(Unusual sensitivities – whether they are to chemicals, mold, foods, drugs, electromagnetic fields or other things) are hard to understand until they are experienced – at which point they can become mind-bogglingly real and can have devastating effects. My experiences with chemical sensitivities provided a dramatic personal demonstration to me of how damaging substances that most of us have no awareness of at all can be. Thanks to Susan and her husband for telling her EMR story . (Images provided by Cort.)
Susan’s Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) – no; Fibromyalgia – no; Lyme and Electromagnetic Radiation Story
My journey started over 30 years ago with a misdiagnosis of ME/CFS and fibromyalgia. Ten years ago, I was properly diagnosed with Lyme disease (Igenex testing in the US) and made some progress with a more properly-directed treatment programme. Most of my improvement in symptoms has come from personal introspection of diet and environmental conditions affecting my health, with the help of some dedicated and brilliant health care providers.
I say the above to make it clear that I don’t think I ever had ME/CFS or fibromyalgia, but that I had very similar symptoms, and that perhaps what has helped me might help others with similar symptoms, whatever the root causes.
Two huge steps forward came from being diagnosed with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and identifying food intolerances, then avoiding fragrances and changing my diet appropriately. But something still remained, causing relentless symptoms of restless leg syndrome, nausea, brain fog, muscle and fascial pain, exhaustion and insomnia. Life was becoming pretty grim.
In stepped my biggest supporter – my husband Steve. We are both scientists (biologists) and have similar approaches to problem-solving. He helped me dig out cause and effect and has done countless hours of research into topics new and challenging to us both. The latest is electromagnetic radiation (EMR).
Susan’s Electromagnetic Radiation Story
The Learning Process
When I was diagnosed with Lyme disease, my Lyme-literate MD suggested we do a radiation audit of our house. We obtained the help of a certified Building Biology Environmental Consultant who used radiation meters to show us the sources of radiation within our home and gave us tips on remediation. He determined that there were no significant sources of radiation coming into the house from outside sources and verified that there was no mould in our house.
The first actions we took were to disable the wireless modem and connect the computers directly to the router using Ethernet cables. We then replaced the cordless phones with corded ones. We were never big cell phone users to begin with and limited ourselves to texting, not speaking over the cell phone when we did use it, and kept it in a shielded case (where it can receive signals but only broadcast in one direction, which we kept pointed away from us).
After these changes, I felt some reduction of symptoms, but was by no means feeling well.
Around this time we moved to a different house, so we purchased our own radiation meters so we could do our own audits. That was one of the best decisions we made. We have used the meters countless times since then, both to find sources of radiation and to reassure ourselves that I am in a low-radiation area. We have two meters, one for high-frequency radiation (Wi-Fi, cell phones) and one for low-frequency radiation (electrical wires in the walls).
The next step was to determine exactly how sensitive I was and which frequencies I was sensitive to. Not everyone reacts to the whole range of frequencies.
We turned off all but essential power in the house at the main panel. We left on only the refrigerator and one bathroom light. We had already determined that there were no significant external sources of radiation (cell phone towers, high-voltage transformers, etc) near the house before we purchased it.
I felt an immediate sense of relief when the power was turned off. My body felt as if it were wrapped in warm, smooth velvet. The “wired” feeling subsided and my muscles and brain felt much more calm and relaxed.
As we turned the power back on we found that not only do I react to high frequencies, but also to low frequencies, which meant that even fields set up by the electrical wiring in the house walls bothered me. Most people are not this sensitive, but it’s always a good thing to check out.
We also found that the neighbour’s computer router set up a large enough field that it came through their brick wall, through the air space between houses, through our brick wall and set up a large field in our bedroom.
We then set about creating a safe haven for me by purchasing shielding materials from several online sources:
There are many online sources available now. We found these two companies very helpful in sharing information and advice. When we were in the learning stages, we were even able to consult over the phone with the Canadian company.
My Lyme-literate MD says that most people can reduce their symptoms enough just by creating a safe sleeping environment. The body can often repair the damage done during the day if its sleeping environment is low radiation. I was not one of those lucky ones, but cleaning up the sleeping environment would be a good place to start.
