Electrical sensitivity (or ES) is characterised by non-specific, unpleasant symptoms that occur in individuals as a result of being exposed to electromagnetic fields (EMFs). These fields are emitted by modern gadgets such as smartphones and Wi-Fi routers. It has been suggested that up 30% of us are at least slightly sensitive to these fields, with a small proportion "badly affected".
Symptoms are varied and individual, ranging from head pain and sleep disturbances to skin tingling and depression. The condition is recognised as a disability in Sweden, and in Canada and Russia there are specialised medical centres to help people with ES. In the UK and the U.S. however, it is not really a recognised medical condition and still poorly understood.
Ms. Lawson began feeling unwell three years ago after having a smart meter installed in her home. Despite claims from utility companies that these are perfectly safe, she claims to have suffered from migraines, heart palpitations and dizziness as a result of the installation.
Lawson replaced the smart meter with a traditional analogue version and swapped her smartphone for a landline. She is now petitioning to remove Wi-Fi in every classroom in California, due to concerns over the potential long-term negative health effects.
Is Wi-Fi dangerous?
The charity ES-UK aims to educate the public on the potential health risks of electromagnetic radiation (emitted by devices such as smartphones, Wi-Fi routers and smart meters), and to support those already suffering from electrical sensitivity. Since 2003 they have been working closely alongside scientists and doctors to learn more about the condition.
The World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has already deemed powerline and radio frequency radiation to be class 2B possible cancer agents, with some scientists suggesting that this radiation should be classified as 2A (probable) or even 1 (certain).
In the UK, the jury is still out; scientific studies have reported conflicting evidence, with some claiming that ES is psychological and with others claiming that it is a very real and serious condition.
What can you do about it?
If you're concerned about the potential long-term health effects of EMF exposure, we offer a range of products that may help to protect you and your family.
You can also follow these tips:
- Swap your home Wi-Fi for a cable-based dLAN system or wired broadband. They are still speedy, but emit less radiation.
- Never use a DECT phone at home - look for a traditional wired landline.
- When using your mobile phone, use a low radiation headset or use the speaker phone facility.
- When not in use, store your mobile in a radiation-reducing case such as a Blocsock.
- Don't use a mobile or tablet in an enclosed metal space, such as a train carriage, plane or car.
- Keep mobiles, DECT phones, Wi-Fi routers and tablets away from your sleeping area at night.
- Say no to a smart meter - you can download stickers, leaflets and resources from Stop Smart Meters UK.
- Use a radiation measuring device to find where the fields are in your home - you will then be able to take remedial steps.
- Consider using shielding material to help block out EMF radiation - it can be used as a bed canopy or curtain lining.
Read more about electrical sensitivity here.