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15 September 2014

The Electrosensitive: When Waves Ravage Lives

Electrohypersensitive persons at an international gathering which took
place from 25 August to 1st September 2014 in the Gorges du Riou-Froid
(Hautes-Alpes)  (Jéromine Santo-Gammaire/France TVInfo)
"Hypersensitive persons report a strong feeling of abandonment by society. [One family, whose 12-year-old daughter is electro-sensitive, related], 'We consulted a homeopath, a neuro-pediatrician who admitted he was not competent regarding the issue, an osteopath, an acupuncturist. Our family physician advised us to see a psychologist. They did not listen. They did not take what we were saying seriously'."

The Electrosensitive: When Waves Ravage Livesby Jéromine Santo-Gammaire, francetvinfo.fr, 8 September 2014 (translated from French by the Editor of this blog)

Persons intolerant to electromagnetic waves militate for recognition of their illness and for the creation of a protected place to live. Report from the forest of the Hautes-Alpes where a number of these persons have gathered.

Attached to trees, hand-written signs request hikers and drivers to "imperatively switch off" their mobile phones. The narrow route which penetrates the forest ends in a clearing where there are groups of tents. In the center, is a large tent. It is here, in the Gorges de Riou Froid (Hautes-Alpes) that the international gathering of electrohypersensitive (EHS) persons – victims of disorders attributed to electromagnetic waves - took place from 25 August to 1st September.

Bernard, one of the organizers, asks with a partly embarrassed, partly-determined smile, if it is possible to park the car a little ways away. It is too new and emits an electromagnetic field that certain persons do not tolerate. He takes the electronic key and places it in a metal box “which does not allow waves to get out.”

Who are these modern men and women, who must seek refuge in caves to protect themselves, asks Le Parisien? About 60 electrohypersensitive persons are gathered here beneath the tent. They come from all over France and even from Germany, England, Italy, Spain – very tiring travel for the most hypersensitive. Several persons have pale, emaciated faces, rings around their eyes. They are still feeling the effects of their travel through areas saturated with waves: incessant headaches, serious sleep disturbances, irritable mood, loss of balance, cognitive troubles, loss of immediate memory, attention and concentration… the electrohypersensitive attribute all these troubles to waves. But if their ills are acknowledged, the link between cause and effect is not, which is preventing recognition of the illness and its treatment.

From all professions and social milieux

"Most people experience a very difficult time," explains Philippe Tribaudeau, the founder of the association « A Land for the EHS » which organized the event. “They must leave everything to change their lives. Here, you will find people from all professions and social milieux. » Mostly coming from large cities, these persons have all at one time used new technologies : cell phones, Wi-Fi at home, wireless TV decoders. “We have absolutely nothing against technology,” explains one man. "I have a mobile phone business."

Gathered beneath the tent, they exchange their testimonies and meet newcomers. Here, the electrohypersensitive can talk freely without always trying to convince others of the reality and origin of their ills. “We understand one another. There is a strong bond between us,” explains Marc, 43, a former graphic designer who lives in Paris.

Lucile, 12, has been suffering from electrosensitivity for the last two years, but her family only discovered it six months ago. “At school, I talk to no one because if I did, my friends would repeat it to the whole class.” “She is afraid of being ridiculed,” says her mother who came to the gathering with her husband and their eight children to learn more. “At that age, one wants only to be like the others.” The family is preparing to move to the countryside. “We will be far from my friends,” laments her young brother.

Afflicted to different degrees, the electrohypersensitive report varying symptoms : headaches, joint and muscular pain, insomnia, nausea, memory loss… Most of the time, these progressively worsen. Sylvie, 46, excuses herself for having difficulty speaking. “I come from a family of intellectuals and I have a +5 baccalaureate. I feel ashamed at moments like this.”

A feeling of abandonment

"When the illness developed, I did not understand what was happening. I could not believe it. It ressembled science fiction," says Virginie, 39. In order to establish that the feeling of her skull being in a vice was indeed caused by mobile phone antennas, she began to look for them in the city when she felt neck pain radiating to her shoulders. Systematically, she would find an antenna. “Little by little, the city became a labyrinth for me. I studied all the streets and then made wide detours to avoid the antennas.”

Persons who are afflicted with these ills often spend lots of time trying to understand the cause. Even physicians seem overwhelmed. Electrohypersensitivity is still little known and is controversial in the medical world. In France, the symptoms are acknowledged, but electrohypersensitivity is not considered a disease. The link with electromagnetic waves is not recognized. The problem is similar regarding the World Health Organization. “Only the Council of Europe (resolution 1815 of 6 May 2011) calls for recognition of hypersensitivity and the creation of white zones, but as it is only a consultative opinion, everyone disregards it”, comments Philippe Tribaudeau.

Hypersensitive persons report a strong feeling of abandonment by society. Lucile’s parents related their uphill battle in understanding the illness. “We consulted a homeopath, a neuro-pediatrician who admitted he was not competent regarding the issue, an osteopath, an acupuncturist. Our family physician advised us to see a psychologist. They did not listen. They did not take what we were saying seriously. Then, we met Professor Belpomme.”

