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05 February 2018

Open Letter on the Electromagnetic Hyper-Sensitivity Research

Open Letter on the Electromagnetic Hyper-Sensitivity Research
by Dariusz Leszczynski, betweenrockandhardplace.wordpress.com, 4 February 2018

To the attention of:

The World Health Organization: Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus; info@who.int; @DrTedros; @DrTedros.Official
The WHO EMF Project: Head Emilie T. van Deventer vandeventere@who.int
The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP): Chair Eric van Röngen; vanrongen@icnirp.org
The European Commission Directorate for Research and Innovation:
Commissioner Carlos Moedas; cab-moedas-contact@ec.europa.eu
The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA): CEO Lars-Magnus Larsson; info@arpansa.gov.au
The National Health and Medical Council (NHMRC): CEO Anne Kelso; nhmrc@nhmrc.gov.au


The end of the road for EHS (IEI-EMF) provocation studies

Dariusz Leszczynski, PhD, DSc
Adjunct Professor of Biochemistry, University of Helsinki, Finland

Chief Editor of ‘Radiation and Health’ specialty, Frontiers in Public Health, Lausanne, Switzerland


Research funding and reviewing agencies should re-consider their stance on the importance of the research on EHS/IEI-EMF. Research should continue but the approach should change. The dominant study protocol till now, provocation studies, need to be replaced with studies examining molecular level physiology changes. Continuation of the research using provocation studies will not provide reliable scientific answers concerning EHS/IEI-EMF. Continuation of research using provocation studies approach is simply a waste of time and scarce resources.


Part of the population considers themselves as sensitive to radiation emitted by the wireless communication devices and networks. Different studies have indicated that ca. 0.5 – 11% of the population might be experiencing sensitivity symptoms. This ailment, called either electromagnetic hyper-sensitivity (EHS) or idiopathic environmental intolerance attributed to electromagnetic fields (IEI-EMF), is currently not considered by the World Health Organization as being caused by the exposures to electromagnetic fields (EMF). While the symptoms experienced by some persons are acknowledged as health impairment, the cause of these symptoms is considered to be unknown.

Numerous experimental provocation studies (over 70) were executed to determine whether EMF exposure causes EHS. In provocation studies, volunteers are exposed to radiation emitted by the wireless communication devices, in controlled conditions, and asked whether they get health symptoms and whether they recognize when the radiation is on/off. Answers provided by the study subjects are subjective and not objective experimental data. Collectively, the provocation studies have indicated a lack of causality between the EHS symptoms and exposures to EMF.

As I argue below, all of the to-date executed EHS provocation studies provide unreliable results because of several drawbacks in the design and execution of the experiments.

Using, as it is done now, of such ‘subjective’ and scientifically unreliable data to support health policy decisions concerning the EHS/IEI-EMF is a mistake.

Any attempts at improving the methodology of the provocation studies will not lead to the generation of ‘objective’ and reliable scientific data. The data will remain to be ‘subjective’ and scientifically unreliable.

Currently, Australia leads the EHS research

A research group at the Wollongong University in Australia, part of the Australian Centre for Electromagnetic Bioeffects Research (ACEBR) funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), is currently playing a leading role in the research on EHS. The research on EHS, executed by the Wollongong group, follows the suggestions provided by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA).

In June 2017, ARPANSA published Technical Report 178: Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Energy and Health: Research Needs.

In the Report, specified as ‘special area of research’, was listed research on EHS/IEI-EMF. The authors of the Report consider research on EHS as follows:

  • it is not clear that there is sufficient evidence to justify further research in this area
  • consistency of well conducted provocation studies further research using this approach is not a high priority
  • improving the methodology in provocation studies may justify further research as a low to medium priority

This means that the ARPANSA considers EHS research as of low importance and questions the need for further research altogether. This is a mistake.

The Question: is EHS caused by EMF?

The answer to the question whether EMF might cause EHS is – yes.

There is no scientific reason why the EMF could not cause EHS in some part of the human population. There is a well-known, and scientifically well-established, phenomenon of the individual sensitivity (Foray et al. 2012). Individual sensitivity means that, because of the genetic and the epigenetic differences between people, different persons have different sensitivity to the same exposing factor (radiation or chemicals).

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