Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS) and HAM Radio

WiFi, TV and radio signals, cell phones, even a common car key – we live in a wireless world. Most of us love it. For some, it’s bad news. A growing group of people claims to be suffering from Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS). The reported symptoms of EHS include headache, fatigue, stress, sleep disturbances, skin symptoms like prickling, burning sensations and rashes, pain and ache in muscles and many other health problems.

Why now?
My first question would be “Why now?” Wireless signals been around for quite some time, and the power output of modern devices pale by comparison with the (analog) transmitters we used to have on shortwave and mediumwave. Why am I not affected, nor my fellow ham operators? Why do I have headaches and sleep disturbances when filling out a tax form, but not when I’m at a club station pumping 2KW ERP into the air? Realistically, if EHS is real, I should be dead by now. Killed by RF. Whacked by waves.

In 2005, a systematic review looked at the results of 31 experiments testing the role of electromagnetic fields in causing EHS. Each of these experiments exposed people who reported electromagnetic hypersensitivity to genuine and sham electromagnetic fields under single- or double-blind conditions. The review concluded that:

“The symptoms described by ‘electromagnetic hypersensitivity’ sufferers can be severe and are sometimes disabling. However, it has proved difficult to show under blind conditions that exposure to electromagnetic fields can trigger these symptoms. This suggests that ‘electromagnetic hypersensitivity’ is unrelated to the presence of electromagnetic fields, although more research into this phenomenon is required.”

Are you transmitting something?
So, why would I care? I’ll explain. A new neighbor, one block away, claims she suffers from EHS and got worried when she spotted my antennas. I already heard about her, so I wasn’t completely unprepared.

“Are you transmitting something?” she asked me one day. “I’m very sensitive to electromagnetic fields, you know.”
“Don’t worry”, I answered, “I have a bunch of receivers. These suck the electromagnetic fields out of the air.”
“I already thought so”, she replied. “I didn’t feel anything here yet. Pleasure meeting you.”

She walked away, happy, relieved, with a smile on her face. For a second I wanted to point out to her that there’s a 10KW digital TV transmitter just 500 meters away. I also wanted to give her the manufacturing details of the top secret device below. Fortunately I was able to restrain myself.


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