back to article French woman gets €800 a month for electromagnetic-field 'disability'

Despite dispute over the very existence of the syndrome, it has emerged that a French court has recognised a 39-year-old woman’s disability claim for “hypersensitivity to electromagnetic waves”. In the first case of its kind in France, the Toulouse court awarded Martine Richard €800 ($900) a month for three years - according …

  1. hplasm Silver badge
    Stop

    Well-

    If they feel they must award money for this, then there should be a condition; it must be spent on psychiatric treatment.

    1. goldcd

      It must be spent

      on psychiatric treatment, shown to work.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: It must be spent

        A suitably tuned aerial would presumably do the trick. One can reasonably say that it absorbs radiation at the offending frequencies from the environment (and sinks the energy into a resistor). If we are talking about the frequencies used by modern gizmos, the "EM sponge" would be fairly small and therefore wearable.

        Psychiatric treatment would consist of demonstrating said equipment in a proper lab and proving that it actually works. Then you sit back and let the placebo effect work its magic.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Devil

          Re: It must be spent

          the "EM sponge"

          Or as they are otherwise known, lawyers.

        2. Developer Dude

          Re: It must be spent

          I used to work at a Biotech corp. that had an onsite nurse who believed in this crap.

          Knowing I had a EE degree she gave me an advertisement for a device and asked my advice about it.

          Without going into the mumbo jumbo of the advertisement, it basically purported to convert "disordered chaotic" EM emissions into "ordered" EM emissions, thereby lessening their "harmful effects". It included a drawing showing the before and after of the EM emissions.

          My response to her was that ignoring the fact that EM emissions from simple electronic gear like computers, cell phones and such were not harmful - *IF* they were harmful, making them "ordered" would, if anything, quite possibly make them more harmful, not less. In addition, I know of no electronic circuitry that could accomplish such "ordering".

          She probably went and bought the device anyway - she also believed in black and white magic.

    2. SuccessCase

      Re: Well-

      She had Better Call Saul

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well-

      In the US she could have simply went with the tried and true bad back (which actually does suck bad if you have one but hard to prove) and not made world wide headlines.

  2. damingo
    FAIL

    Poor choice of words?

    “We can no longer pretend it is not a real psychiatric condition.”

    "Psychiatric Condition" - A mental disorder, also called a mental illness, psychological disorder or psychiatric disorder, is mental or behavioral pattern that causes either suffering or a poor ability to function in ordinary life.

    So you're admitting that its all in her head and not a physical condition? If I say that the aliens are talking to me in my head can I have £££?

    Mines the one with the tin foil hat in the pocket.

    1. Antonymous Coward
      Holmes

      Re: Poor choice of words?

      Correct choice of words. Not meaning to get in the way of a good frog bashing... but... Other phobias, anxiety disorders, etc are all recognised and treated appropriately so I don't see any reason why "EMSS" should be excluded from that. Something being intangible or irrational really isn't grounds to deny study or treatment.

      1. james.aka.damingo
        Stop

        Re: Poor choice of words?

        I wasn't saying that a phobia/etc shouldn't be recognized, there are plenty that deserve recompense (PTSD in veterans etc). More that this is not caused by anything (unless you wish to say that EM waves caused her to have a mental condition, in which case this is fine!) external so the compensation seems somewhat odd.

        1. Pookietoo

          Re: this is not caused by anything

          Psychosomatic symptoms can be just as "real" as strictly physical ones. Some psychiatric illness is characterised by "magical thinking". This "électrosensibilité" could be indicative of something like schizo-affective disorder.

      2. Doctor_Wibble

        Re: Poor choice of words?

        It does sound a lot like a phobia - the sort of thing where logic is somewhat less rigorous and so the remarks about 'oh but sunlight is EM too' entirely miss the point as well as missing the slight difference between what you can see and what you need a radio for. Many commuters are well aware of the brief moment of silence just south of Horsham.

        But are people 'sensing' EM or 'feeling' the high-frequency sounds (try a frequency generator, top end is more like feel than hear) from the crap electronic components? This might be a slightly more revealing angle than the prove/disprove 'studies' done by both 'EM extremes'.

        And TBH given the subject is a person with a mental problem of some kind I don't think the piss-taking in the Ed's Bootnote was at all appropriate, such things are best left to the commentards.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Poor choice of words?

          I think you may be right about the noises.

          The only places I can get a complete undisturbed nights sleep is in the middle of nowhere, traffic noise is horrible, but wind in trees - yawn, zzzzzzzzzzz.

          I seem to be managing on 6 or so hours after disturbances.

          Perhaps I need to see the doctor and get a prescription for a holiday in Cornwall.

        2. Unicornpiss Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: Poor choice of words?

          While I think that this is a psychiatric condition, and that EM fields are NOT affecting her, you can't realistically use the argument that "sunlight is EM too", though it certainly is. I can bask in the sunlight and slowly get a tan, or sit under a dedicated UV lamp and get burnt to a crisp. I can listen to my radio all day, even stand somewhat near a 50KW transmitter tower (though arguably maybe not healthy in the long term), or I can defeat the safety interlocks on my microwave oven and cause myself serious harm.

          1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

            Re: Poor choice of words?

            I can bask in the sunlight and slowly get a tan, or sit under a dedicated UV lamp and get burnt to a crisp.

            Actually, that is an interesting example as light hypersensitivity is a well known condition which in the worst cases can make your life so miserable that you would rather commit suicide than continue:

            http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2001/jul/12/healthandwellbeing.health

          2. Paul 195

            Re: Poor choice of words?

            Thank you for making such a sensible comment. Too many people on the El Reg forums get carried away with a tiny bit of knowledge. The fact that everything from ultra-low long wave to ultra-violet and beyond is an EM wave patently does not mean that they all have the same effects.

      3. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Re: Poor choice of words?

        Something being intangible or irrational really isn't grounds to deny study or treatment.

        But it might be grounds to deny a handout of €800 a month.

        1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

          Re: Poor choice of words?

          Thinking about it, it all depends whether the €800 a month is supposed to fund treatments that will enable the sufferer to live a normal lifestyle, or whether it's a subsidy for her off-grid lifestyle in the Pyrenees. In the first case, it's a provision of treatment; in the second, it's participating in a neurotic fantasy.

          There's a tricky ethical issue here. Supposing that subsidising the off-grid lifestyle is cheaper than treating the neurosis, and given that it's the course of action the patient would prefer, is it acceptable to withhold treatment from somebody who is ill?

      4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Poor choice of words?

        "Something being intangible or irrational really isn't grounds to deny study or treatment."

        But what about legal liability? Surely that should rest with those who implanted such an irrational idea in her head.

    2. Richard 26

      Re: Poor choice of words?

      “We can no longer pretend it is not a real psychiatric condition.”