« Leave society to avoid suffering »

Professor and oncologist Dominique Belpomme is held in high esteem by all the hyersensitive persons at the gathering. He defends the idea, contrary to many of his French colleagues, that magnetic fields are harmful to health, and affirms that the link is proven by many international studies. He is the only person in France to establish a specific diagnosis of electrosensitivity through a battery of tests, and to demonstrate considerable high-level support for the cause.

According to him, electromagnetic waves gradually cause deterioration of the blood-brain barrier which separates the brain from the blood and serves as a filter. The barrier then allows penetration into the brain of toxic substances which should not be there. “For Professor Belpomme, electrohypersensitivity is a neurodegenerative disease which can in the end lead to Alzheimer’s,” explains Marc. “When he announced this during the consultation, I was panic-stricken.” “I would have preferred to hear this earlier in order to protect myself,” says Paul, a former artist. “But when one passes a certain stage, one cannot turn back.” “In order to avoid suffering, we must leave society,” adds Marc.

At this moment in their stories, all those present were reflecting on the “descent into hell”: the passage from a life which no one wanted to leave to another – an “upheaveal”. Finding a place where they can live – and, the most difficult, sleep – becomes complicated. Some try to take refuge with their family or friends, sleeping in the basement of their home where stone reduces exposure to waves. Hypersensitive persons experience a period of intense stress and anxiety from not knowing what will happen afterwards, often accompanied by isolation. “Some of us have turned to religion or spirituality in order to find support,” says one person at the gathering.

A vital white zone

The large majority of afflicted persons must be resolved to move, sometimes leaving behind their family, friends, and work. “We fall into a hole”, testifies Marie. “We learn to get by as best we can, depending on the degree of our sensitivity to waves. I am not even counting the financial losses that I have suffered with my spouse from having to move, the purchase of equipment to protect the home, and especially, the loss of my job, which was morally the most difficult thing for me.”

The association “A land for EHS” tries to help these persons, alone and in distress, who do not know where to go. It is militating for the creation of a white zone, an area with the least waves possible.

« I am lucky, » continues Marie. « I am still able to see friends if they switch off their telephone. This isn’t the case with everyone here.” In a letter read aloud, a teenager, who could not travel to the gathering, said, “No more going to the movies, visiting friends or concerts. Last June, I gave in and went to a musical festival for two hours. Afterwards, I spent 8 days, bed-ridden. Electrosensitivity is a disaster and I don’t want it to spread.” “Every one of us ends up by becoming militant,” affirms Marie, “Everyone moves at his own pace until we succeed in stepping back more from our situation.”

The Durbon Project, ongoing since the beginning of 2011, envisages creating a place for hypersensitive persons in the commune of Saint-Julien-en-Beauchêne (Hatues-Alpes), next to the place of the gathering. But there is a lot of resistance. “For the telecoms operators, our disease does not exist,” says Philippe Tribaudeau. “They refuse even to talk about our project with the person responsible, Michèle Rivasi, who is a Member of the European Parliament.” The militants also emphasize the economic interest of the commune, which receives 4,000 euros a month in rent for its two mobile phone antennas.

« A resurgence in appeals over the past year »

Philippe Tribaudeau speaks about « a health scandal ». "We cannnot expect much from the State at the speed it is acting. We are engaged in a fight with the mobile phone lobbies. Over the past year, with installation of 4G emitters, we have noticed a resurgence in appeals from the electrosensitive who do not know where to go. If we do not succeed in obtaining places to live which we require, we must occupy them by force."

The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (ANSES) which, in its report published in 2013 does not recognize the link between the described symptoms and electromagnetic waves, has nonetheless accepted to participate in a press conference organized on 28 August in the presence of elected officials. “The balance between the lobbies and associations was very unequal five years ago,” explains Philippe Tribaudeau. “Today, we feel things are starting to move.”

For now, the hypersensitive persons gathered under the tent out of the rain, are listing on a board questions and sharing advice and tips. One has bought isolating shoes and hands them around to allow each person to see what they are like. Another explains the shielding of his car with special materials. The third, a former nutritionist, talks about an adapted food régime.

A man and his hypersensitive wife leave the gathering to return to their tent. Like other persons, they will leave that same evening because of the level of waves which has increased, even though measuring devices indicate a very low level. But the husband is direct: “Even when the device does not indicate an increase in waves, my wife still feels them.”

Original article in French:


  1. I live with this problem and feel for everyone else struggling. Have sold up and shifting to the country where not may care to live, to escape. Maybe I need to look at setting up a refuge for those like myself. It's a thought.

    1. I feel for you. Setting up a refuge would indeed be most welcome. There are so many electrosensitive persons who are looking for a place to live, free of waves. These persons have become second-class citizens, treated worse than the handicapped. When will governments acknowledge this syndrome and help these persons? It is obviously a conflict of interest for governments because they are earning money from the profits of the telecoms industry. In Switzerland, the federal government owns a majority of shares in Swisscom and also profits from auctioning off frequencies to the telecoms operators.


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