“The symptoms described by ‘electromagnetic hypersensitivity’ sufferers can be severe and are sometimes disabling. However, it has proved difficult to show under blind conditions that exposure to electromagnetic fields can trigger these symptoms. This suggests that ‘electromagnetic hypersensitivity’ is unrelated to the presence of electromagnetic fields (systematic review of provocation tests for “electromagnetic hypersensitivity”)

The November 2013 issue of WDDTY has a lengthy advertorial for “electrosmog” products (and some pretty hefty advertising, too, much of which will end up before the ASA).

Unhealthy rays Starting with this issue, we are launching a monthly column on the effects of ‘dirty’ electricity on health and how to protect yourself against it

Paydirt for quacks. A condition that is treated (justly) as psychosomatic, so the quacks can “treat” it by playing along with the delusion and yield the inevitable improvement when the delusional cause is “reduced”.

I can see why that would be a great source of advertising revenue for you.

You may think you’re doing everything right for your health— watching your diet, exercising and taking supplements — but have you thought about the electricity running throughout your home, workplace and environment?

You have supplements for my electrical supply now? Vitamin V?

This is something you cannot afford to ignore, according to Dr Sam Milham, retired physician and epidemiologist with the Washington State Department of Health in the US. As Milham once put it: “There is a high likelihood that most of the twentieth-century ‘diseases of civilization’, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and suicide, are not caused by lifestyle alone, but by certain physical aspects of electricity itself.”

That’s his opinion. Bob ParkW says otherwise, so those opinions cancel out. Your point was?

How can a leading doctor make such a claim?

That’s a good question, but I can’t find any evidence of a leading doctor having done so – thus it’s moot.

Having spent years studying American medical data, he found a significant correlation between the arrival of mains electricity and the increasing incidence of cancer, diabetes and depression in those areas.

Yes, and we know why. They correlate with industrialisation, air pollution, monotonous indoor jobs and so on. Everybody knows that.

He had already been investigating a possible link between cancer clusters in schools and ‘dirty’ mains electricity in classrooms, and suspected an even wider picture.

Beware a True Believer on a fishing expedition.

But because almost the entire population of the US had mains electricity by 1956, he had to go back to the 1920s to find medical records of significant numbers of people who didn’t have it. ‘Dirty’ electricity, a term used by American power companies, refers to electrical supplies where the voltage doesn’t alternate evenly at a steady frequency, as it’s supposed to, but instead makes momentary changes by irregular amounts and with irregular frequency, so creating ‘high-frequency voltage transients’—in other words, ‘surges’ or ‘spikes’ in the electrical supply.

Transients are inevitable. There is no evidence they have any significant effect. The use of the term “dirty” is a pejorative for no obvious benefit.

Dr Milham found that cancer death rates in electrified areas were up by 60 per cent, while diabetes was up by 40 per cent and suicides by 39 per cent (and, by implication, rates of depression as well).

So the inevitable question is, what other things distinguished these areas? Answer: they were urban areas with more industry. Can industrial pollution cause these effects? Yes. Is there any evidence electricity causes these effects? No.

Odd that nobody seems to have studied power workers, who are the most exposed.

He also tracked a similar progression in the incidences of these diseases in rural areas as they became electrified over the subsequent decades. There’s now a good deal of science to suggest that he may have been right.

By “a good deal of science” you mean a lot of evidence of correlation and none of causation. In fact, the evidence firmly fails to support causation.

In the developed world, a large and growing segment of the population is developing long-term diseases that are debilitating and often ultimately life-threatening.

Yes. It’s because we have medicines that work instead of the witchcraft you promote, so we live longer and our bodies inevitably degenerate with age. Nobody has yet invented the elixir of life, though many have claimed to.

Many of these, such as heart disease, cancer, severe headaches, arthritis, fibromyalgia, dementia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and even diabetes, have been associated with the effects of electrification.

Weasel word alert: have been associated with – i.e. there is some geographical correlation, but no proven causal relationship.

In fact, many scientific studies have pointed out how strongly we are affected by exposure to electromagnetic (EM) radiation.

Um, sort of. We get warmed up by microwaves but there’s no evidence of significant adverse effect from non-ionising EMF.

But how have we arrived at this situation where so few have been able to appreciate the full extent of the problem?

Let me see now.

Because it’s bollocks.

Yup, that’s it.

Let’s take a brief look at the science. All electrical equipment radiates electromagnetic fields (EMFs) that act at a distance from the equipment itself. And in the modern world, we all use and are surrounded by electrical equipment, both our own and other people’s. There are the giant power lines and local substations of the national grid as well as mobile phone and police radio (Tetra) networks, not to mention our own TV sets, fridges, computers, wireless networks, games consoles, mains-powered telephones and many others.

True. And there’s no evidence it has any adverse effect on us.

This constant electrical pollution is called ‘electrosmog’.

You “forgot” to mention that it’s only called that by cranks and charlatans.

Hard and soft radiation

Science classifies EM radiation into ‘hard’ (high-energy) and ‘soft’ (lower energy) waves.

It categorises the EM spectrum in a number of ways, the most useful in terms of health being ionising (potentially dangerous) versus non-ionising (no provable effect other than heating).

I hope to go nobody ever does something dangerous like bathing the entire planet in a constant stream of ionising radiation from a giant fusion reactor.