      My French is pretty rusty but I'm with Google translate which gives: " We can no longer say that it is a psychiatric illness." for "On ne pourra plus dire que c'est une maladie psychiatrique"

      1. Antonymous Coward
        Facepalm

        Re: Poor choice of words?

        Oh!

        Good grief!

        Bash away..

      2. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Poor choice of words?

        Indeed. And the man rejoicing over the alleged vindication of his "Robin des toits" campaign is apparently called "Mr Ashtray". Sounds like a wasted opportunity for nominative determinism.

      3. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: Re: Poor choice of words?

        Fixed. Can you please please please email us when you spot something wrong with a story? We rarely have time to read all the comments, and I hate seeing errors lingering on the site for 10 hours.

        C.

        1. Ben Tasker Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Poor choice of words?

          I hate seeing errors lingering on the site for 10 hours.

          Simple solution: don't write bugs into the article...

    3. Fraggle850

      @damingo Re: Poor choice of words?

      "If I say that the aliens are talking to me in my head can I have £££?"

      If you do actually have alien voices in your head then yes, you can have money (probably even in tory-run GB). You can also have the attention of the NHS and a long-term course of heavy meds for paranoid schizophrenia.

      Evidence suggests that electro-sensitive types are likely suffering from a psychiatric condition and psychiatric conditions can be debilitating. As long as the French aren't saying that the condition is anything other than psychological then I fail to see the problem with giving some form of support. The danger is that plonkers will use this as justification that the condition is physical rather than mental, which the alternative translation provided by Richard 26 further down the comments suggests might be the case here.

    4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Poor choice of words?

      Indeed.

      As there is also a _REAL_ condition too. Long term exposure to high frequency high power electromagnetic field can have some very nasty effects.

      For example, old time (pre-health and safety era) radar operators (both military and civilian) have way above average rate of heart and arthritic conditions. That, however, is a completely different ball game - we are talking exposure to fields which are orders of magnitude more than Joe Average user would encounter in his average ordinary life.

      1. Charles Manning

        Of course radar danger was real

        Sitting next to unshielded radar is basically the same as sitting in a microwave oven. Radar operators would use the devices to warm their food. Smash out the glass on a microwave an put your hand inside and bits are going to get cooked.

        As you say, that've a few orders of magnitude higher than Wifi.

        But Mlle Batshit clearly does not understand EM at all. She's gone reclusive and is living off grid in the mountains. EM radiation is worse high up.

        1. Doctor_Wibble

          Re: Of course radar danger was real

          > EM radiation is worse high up.

          And if there's anything like granite kicking about in them thar hills then she also gets a double-bonus radiation score! And a grant for lead-lined undies...

      2. Paul 195

        Re: Poor choice of words?

        And radar, essentially microwaves, known to be hazardous. Electric cables running at 50 Hz, not microwaves. Not even long-wave radio.

  3. Haku

    There's a special place for people like that...

    It's called a Faraday Cage.

    Or she could move to the United States National Radio Quiet Zone.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There's a special place for people like that...

      The quiet zone is OK as long as its only man-made fields that are the cause.

      Its a great place to get a natural electromagnetic tan though...

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: There's a special place for people like that...

        my wife an I used to live in an old thatched cottage that was rebuilt with wire-mesh and concrete between the beams - made a really good Faraday cage (for certain frequencies).

        For example, I couldn't get a mobile signal in the house, nor a wi-fi signal outside the house (from the wi-fi router in the house). Wi-fi was also tricky inside the house to be honest due to the effin great double inglenook fireplace smack in the middle of the house, but hey ho.

        However, this didn't stop my wife from registering EM waves from the nearby village transformer which did seriously affect her sleep - she says she could hear it, and also confirmed that the noise was absent during the odd power cut we suffered whilst living there.

        Not quite sure how to prove it, but since leaving that house it hasn't been an issue, so if it was purely a psychological condition I would have thought it would have continued (my wife was unaware of the location of the transformer initially and just complained about a high pitched oscillating noise, like a sine wave, so I don't believe it was psychosomatic).

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: There's a special place for people like that...

          Could this be the real issue, high frequency noise, not the RF?

        2. Michael Strorm

          Re: There's a special place for people like that...

          @Sir Runcible Spoon; Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but why would you expect the "Faraday cage" in your house to affect that? If your wife was talking about "hearing" noise generated by the transformer (#), I'm assuming she was sensing high frequency *sound* waves, not electromagnetic ones, which are something completely different.

          (#) I'm quite prepared to believe this as many people can pick up very high-pitched noises, generally when they're younger (and their hearing isn't *****d). I used to be able to tell when a CRT TV in the room was on from the faint and very high pitched noise they made. Similarly, extremely low frequency sounds can have an effect on people. Both are possible from electrical or mechanical equipment.

        3. nsld

          Re: There's a special place for people like that...

          Not wanting to insult your wife but the old bat may just have the hearing of one!

          Rather than it being EM it could be very high frequency noise she hears or possibly a short term bout of tinnitus.

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

            Re: There's a special place for people like that...

            Whilst I agree that it's more likely high pitch noise rather than EM, the problem with that is that my wife detected it as a very low frequency 'feeling' rather than just a noise. (Ear filters made no difference).

            I've no idea what it really was to be honest, but the effects were real.

            1. stephanh Silver badge

              Re: There's a special place for people like that...

              Perhaps the wiring in the house was functioning as a low-frequency radio receiver. Low-frequency sounds would be more felt than heard. Earplugs would not be effective in such a case.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: There's a special place for people like that...

              "my wife detected it as a very low frequency"

              That makes more sense than high frequency given that the source is presumed to be a mains transformer. Maybe it had a resonance at 50/n Hz for some integer value of n.

            3. Anomalous Cowturd
              Boffin

              Re: There's a special place for people like that...

              Dynamo hum?

              ;o)

        4. CrazyCanuck

          Re: There's a special place for people like that...

          it's real, it's not the field per se however it's the frequency, it can disrupt you circadian rhythm. Just the other day I had to leave the office because about 10 to 15 minute later I was having real bad chest pain. I told my family member i was leaving. I started feeling better as I got further away from it.

          I saw a cell phone tower being install and within a week I was in more pain than before. For me wifi is less painful and something i can deal with. However with cell phones it is 10 times worse. i can't even go out to a restaurant because most people carry cell phones.

          The reason how I find out was when i was visiting my parents who live out in the country side. At that time they didn't have a cell phone or wireless tower.

          Water fasting has helped me somewhat from the pain. I fast 24 hours once or twice a week, eat stop eat style. Nothing else seems to help. I know what your wife is going through and I feel her.

          1. Martin Summers Silver badge

            Re: There's a special place for people like that...

            "I know what your wife is going through and I feel her"

            Somehow I don't think he's going to be very happy about that!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    KU the pedants

    I'm not sure the transmissions from satellites can really be compared to local RF sources, inverse square law and all that.

