EHS – what the experts say, part 2

May 29, 2023

Recently top scientists from around the world came together at a workshop, hosted by the European Parliament, on electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS).

EHS is the experience of unpleasant, sometimes debilitating symptoms that include headaches, earaches, memory, concentration and sleep problems, heart palpitations, tightness in the chest, dizziness and fatigue.

Perhaps some of them sound familiar.

At the workshop, titled 'Electromagnetic-Hyper-Sensitivity: The State of Science’, the experts shared their research, their perspectives and their suggestions for addressing the issue.

Here are some highlights and you can find links to the full presentation below.

Dr Dominique Belpomme

Professor Dominique Belpomme is a specialist in oncology at Paris University and chairman of the French Association for Research on Treatments Against Cancer (ARTAC).

He described the results of a study on 2000 people with EHS and related conditions in which he looked for biological markers. ‘[W]e worked on a cohort of 2000 people. It's … the largest group of people that has been studied. Then each patient has been examined. It is not a questionnaire that has been submitted to them for them to fill in. It is an examination, a medical examination with a diagnosis, a proper diagnosis, a neurological physical exam and you'll see, that contrary to what the WHO says, certain symptoms are objective.’

He found that ‘EHS and MCS [Multiple Chemical Sensitivity] are associated in 25% of the cases and shared identified symptoms and biological changes in the framework of a common neurological syndrome.’

‘How about combining both what we call the mixed syndrome EHS plus MCS? Well, we have a much larger number of symptoms. We have skin injuries, and these are clear, objective symptoms. We have 46% of skin injuries when patients have both EHS and MCS against 5% in MCS patients. But there are things that can only be seen when you examine the patient. So, balance disturbances, imbalance issues, balance disorders and we've also identified a crippling ictus which is paralytic ictus. Well, these ladies become paralysed all of a sudden. They are totally paralysed and one limb or two limbs are suddenly paralysed and the paralysis disappears a little while afterwards. … This is typical of EHS, only it also occurs when EHS is associated with MCS. There is more confusion when the syndrome is the mixed syndrome. There is more sleep disturbance and ear, nose, throat issues. So, the symptoms are much wider and much stronger when both pathologies are associated.’

Belpomme reports that he found some markers such as histamine, nitrogen oxidative stress and certain stress proteins. However, ‘In between 14 and 24% of the cases, we have not found markers. So, the markers are not an exhaustive, a comprehensive solution to everything.’

Belpomme’s study found abnormalities in brain scans of patients that he showed to the audience.

He said, ‘We have evidence that is strong enough that the relationship between EHS and electromagnetic fields is very likely. We reject the idea of a psychiatric or psychosomatic theory. There are so many such theories around. We know that MCS is recognized at the international level as a somatic condition. If in 25% of the cases, EHS is associated with MCS, it can be psychological.’

Belpomme found a close connection between MCS and EHS. ‘[I]n 10% of the cases MCS actually precede the occurrence of EHS. So, there might be a chemical cause that appeared before the occurrence of electrohypersensitivity’. He concluded, ‘So, in my view, MCS and EHS are part of the same neurological disorder.’

Dr Andrew Marino

Dr Marino is a US biophysicist and lawyer with decades of experience in the field of bioelectromagnetics.

He pointed out several key problems in obtaining reliable scientific information.

‘[H]ow is it possible to conclude that there were no real effects? That the complaints of the people who have the syndrome are psychological or psychosomatic psychiatric but not real? That failure was the only possible result of the published laboratory research because invariably, it was funded and controlled by stakeholders. Their research designs used a linear reductive model exclusively. If a little energy really does something, then twice as much energy should do twice as much. If it doesn't, then we reject the hypothesis initially that it did something. In addition to the limitation of a linear reductive model, the assumption was made that heat production was the only possible coupling mechanism between electromagnetic energy in the body.’

Another problem has to do with money. ‘There aren't any sources of funding for unbiased investigators,’ he says. ‘Consequently, the outlook for people suffering from the syndrome, the electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome, is bleak.’

Dariusz Leszczynski

Prof Dariusz Leszczynski, journal editor, advisor and former researcher, believes that EHS is real. He said, ‘there is known, well-known phenomenon of individual sensitivity. … We know that there is individual sensitivity to other types of radiation, like ionizing radiation, ultraviolet radiation, ultrasound. Everything depends on how much of this radiation we are applying to human beings. And so, logically … individual sensitivity to wireless radiation must exist.’

He explained what’s wrong with the way studies on EHS have been conducted in the past and why the results aren’t necessarily reliable.

He also pointed out the difficulties of diagnosing EHS. He said, ‘currently, it is not possible to medically diagnose any ailment as being the result of EMF exposures. And these so-called medical diagnosis of EHS are based solely on the anecdotal [reports]’

Leszczynski has conducted a review of how different countries have responded to EHS and concludes with a discouraging summary. He says, ‘there is currently no effort to develop health policies for dealing with EHS, no matter what causes EHS. And national governments follow the opinions of WHO, ICNIRP and ICS and are not developing any practical health policy advisories for Self-declared. EHS sufferers’

Klaus Buchner

Dr Klaus Buchner, a university professor, physicist, and MEP made it clear that action needs to be taken on this issue. ‘[I]t is not sufficient to do something for the EHS people. We generally have to lower the limits in order to avoid EHS. I think that's a very important thing.’

He talked about some lawsuits taking place and the possibility of successful legal action against local administrations in the future.

‘I want to conclude with a very optimistic view by having several such court cases where we use neighbourhood laws. Then we have to change the national legislation.’

European Parliament MP Maria Rivasi concluded the workshop with some profound and encouraging words to the audience.

‘It's a hell of a life to be EHS and we should not forget about that,’ she said. ‘So, it's up to the scientists to find markers, better diagnosis methods, and then it is up to us politicians to find places for them, safe havens for them. And our goal should be to help them move from EHS, their EHS condition, to a normal life.

‘I would like to tell you that we're going to support you. We're going to fight for EHS patients because if we are here, it's for you, it's for all these people who are suffering. And we really need to find a way to cure them, to find solutions so that they can lead a better life.’

You can see the video of the workshop here

You can see the transcript of the workshop, edited by Vic Leech, here.

You can see part 1 of this series here.

June 16 is World EHS Day and you can find out more about this here.

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