Electrosensibility and electromagnetic hypersensitivity

Bioelectromagnetics. 2003 Sep;24(6):387-94. doi: 10.1002/bem.10138.


Electromagnetic sensibility, the ability to perceive electric and electromagnetic exposure, and electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), developing health symptoms due to exposure to environmental electromagnetic fields, need to be distinguished. Increased electrosensibility is a necessary, however, not a sufficient condition for electromagnetic hypersensitivity. At an extended sample of the general population of 708 adults, including 349 men and 359 women aged between 17 and 60 years, electrosensibility was investigated and characterized by perception threshold and its standard deviation. By analyzing the probability distributions of the perception threshold of electric 50 Hz currents, evidence could be found for the existence of a subgroup of people with significantly increased electrosensibility (hypersensibility) who as a group could be differentiated from the general population. The presented data show that the variation of the electrosensibility among the general population is significantly larger than has yet been estimated by nonionizing radiation protection bodies, but much smaller than claimed by hypersensitivity self-aid groups. These quantitative results should contribute to a less emotional discussion of this problem. The investigation method presented, is capable of exclusion diagnostics for persons suffering from the hypersensitivity syndrome.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Austria
  • Differential Threshold*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation*
  • Electric Stimulation*
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Environmental Illness / epidemiology*
  • Environmental Illness / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Forearm / innervation
  • Forearm / physiopathology*
  • Forearm / radiation effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Sex Distribution