Tuesday, July 1, 2008

FAQs 1 - 17

The following list of FAQ’s is compiled from questions raised at various Electric Forester talks, presentations and workshops since 2006.

1. Why do people who are Electromagnetically HyperSensitive go on about mobile phones? After all, practically everyone has one, so what’s the big deal? The emissions from mobile and cordless phones and their associated base stations are a major problem for many EHS. It is because mobile phones and cordless devices are now everywhere that their lives are so restricted. It is not simply about choice. Being within range of mobile phones and base stations makes them ill.

2. But most people aren’t affected, right? Most people (that is more than half) do not seem to be affected, as far as they are aware, but that does not mean that they are entirely unaffected. The more we learn about people who have become EHS, the more it becomes plain that for some people at least, once they have become sensitized by one form of electromagnetism through perhaps heavy or excessive mobile phone use, they become more likely to develop similar symptoms caused by exposure to other forms of electromagnetism, with the consequent disruption to their lives such sensitivities entail.

3. Can’t such people be cured? It’s not so much a question of a cure as that implies an illness and the EHS are not sick. It’s a bit like saying to a person who lives next door to a motorway ‘we can cure the noise in your head if you agree to wear these ear defenders all the time’. Likewise we could say we’ll cure your allergy to cigarette smoke by getting you to wear a respirator whenever you go out in public. Clearly such approaches are disingenuous to those people whose lives are curtailed by the activities of others.

4. How is people’s exposure monitored? How can I find out how exposed I am and make informed judgments about risk? As people go about their daily business, environmental exposure monitoring is extremely difficult. Imagine trying to record a person’s sunshine exposure while they are on holiday. With sunshine, in practice our skin does the job for us and lets us know in no uncertain fashion if we are over-doing it. And its not just overall or average exposure that counts. Anyone who’s ever had the backs of their knees sunburnt will know that some surprisingly small parts of our bodies are highly susceptible to electromagnetic radiation, of which sunshine is but one part.

5. What sort of people develop EHS? Am I at risk? As more and more people discover that they are electrically sensitive (ES), simultaneously the uses to which electromagnetism can be put are proliferating as never before. The result is that unless people who become ES take action to manage their EM exposure, they are at increased risk of developing very much more inconvenient and debilitating EHS. Despite the multi-factorial, multi-disciplinary nature of the problem, some useful deductions can be made by simply listening to EHS sufferer’s stories. Similar themes crop up time and again and it is from these first-hand testimonies (commonly dismissed as anecdotal or hearsay) that the following partial list is drawn: History of:
Electric shock/lightning strike or ‘splash’
Chemical overload, MCS, Allergy, Food/Chemical Intolerance
Non Invasive Brain Trauma/Concussion
Trauma/Limb Fracture implies X-rays

6. Surely, with wireless, WLAN, WiFi, WiMAX, DECT cordless and even low energy bulbs now everywhere, there are many places that EHS cannot go? Yes that is increasingly true. They may be able to tolerate say 20 minutes in a supermarket but have to walk out if someone else in the checkout queue gets on their mobile phone. It is very difficult in practice. If the EHS exceed their tolerance, their health may be compromised for hours, days or even weeks afterwards. Consequently their options are often severely curtailed and this is one of the reasons that EHS people are often not noticed – because they go about their business when there are few people (and mobiles) about.

7. But surely, if they could put up with it, they’d be able to have a much more normal life? It’s a bit like telling a person who is already suffering the effects of sunstroke (nausea, burning red skin, general feeling of being unwell) that a bit longer in the sun can’t hurt them, after all, look at all these other people sunbathing quite happily.

8. Are some people naturally more at risk? It is not surprising that amongst the 6,500 million people on the planet today, some have greater tolerance to environmental stressors than others. Ginger haired people may, for example, be more readily affected by the sun. There is no question of them being ‘cured’, for they are not sick. Nevertheless, they are able to manage their exposure and lead normal lives, unlike the EHS when exposed to man-made electromagnetic radiation (Electrosmog) which they cannot see and cannot control.