A Defining Moment
The thing that really convinced me to invest in our own meters and take such extreme steps was an experiment we did with the meters we first borrowed from my doctor. Through body awareness I had found a place in the living room to sit in the evenings that resulted in the fewest symptoms. (Unfortunately, I don’t feel anything when I am immersed in a field. It was only later in the evening when the pain, restless legs, nausea, etc came on. So it was a long, slow experiment!).
If I sat at one end of the sofa, I didn’t feel too bad. As I moved further down the sofa towards the other end, I felt worse and worse. With the meters, we discovered there was a faulty electrical connection in the ceiling that was putting out a large field, right over where I used to sit, in the spot that made me feel the worst! This verified, to me, my hypothesis of Electrical Hypersensitivity (EHS).
It’s important to note that not all EHS sufferers have the same symptoms and not all are affected by the same frequencies and intensities. For each EHS individual a variety of mitigative measures may need to be examined before symptoms abate. Finding companies and individuals that can do an in-home radiation audit and provide consultation and advice on shielding materials for the home is key to providing a safe personal space. Also, the individual needs to seek assistance from a medical professional, in particular an ND or MD who is knowledgeable regarding environmental illnesses.
The Remediation Process
Shortly after this introduction to EHS, we moved yet again. This time we moved from Alberta to British Columbia (BC) and set about building our own home. Steve did a lot of research on protection from radiation sources. We found a lot in a semi-rural area free from outside sources of EMR, on bedrock so there were no hidden underground cables, no underground streams to reflect radiation back up into the house, near a lake and relatively free from modern living air pollution. Weren’t we fortunate!
Our house has only Ethernet cables for computers, the bedroom has no power (it is wired because code requires that, but the power is turned off at the main panel), we have no cordless phones, the microwave has a radiation shield I made for it, the TV and computer screens have shielding fabric, there is grounded foil lining the walls of the computer room so Steve can still be part of the modern world, and the walls common to other parts of the house are also lined with this material so visitors can still use their devices.
Where we live, we are able to opt out of smart meters, which we did. The power to the house comes from underground and the panel is at the far end of the house from the sleeping area.
These steps we have taken are probably more extreme than most EHS sensitive people need to take, but I list them here just for information.
(I had also tried a brain retraining programme which I practiced faithfully every day for over 6 months but did not experience any relief from EHS. It did help my MCS hugely, and I do know there are people who have found relief with this therapy for EHS.)
The effect of reducing EMR’s for me is that, in my safe home, my symptoms are greatly reduced. The restless leg syndrome, nausea, brain fog, muscle and fascial pain, exhaustion and insomnia are significantly less. I have had to work with my food intolerances pretty strictly too (many foods cause similar symptoms for me), so it is definitely a multi-faceted approach. Each of these factors is vital to me in recovering my life.
Sleep is much better for me now. I used to be in pain and distress until about 3 a.m., at which point I would fall into a restless sleep until waking at about 7 a.m. Many nights now I go to sleep easily and sleep all night long. I still do not feel as if I have had a refreshing sleep, but after years and years of not sleeping, it is a huge step forward to at least be asleep at night.
I still feel somewhat fatigued and brain-fogged most days, but with willpower I power through. I am able to do my favorite activities again, walking, hiking kayaking and cross-country skiing, for hours at a time, and always feel better in every respect for having done so.
I also have to avoid exposure to radiation in public areas, which makes me a bit of a hermit. If I go out to socialize we make sure that our friends have unplugged their WiFi routers and cordless phones and switched off their cell phones. I limit my time in public places to only essential activities, as I have not found clothing made from shielding fabric to be effective.
Overall, protecting myself from the effects of EMR has been central to the recovery I have experienced so far. I feel better physically and mentally than I have for years, and am now at a stage where I can separate cause and effect. I no longer feel like I am in a soup of unknown factors buffeting me willy-nilly. I am ready to take the next step in this grand experiment of recovery.
Susan’s husband, Steve, is not a Luddite. He has embraced computer technology wholeheartedly in his career, operating as a computer consultant and programmer in addition to his career as a professional biologist. He’s fully aware of the benefits and tremendous potential of the computer/internet/smartphone age. He’s dismayed, however, by the lack of concern over the risks of an evolving technology that clearly has the ability to disrupt some people’s bioelectrical wiring. He presents here his thoughts on Susan’s experience and on the current status of research in the field of EMR:
Thoughts and Research Regarding EMR
My own experience is based on having to develop strategies and mitigative measures to help my wife cope with her EHS. I am absolutely convinced that she is affected in the presence of wireless radiation. I do not need a study or a medical doctor to confirm this.