    We must at some level be affected by electrical impulses or we'd be dead. RF itself is not necessarily bad as many ancient radio ham can attest but the pulsed combinations and RF bath we live in just might.

    The human body can be quite a good antenna at some frequencies, who is to know what affect the combined RF soup and local topology has on any particular spot and over a long time?

    (Note. Some strange affects can be had mixing superhigh frequencies - see "john hutchison".)

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: KU the pedants

      Ku band DTH are maybe the most powerful satellites. Twice a year for a few minutes the reception is really poor as it's not much more than the RF radiation from the sun. It needs an unbelievably sensitive receiver and a big dish to collect enough RF.

      Even 100W, with 22,500 miles of inverse square law ... Point the dish at a wall and you get more signal due to thermal induced microwave radiation!

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: inverse square law and all that

      I get my TV from satellite transmission. If it can reliably get a signal to my satellite dish, then I do believe that my body is also "receiving" the signal.

      I have no idea about the power of the satellite TV signal compared to that of my mobile phone or a WiFi transmitter, and I am quite ready to believe that the local sources are more powerful. However, I do seem to recall that only microwave ovens work at a frequency that can actually affect living matter; phone, satellite and radio pass through us and do not affect us.

      Her condition is not physical, it is mental - but that doesn't mean she is not entitled to treatment, if there is any.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: inverse square law and all that

        but that doesn't mean she is not entitled to treatment, if there is any.

        These sort of beliefs seem to be very deep seated. At the expense of coming across as unsympathetic, there's a clinic in Switzerland that could help?

        Or aversion therapy, by building a one seater microwave next to a mobile mast within the precision approach radar beam of a major airport?

        But the Frenchies have banned the obvious solution, of a tin foil burqa, which would have served as a personal Faraday cage.

      2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: inverse square law and all that

        "

        However, I do seem to recall that only microwave ovens work at a frequency that can actually affect living matter; phone, satellite and radio pass through us and do not affect us.

        "

        I'm afraid you recollect incorrectly. The human body will block (i.e. absorb) EM over a wide range of frequencies that encompass cellphone, WiFi and satellite broadcasts. Walk in front of a satellite TV dish and the signal will be lost, for example. If the body is absorbing the energy, then that energy is being dissipated inside the body and will cause changes. Whether the changes are sufficient and of a nature to cause any damage or symptoms depends on the field strength as well as the frequency. I would not want to stand next to a WiFi router or hold a cellphone to my ear if they were running the same transmit power as my 800W microwave oven!

        1. stephanh Silver badge

          Re: inverse square law and all that

          The EM radiation of a cellphone is absorbed by the skin and does not penetrate further into the body. The skin is (slightly) heated, which appears[1] to be completely harmless, at least at the levels emitted by your iphone. Swallowing your phone is thus not recommended as it will lead to bad reception. Also make sure you are not holding it wrong.

          [1] As demonstrated by countless studies, which you may want to believe where all funded by the big conspiracy for corrupting our precious bodily fluids.

      3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: inverse square law and all that

        "I get my TV from satellite transmission. If it can reliably get a signal to my satellite dish, then I do believe that my body is also "receiving" the signal."

        True, but the only reason your satellite dish can pull the signal out of the noise is by restricting itself to an impressively narrow band of the spectrum. It is "unlikely" that any part of your body is as well tuned to any frequency as the satellite dish. For any reasonable width of spectrum there's probably much more EM noise coming from the Sun than the satellite.

    3. Small Furry Animal
      Stop

      Re: KU the pedants

      '(Note. Some strange affects can be had mixing superhigh frequencies - see "john hutchison".)'

      I call bullshit. To quote Marc Millis: "The 'Hutchison Effect' has been claimed for years, without any independent verification — ever. In fact, its originator can't even replicate it on demand."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: KU the pedants

        I'm not convinced about Hutchison but like a lot of things I like to consider possibilities I welcome the reasoned arguments and proof either way.

        Thanks for your well thought out "bullshit" response.

        Just in case anyone got confused by my straenglish I believe the satellite power received at the surface to be low, hense the need for high gain dish antennas.

        RF sources of even 100mw a few meters away would be more affective, just not convinced they would cause the sort of affect this lady experiences.

    4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Coat

      Re: KU the pedants

      It's not the satellites that I'm worried about. It's the emissions from all those bloody pigeons! Only I'm really worried that my tinfoil hat won't stop Coo band radiation...

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: KU the pedants

        It's not the satellites that I'm worried about. It's the emissions from all those bloody pigeons! Only I'm really worried that my tinfoil hat won't stop Coo band radiation...

        You need to remember to degauss the carrier frequency pigeons.

    5. Afernie

      Re: KU the pedants

      (Note. Some strange affects can be had making youtube videos and refusing to allow independent verification - see "john hutchison hoax".)

      FTFY

    6. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: KU the pedants

      I don't want to seem ignorant, but what does KU stand for?

      Google suggests: Kansas University; London's award winning gay bar; KU Software; KU Bookstore, the source for Kansas Jayhawks; or Ku band, a band of microwave radio frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum. The last looks the most relevant, but I can't see what the role of the pedants is.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: KU the pedants

        https://www.google.ca/search?q=KU+band&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&gws_rd=cr&ei=o1ffVavjBMa0-AHKpoHoDw

      2. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: KU the pedants

        "I can't see what the role of the pedants is." -- KC

        It's a pun: Ku band; cue the pedants (as in "cue the music") where Ku and Cue have similar pronunciation.

      3. Col_Panek

        Re: KU the pedants

        Since you don't have a Wikipedia in your country, it's 12-18 GHz. So, much higher than wifi or microwave oven.

  5. Mage Silver badge
    Boffin

    Despite dispute over the very existence of the syndrome

    There is no dispute. In Blind testing the folk alleged to have it are no different than coin tossing to decide if the RF is on.

    It's certainly a "Psychiatric Condition" - A mental disorder, also called a mental illness, as it's imaginary. Only the patient's behaviour is real. Actual sensitivity doesn't exist.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Despite dispute over the very existence of the syndrome

      @Mage - A mental disorder, also called a mental illness, as it's imaginary.

      That's (wrongly) lumping a huge number of conditions under the flag "imaginary".

      Mental health is a serious issue - and it's comments like that the perpetuate the stigma attached to it. I have no problem telling people I have a bowel disorder, no more than I would a broken leg - but if it's my brain that's broken... that's a whole different story.

      Good thing you understand the brain *so* well that you can determine that all "mental illnesses" are imaginary - imagine the amount of R&D spend you can save for companies all over the world.

