Does "electromagnetic pollution" cause illness? An inquiry among Austrian general practitioners

Wien Med Wochenschr. 2005 May;155(9-10):237-41. doi: 10.1007/s10354-005-0175-3.


More and more self-declared electromagnetic hypersensitive patients are entering physicians' practices seeking help. To assess the prevalence of cases and the opinion of Austrian physicians regarding the potential health-relevance of environmental electromagnetic fields ("electromagnetic pollution"), a statistical investigation among general practitioners was undertaken, with surprising results. Only one-third report on never having been asked about the health impact of electromagnetic pollution by patients. An overwhelming percentage of general practitioners (up to 96%) to some degree, or totally, believe in a health-relevant role of environmental electromagnetic fields, and only 39% have never associated health symptoms with "electromagnetic pollution". Two-thirds are consulted occasionally or even frequently by self-declared electromagnetic hypersensitive patients. However, sound information seems to be lacking. Knowledge on existing electromagnetic exposure limits and on environmental field levels in relation to them is poor. It is remarkable that authorities play a marginal role in informing physicians. Only 4% mention having received information on "electromagnetic pollution" from such a source. It is rather remarkable that there is such a widespread contradiction between physicians' opinions and established national and international health risk assessment. With respect to the frequency with which doctors are confronted with this issue, the results demonstrate an urgent need for action.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Austria / epidemiology
  • Causality
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Illness / epidemiology
  • Environmental Illness / etiology*
  • Environmental Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Family Practice
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Reminder Systems
  • Risk Assessment
  • Surveys and Questionnaires