Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) in occupational and primary health care: A nation-wide survey among general practitioners, occupational physicians and hygienists in the Netherlands

Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2017 Apr;220(2 Pt B):395-400. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2016.11.013. Epub 2016 Dec 2.


Subjects who attribute health complaints to every day levels of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields (EMF) have been referred to as electrohypersensitive (EHS). Previous surveys in Europe showed that 68-75% of general practitioners had ever been consulted on EHS. Given the lack of data on EHS in the Netherlands in the general population and on EHS in occupational settings, we performed a national survey among three professional groups that are likely in the first line of being consulted by EHS individuals. Results show that about one third of occupational hygienists, occupational physicians and general practitioners had ever been consulted by one or more EHS subjects. Many of these professionals considered a causal relationship between EMF and health complaints to some degree plausible, and their approach often included exposure reduction advice. Given the lack of scientific evidence for EHS and how low level EMF exposure could cause reported health complaints and given the finding that the majority of these professionals felt insufficiently informed about EMF and health, targeted information campaigns might assist them in their evidence based dealing with subjects who attribute symptoms to EMF.

Keywords: Electromagnetic fields; Electromagnetic hypersensitivity; General practice; Idiopathic environmental intolerance; Occupational exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • General Practitioners
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Occupational Health
  • Occupational Health Physicians
  • Perception
  • Primary Health Care
  • Risk
  • Surveys and Questionnaires