      PS - I agree that there is no real sensitivity, but then I don't have a real sensitivity to wasps either, doesn't stop my heart rate doubling, or more, in the second or so after seeing one.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Despite dispute over the very existence of the syndrome

        John: I suspect that this is just poor phrasing. If Mage had said "imagined" rather than "imaginary" then that would have been clearer that the *cause* is not real rather than the symptoms. (The placebo effect is perfectly real, to give a related example.) As you say, since the symptoms are real, we ought to deal with them.

        Picking up on your example with wasps, you don't even need the wasp. Most people can be adequately freaked out by a loud buzzing sound behind their neck and the people standing in front of them saying "Wasp!". To get from there to electrosensitivity one only needs to slowly crank up the implausibility of the cause and the severity of the symptoms. Both can be done on a sliding scale and there's no objectively right place to draw the line.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Despite dispute over the very existence of the syndrome

        I don't have a real sensitivity to wasps either, doesn't stop my heart rate doubling, or more, in the second or so after seeing one.

        Get yourself one of those electric tennis racket thingies from Poundland. Great fun, especially in low light when the sparks show up better. You'll go looking for wasps....

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Despite dispute over the very existence of the syndrome

          @Ledswinger

          I have those rackets (one at work, one at home) I still don't go looking for them - that's not how phobias work.

          Mine is sufficiently mild that I can deal to some extent, but it has taken solid work over the last 10+ years to get to the point that I can force myself to stay in the same building.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Despite dispute over the very existence of the syndrome

            that's not how phobias work.

            No, I know - one of the offspring has vespuphobia (1), and it's not good. Personally it's large spiders that strike terror into me, the sort of terrifying, SAS-scaring man-eaters that appear from under the sofa on an October night, and make me shriek and shout for the wife to come and save me. Although I'm going to experiment with the Tennis Racket of Death and see if it works on them.

            (1) I made it up, but it could be right

            1. DropBear Silver badge

              Re: Despite dispute over the very existence of the syndrome

              @Ledswinger: You have my sympathy, I'm in the same boat. I'm certainly not going out hunting for them, but if I'm aware of one, sharing the same four walls is just not acceptable as far as I'm concerned. What I found is that anti-spider sprays seem to work great, and more importantly, instantly (and let you keep at least some distance).

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Despite dispute over the very existence of the syndrome

              "large spiders... the sort of terrifying, SAS-scaring man-eaters that appear from under the sofa on an October night"

              They're males running round looking for a female to mate with. Don't you have even a twinge of fellow feeling for them?

              1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

                Re: Despite dispute over the very existence of the syndrome

                I'm no arachnophile but I believe that the lady spiders are generally the larger ones.

                On the prowl for a snackmate perhaps?

      3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Despite dispute over the very existence of the syndrome

        I don't have a real sensitivity to wasps either, doesn't stop my heart rate doubling, or more, in the second or so after seeing one.

        I don't understand some people's reaction to wasps. Agreed, they can give you a nasty sting, but they are also slow-flying and not very agile. It's not too difficult to smack one out of the air with the palm of your hand and then tread on it if you really must dispose of it. Personally, I find house-flies far more annoying.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Despite dispute over the very existence of the syndrome

          @Loyal Commenter - I don't understand some people's reaction to ...

          Heck, *I* don't understand my reaction to wasps either.

          That's kind of the point - my brain is broken is a very specific way, in this instance it doesn't really affect my life, but if I had Bipolar/ Schizophrenia/ Depression/ OCD/ Anorexia/ .... then it would, and they all deserve sensible treatment. To declare that they are "imaginary" is massively disrespectful, and actively harmful to those affected. The brain is the least well understood organ in the body, yet people assume that it can't have failure modes?!

      4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Despite dispute over the very existence of the syndrome

        "Mental health is a serious issue"

        Indeed. So the folk who go about peddling garbage that persuades people to accept ideas like this have a heavy responsibility to bear.

    2. Wade Burchette

      Re: Despite dispute over the very existence of the syndrome

      I will begin to believe electromagnetic sickness when people who claim to have it pass a double-blind test with complete accuracy. First test: several rooms have WiFi on, but at least one of the rooms does not. Which room has WiFi on? Second test: several rooms do not have WiFi, but at least one has WiFi on. Which room has WiFi on? As part of the test, each room will be shielded and there will be absolutely no sound (because some electronics make a low humming sound). If the person is wrong about just one room, it proves that it is a mental condition.

      This reminds me of a news story I read about, in which I neglected to save the link. AT&T had just put up a mobile phone tower in a residential neighborhood and suddenly the locals complained about headaches. So much so, the local news became involved. An investigation was done and the local news found out that the tower didn't even have electricity going to it yet. It was all in their head.

  6. Hans 1 Silver badge
    Meh

    I know of people who get head aches when they forget to put their mobile in airplane mode before they go to bed ... not sure why, they spend all day with the bloody thing in their pocket, but hey ...

    Besides, el'Reg seems to toss all frequencies together, however, this woman might be sensitive to specific frequencies.

    I know a telco engineer who maintains antenna's for one of France's leading mobile telco's , the guy has kids and is now sterile, all members of his team are, too, according to what he says.

    Now, the question is of course, do sterile men have a natural talent for antenna maintenance ? Are they his kids ? I never dared ask his wife ... ;-) But it certainly was weird to hear that his fertility (or lack thereof) was not an exception in his team, but the rule ...

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      But it certainly was weird to hear that his fertility (or lack thereof) was not an exception in his team, but the rule ...

      If true, I'd be looking for nasty chemicals in the plastic wiring etc. before assuming that EM sensibility was even a remotely likely cause. Then again maybe his team all lives in an area with polluted water?

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Sufficiently powerful antennae can (in operation) generate enough power to light a fluorescent tube and phones use frequencies not terribly different from a microwave oven. Given the inverse square law, someone who works with the transmitters on a daily basis is probably exposed to a thousand times the radiation of someone living underneath the antenna. I am willing to believe that they may *eventually* cook their testicles.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Devil

        I am willing to believe that they may *eventually* cook their testicles.

        I know the French eat some weird stuff, but surely even they draw the line at that!

        1. Schlimnitz
          Coffee/keyboard

          LOL, +10 if I could

      2. disgruntled yank Silver badge

        cooking

        Those with a sufficiently odd taste in novels may remember a scene in Thomas Pynchon's V on the interaction of radar and organic matter.

      3. Mage Silver badge
        Boffin

        Too much RF

        They'd get cataracts first.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. MartinBZM
        Facepalm

        The sensible thing to do...

        ... would be to use earbuds !

        Keeps the phone away from your head and you can still use it ;-)

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        I've experienced headaches after repeated, long duration calls using a few mobile phones.

        I've experienced headaches after even short conversations with some people. No mobile phone needed.

  7. Tromos

    "Nobody doubts that the condition is a real and potentially painful one"

    Wrong.

