Which sources of electromagnetic field are of the highest concern for electrosensitive individuals? - Questionnaire study with a literature review

Electromagn Biol Med. 2020 Oct 24;1-8. doi: 10.1080/15368378.2020.1839489. Online ahead of print.


The primary goal of the study was to identify sources of electromagnetic field (EMF) which are attributed to negative health outcomes by a general population of electrohypersensitive (EHS) individuals. Secondary goal was to investigate the differences in indicated sources in subgroups distinguished based on gender, sex, place of living, place of work and the distance between place of living and the nearest mobile phone base station (MPBS). The cross-sectional study aiming to describe and analyze the population of EHS subjects was performed using a web-based questionnaire. The full survey consisted of 32 questions and concerned participants' baseline characteristics and details on sensitivity to electronic devices. Participants were regarded as EHS if they answered "yes" to the question "Do the electric/electronic/telecommunication devices negatively affect your well-being?" and indicated at least one device which in their opinion had such an impact. We identified 408 EHS subjects, out of which 288 (70.73%) were females and 120 (29.27%) were males. Phones, especially mobile devices, were attributed to negative health outcomes by the highest number of subjects (309, 75.74% and 267, 65.44% for phones and mobile phones, respectively). Additional subgroup analysis indicated that older participants and participants who live closer to MPBS more often complained of physical symptoms attributed to MPBS impact (p = .02 and p < .01, respectively). Phones, especially mobile devices, are the most important source of EMF influencing EHS subjects. People who self-reported living closer to MPBS and older individuals seem to be remarkably more concerned about MPBS health impact.

Keywords: Electromagnetic fields; electromagnetic hypersensitivity; environmental intolerance attributed to electromagnetic fields; non-specific physical symptoms; surveys and questionnaires.