Objective: We sought direct evidence that acute exposure to environmental-strength electromagnetic fields (EMFs) could induce somatic reactions (EMF hypersensitivity).
Methods: The subject, a female physician self-diagnosed with EMF hypersensitivity, was exposed to an average (over the head) 60-Hz electric field of 300 V/m (comparable with typical environmental-strength EMFs) during controlled provocation and behavioral studies.
Results: In a double-blinded EMF provocation procedure specifically designed to minimize unintentional sensory cues, the subject developed temporal pain, headache, muscle twitching, and skipped heartbeats within 100 s after initiation of EMF exposure (p < .05). The symptoms were caused primarily by field transitions (off-on, on-off) rather than the presence of the field, as assessed by comparing the frequency and severity of the effects of pulsed and continuous fields in relation to sham exposure. The subject had no conscious perception of the field as judged by her inability to report its presence more often than in the sham control.
Discussion: The subject demonstrated statistically reliable somatic reactions in response to exposure to subliminal EMFs under conditions that reasonably excluded a causative role for psychological processes.
Conclusion: EMF hypersensitivity can occur as a bona fide environmentally inducible neurological syndrome.