If you get your news reports from CNN, you might be familiar with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The US-born neurosurgeon and medical correspondent has already won multiple Emmy Awards for his work. His CNN segment “Vital Signs” explores health stories from all around the world.
One issue that Dr. Gupta tackled recently for CNN is the health effects of wireless radiation.
In a three-part series, Dr. Gupta explores the research behind electromagnetic sensitivity, the dangers of EFM exposure, and more.
Part One of CNN’s series takes us inside the radio quiet zone of Green Bank, West Virginia. As we explored in our post about EMF-free zones, Green Bank is home to a large, highly sensitive telescope. To prevent interference with the telescope, all types of wireless technology and radio signals are banned by law within the zone.
The quite zone is also home to a small community of people who suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS). Dr. Gupta interviews one Green Bank resident who began suffering from headaches, fatigue and skin rashes after a cell phone tower was erected near her Iowa home. When she relocated to Green Bank, her symptoms disappeared.
The symptoms of EHS vary from person to person, and are difficult to confirm or diagnose. That’s why it’s existence is still debated.
Dr. Gupta seeks out an expert opinion, and interviews David Carpenter, Director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University of Albany.
At the start of his career, Carpenter “did not believe that EHS was a real medical condition.” His work over the years, says CNN, has changed his mind.
Carpenter refers to studies exploring the link between childhood leukaemia and EMF radiation from household wiring. “I thought that was just ludicrous and nonsense,” he says. “And then we supported studies that confirmed those observations.”
While Carpenter agrees that it’s necessary to be skeptical, it’s also important to “look at the evidence and take the evidence seriously.” Of electromagnetic hypersensitivity he says: “While the evidence is still building, I’m convinced it’s a real disease.”
“As the world becomes more connected,” asks CNN, “how can you reduce your exposure to electromagnetic fields?”
The second video by Dr. Sanjay Gupta doesn’t ask if we should try and minimize EMF exposure — that’s already a given. Instead it jumps into why and how.
The video opens with research into cell phone use and health. In 2011, it notes, the World Health Organization classified radio frequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” based on the increased risk of brain cancer from wireless phone use.
“Reduce your exposures wherever possible,” says Joel Moskowitz, Director of the Center for Family and Community Health at UC Berkeley. He singles out measures like using wired internet connections, landline phones, and headsets. “Around one in 250 people will get brain cancer over their lifetime. What we’re finding with 10 years of cell phone use is a doubling of risk.”
Dr. Gupta heads back to Green Bank, where EHS sufferers have gathered to reduce their own wireless exposure. The experiences of sufferers like Dafna Tachover, a telecommunications officer in the Israeli army, and Melissa Chalmers, a commercial airline pilot, are similar despite their different backgrounds. All experienced debilitating symptoms in daily life that subsided or disappeared after moving to Green Bank.
Researchers have yet to find a definitive link between EMFs and electromagnetic hypersensitivity symptoms. But, the program notes, establishing such cause-and-effect relationships takes decades, and technology moves faster than research can keep up with.
Leo Halepli has been living in Green Bank on and off for three years. Originally from Turkey, he’s a management consultant by trade and self-confessed tech geek.
Despite his love of computers, Halepli developed EHS symptoms like muscle tenseness, gastrointestinal issues, and fatigue. After years of visiting doctors and psychologists to no avail, Halepli, willing to try just about anything, moved to the EMF-free zone of Green Bank.
“When I was driving into the zone, I felt a sense of relief,” he says. His symptoms quickly subsided. Halepli, like others, has also found that the more time he spends in Green Bank, the better he is able to cope with electromagnetic radiation when he is exposed. “The longer he spends here,” explains Dr. Gupta, “the more time he can spend away—in small doses.”
Halepli’s story is yet another that suggests, at least anecdotally, that the health effects of electromagnetic fields have not yet been fully realized or documented.
“While the scientific research regarding EHS continues,” concludes Dr. Gupta, “one thing is for sure: disconnecting with our devices, and reconnecting to each other, can’t hurt.”
Though most of us don’t live in an EMF-free zone, we can still do plenty to minimize exposure in day-to-day life — and we don’t even have to give up our technology in the process.
For example, by hanging an SYB Poster Frame Liner on your home or office wall is one way to do it. Any poster or artwork can be subtly turned into a powerful shield that blocks up to 99.9% of EMF radiation.