• We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
Logo of envhperEnvironmental Health PerspectivesBrowse ArticlesAbout EHPGeneral InformationAuthorsMediaProgramsPartnerships
Environ Health Perspect. Aug 2002; 110(Suppl 4): 619–623.
PMCID: PMC1241215
Research Article

Study of self-reported hypersensitivity to electromagnetic fields in California.

Abstract

Cases of alleged hypersensitivity to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) have been reported for more than 20 years, and some authors have suggested some connection with the "multiple chemical sensitivity" illness. We report the results of a telephone survey among a sample of 2,072 Californians. Being "allergic or very sensitive" to being near electrical devices was reported by 68 subjects, resulting in an adjusted prevalence of 3.2% (95% confidence interval = 2.8, 3.7). Twenty-seven subjects (1.3%) reported sensitivity to electrical devices but no sensitivity to chemicals. Characteristics of the people reporting hypersensitivity to EMFs were generally different from those of people reporting being allergic to everyday chemicals. Alleging environmental illness or multiple chemical sensitivity diagnosed by a doctor was the strongest predictor of reporting being hypersensitive to EMFs in this population. Other predictive factors apart from self-reporting chemical sensitivity were race/ethnicity other than White, Black, or Hispanic; having low income; and being unable to work. The perception of risk of exposure to EMFs through the use of hair dryers (vs. exposure to power and distribution lines) was the factor the most associated with self-reporting about hypersensitivity to EMFs. However, risk perception was not sufficient to explain the characteristics of people reporting this disorder.

Full Text

The Full Text of this article is available as a PDF (524K).

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Andersson B, Berg M, Arnetz BB, Melin L, Langlet I, Lidén S. A cognitive-behavioral treatment of patients suffering from "electric hypersensitivity". Subjective effects and reactions in a double-blind provocation study. J Occup Environ Med. 1996 Aug;38(8):752–758. [PubMed]
  • Berg M, Arnetz BB, Lidén S, Eneroth P, Kallner A. Techno-stress. A psychophysiological study of employees with VDU-associated skin complaints. J Occup Med. 1992 Jul;34(7):698–701. [PubMed]
  • Bergdahl J. Psychologic aspects of patients with symptoms presumed to be caused by electricity or visual display units. Acta Odontol Scand. 1995 Oct;53(5):304–310. [PubMed]
  • Bergqvist U, Wahlberg JE. Skin symptoms and disease during work with visual display terminals. Contact Dermatitis. 1994 Apr;30(4):197–204. [PubMed]
  • Cormier-Parry ML, Karakashian GV, Burnett JW. Dermatologic manifestations in users of video display terminals. Cutis. 1988 Jul;42(1):16–16. [PubMed]
  • Feldman LR, Eaglstein WH, Johnson RB. Terminal illness. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1985 Feb;12(2 Pt 1):366–366. [PubMed]
  • Fisher AA. "Terminal" dermatitis due to computers (visual display units). Cutis. 1986 Sep;38(3):153–154. [PubMed]
  • Kreutzer R, Neutra RR, Lashuay N. Prevalence of people reporting sensitivities to chemicals in a population-based survey. Am J Epidemiol. 1999 Jul 1;150(1):1–12. [PubMed]
  • Levallois Patrick. Hypersensitivity of human subjects to environmental electric and magnetic field exposure: a review of the literature. Environ Health Perspect. 2002 Aug;110 (Suppl 4):613–618. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Lidén C, Wahlberg JE. Work with video display terminals among office employees. V. Dermatologic factors. Scand J Work Environ Health. 1985 Dec;11(6):489–493. [PubMed]
  • Lidén S. "Sensitivity to electricity"--a new environmental epidemic. Allergy. 1996 Aug;51(8):519–524. [PubMed]
  • McCarron P, Harvey I, Brogan R, Peters TJ. Self reported health of people in an area contaminated by chromium waste: interview study. BMJ. 2000 Jan 1;320(7226):11–15. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Oftedal G, Vistnes AI, Rygge K. Skin symptoms after the reduction of electric fields from visual display units. Scand J Work Environ Health. 1995 Oct;21(5):335–344. [PubMed]
  • Perry GF. Video display terminals: potential health effects of office automation. Indiana Med. 1991 Jul;84(7):466–469. [PubMed]
  • Shusterman D, Lipscomb J, Neutra R, Satin K. Symptom prevalence and odor-worry interaction near hazardous waste sites. Environ Health Perspect. 1991 Aug;94:25–30. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Articles from Environmental Health Perspectives are provided here courtesy of National Institute of Environmental Health Science

Formats:

Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...

Links

  • MedGen
    MedGen
    Related information in MedGen
  • PubMed
    PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...