Healthy Housing Research Institute

ElectroMagnetic Sensitivity (EMS), also called electrical sensitivity (ES), electrical hypersensitivity (EHS), environmental illness (EI), and radiation sickness, refers to a medical condition where people experience negative health effects from cell phones, WiFi, fluorescent lights, Smart Meters, 60 Hz electric and magnetic fields, etc. Health effects include heart palpitations, brain fog, sleep disorders, redness of the skin, and a wide variety of other symptoms. The symptoms may mimic thyroid problems or heavy metal poisoning. The condition resembles food intolerances (gluten, milk, shellfish, peanuts, etc.) in that a large majority of people experience no symptoms at all. For example, out of a hundred people, ninety nine may eat a bag of peanuts with no problem, but the hundredth may die. Society is slowly accepting this fact, and even starting to accommodate those with food intolerances. Travelers in Sweden, for example, will find the hotels providing a good variety of gluten free breads for the 3 percent of us who are gluten intolerant.

It is possible to perform certain medical tests and arrive at an 'official' medical diagnosis for some food intolerances, such as gluten. But most of us arrive at a diagnosis by a process of eliminating the possible offending food item from our diet for a period of days or weeks, and then challenging our body by eating the item. If the same symptoms appear every time, then we know to avoid that food item. In most cases, careful avoidance of offending foods allows a person to live a 'normal' life. Likewise, it appears that avoidance of certain electric or magnetic fields will allow those of us with EMS to live a relatively normal life. My own story of a lifetime of dealing with these things is in MyEHS.pdf.

Hundreds of papers have been published over the past five decades dealing with the negative health effects of electromagnetic fields, It is no longer a question of IF there are negative health effects, but rather how bad the effects are. In fact, there is a high probability that electromagnetic fields (EMFs) will be an issue in the future similar to that of asbestos, lead in paint, and lead in gasoline that society has dealt with in the past. Asbestos, lead in paint, and lead in gasoline all share the characteristic of technical superiority. An asbestos roofing panel has a lifetime measured in centuries or millennia (rather than decades). Lead in paint and lead in gasoline produce good products. But asbestos causes lung cancer and lead causes brain damage (among other things). Once these facts were accepted as facts by the majority, asbestos and lead were eliminated at great expense to society.

A similar pattern can be expected with EMF. Those who benefit from the many uses of electricity will fight against the acceptance of the facts about the negative health effects with great vigor. The fight will go on for years, even decades, until the majority accepts the reality of the facts. The longer the fight goes on, the more expensive it will be to fix the problem, and the more people will have been made ill unnecessarily.

Actually, it will not be feasible to eliminate all electromagnetic fields from our environment. Electricity is just too convenient to our modern society. Perhaps a better example than asbestos or lead would be the automobile. Use of the automobile causes thousands of deaths and injuries each year, but society has accepted these losses as part of the cost of enjoying the convenience of an automotive society. Strong efforts are made to improve the safety of the automobile and the quality of the highways while recognizing that large numbers will be killed in car accidents in spite of our best efforts.

Large segments of the population are just beginning to realize that electromagnetic fields really do cause some of us to be quite ill. Numbers of newspaper and magazine articles discussing the issue are multiplying rapidly. There are tepid recommendations (Limit your time on your cell phone!) There are cries for action (Let's petition against Smart Meters!) The victim card is played (How do I force the government to put me on disability?)

What Can Those With EMS Do?

There are several strategies that sensitives have used, in an effort to have a better quality of life. These include the following:

1. Heavy metal detox. Many sensitives have fillings that contain mercury in their teeth, so it is fairly common to have these replaced with nontoxic materials. Some dentists are more knowledgeable than others about how to remove the old fillings without dumping mercury drillings into your mouth. There are reports of people getting worse after a trip to the dentist for this purpose. In my case, I have had a mouthful of mercury since grade school. I deal with fillings one at a time as they need attention. If the tooth is otherwise good, the mercury filling is just replaced with something nontoxic. If the tooth itself has a major problem (full length crack or abscess on the root), I just have the tooth pulled. There was at least one bad tooth that was pulled where I noticed a distinct improvement in overall health after it was gone! I suspect some readers will think my attitude toward mercury fillings is crude or unenlightened. I was expecting that sort of reaction from a young man during a telephone conversation, when he responded that I was spot on. He had had 12 mercury fillings replaced at one time, by a dentist who perhaps did not follow proper protocals, and it almost destroyed his health! He was advising his mother to take my exact approach. You might also consider chelation, involving certain foods and supplements that are supposed to bind to the mercury atoms and help to remove them from the body.

2. Switch to organic foods where possible, even growing your own foods. Only drink water without chlorine or fluorine. I have only used deionized water for drinking and cooking for at least 20 years.

