Electro-sensitivity - Fact or fiction?

Summary:Can you be sensitive to modern technology? Believe it or not, some people claim they are.

Can you be sensitive to modern technology?  Believe it or not, some people claim they are. 

A couple of people sent me a link to an article about a woman in the UK who claims to suffer from electro-sensitivity, a condition which she claims causes her to develop a painful skin rash when exposed to the electromagnetic field  emitted by computers, mobile phones, microwave ovens and so on.

I've not personally come across anyone who claims to be but this isn't the first time that I've seen claims that individuals are sensitive to the EM fields generated by electrical devices and who either develop skin rashes, insomnia, tiredness, or prolonged flu-like symptoms. 

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Since I've not come across this kind of thing first it's hard to say whether it's real or not.  After all, if someone finds that their symptoms get better after taking steps to limit exposure to EM, then that in itself says something.  It doesn't prove one way or another that EM is to blame, but there's scope for research to be done here.  In fact, the person in the article has gone to great lengths to eliminate EM:

They took electromagnetic readings of the property and set about making it safe. The house was completely re-wired, had clear protective film put on the windows and every wall was painted with black carbon paint, which cost £250 [about $500] per tin, to deflect the harmful rays.

There is one part of the article that I do take issue with though:

We have a plasma screen TV because the old style one gave out gamma rays, which brought on my reaction.

I'm not aware of any TV giving out gamma rays, and if they did, all of us that like to veg out in front of the glass teat would dead, dying, sterile or at least ill (hmmm ... wait a minute ...).

However, I do have to say that personally I'm skeptical that the symptoms described are caused by EM sensitivity.  Given the symptoms, there are so many other things that it could be that are totally unrelated to EM.  While I've never come across someone allergic to EM, I have come across dozens of people who develop an allergic reaction to the dust that accumulates around electrical devices such as TVs and computers.  In fact, the skin on my hands tends to crack after I've spend a day or so fiddling around with old PCs.

Anyone here come across anyone suffering from electro-sensitivity?  Anyone have any thoughts on what could be the cause?

Topics: Hardware

About

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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