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29 October 2022

Wireless Technologies But Not Without Risks

Wireless technologies but not without risks 
lesoir.be, 28th October 2022  (updated article, auto-translation below)**
By a hundred electrohypersensitive people

It is urgent to raise collective awareness around the health danger of wireless technologies, which concerns everyone, and to organize better inclusion regarding the disability that electromagnetic waves cause

(Photo): An international gathering of
electrohypersensitive people (EHS) took place on 18 June 2022 - DR

In June, about a hundred of us gathered in one of the last areas protected from the waves in Wallonia. Why ? All of us develop symptoms near wireless telecommunications devices and antennas: wifi, 4G, Bluetooth headsets, DECT landline telephone, telephone antennas near the home... For many of us, the first symptoms could not be diagnosed in time because they were confused with other pathologies, leading to a very disabling evolution of the latter: headaches, burning ears, concentration problems, tingling in the limbs, tinnitus, sleep disorders , nausea and the feeling of a burning brain, extreme fatigue, failing short and long-term memory...

Very often, these symptoms forced us to stop a job whose premises were saturated with wifi, to move, to go in search of housing sheltered from radiation. Because once the affection declared, only one effective remedy exists: the absence of electromagnetic exposure. Unfortunately, in the field, health professionals are not sufficiently and/or correctly trained to detect this emerging environmental health problem, even though it inconveniences one in twenty people in Switzerland and France.

An all-on-the-air society?

Today, the smartphone has appropriated a place at the table, between coffee and croissants. Communicating electricity meters are needed everywhere in homes, and public transport is saturated with smartphones emitting both bluetooth, 4G and wifi. To the existing electromagnetic fog are added new emissions, linked in particular to 5G. As you will have understood, far from finding solutions to our handicap, the general atmosphere is one of the proliferation of wireless technologies. In addition to health problems, there is a major constraint: social exclusion.

In many ways, we like to compare ourselves to the asthmatics of the 1950s. At the time, everyone smoked on public transport, at home, on the streets, in cafes and everywhere else, despite the overwhelming evidence of the link between smoking and lung cancer. For lack of "scientific consensus", skillfully orchestrated by the "merchants of doubt" of the tobacco industry , taking public health measures took decades… Asthmatics had to have a hard time. Today, it's the same process: here we are bathed in a permanent electro-smog, even as the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), classifies electromagnetic radiation from mobile networks in "category 2B, possible carcinogens" since 2011. In addition, this classification is being reassessed by the IARC since the publication of two studies that highlighted the link between exposure similar to that which we suffer and the occurrence of cancers and DNA damage in rats.

Regarding electrohypersensitivity, research is progressing: a study published in 2020 conducted on 700 patients in France shows common variations in certain blood markers and explains the biological mechanisms resulting from exposure to electromagnetic waves.

In Belgium, a thousand doctors and workers in the paramedical sector have signed an appeal for the application of the precautionary principle regarding electromagnetic radiation. Their observation?  "The safety of ubiquitous and prolonged exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation has never been demonstrated. On the contrary, the evidence of its harmfulness is accumulating."

Did you say “conflicts of interest”?

As in the past with tobacco, today we see glaring conflicts of interest in setting radiation standards. MEPs Klaus Buchner and Michèle Rivasi commissioned an investigation into the independence of the private institution ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection) and its members . The survey demonstrates in particular that the majority of scientists at ICNIRP, an organization considered to be the reference in terms of protection against non-ionizing radiation, have carried out research partially funded by the telecommunications sector, and that the organization cooperates closely with the latter.

The head of ICNIRP himself admits, facing the camera, that he has no idea what we are heading towards in terms of health regarding 5G. This is not surprising, since the ICNIRP recommendations only take into account the short-term thermal effect of radiation exposure and its impact on human health. It does not take into account the many other short and long term biological effects. To draw a meaningful parallel, we will agree that smoking a pack of cigarettes one day in your life will not lead to the development of lung cancer, but what about the long-term effects of regular consumption?

In Belgium, due to the arrival of 5G, the three regions have reduced the protection of citizens against electromagnetic pollution. Regional standards have been or are being raised. In the Brussels region, for example, the project is to raise the standard from 6 V/m to 14.5 V/m. Expressed in terms of exposure, it is 5.8 times higher. Admittedly, this is below the ICNIRP recommendation (about 8 times less), but it is more than 50,000 times higher than the recommendations established by the European Academy for Environmental Medicine (EUROPAEM), which take into account short- and long-term biological effects.

Our demands: recognition and collective electromagnetic hygiene

We, electrosensitive people, are victims of a sudden stop in the respect of most of our rights: the right to a healthy environment, the right to lead a professional life, the right to frequent public, cultural or educational places, the right to healthy housing… Where have all our fundamental rights gone? Even hospitals are places today saturated with radiation. Where are we going to be able to be healed without having to suffer increased suffering in a place where we should be able to regenerate?

All of this raises the question of the place reserved for us in a world of everything on the airwaves. To guarantee our right to a decent life, we need recognition of electrohypersensitivity by our authorities. There is an urgent need for suitable housing, suitable workplaces and accessible transport and places of care. Pragmatic solutions exist, but the resources and support of federal and regional authorities are needed to put them in place. It is time for our elected officials to meet with us to better understand how and to what extent this "microwave syndrome" impacts our daily lives. Indeed, electrohypersensitivity fully falls within the definition of disability of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. : “lasting disabilities, physical, mental, intellectual or sensory, the interaction of which with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”. This same convention also stipulates that all persons concerned must be able to enjoy all human rights.

More broadly, since prevention is better than cure, we are asking for information campaigns addressed to the general public on the real risks and on the minimum precautionary measures to adopt in the face of these wireless technologies; it is imperative to implement health prevention measures in all places accessible to the public, similar to what has been done for smoking.

(1) N. Schreier, A. Huss, M. Röösli, The prevalence of symptoms attributed to electromagnetic field exposure: a cross-sectional representative survey in Switzerland , Soz Praventivmed 51(4) (2006) 202-209. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00038-006-5061-2 

(2) ANSES, Hypersensibilité électromagnétique ou intolérance environnementale idiopathique attribuée( aux champs électromagnétiques.

(3) Naomi Oreskes and Erik M.Conway, The Merchants of Doubt , Bloomsbury Press, 2010.

(4) A study carried out over a period of ten years within the framework of the National Toxicology Program, at the request of the United States Department of Health (Wyde et al, 2018), as well as an Italian study published by the Ramazzini Institute (Falcioni et al, 2018).

(5) Belpomme & Irigaray, Electrohypersensitivity as a Newly Identified and Characterized Neurologic Pathological Disorder: How to Diagnose, Treat, and Prevent It , 2020. 

(7) Report available. 
( Issue #Investigation “<UN>5G, all guinea pigs?<UN>” , RTBF 16-09-2020. 

(9) EUROPAEM, EUROPAEM EMF Guideline 2016 for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of EMF-related health problems and illnesses. 

(10) UNIA , The application in Belgium of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

** We thank Dave Ashton for the auto-translation of this article.

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