Objectives: To investigate health risk perception as well as to assess the prevalence of self-reported symptoms attributed to electromagnetic fields (EMF) and other environmental exposures in the general population of Switzerland.
Methods: Between May and June 2004, telephone interviews of a representative sample of the Swiss population (n=2048, >14 years old) about: (1) health symptoms attributed to five environmental factors (one of which was EMF), (2) health risk perception related to 12 environmental risk factors (five of which were different EMF sources).
Results: We found a prevalence of 5% (95% CI 4-6%) for electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) in our study sample. The most common health complaints among EHS individuals were sleep disorders (43%) and headaches (34%), which were mostly attributed to power lines and mobile phone handsets. In addition, 53 percent (95% CI 51-55%) were worried about adverse health effects from EMF, without attributing their own health symptoms to them.
Conclusions: The large proportion of the population who is concerned or attributes own symptoms to EMF may cause societal conflicts given the ubiquity of EMF in our everyday life.