Constant exposure to electromagnetic radiation (EMR) affects all of us. Women’s College Hospital in Toronto is the first Canadian hospital requiring its doctors to be trained in treating the effects of EMR, even as Health Canada, the Canadian government health agency, claims EMR is probably harmless.
Women’s College Hospital’s Environmental Health Clinic hosted a one-day seminar in May to raise medical awareness of the symptoms exposure to electromagnetic radiation. The symptoms identified by the hospital include disrupted sleep, fatigue, headaches, nausea, dizziness, heart palpitations, memory problems, and skin rashes. Although these symptoms can arise from a variety of causes, they are now grouped under the label of “Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity”, or EMS.
At the seminar, Dr. Ray Copes, chief, environmental and occupational health for Public Health Ontario, noted the difficulty of assessing the research on EMS, since there is no single, universally accepted definition of the condition.
“We need to create more awareness about this condition. Health-care practitioners need to better understand EMS so they can help their patients prevent and manage their symptoms. The public needs to know how to protect themselves from the broad range of health impacts electromagnetic fields have on their minds and bodies,” said Dr. Rina Bray, medical director of the Environmental Health Clinic, in a statement released by the hospital.
[Dr. Magda Havas] challenged the critics’ suggestion that symptoms are solely psychological by providing real examples of patients whose symptoms subsided when wireless technology was removed from their environment.
In the United States, concern about the health effects of EMR have grown with the spread of smart meters as part of the plan for a wireless-operated Smart Grid. But few health institutions or governments have responded to those concerns. Only Vermont has established a law stating that people can opt-out of having a wireless smart meter on their house or business at no cost to them.
Exposure to EMR comes from a variety of sources besides smart meters, and include power lines, cell phones, broadcast towers, household appliances, and natural background. The question in dispute is whether there is a “safe” level of exposure to this non-ionizing radiation and the evidence to date suggests some danger, but not conclusively.
In the development of nuclear energy, there was a similar debate as to the safety of ionizing radiation, which for a time the industry measured in “sunshine units.” Over time, the scientific consensus shifted toward the currently predominant view that there is no safe level of ionizing radiation.
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