinavian studies found that individuals do not show consistent reactions under properly controlled conditions of electromagnetic field exposure. Nor is there any accepted biological mechanism to explain hypersensitivity. Research on this subject is difficult because many other subjective responses may be involved, apart from direct effects of fields themselves. More studies are continuing on the subject.”

If you need further understanding on why EHS may be due to nocebo effects (the evil twin of the placebo effect), incorrect attribution (there really is a problem but the wrong thing has been blamed as the cause) then there are some good articles around.

My problem with the BBC piece is that it seems to state “But EHS is not medically recognised in the US.” as if this is due to ignorant or dismissive scientists and health professionals that can’t be bothered to study the condition. Which has not been the case. It also claims that this is a ‘debated condition’ which gives the sense that their is controversy with the evidence, which seems to be false. It quotes a study by Dr. Marino claiming that “The study provides direct evidence that linking human symptoms with environmental factors, in this case EMF,”. Though to give it credit it does quote a skeptical physicist and the World Health Organization on the matter.

Interested, I continued reading the WHO report, which concludes

“To date, scientific evidence does not support a link between these symptoms and exposure to electromagnetic fields. At least some of these health problems may be caused by noise or other factors in the environment, or by anxiety related to the presence of new technologies.”

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