Over the last decade we have seen an explosion of gadgets and services that rely on high frequency electromagnetic radiation (i.e. WiFi). These include cell phones, smartphones, cell towers, cordless phones, baby monitors, smart meters, etc. WiFi is now commonplace in our homes, our schools, coffee shops, airports and other public spaces.
Human beings, however, are bioelectrical systems. Our hearts and brains are regulated by internal bioelectrical signals. Today humans and other living creatures are being bombarded with hundreds of millions of times the amount of EMR that they were 20 or even 10 years ago, leaving us possibly engaged in the largest health experiment the world has ever seen. Results of this gigantic experiment have been steadily accumulating and the results are not looking good.
Many people are reported to have EHS  and are severely compromised in the vicinity of WiFi. Many more people may be undiagnosed because they never suspect EHS, and are continually in the presence of strong EHS signals. EMR’s can provoke symptoms in people with EHS sensitivity such as:
- reduced immune system function
- restless legs
- brain fog
Many governmental organizations rely on thresholds developed many decades ago when radar was being established. Radiation sources that can ionize molecules (cleave an electron from an atom) were always considered to be dangerous (e.g. X-rays). However, non-ionizing radiation such as WiFi and other electrical frequencies were considered safe if it did not heat the body (typically measured during a short exposure). Thresholds were then established based on these short-term heating effects.
These thresholds have not changed to reflect long-term exposures of EMR (especially WiFi), partly because no medical mechanism had been proposed that could explain the reported radiation effects and, as one would expect, due to lobbying efforts by industry.
Even though the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified non-ionizing radiation as a “possible human carcinogen”, they have not recommended changes to the thresholds. This is despite a wealth of recent studies (see below) confirming the dangers of radiation levels many orders of magnitude below these thresholds.
A ground-breaking report provides a detailed review of over 1800 scientific studies conducted over the previous 5 years. The Bioinitiative 2012 Report has been prepared by 29 authors from ten countries, ten holding medical degrees (MDs), 21 PhDs, and three MsC, MA or MPHs. The report examines the effects of electromagnetic fields, including WiFi, on human health. A good summary is provided in the Section 24 supplement. Some of the findings show:
- Increased risk of glioma (malignant brain tumor) and breast cancer with use of mobile and cordless phones
- Risk of sperm damage from cell phone use
- Evidence of an increase in risk of autism together with a plausible mechanism
- DNA damage
- Increase in permeability of the blood-brain barrier
- Decreased melatonin production
- Possible increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease
- Increased vulnerability in young children and developing fetuses
It should be noted that these studies looked at levels of EMR ten to thousands of times lower than the threshold safety limits provided by regulatory bodies. It is clear that safety standards based on “heating” are irrelevant to protect against radiation damage that we are now experiencing.
Another key document is an appeal by scientists to the UN, WHO as well as UN member nations to provide better health protection by: strengthening the safety guidelines, educating the public, encouraging manufacturers to develop safer technology as well as funding training and research that is independent of industry.
Susan, along with other EHS sufferers, is like the “canary in the mine”. Her reactions to EMR should not be simply dismissed as psychosomatic or abnormal. For example, an estimated 3% of the population in Canada suffer from some form of EHS. In addition, just because the majority of people do not report any symptoms does not mean that they are unaffected. How will the cancer rates look in 10 or 20 years? How many babies will suffer after being exposed to wireless baby monitors for 10 hours a day? In contrast, I view EHS sufferers as very important “red flags”, warning the rest of us about serious problems in our environment.
However, as advertisers bombard us with messages to embrace all things wireless – “5G and The Internet of Things” – I am dismayed that the public is not being informed about potential risks of this technology. Industry lobbying and government inaction definitely makes it harder for regulatory bodies to do what needs to be done to inform and protect the general population.
Based on my experience with helping Susan and researching many online sources regarding EMR effects, I see two approaches that we need to pursue, i.e. personal and public.