  8. Semaj
    Trollface

    She must have called Saul.

  9. Mondo the Magnificent
    Alert

    Johnny Mnemonic named this syndrome in 1995!

    Known as the Nerve Attenuation Syndrome (NAS) is a fictional disease in the film, which is not present in the short story. NAS, also called "the black shakes", is caused by an overexposure to electromagnetic radiation from omnipresent technological devices (Source Wikipedia)

    So, now we've identified the (no longer fictional) disease, let's see what label the WHO gives it, although I quite like the "NAS" and "Black Shakes" labels...

  10. Nigel 11

    Double-blind testing

    If anyone really wants to find out if there is such a thing as electrosensitivity, that can be established with a double-blind test. Suppose someone says that they can sense the presence of a wi-fi router. Conceal such a router in a remote location free of other electronic devices that might be blamed, with a remotely operated power switch. Researcher A introduces a subject to the room and explains that the router may be switched on shortly, or not, depending on a coin toss that a colleague will shortly perform. An hour or whatever later, researcher A asks the subject whether s/he thought the router was turned on. repeat, as often as time or the subject permits. It's important that the subject and the colleague B never see each other, so there are no subconscious voice tones or body language cues passed on. Similarly, that A does not know or even suspect the on/off status at any time before the subject leaves the test. It's best if A is not in the presence of B at all during the tests.

    If electrosensitivity exists, the subject(s) will be right significantly more than 50% of the time. If it doesn't, they won't.

    Personally I'd put the router in a dark but accessible place with a photocell or a piece of unexposed photographic paper, to catch cheats. (Not a webcam, given what is being tested!) Methinks statistical analysis will reveal far more people claiming electrosensitivity in countries with generous social security systems ....

    1. Vic

      Re: Double-blind testing

      If anyone really wants to find out if there is such a thing as electrosensitivity, that can be established with a double-blind test

      Like this one?

      That's the first one I found on a popular search engine...

      Vic.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Double-blind testing

        @Vic

        At first I thought that was remarkably good reporting for the Grauniad. I should have withheld judgement until I got to the last paragraph.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Remote community in the Pyrenees

    Presumably the money is enough to keep her there? Problem solved - for everyone

  12. DocJames
    WTF?

    Disappointing

    I am sure she is incapacitated by her symptoms, but they are secondary to her beliefs. Exposure to EM radiation does not cause them; lack of exposure is not helpful in reducing them. Therefore she shouldn't receive "disability" payments (as she is handicapped, not disabled - she is fully able but doesn't believe it); she should be encouraged towards a model of the world which allows her to participate in society (assuming that she lives in a society which helps those worse off - not being in Britain must be an advantage). This would likely be careful repeated proof that she is not affected by EM radiation, explained by someone nice in a non-judgemental way.

    A previous boss managed to convince a patient that they didn't have the problem they thought they did through a double-blind exposure trial. It had an awesome effect - they are happily living their life without bothering doctors; doctors are not becoming disgruntled about wasting time on such nonsense; they can take the meds they thought they couldn't. Abrupt confrontation sadly just reinforces beliefs; you can't change people's mind by shouting at them no matter how right you are (see: Richard Dawkins, homoeopathy, astrology, etc etc)

  13. richard?

    Expensive tinfoil!

    That amount seems way too high - surely one roll of tinfoil per day would be enough ;-)

  14. Richard Wharram

    BOLL - OCKS

    Why the fuck would the French pay her anything for something that can so easily be proved to be all in her mind? Stop fucking coddling these attention-seeking tools!

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: BOLL - OCKS

      A mental illness is an illness. A phobia is irrational, and most sufferers from phobias will totally agree. Agreeing doesn't help them. They're still (for example) unable to travel in the rush hour ... or at all ... because of a phobia concerning enclosed spaces, or crowds.

      People claiming electrosensitivity are in denial, telling themselves that what they are suffering is rational. Convincing them that they are suffering from electrophobia (irrational) is probably fairly easy, but it won't usually help them to work with electronic gadgets. The next stage in dealing with a serious phobia is for a therapist to attempt to desensitize the individual. Depending on what an individual's phobia is, it may be a lot simpler simply to avoid the trigger. There aren't many snakes to scare the snake-phobic in UK cities. But electronics is all but omnipresent these days. So I'm as sympathetic to someone electrophobic as someone claustrophobic, just as long as they're not faking it for the benefits.

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: BOLL - OCKS

      So, you think the state shouldn't fund the treatment of mental illness? I hope you never suffer from depression, or have something unpleasant happen to you and subsequently suffer from PTSD - it's all in the mind, don't you know...

      Note that in this case, I'm not saying the French state is right to categorise her illness as EM sensitivity, but a psychogenic illness is still an illness, and can still be debilitating.

      1. Richard Wharram

        Re: BOLL - OCKS

        I have a phobia. I know its irrational and am not trying to convince the world that its a 'real thing' because that would be fucking dumb.

        Crucially I do not expect the state to fund me because of my irrational phobia.

        1. Richard Wharram

          Re: BOLL - OCKS

          And anyway...

          This person isn't being paid because she has a phobia. She is being paid because 'Wifi makes her sick.'

          Not equivalent to your examples at all.

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: BOLL - OCKS

            This person isn't being paid because she has a phobia. She is being paid because 'Wifi makes her sick.'

            Lets assume that the symptoms she suffers from aren't psychogenic and have been verified by a doctor. Just because it's clearly bollocks that they could be caused by EM doesn't mean she hasn't got those symptoms. There are many chronic and debilitating conditions out there that the causes of are not fully understood, and many conditions that are now understood that previously were misunderstood or not explained. It doesn't mean those syndromes aren't real.

            Okay, so the jury may be out on whether this woman has anything physically wrong with her, or whether it is psychogenic, either way, the compassionate thing to do is to try to help her, not to demonise her, whether or not she is correct about the cause of her illness.

        2. Vic

          Re: BOLL - OCKS

          I have a phobia

          Abstemiophobia? Yeah, me too.

          Vic.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Presumably this is funded by tax payers?

    As a tax payer, I would like to see an overwhelming burden of proof required of anybody that claims they need a financial subsidy from me to live their life. This particularly applies to people who have "illnesses" which cannot be diagnosed by a doctor.

    It is notable that nobody has these illnesses in countries without a welfare system. IMHO the best treatment for any of these conditions is to encourage the patient to go and live in one of those places.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's not a problem I have

      so fuck her.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      "It is notable that nobody has these illnesses in countries without a welfare system."

      I don't think that statement is encumbered with the overwhelming burden of proof that you mentioned earlier.

      Also, the judge appeared to be of the opinion that her illness had been diagnosed by a doctor, but not explained or treatable, so by your logic anyone suffering from a poorly understood and incurable disease should be left to fend for themselves.

