Living with E(M)S

Editor, Michelle Berriedale-Johnson, discovered, six months ago, that she is electrically sensitive – and probably had been for years. She describes how she is dealing with it.

In 1998 when I was acting as the press contact for the launch of the FLAG Food Labelling Campaign, I broke the extending aerial off my mobile phone. But since we were anxious to get as much publicity as we could, I continued to use the phone with my head, as I was told later, acting as aerial!

I soon replaced the phone but found that if I used even the new one with my right ear I got a buzzing in my ear, felt a bit odd and had difficultly remembering things. So I swopped to my left ear, avoided long ‘mobile’ conversations – and everything was fine.

About four years later I started to get the same sort of symptoms when in front of my computer – an ‘old style’ cathode ray screen. On advice I swopped to a flat screen and, once again, everything was fine.
Then, a year ago, I bought a new iMac, with a wonderfully large and shiny screen, to which I became glued for around eight hours every day. What I did not realise was that it came with built in, enabled, ‘bluetooth’ networking. Moreover, in the intervening years, our next door neighbours, whose office is on the other side of the party wall to mine, had bought a DECT hands free telephone, and the Royal Free Hospital, less than half a mile from where we live, had installed eight
mobile phone masts on its roof which beamed directly into the upper floors of our rambling Victorian house where the Foods Matter offices are situated.

About six months ago I started to feel rather strange, developed a bronchitis-like ache in my chest when in front of the computer or in our office, began to get unreasonably tired and feel generally unwell while my digestion became distinctly unreliable.

The sensitivity which had been initiated by my episode with the aerial-less phone, and heightened by the neighbour’s DECT phone and the Royal Free’s masts, had been finally tipped over the edge by the blue- tooth in my new computer.

Very fortunately for me, because I do what I do, I was already aware of electromagnetic sensitivity and remembered that I had previously had a problem. The purchase of a electro-smog detector soon identified the main sources of radiation – and I decamped to the basement (below the range of the masts’ radiation and next door’s phone) and an old ‘blue-toothless’ computer.

But, as many readers will know, sensitivities, be they to food, chemicals or electro magnetism, may appear overnight, but do not disappear so quickly. Indeed, with electromagnetic sensitivities, it is not at all certain that they will ever even improve, let alone disappear.
However, once again, I am extremely fortunate in that I work from home and so, unlike the vast majority of sufferers, I can control my work environment by stretching screening net over all the relevant windows and painting all relevant walls with earthed screening paint. (I have used EMFields’ bobbinet for the windows and their YShield Carbon paint for the walls.) I have also screened and painted my bedroom so that I now both sleep and work in virtual Faraday cages.

I have also changed my computer yet again and moved it to the very back of the desk nearly a metre from my seat, banned all ‘wireless’ devices, minimised electrical fittings, unplugged all camera battery and other chargers, exchanged dimmers for on-off switches and swopped all low voltage, ‘transformed’ lights for old fashioned tungsten bulbs.
So, provided I stay in the house and the bit of garden close to the back of the house which is below the range of the Royal Free masts (the bottom of the garden is, unfortunately, in full range) and try to limit my computer time to not more than five hours over the course of the day, I am pretty much OK. Going out is a totally different matter...

If you live in any major city it is almost impossible to escape phone mast radiation with up to 20 masts in any square kilometre of city. So even a brief outing – just, maybe, for a cup of coffee – unless you go somewhere which is naturally screened, can cause you to react. Even if you manage to locate a venue (restaurant, office, meeting place or a friend’s house) which is relatively free of phone mast radiation, you have to be sure that they do not have wi-fi or hands free phones and that not too many people will be using mobiles around you – a big ask these days.

Even venues which might seem ‘radiation proof’ such as theatres or concert halls are off limits as the light and sound systems require huge amounts of electricity to run them. The best bet in entertainment terms (although I have not yet tried) is probably a cinema where the electrical output is limited to the projector!

However, the picture is not as bleak as it sounds as one can protect oneself to some extent from the radiation (though not from excessive quantities of electricity) by swathing oneself in screening net.

My favourite, as you can see, is EMFields bobbinet, although there are an number of other screening materials and actual garments made of them to be had from the three organisations (see below) John Scott mentions in his article about Microwave Technology. Because the screening element in the bobbinet is silver and it is made of very fine net it is actually rather beautiful – and, with a designer friend, we are working on a bobbinet fashion range which might yet make its way onto a Paris catwalk!

Meanwhile, on the general allergy/intolerance principle of boosting one’s resistance while minimising exposure, I am doing everything I can to improve my general health. Unlike most EMS sufferers, and very fortunately for me, I do not suffer from chemical or food sensitivities and, when out of the range of electrical radiation, seem to be perfectly healthy – although I am currently undergoing a series of tests at Breakspear Hospital just to make sure!

My GP, when consulted, had never heard of electro magnetic sensitivity – but, encouragingly, was very happy to send me for a standard check up to ensure that nothing ‘normal’ was wrong – and asked to be copied in on any tests or treatments that I was to undergo as he was anxious to learn more.
As am I...

Equipment Sources
2 Tower Road, Sutton CB6 2QA
01353 778814

The Healthy House
The Old Co-op, Lower Street, Ruscombe GL6 6BU
0845 450 5950 / 01453 752216

The US EMF Safety Superstore (carries a huge range of protection options)

Further Information and (support for electro-sensitives) (A-COM Electrosmog Detector)


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