3. Prudent avoidance. This would include using only land lines rather than cell phones, and not using wireless in the home. Incandescent lighting is good, except that it is being phased out by government edict. Fluorescent lighting is bad. Some of the new LED bulbs look promising as replacements for incandescent bulbs. See ledcomparison.pdf for a list of tested bulbs. LED strip lighting operated from well filtered 12 or 24 VDC should be as good as incandescent lighting. Bottom-of-the-line automobiles (manual windows and doors, minimal electronics, no radar) would be purchased. Some of the extremely sensitive will buy an old Mercedes diesel which has no essential systems requiring electricity after the engine is started. If the fields from fan operation affect them, they just put up with being cold in the winter and hot in the summer.

4. Relocation. Sensitives who are convinced that poor health is due to a new Smart Meter, a nearby cell phone tower, or even a neighbor's plasma TV will often look for another place to live, one with lower electromagnetic fields. The danger here is that the new place may acquire a new cell phone tower, making it just as bad as the old place. This Institute is investigating ways of building new housing that greatly attenuates the indoor EMFs to where a sensitive can at least survive, if not thrive, in a house regardless of what happens in the neighborhood.

Before spending large amounts of money to relocate, I would suggest taking a vacation to some place with very low fields, like a fishing trip to Alaska or Northern Canada. If you are seriously considering relocating to the high desert, find a place of relatively low fields where you can stay for a few days. Turn off your cell phone and lock it in the trunk of your car. Do not check email or Facebook. Do not read anything on an electron device. Try to keep your diet of food, drink, vitamins, and supplements, and your daily sleep cycle, as nearly the same as possible. If you feel significantly better, to at least an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10, then your self-diagnosis of EHS is probably correct.

What Should Those With EHS NOT Do?

You should not go to an emergency room or a family doctor about your EHS. There is at least a 95 per cent chance that they will ignore your tentative diagnosis and perform a batch of unnecessary, expensive, and disgusting tests. I have visited with one person who took some literature about EHS to his doctor, who ignored it and forced the person to spend a week in the psychiatric ward to undergo a mental evaluation. The system is rigged, not unlike the criminal justice system against those who are poor and Black.

I gave up on going to a family doctor some 25 years ago. Their vision is to do tests and prescribe pills. If I cannot take the pills, what is the point? If I need a hernia repaired, I go to someone with a sharp knife to get it fixed. When I used to talk to doctors about my reaction to western medicine, the typical response was "not possible". Even doctors sensitive to something could not get past this mental barrier. I was once in a gluten-intolerant support group with a medical doctor whose sensitivities were bad enough that he could not maintain a regular practice, so he was more accepting than most about my condition. He thought that a particular medication might be right for me for some other medical symptom. He had me split the standard dosage into eight parts and then take just one of the parts. There was a significant negative reaction, such that I was not inclined to take any more. I may have been a "black swan" to his Western Medicine mindset with that episode.

Other Comments

If your health is still below some acceptable level, then there are other issues to be discovered. I believe that electrical sensitivity is just a part of a broad spectrum of sensitivities, including gluten, dairy, soy, peanuts, caffeine, shellfish, mold, other air borne pollens, etc. At least some of us respond to the sign of the moon, to magnetic storms on the sun, to Schumann resonance signals from thunderstorms in the Congo, etc. Our bodies change with age. Sensitivities mostly get worse, but can improve for periods of time. In my case, the first sensitivity was to raw milk, which caused me to miss so much school that I had to repeat the third grade. At age 30 a tablespoon of milk in the mashed potatoes would send me to bed with flu symptoms. But then it eased such that I could eat a dip of ice cream or eat a piece of fudge with no ill effects. This lasted for perhaps 40 years. Unfortunately, both ice cream and fudge are now ancient history!

After seven or eight decades of experience, I would call dealing with sensitivities a balancing act. I eliminate problematic foods and drinks until my perceived health is at least an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10, then get on with living. When my health drops below an 8, I start looking for the culprit. At age 30 coffee became forbidden, then tea at age 70. At other times, chocolate, ice cream, and Mountain Dew were dropped. If the WiFi in a restaurant makes me ill, I do not return to that restaurant. When the cell tower a block away from my church made me ill, I moved to another church with lower cell phone signals. Let me emphasize that while these effects are very real, I have had and am having a really good life. My wife of over 60 years has been tolerant of my constraints. I had a good career as a professor. I have been able to travel to all 50 states and 24 countries. I suspect that most people who have read this far are worse off than I am. I report my health not for sympathy, but in the hope that people will consider my advice worth listening to.

Your body is unique. Its requirement for foods is also unique. A "one size fits all" philosophy just does not work. As a 7 year old, the Standard Wisdom was to drink cow's milk, as it was "Nature's Perfect Food". Eat your bread-it is the "Staff of Life". Western Medicine will make some Grand Pronouncement: Eggs are bad for you because they contain cholesterol. But then, often decades later, the word finally leaks out that dairy and wheat do not work for everyone. And even that eggs (in moderation) are good for most people. Standard Wisdom has caused me enough pain that I tend to ignore it. If my body tells me that eggs work for me, then I continue eating eggs, without apology.

