Past, present and future ElectroHyperSensitivity: History, definition and proposed diagnostic criteria



Physical responses to and symptoms from long and shortwave exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) have been reported over the last century, but this topic is still hotly debated. Electricity distribution began in the 1890s and early short-wave research began by 1903. In the first half of the 1900s research was driven alternately by the medical community seeking benefits, and the defence forces ascertaining health risks. I will present a brief history of the effects of exposure recorded by these two parties. As electric reticulation and microwave technology developed to the point where employees and the public were routinely exposed, symptoms experienced led to naming various syndromes. Reported health effects increased rapidly in recent years, and the wide range of these are now termed electrohypersensitivity (EHS) or idiopathic environmental intolerance. This condition currently appears to affect approximately 5% of many countries’ populations. I will outline its main reported symptoms. After defining it, I will present a new way of considering EHS which sub-divides EHS into three categories: ElectroAutoResponse (currently falling in the ‘psychological’ response area), ElectroAware (where effects from electromagnetic radiation are noticed regardless of known emitting sources), and Electrosensitive Unaware (those affected but unaware of effect or source). Several objective, measurable bio-markers have been reported along with a range of test procedures. These include analysis of: blood, electrocardiograms, electric skin potentials, and microcirculation. While it is still early days, I will report on these as a first step to providing doctors with clear diagnostic criteria and methods. Key words: Electrohypersenstivity; Chronic disease identification and management; Non-ionising radiation; Education; Built environment (Technology) Key Messages: 1. Exposure to electromagnetic radiation (EMR) has led to reports of adverse health effects for over 100 years, but is still not widely accepted as a real condition or response. 2. There appears to be different types of electrohypersensitivity which are identified using a classification tree to help address differing responses to patients' claims. 3. Several objective measurable bio-markers and a range of test procedures for electrohypersensitivity heave been reported.


Mary Redmayne

Monash University, Australia, and Victoria University of Wellington, NZ

I completed a two year Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Monash University in 2016, and am now based in New Zealand, working as an independent researcher and consultant, and Adjunct Research Associate at Victoria University of Wellington. I continue to supervise a PhD student at Monash, where I am an Adjunct Research Fellow.
I have published my research and reviews of the literature in peer-reviewed journals and presented at conferences internationally. I have given numerous invited presentations for Public Health bodies, Universities, City Councils, Members of Parliament, the public, and at the Commonwealth Club of California.
My research interests and experience revolve mostly around Public Health, especially children’s exposure to radio-frequency radiation and the effects it has on health and well-being. I am a Participating Member of Standards Australia Committee on Human Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields, TE-007, and a peer-reviewer for several journals.