      1. Richard Wharram

        But it is not a fucking disease!!

        Grrrrrrr.

  16. Joe Harrison Silver badge

    Microwave oven

    Put your head in one, you will soon find out whether RF affects humans or not. Mobile phone emissions on much the same frequencies not so much, if at all. Which is another way of saying the whole thing is about the effective radiated power.

    I doubt very much that if you actually tested people you would find that all humans have identical sensitivity to power levels. To all you smirking "double blind tests never show anything" types in the thread, have your tests been done on that particular French human?

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Microwave oven

      Microwave overs and phones are completely different animals, for two main reasons:

      - An average oven puts out 800+ Watts, compared to a phone's ~1W on cellular frequences, and less for WiFi

      - The frequencies are not "much the same". Microwaves are specifically tuned to a resonant frequency of water molecules, even a small change to that frequency completely loses the effect. WiFi in the 2.4GHz ISM band is on microwave oven frequencies, at very low power, but 2G/3G/4G cellular isn't close enough to be significant.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Microwave oven

        "Microwaves are specifically tuned to a resonant frequency of water molecules, even a small change to that frequency completely loses the effect."

        A common misconception. Microwave ovens would work at any practical frequency (wavelength dictates possible oven sizes) given the amount of power used. Water molecule resonance is not required. The only reason they use 2.45GHz is that it's the most suitable of a number of freely usable bands for ISM (Industrial Scientific & Medical) applications with no licence needed.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Microwave oven

          A common misconception. Microwave ovens would work at any practical frequency (wavelength dictates possible oven sizes) given the amount of power used. Water molecule resonance is not required.

          I stand corrected.

          The only reason they use 2.45GHz is that it's the most suitable of a number of freely usable bands for ISM (Industrial Scientific & Medical) applications with no licence needed.

          It's the other way around, 2.45GHz was added to the ISM list because early experiments in microwave cooking used it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Microwave oven

            It's the other way around, 2.45GHz was added to the ISM list because early experiments in microwave cooking used it.

            That may be true (and thanks, I wasn't aware of that) as the historic origin of the 2.45GHz ISM band but I don't believe I was incorrect to say that, now, in this modern age, "the only reason they use 2.45GHz is that it's the most suitable of a number of freely usable bands for ISM". The history is irrelevant to the explanation of the current use, although I see where you're coming from :)

    2. JorgenS

      Re: Microwave oven

      And what would a test on that particular Frenchwoman show, that's different?

      Begin by not putting your head in a microwave, or you'll be dead. Run the microwave as it's supposed to, and it will output some -120 dBm, which is not worth mentioning.

      The problem with all this is the fantastic publicity the issue has gotten lately, multiplied with the ease of spreading stupid theories over the Internet. Mass hysteria is the word for it. I hope you all know what the HAARP transmitter in Alaska does (or did)? Well, it's not an American weapon and it's not modifying the climate. It's not even moving the continents. An input of 5 MW is simply not enough to move any continent. But the conspiracies! Oh my!

      We are having a substantial New Age movement presently, and it needs to be fought off by any scientific means. The big problem with New Age is that real science is just so much harder to understand than mumbo-jumbo. So most people accept mumbo-jumbo at face value. It's compelling, they have lots of horrible pictures, and it's hot!

      People even took their own lives just before the LHC accelerator was starting, because non-scienfitc press had led them to believe that a black hole would be created inside it, which would engulf the whole Earth. This was even encouraged in Swedish schools, through our mediocre teacher corps. And then enlarged by Swedish tabloids.

      We're having serious problems.

  17. PassiveSmoking

    Light is electromagnetic radiation.

    Does she melt like she looked at the Ark of the Covenant whenever someone shines a light bulb on her?

    1. Nigel 11

      Oh don't be silly.

      Gamma radiation is also electromagnetic radiation. Are you willing to sit on top of a Cobalt-60 source to convince us that electromagnetic radiation is harmless?

      Or for that matter, stand in front of a high-powered military radar source, festooned with danger warnings?

      1. JorgenS

        Re: Oh don't be silly.

        No, and I won't sit in front of a television transmitter either. But truth is, we don'ät have these th9ngs near to us in our environment.

        A microwave oven, properly maintained, radiates on the order of -120 dBm, which is nanowatts over 50 Ohms. It is comparable to the Sun's radio emissions. Not to mention the Sun's emissions during a solar storm. Still, we tend to see this only as an enjoyable aurora. Mankind/animals has enjoyed (feared) this for billions of years without damage.

      2. cortland

        Re: Oh don't be silly.

        Wood sensitivity! Having been once shot in the buttocks with a wooden arrow , Hrerarry [not a real name] was never comfortable thereafter sitting on a wooden chair.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Open mind

      "Light is electromagnetic radiation. Does she melt like she looked at the Ark of the Covenant whenever someone shines a light bulb on her?"

      Probably not, but most of us would probably just get only annoyed by a flashing bulb, whereas some people would suffer epileptic fits. Nothing to do with the amount of heat/light, but the flashing repetitive change in levels.

      While I suspect EM sensitivity is all in their minds (and they have a curious resistance to proper experiments that could prove their case because they say they don't want to suffer the symptoms in the name of science!) I keep my mind open to the small possibility that in rare cases there may be something in the brains of some people that does indeed respond to strongly pulsing fields. It definitely needs a lot more study to show whether they suffer what they believe they're suffering from. And even then, all we have is an absence of proof rather than a concrete disproof.

  18. JorgenS

    Egalité - Fraternité - Stupidité

    In Sweden we have lots of these nuts, some 300,000 to exact, who believe they are allergic to electricity and RF. They get the shivers when they see a mobile mast, but most of them do not react over a TV tower for example, simply because they don't know what it is. I have tried asking them. The even get "electrically sanitized" living paid by the government, plus similarly sanitized hospital rooms and offices.

    RF-screened clothes (like underwear and hats) sell well here, as does (extremely expensive) Farady cages for beds. And I hope you are aware that you need to ground yourself to have a real fulfilling life, in addition to the magical stones and healing ointments these shops also offer.

    The electorosensitives have several associations and does som hevay lobbying in Swedish media. Indeed they have managed to get Radio Sweden on their side. We have several elected politicians who believe in chemtrails and ESS, as well as being creationists. We also have anti-vaxers who are really into getting measles and dying. It's nice.

    I have written several articles about these tin foil hats and I have an omgoing debate with the high priestess of Swedish electrosensitivity, Mona Nilsson. She hates my guts. I like it.