We all need to provide a safer, low EMR living space in our home by:
- Disabling our wireless modem and connecting the computer directly to the router using an Ethernet cable
- Replacing cordless phones with corded ones
- Adapting tablets to use Ethernet rather than WiFi
- Limiting cell phone use, especially for young children
- Preventing use (opting-out) of a smart meter
- Resisting the urge to buy wireless gadgets for the home
Most of these can be done without involving a lot of time and money, and, based on what I know now, these measures should be done by all of us, even if we consider ourselves to be relatively healthy
If a person suspects that they have EHS then the steps are more involved, and as mentioned in Susan’s story above, may entail: research and education, consulting with others familiar with EHS, purchasing radiation meters and shielding materials and other steps to reduce or eliminate EMR in the home.
I reported above on some ways to reduce EMR levels in the home. A second approach is needed to create awareness and educate others so that they can make informed decisions as to how WiFi is provided, or not provided, within public spaces. For example:
- We need to reduce or eliminate WiFi in schools, especially those for very young children. Several countries (e.g.: France and Israel) are presently doing this.
- We need to resist the introduction of “5G”, the next generation of high powered WiFi networks.
- We need to consider whether alternatives exist for providing Internet services through hardwired solutions rather than WiFi in our public spaces: libraries, airports, as well as commercial businesses
In conclusion, here are a few quotes that get to the heart of the matter.
“Putting Wi-Fi in schools; allowing cordless phones that radiate constantly to be manufactured; placing wireless baby monitors near an infant; using a wireless tablet, smart phone or computer while pregnant; holding a cell phone next to the head and keeping a cell phone in a bra or hip pocket or under a pillow; placing cell phone antennas near homes, schools and on hospitals; metering electricity, water and gas with wireless smart meters and designing smart appliances for the home will be viewed by future generations as dumb technology generated by greed for a population that is largely ignorant of the consequences. We need to protect the health and wellbeing of future generations, because without them there is no future! If we don’t do it . . . who will?”
“Sometimes, science does not keep pace with new environmental exposures that are by-products of useful things we want to buy and use in society. So, the deployment runs ahead of knowledge of health risks. It is an old story.”
“International exposure guidelines for electromagnetic fields must be strengthened to reflect the reality of their impact on our bodies, especially on our DNA. The time to deal with the harmful biological and health effects is long overdue. We must reduce exposure by establishing more protective guidelines.”
Susan and Steve Jasper
Naramata, BC, Canada
 eg; My wife.
 eg: Jeromy Johnson – https://www.emfanalysis.com/
 eg: Jolie Jones – https://www.jolietalks.com/
 eg: Lloyd Burrell – https://www.electricsense.com/3002/emfs-cause-of-chronic-fatigue-syndrome/
 Dr. Magda Havas – https://magdahavas.com/category/health-issues/electrosensitivity/
 International Institute for Building Biology and Ecology – https://hbelc.org/about/about-emr-emfs
 Electrosensitivity UK – http://www.es-uk.info/
 BioInitiative 2012 report – http://www.bioinitiative.org/
 International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP)
 Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
 BioInitiative 2012 – http://bioinitiative.org/report/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/BioInitiativePressRelease1-1-2013.pdf
 International Appeal to UN and WHO: Scientists call for Protection from Non-ionizing Electromagnetic Field Exposure – https://www.emfscientist.org/images/docs/International_EMF_Scientist-Appeal.pdf
 Dr Magda Havas. http://www.thegreengazette.ca/health-issues-electrosmog-the-acid-rain-of-today/
 Environmental Health Trust. https://ehtrust.org/
 Zapped. Ann Louise Gittleman. Harper Collins. 2010
 Public Health SOS: The Shadow Side Of The Wireless Revolution. Camilla Rees and Magda Havas. 2009.
 Environmental Health Trust – https://ehtrust.org/key-issues/cell-phoneswireless/5g-internet-everything/
 Dr. Magda Havas, PhD, Environmental and Resource Studies, Centre for Health Studies, Trent University, Canada https://www.emfscientist.org/index.php/science-policy/expert-emf-scientist-quotations.
 Martin Blank, PhD., Special Lecturer, Columbia University, New York USA. https://www.emfscientist.org/index.php/science-policy/expert-emf-scientist-quotations