There is also a Standard Wisdom within alternative or holistic medicine. One tenet is: "Our soils are depleted, such that food does not contain adequate vitamins and minerals for robust health. Therefore one must take supplements". My sense is that both statements are viewed as very nearly written in stone by the finger of God by most of those suspicious of Western Medicine. I think both statements are overly broad at best, and just plain wrong at worst. As a professor, I always taught that Truth is Truth, regardless of majority vote. I would like to see supporting studies for both statements. In particular, are people who take supplements healthier than those who do not? I was recently visited in Rockvale by a woman who was spending perhaps half her disability check each month on supplements, and was extremely ill. I consider it highly likely that she was reacting to the supplements, and would feel better if most of them were eliminated. But because she was fully committed to the truth of the above statements, this is not likely to happen.

In my case, I have never found a supplement or vitamin that I could take at recommended dosage, for any extended period of time. (The same is true for both prescription and non-prescription drugs). If I really think my body needs some supplement, I will open a capsule and dump half into a little water. That will be my total supplement and vitamin consumption for that day. The next day I may take half a capsule of some other supplement. Like most other sensitives, I am always optimistic about finding a "magic potion" that will improve my health from an 8 to a 10, so I will try things. Since my track record is so bad, I tend to ask people for a single pill to try, so I do not have another almost full bottle of unusable pills on the shelf after discovering that this particular pill does not work either. The woman I just mentioned was telling me about a detox potion she was taking, consisting of a teaspoon or two of charcoal and of bentonite clay in a quart of water, which she drank, a pint in the evening and a pint in the morning. I think the concept was that the potion would differentially capture the bad molecules, leaving the good ones behind.

I brought her a glass quart jar filled with my deionized water, to which she added the charcoal and clay. I know better that to take a full dose, so I started with three swallows. I had a nasty headache within two hours. I waited about 3 days and tried it again, at the level of one swallow, twice a day. I gave up on day three, with my health at a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10. It took a whole month to recover back to an 8. I think Standard Wisdom would probably say: "Of course, you feel bad when you start to detox, especially if you really need to detox. But the improved health at the end is worth it." I am not convinced! I would really like to see the results of a study. Say 100 people, health at an 8 on a scale of 1-10, presented themselves to a good holistic doctor and asked about detox with charcoal and clay. How many would be advised to not even think about it? How many would be advised to start with one teaspoon (or even one swallow), rather than a pint, twice a day? How many would be able to complete some recommended period of time, perhaps one month? How many really felt significantly better after completing the program? My guess is that the last number would be well under 100.

Western Medicine has slowly come to accept the fact that some people become deathly ill from one peanut or a very small amount of gluten. I think Holistic Medicine needs to come to the same understanding with vitamins, minerals, and supplements. There is no "safe" amount of gluten for some people. They can have a major attack by just walking past a bakery. Likewise, there may be some people for which there is no "safe" amount of charcoal and clay. It should be an up front statement in the holistic world that some cannot tolerate pills and potions, and that with a modest effort to eat right (listening to what the body says rather than some guru) they can get by rather well in life.

There is an excellent book on the market, "The Rife Handbook of Frequency Therapy and Holistic Health, by Nenah Sylver, 2011", that talks about many aspects of food, diet, medicine, supplements, exercise, etc. It is well balanced in many ways. She points out the problems with vegetarianism. She admits that no one diet is right for everyone. But in the section on supplements, she holds to the party line that everyone needs to take vitamins, minerals, etc. But then she talks about all the ways these nutrients can be processed incorrectly to where they have no use to the human body. She seems to state that only a few, small, family type companies make supplements that actually help. She keeps saying that we need to "do the research" to find the right product. There is very little data presented of, say, 100 people with a certain medical condition suggesting a specific deficiency, who took a certain supplement available at Walmart, and got better. I don't recall any study on the health of people who take supplements versus those who do not. I have a brother nine years older than me who has taken supplements by the handful for the last 75 years. I think he takes only one prescription drug, something for bone density. My assessment is that our health and quality of life has been very similar over the years. That is, I do not envy him for being able to take supplements.

I am sure that some people are really benefited by taking supplements. But if you are spending half your disability income on supplements over a period of years, and are still sick, and even getting worse, I suggest that it is time to take a fresh approach. Cut your dosage in half for a few weeks. Then cut that in half for another period of weeks. You may be addicted, so expect withdrawal symptoms. Go completely pill free for a month. If you are still having unacceptable symptoms, consider going to a restricted diet. The idea here is to consume only a limited diet of white potatoes, white rice, grilled chicken breast, pears, and deionized water. These foods are well tolerated by almost all of us. No coffee, tea, soda, or non prescription drugs are allowed. There may be additional withdrawal symptoms. If food or drink was the problem, you should start feeling better after a week or ten days. You then start adding food and drink back to your diet, one or two items per day. Drink a glass of milk one day and eat some wheat flour rolls another day. Once you have sorted out what food and drink items work for you, start testing vitamins and supplements, again one item per day. This procedure could easily take several months. It takes considerable self discipline to `stay on the wagon' but the results are well worth the effort. I speak from experience!