    1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

      "in addition to the magical stones and healing ointments"

      I know this is slightly OT, but frankly, I find it embarrassing going into health food shops for much the same reason. Sure, I don't mind if they cater to whatever the latest nutritional fads might be. These "superfoods" might be useful if you balance them out with other required vitamins and amino acids and whatnot, but they're not going to harm anything except your wallet. The same goes for most of the tinctures or tonics that have some active ingredient (though just because it's "natural" or "organic" doesn't mean it can't have side-effects or be damaging if taken to excess). But fuck, a lot of the other shite they sell (and often the advice they give to punters) should have warning labels on them. A case in point: on one of my last visits I was given a handout for some "iridology" workshop at the checkout. Only politeness prevented me from pointing out that it's a steaming pile of crap.

      We also have anti-vaxers who are really into getting measles and dying. It's nice.

      That's fine (if we're both prepared to be flippant about kids dying) so long as not too many people believe the anti-vaccine FUD. Herd immunity and all that.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: "in addition to the magical stones and healing ointments"

        The herd immunity problem with measles is that it is so contagious that the level of immunisation has to be up around 90% in order to prevent spread and to protect those who can't be inoculated, either because of immune problems, or genuine allergies to the ingredients, etc. What the anti-vaccers are doing, particularly in the case of measles, is killing other people's immunocompromised children because of their own ignorance and pig-headedness. To me, that is not okay.

    2. Col_Panek

      We keep most of our nut cases in Arkansas, but I was amazed to find out there's a whole country full of them.

  19. Ole Juul Silver badge

    electrosensitivity sufferers

    give me a headache.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can I claim €800 a month for three years for...

    ...the damage the UFOs cause to my lawn?

  21. Schlimnitz

    I wonder if it's possible to create a 3D radiation visualiser. It would be interesting for one of these 'sufferers' to put one on, and see what effect it would have: reinforce their beliefs?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'Ms Richard, despite her remote residence, almost certainly has microwave emissions from satellites and aircraft overhead sleeting through her body on a routine basis - not to mention the electromagnetic emissions from the Sun, the stars, the cosmic background and the planet Earth itself'.

    Very true.

    As a long-term (actual*) OCD sufferer, I am acutely aware of the irrationality of my fears. But it doesn't stop me worrying myself ill anyway and / or having to cancel out the worry with ritual or getting intrusive thoughts.

    Here I think is a big misunderstanding. Some sufferers of such conditions are completely aware that their fears / illness are not being caused by external sources - pointing that out further does precisely nothing, because appealing to a mind already racked with worry in *spite* of the knowing the scientific truth about their fear is shouting into a very big void.

    * - actual, because it isn't what you might think it is. Best description I ever read here:

    http://www.cultnoise.com/ocd-its-not-what-you-think-it-is/

    1. David Nash Silver badge

      "Some sufferers of such conditions are completely aware that their fears / illness are not being caused by external sources"

      That does not appear to be the case with EM "sufferers" though. As I understand it they do genuinely believe there is a physical cause, and that cause is EM from Wifi, Mobile Phone masts, and electricity pylons etc.

  23. The Electron
    Boffin

    Crystal Palace, Sandy Heath, Sutton Coldfield.

    Until the digital fail-over, all of these UK TV transmitters:

    Crystal Palace in London

    Sandy Heath in Bedfordshire

    Sutton Coldfield near Birmingham

    ...transmitted analogue television with 1 million watts of Effective Radiated Power (ERP). If there was an issue with electro-sensitivity, the millions of people around these transmitters would be showing some serious issues. I grew-up in the shadow of Sandy Heath (with the 400kV National Grid also running through the area) and I am not aware of anyone claiming issues with the transmitter.

    Suggest the installation of a mobile-phone tower and it's another issue. Just don't tell them I am licensed to transmit with 400Wpep in a residential neighbourhood!

    1. JorgenS

      Re: Crystal Palace, Sandy Heath, Sutton Coldfield.

      Stop being so logical! ESS is not logical. It's a business. Here in Sweden, the Electrosensitive Association (Elöverkänsligas förening) gets government money, they sell books about their ailment, to induce more people to become nuts etc. It's a never-ending circle of evil. It's like having state-sponsored Scientology.

      In fact the field right below a TV transmitter is close to zero. It's radio shadow. The Swedish transmitters are 300 meters up in the air, and they are not wasting any energy transmitting straight down, as they have to reach some 40 kilometres. Tell this to the people who think they got cancer from living close to a transmitter.

      1. Col_Panek

        Re: Crystal Palace, Sandy Heath, Sutton Coldfield.

        Why not just shut them all off? It would serve them right.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Not implausible

    A relative of mine has this, mildly. Only noticed it when laptops got up into the GHz range. Apparently being within inches of poorly shielded processors and busses can stimulate nerve endings or something like that, causing a painful tingling sensation. Being sceptical, I tried placing my hand on a laptop for a few minutes, and indeed I felt something, quite plausibly the RF field.

    I'm sure there are millions of fakers, but RF interference is a major problem for electronics and we know that higher levels affect living things. There are legitimate scientific questions:

    - What RF frequency/amplitude ranges are *irritating* to the more sensitive people and critters?

    - Besides RF, are there electrostatic or magnetic interference issues? Audio, light, etc?

    - How can we efficiently test for levels below the average engineer's sensory threshold?

    - How can we objectively test people's sensitivity?

    1. Richard Wharram

      Re: Not implausible

      No. It's in his/her mind. End of. Sorry.

    2. Jesrad

      Re: Not implausible

      I get that a lot from my old Macbook. Plug it in, let it warm up, then slide your hand over the flat part left from the trackpad, and you will very strongly feel the "field" (as you call it). It's a very weird feeling - it's as if you're rapping your hand over a wood plank that is vibrating quickly, except your skin reports it as smooth contact.

      And it does not happen when the laptop is running on battery or when you and the power line are both properly grounded, because it's actually poor grounding leaking a little power back and playing with your nerves. Nothing to do with RF. And the effect is so much stronger on the Macbook just because the entire case is made of metal and conducive.

      Try and test it ! It's fun, at least as long as you don't get burns.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not implausible

        It may very well have been a ~2008 Macbook... but it happens with other laptops, plugged in or not, in direct contact or a few inches away. I've experienced poorly grounded guitar amps; that's not it. This feels similar but more subtle, and not immediate.

        There are so many variables and alternate explanations ... someone would have to do proper scientific experiments to get to the bottom of this. And I can't see the know-it-alls here doing that. Just as bad as the tinfoil hatters.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Not implausible

          I'm going to go all out and say that what you are experiencing there is... vibration.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

  25. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Had a colleague who complained for years that sitting next to the breaker box made him ill from all the EMR.

    When I moved to his desk it didn't pass my stringent cleanliness standards so I started cleaning.

    I pulled the desktop computer out of it's corner and found - and I am not making this up - a basketball-sized dust-bunny nestled on the desk at face-level.

    Gotta watch out for that unhealthy EMR. Much more dangerous than plain-old dirt.

  26. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    The more I think about it, the more I can feel the itching, swelling feet and astmatic breath. I think €800 definately would make me feel a lot better.