High-energy waves ‘ionize’— this means they are capable of splitting molecules in the body into electrically charged ‘radicals’, highly active and biologically dangerous molecules. It has been known for decades that high-energy (high-frequency) radiation—like X-rays from scanners, and gamma rays from nuclear power and bombs—all have an impact on our health. Hard ionizing radiation shows a clear and direct relationship between the amount received and the effect produced: the stronger the radiation, the worse the damage.

Or benefit. There’s good evidence that life on earth would not exist without ionising radiation. It’s also handy if you need to know if you’ve broken a bone.

This means scientists can reliably calculate the level of health risk from events like the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan and from medical scans, so the safe dosages for nuclear workers and patients being x-rayed or scanned are well understood and well defined.

Correct. And the worst nuclear disaster in history may have cause as many as a few thousand life-years lost, whereas the Banqiao Dam collapse (a hydro dam) killed an estimated 170,000 people. more people die in China every week due to pollution from coal-fired power stations than have died from all nuclear accidents in history. Now that’s dirty electricity.

Soft, non-ionizing EM radiation includes light waves, infrared heat, microwaves, radio waves and lower-frequency waves like mains electricity. With this form of radiation, the relationship between the amount received and the effect caused is much less direct. And because this radiation has no obvious, measurable effects like ionization, the majority of scientists have traditionally taken the view that it’s generally harmless, apart from extreme levels that result in overheating or electrocution.

Indeed. And based on nothing more than good evidence. The bastards.

The Frankenstein effect

Thousands of scientific studies into the health effects of non-ionizing radiation have been carried out over the years, but all have tended to be ignored as they don’t conform to the way most scientists and medical practitioners think.

No, because they are crap. A single well-constructed study showing a provable effect would be taken seriously. None exist.

This is related to historical issues. In the 18th century, a scientist named Luigi Galvani discovered that muscles are moved by an electrical current: he gave demonstrations in which a dead frog’s leg could be made to extend or contract by applying electricity to it. From this, the mistaken belief arose that dead animals and people could be brought back to life by electricity. Perhaps the most famous result of this was Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein; she had read Galvani’s work before writing the novel. Many scientists came to believe that any suggestion of a connection between non-ionizing radiation and biological effects smacked of ‘hocus-pocus’, and that anyone who made such a suggestion must be either a quack or a fraud. Yet, because of the work of Sam Milham and many others, scientists and medical practitioners are finally and increasingly taking the view that some parts of the electrosmog are very likely unhealthy.

Wait, you genuinely believe that scientists would refuse to investigate low-level EMF effects because of Frankenstein? That may be the most ridiculous statement you’ve made so far.

How is it affecting us? Are we really like the proverbial frogs in a pan of water being so slowly heated that the frogs fail to notice the rise in temperature and so don’t jump out of the pan before being boiled to death? Are we allowing ourselves to be immersed in slowly (but constantly) increasing levels of electrosmog and failing to take any action to protect ourselves?


If so, then the worse the current impact of this pollution is, the greater the possible improvement in health when we do take simple precautions to reduce our personal exposure to electrosmog. You could say ‘It’s so bad that it’s good’—it means that very simple and straightforward precautions could make a lot of people a lot healthier.

The important bit here is “if so”. It’s not so.

Although Milham’s revelations may sound like bad news, they can help us make simple changes in the way we use electricity and expose ourselves to everyday EM radiation that, in turn, could do a lot to improve not only our own long-term health, but that of our loved ones too.

Translation: We have product.

How sensitive are we to EM radiation?

The science is still evolving, but there are indications of why the dangers have been difficult to identify: the sheer range of symptoms, the range of response times, the range of triggers and sensitivities all make for a very complex field of study. Our immune systems are certainly closely involved, as so many electrosensitive people also have other allergies.

See the quote at the top. The evidence from provoked trials shows that supposed electrosensitives are not able to tell whether EMF is present or not. Doesn’t make the symptoms less real, but your speculation as to the source is clearly incorrect.

Consider my own case: I had a technical career in car design and telecommunications that came with very high, long-term use of mobile phones, and then I became intolerant of Wi-Fi and mobile-phone signals; they gave me painful and continuous headaches—a combination of migraine, trigeminal (facial) neuralgia and myalgic encephalomyelitis (chronic fatigue).

Really? Who diagnosed this and how? How did they prove it was not some other cause? Or are you self-diagnosed, like most “electrosensitives”?

I now avoid electrosmog as far as possible, particularly while sleeping, and rarely suffer headaches now. As a physicist I understand the scientific issues, and now perform surveys and recommend lifestyle changes and design environmental changes for the homes, offices and vehicles of health-conscious people. My aim is always to achieve the best compromise between having a beneficial environment while retaining full use of all the technology we now have in our lives. In future articles I will share some of my secrets of how to design your life to reduce and avoid the many symptoms of electrosmog exposure.

Translation: All major credit cards accepted!

2 thoughts on “Electrosmog”

  1. I assume these people never stay in hotels or visit friends or go to the cinema or indeed live in a house near anyone else’s house. My flat is full of lovely wifi, so much so that I can sit on my front porch or even on the pavement and interact with the internet. I’d imagine this is the same for many of the flats and houses on my road, not to mention the pubs and shops. My street also has electrically powered streetlamps. This stuff is everywhere 😉

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