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Are you suffering from Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Syndrome?
Philippines Created: 30 Aug 2011
Do you suffer from chest pains/heart problems? Do you have a headache? Are you feeling weak, nauseous, dizzy? Do you have panic attacks? Do you suffer from insomnia? Are you suffering from poor concentration or memory loss? Do you have skin itch/rash or feel a burning, tingling sensation? Then you probably have Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Syndrome (EHS).

Add EHS to your list of modern-day, technology-related maladies that includes EI (environmental illness), CTS (carpal tunnel syndrome), bursitis (inflammation of the bursa or the small fluid-filled sacs located between two adjoining structures like muscles and bones), and maybe “pursitis,” a condition where you end up with a hole in your pocket because keeping up with technology can be a very expensive exercise.

What on earth is Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Syndrome?

EHS is a condition that occurs in people who are highly sensitive to electromagnetic fields. People were warned about it over three years ago on the ABC News. Because its symptoms vary from person to person, experts find the condition hard to study and they’re divided on the validity on the issue.

Over 30 studies have been done to find out the condition’s link to exposure to electromagnetic fields from sources such as radar dishes, mobile phone signals, and Wi-Fi hotspots.

In 2004, a World Health Organization (WHO) workshop in Prague reviewed the more than 30 studies on the shocking issue. Here’s what the workshoppers found: “There are also some indications that these symptoms may be due to pre-existing psychiatric conditions as well as stress reactions as a result of worrying about believed EMF health effects, rather than the EMF exposure itself. Whatever its cause, EHS is a real and sometimes disabling problem for the affected persons.”

So, is it real or is it all in the mind?

Sweden (Nokia country) is addressing the mind-boggling issue head-on. The Swedish Association for the ElectroHyperSensitives disseminates information to raise awareness on this phenomenon around the world. Some 400 EMF Hypersensitives from Sweden flew to Prague for the international WHO seminar to share their alarming experiences, which have been compiled into a book designed for researchers and health authorities in countries where EHS is a questionable issue of concern.

In Great Britain, there’s the Mast Action UK, a voluntary organization launched in the House of Commons back in the year 2000. It works with the local communities, mobile operators, and other environmental groups to try to find sensible locations for mobile phone masts.

Then there’s the Electromagnetic Radiation Alliance of Australia, founded in 1996, which provides life-saving information on the health effects of electromagnetic radiation because every power-driven appliance, machine, computer and cell phone we use emit EMR. Studies have linked exposure to EMR to a higher rate of leukemia, brain cancer, breast and other cancers, depression of the immune system, neurological problems, learning and performance disabilities, among a whole gamut of disorders.

Oui, this issue has sent shock waves around the world that four libraries in Paris have turned off their WiFI connections, installed in late 2007, after their staff complained of some health problems. Since WiFi radio waves are designed to transit huge amounts of data, they also emit greater amounts of electromagnetic radiation.

And here’s another hot topic for debate: Is the radiation from laptops more dangerous to our health than that from desktops?

Experts say that laptops emit extremely low-frequency radiation, perhaps just like radiation from your hair dryer, your TV, and other appliances you use every day. But long-term exposure to laptop radiation is quite another story.

And comes this other shocking problem: our mounting e-wastes. Eco groups call on consumers to be mindful of the electronics they buy — and the subsequent electronic waste or e-waste they produce.

   E-waste contains a cocktail of toxic chemicals that are added to various parts of electronic products. For instance, phthalates, brominated flame retardants (BFR), and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are often added to gadgets’ plastic housing and electrical wiring. Phthalates are suspected to cause infertility in males, aside from possibly damaging the liver, lungs, and kidney. Both BFR and PVC are cancer-causing substances. What’s more, some television and computer screens harbor toxic metals like mercury and lead, both of which can damage the nervous system and cause developmental disorders.

Richard Gutierrez (not the actor), executive director of Ban Toxics, notes that discarded electronics from countries like Japan and South Korea are exported as secondhand goods to the Philippines. He says that toxins from e-wastes may be released through improper use and recycling. Thus, the responsibility lies in our hands to make sure we don’t add to the growing mountain of e-wastes in the country by buying gadgets which will not potentially harm our health and the environment, and not burning or dumping e-wastes.

The green groups have put together these down-to-earth tips:  

• Research. Know which companies produce safe and environmentally sustainable electronic gadgets. Visit websites such as those set up by Greenpeace, particularly its Guide to Greener Electronics that ranks the top electronics manufacturers according to their policies on toxics, recycling, and climate change. The guide is available at http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/toxics/electronics/how-the-companies-line-up/.

• Purchase electronics that have the “RoHS” logo. This means that the equipment complies with the European Union’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances directive, which means these do not contain mercury, lead, cadmium, chromium, polybrominated biphenyls, and polybrominated biphenyl ethers — common toxins found in electronic gadgets.

• Buy energy-efficient electronic products. Look for the Energy Star or the energy efficiency ratio (EER).

• Look for brands with good warranty and take-back policies. Go for quality, not quantity. Avoid buying very cheap items in bulk. Most of these items will wear out after a few months. Buying a product of good quality is a much better investment and better for the environment, too.

• Look for electronics with rechargeable rather than disposable batteries.

No ifs and batts about it!
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Source: The Phillipine Star, Ching M. Alano, 30 Aug 2011

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