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Bid to beat the electric blues United Kingdom
Contamination level: Feeling violently sick all the time.
Author: Sarah Stacey Created: 30 Nov 2009 Updated: 30 Nov 2009 Viewed: 3869 time(s)
‘heightened responsiveness to electromagnetic fields and illness resulting from it’.
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Michelle dates the onset of symptoms to 1998 Created: 30 Nov 2009
Whenever Michelle Berriedale-Johnson, 63, leaves her London home (also her office), she dons a broad-brimmed hat, lined with net,
and a diaphanous silvery jacket.

This isn’t just a style statement: her glam garb is made from bobbinet, a fine net incorporating silver threads, to help protect her against
electromagnetic radiation (EMR).

Michelle, an old friend and colleague, suffers from electrosensitivity (ES), a condition that Dr Andrew Weil describes as ‘heightened responsiveness to electromagnetic fields and illness resulting from it’.
Principal sources of EMR are mobile phones and masts, Wi-Fi, DECT cordless phones, televisions, computers, wireless headsets and power lines. Michelle dates the onset of symptoms to 1998: ‘I broke the extending aerial off my mobile, but continued to use it – with my head, as I learnt later, acting
as the aerial.’

She noticed a buzzing in her right ear, some memory loss and general malaise, but a new phone with a working aerial seemed to solve t
he problem. Four years later, however, it started again when she was working at her old computer which had a cathode ray screen.

Changing to a flat screen helped, but in 2007 she bought a state-of-the-art computer with ‘a huge screen, which I was glued to for eight
hours a day. I didn’t realise it came with built-in, enabled Bluetooth networking [which allows electronic devices to communicate
wirelessly]. Also, the nearby Royal Free Hospital had installed eight mobile-phone masts on its roof, which beamed into our house.’

By February 2008, Michelle, usually one of the most energetic, ‘up’ people I know, was ‘very depressed and lacking in energy, as if I
was always about to get flu. I had chest pain, diarrhoea, felt nauseous and lost my appetite. My memory deteriorated and my vocabulary
went to pot’. As editor of Foods Matter, a magazine and website dedicated to allergies, Michelle had run features on ES.

She realised that ‘the sensitivity initiated by the aerial-free phone was heightened by the Royal Free masts, then tipped over the edge
by the Bluetooth’.

Dr Andrew Goldsworthy, formerly of Imperial College London, explains in a report for the Breakspear Hospital (which specialises in
allergy and environmental illness) that ‘all of us are electrosensitive to some degree but some more than others’.

The symptoms occur, it seems, because EMR can interfere with – and block – cellular communication.
(Find his report and other useful information and links at foodsmatter.com.)
In Sweden, electrical hypersensitivity is a recognised condition, with skin and memory problems identified as the most common
symptoms, along with fatigue, weakness, headaches, chest pain and heart arrhythmias. Although Western doctors are mostly sceptical,
Michelle’s GP was sympathetic: ‘He admitted he knew little about ES but sent me for tests to ensure that nothing else was amiss,
and asked to be kept informed about other tests and treatments,’ she says.

Michelle bought an electro-smog detector to identify the main sources of radiation, and reverted to a pre-Bluetooth computer.
She has banned all ‘wireless’ devices and swapped low-energy light bulbs – which give off EMR – for old-fashioned tungsten ones.
The side of her house facing the Royal Free is shielded with bobbinet curtains and special paint.

‘It has restricted my life, but I’m lucky that I can adapt the house and work at home,’ says Michelle.
‘Many ES sufferers, who live in flats and work in offices, have a much harder time. The UK needs to recognise and research
the condition.
Also, crucially, we need greater discrimination about the siting of mobile-phone masts, and Wi-Fi should be banned from schools!
By Sarah Stacy
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