  27. Stuart Halliday
    WTF?

    I wonder which Wifi standard? 2.4GHz, 5GHz and does this include Bluetooth 2,3 or 4. Oh and cordless dect phones?

  28. Stuart Halliday

    I wonder which Wifi standard? 2.4GHz, 5GHz and does this include Bluetooth 2,3 or 4. Oh and cordless dect phones?

  29. CrazyCanuck

    Since the invention of radar, cell phone radiation was assumed to be harmless because it wasn't like X-rays. But a sea change is now occurring in the way scientists think about it. The latest research ties this kind of radiation to lowered sperm counts, an increased risk of Alzheimer's, and even cancer. In Disconnect, National Book Award finalist Devra Davis tells the story of the dangers that the cell phone industry is knowingly exposing us-and our children-to in the pursuit of profit. More than five billion cell phones are currently in use, and that number increases every day. Synthesizing the findings and cautionary advice of leading experts in bioelectricalmagnetics and neuroscience, Davis explains simple safety measures that no one can afford to ignore.

    http://www.amazon.com/Disconnect-Radiation-Industry-Protect-Family/dp/B008D6ZTWW

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Wacko in book promotion shocker.

      Film at ten...

      In reality, all the proper studies, and meta-studies (of which there have been many) have shown... absolutely nothing. I'd choose to go with the scientific consensus rather than someone with the clearly vested interest of trying to sell a book to the gullible.

  30. CrazyCanuck

    "I think it might have started out as nothing more than companies wanting to make profits, and wanting to keep their products in a positive light. Companies are allowed to make profits; I’m not opposed to that. And I imagine people genuinely thought these kinds of dangers from radiation weren’t possible, because the physics paradigm [at the time] said it wasn’t. But it has since been morphed into something worse. Now even the insurance industry is listening to scientists. Many companies are no longer providing coverage for health damage from cellphones."

    http://www.salon.com/2010/10/10/disconnect_cell_phone_interview/

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Many companies are no longer providing coverage for health damage from cellphones

      Many companies also don't provide coverage for health damage from:

      - UFO attack

      - Zombie apocalypse

      - The antichrist

      - Moths

      - People called George.

  31. jonfr

    Non-ionising radiation does not harm people

    If it's not ionising radiation, it's not going to affect people. The most damaging radio waves are infra-red, sunlight, x-ray, gamma rays due to how short they are. The frequency band of 2400Mhz is around 200mm in wave length, 13.000Mhz is around 10mm and so on. Mobile phones and such are close to 428 - 115mm range (700 - 2600Mhz). This means the frequencies used for mobile communications are to large for sells and DNA to cause and damage to them.

    More details can be found here.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_spectrum

    To calculate the wave length (in meters, millimetres and so on) of frequencies, please go here.

    http://www.onlineconversion.com/frequency_wavelength.htm

  32. RichardB

    Oh yes... just like BPA's

    So many things we don't understand... even about something as notionally simple as Vitamin D there is almost a complete lack of knowledge.

    BPA's until recently were quite harmless, until we figured out how to measure them better...

    My personal experience with this is that mobile phones kept in a left hand shirt pocket lead to me feeling breathless and agitated, with a 'butterflies' sensation that happens to coincide with the FM radio interference that the phone chucks out occasionally.

    Also, a good +1 for the folk mentioning the white noises that electronic devices emit - I've always needed to whiz round the bedroom and sometimes surrounding rooms to shut down even mains alarm clocks, phone chargers, standby electricals etc to get rid of the hums.

    Also, given that we are all just reasonably complex bags of electro-chemicals, I'm surprised that the idea of induced EMFs dicking about with the internal comms channels isn't more attractive the audience here....

    What does it feel like to be wrong? It feels like you are right.

    1. Schlimnitz

      Re: Oh yes... just like BPA's

      Do I take it you're avoiding Vitamin D?

  33. Jesrad

    "In a statement on Wednesday, Étienne Cendrier, Robin des Toits spokesman, hailed the news as a victory, saying: “We can no longer say that it is a psychiatric illness.”

    Well he is free to delude himself, but the court statement clearly swept aside claims that it has to do with electromagnetic waves. What the judge granted, is that the syndrome is really harming the claimant - she is not pretending to be sick, she really is so sick she cannot hold a regular job. AFAIC it's all just nocebo effect, given how the sufferers are only harmed by antennas they can see (whether those are powered on or not), and never by those hidden from their sight.

    What is making the claimant sick is an entirely different issue, which was not addressed by the court. In fact I haven't heard of a single success in assigning damages in civil court over any claim of harm from electromagnetic waves. At most, there was one case of mobile mast installation being postponed until final decision by a court over alleged "potential future harm".

  34. cortland

    Diagnosis

    Diagnosis may be accomplished using nothing more than a balsa-wood antenna painted silver to resemble a real one. Point it at the subject to see if she sues...

    From the "However!" department: Some of these seemingly crazy psychosomatic reactions can have a real cause. I recall the long ago case of a (Swedish?) auto plant where CRT's said to have caused illnesses due to EMF were actually making workers in one office (but not another) ill, which turned out to be due to paint flecks getting into the HVAC ducting from the plant's painting operation nearby; attracted by the static charge on CRT screen, paint flecks were then being being repelled into the faces of CRT terminal operators, causing rashes, and eye and respiratory problems.

    A similar effect may explain problems said to be caused by HT power lines; chemical reactions between air pollutants can be be facilitated in the electric field near cables and across insulators, higher voltages having a stronger field, with the reaction products being inhaled by those living close-by.

    http://www.hydroquebec.com/learning/transport/grandes-distances.html

    http://www.safespaceprotection.com/electrostress-from-power-lines.aspx

    It is apparently too expensive for actual operating concerns to confirm electrosensitivity by running silver-painted rope instead of metal cables. Perhaps someone will apply for a grant.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Diagnosis

      Having experienced similar issues later found to be sensitivity to certain chemicals, it appears that many people with "EHS" actually are unusually sensitive to the fumes given off by hot plastics.

      Especially new hot plastic, ie from a router, laptop etc.

      The interesting thing about it is that if you have a mask which blocks VOCs or have really good ventilation in the room, the problem goes away.

      I now have to regulate my exposure to said fumes, even to the extent that a photocopier makes me feel dizzy if in a confined space. This could be connected to asthma as there are related allergies including strangely enough to bananas and some citrus fruits (!)

  35. ndjalva

    There was no account about what her own body generates ; e.g.. brain activity, muscle activity (the heart for one),static generated by mst anything, (even water flowing past anything that might,,,ok I'll quit

  36. Mike Flugennock
    Coffee/keyboard

    Liberté, égalité, électrosensibilité?

    Liberté, égalité, insanité, more like.

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