9. Why are more people experiencing EHS symptoms now when electricity and wireless have been around for over 100 years? Two things have changed: Firstly, we are all surrounded by more electricity and electrical devices than ever before and for a much greater proportion of our lives; Secondly, much of the Electrosmog which surrounds us is digital. Digital signals are completely unheard of in nature. They are an entirely man-made phenomenon, one which our bodies have not grown up to tolerate.

10. What’s the difference between Analogue and Digital? The old analogue systems used curved (Sine) waves to carry information. There were limits as to how much information could be passed and it was subject to interference. Modern digital systems use stepped (Square) waves which are much easier for electronics to distinguish (partly because there is nothing like them in the natural environment).

11. How is it that digital signals can transmit say speech, which is analogue, using only 0’s and 1’s? Each part of the audio waveform is analyzed and given a numeric value. The number is converted into binary (0’s & 1’s) and transmitted using the 0’s and 1’s of the digital waveform. The higher the frequency used the more information can be carried. That’s why WiFi which started off at 2.4 GHz is now available at 5.8 GHz with consequently higher data rates. At the receiving end, the process is reversed and speech reproduced. Digital allows signals to be chopped up and multiple messages to be sent along the same path at the same time. That’s how broadband and phone lines can share the same path simultaneously.

12. I still don’t understand binary/digital and all those noughts and one’s. For example, a decimal number such as 1152 is made up of 1 x 10^3 + 1 x 10^2 + 5 x 10^1 + 2 x 10^0. The position of each number tells you how many 10’s it needs to be multiplied by: In binary (to the base 2 instead of to the base 10) the position of each digit is likewise important. 1152 would be written: 1 x 2 ^10 (i.e. 1024) + 0 x 2 ^9 + 0 x 2^8 + 1x 2^7 (i.e. 128) + 0 x 2^6 + 0 x 2^5 etc. or 10010000000.

13. Why has this got anything to do with EHS? It seems that some people’s cells are able to perceive these new pulsed digital radio waves - microwaves that penetrate the skin, unlike the older AM/FM frequencies we are familiar with. Because the frequencies, pulses and power densities are similar to those used by the body for self-regulation, cells don’t know how to behave. Any kind of disorder within the body’s cells or their regulatory systems can lead to all manner of unforeseen consequences, not least of them diseases, particularly cancer.

14. Are there other kinds of consequences we should be looking out for? We are only now learning about some of them, and for many the links to electromagnetic exposures have not been universally agreed. Those we have good reason to suspect include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, Leukaemia, Diabetes and many others. In time, many of todays poorly understood diseases will be associated with EMF exposure. We do not yet understand the links let alone the mechanisms by which they are connected but it seems the relationship we have enjoyed with electromagnetism has dismissed some of the dangers, dangers that are only now becoming apparent.

15. So what should I do if I am concerned for my own health and that of the people I care about? We now know that for some, electromagnetism (in many of its forms – electric, magnetic, electromagnetic etc.) has dangers of which we have previously been unaware. Given that we are still learning about the whys and the wherefores of ElectroMagnetic Force (EMF)’s amazing capabilities and its biological consequences, it makes sense to minimize EMF exposure wherever it occurs. Thus adopting an ALARA policy – As Low As Reasonably Achievable is consistent with the known science and is in line with the UK Government’s advice to adopt a precautionary approach.

16. Why doesn’t industry make people more aware of the dangers that electromagnetism poses for some people? Despite industry’s encouragement for us to make use of all things electrical, electrical energy inherently produces potentially harmful emissions during transmission and at point of use (Electrosmog). During the course of a normal day we are often subjected to very many EMF sources and there is little desire amongst suppliers and regulators to minimise such emissions or to educate users in minimizing exposure. Because it is society’s collective responsibility, it seems nobody is responsible.

17. Are some types of appliance worse than others? Magnetic field emissions from household appliances are often linked to how much power they use. Thus an immersion heater is likely to produce more Electrosmog than an ordinary light bulb. But its often not that simple. Electrosmog includes radio emissions and Low Energy (LE) light bulbs give off more Electrosmog than ordinary incandescent bulbs. It’s difficult to be truly green.

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