Definition of Electromagnetic Field Sensitivity Syndrome (EMFSS)

James B. Beal, EMF Interface Consulting
P.O. Box 2112, Wimberley, TX 78676-7012
512-847-3076 E-mail:

EMFSS is a syndrome where the subject has symptoms when he/she is in proximity of electrical equipment or wiring. The symptoms are commonly related to work with video display units or other office equipment. In severe cases, sensitivity to all types of electrical equipment, home appliances, and powerlines seems to be present, even when equipment is plugged in, but not operating (an electric field is still present in the wiring). EMFSS often appears in persons with severe multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS), which in turn is sometimes present in fibromyalgia-afflicted subjects (primarily female). Onset of symptoms may range from immediate to several days in proximity of the EMF source.

Research, since 1965, supports the potential of serious health hazards of long-term exposure to electromagnetic and electric fields, but what biomechanisms are affected?. Due to funding availability, research has recently only been concentrated on cancer in children and adults and Alzheimer incidence in adults (melatonin effects). Long-term EMF effects on the prevalence of other disease symptoms are being double-checked in subjects previously tested in high EMF environments. Since there are at least 5 or 6 known EMF metrics (aspects) to consider, the exact metric (more likely a combination of metrics in a local environment, not a laboratory) has/have not been determined yet.

At this time pulsed transients (sudden signal changes) and digital on/off switching spikes in power systems seem to have the most effect as stressors and effects on body hormone systems (melatonin). This is hypothesized from the type of impulses utilized in healing electrotherapies, and the 'information' signals in nature (sudden spikes or repetitive non- uniform pulses in the earth's slowly changing DC geomagnetic field background) which animals, birds and fish utilize for survival, i.e. for detection of enemies, mates, food, location or environmental threats (storms, earthquakes, seasonal changes).

Strong psychosomatic overtones are related to this syndrome as well as with MCS. Until a dependable biomarker is available to separate psychosomatic from true physiological effects, it will be difficult to treat EMFSS or MCS, other than with stress- reduction and prudent avoidance techniques. Of course, mental stress, over time, affects body functions and immune system efficiency, thus any kind of healing therapy, to be effective, must consider mind, body, and environment interacting factors to avoid relapse.

Claimed symptoms are roughly of two types: skin and central nervous system. Skin symptoms (mast cell increase) are blotches and redness (like sunburn or rosacea), sensations of heat and burning, tingling and aches. CNS symptoms are vertigo and fainting, reduced sensibility, tiredness and weakness, headache, spasms, and nausea. Symptoms reduce or go away entirely when subject is away from work and electrical devices on weekends or on vacation. Severe cases of EMFSS often must leave the city and try to live in some remote location in the country, far from any powerlines or electrical systems. Those who do this soon enough, and who have the support and means to maintain such a secluded lifestyle for awhile, often recover their health. They are then able to return home, where, by prudent avoidance of long-term EMF exposure from any source near their bodies, they are able to maintain their health and prevent relapse.



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