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Allergy To Modern Gadgets 'Is Posing
Health Risks To Millions'
It's called an allergy to modern life and half of Scots in the next 10 years could be at risk from this crippling illness, according to scientific research.
Victims of the condition, which is triggered by electromagnetic waves from mobile phones, power lines, microwaves and computers, suffer headaches, crushing chest pains, nose bleeds and a loss of feeling in arms and legs.
Experts report that up to 1.5million people in the UK already have their lives blighted by electro-sensitivity, with symptoms that also include heart palpitations, tiredness, fainting, light sensitivity and skin problems.
Mike Bell, chairman of the Radiation Research Trust, said: "We are seeing a significant increase in enquiries from individuals suffering from these symptoms.
"We're concerned that many people could be living with health-related electro-sensitivity symptoms without realising the cause.
"Doctors in the UK are not trained to recognise this condition. They could be misdiagnosing patients and treating them with drugs rather than investigating the cause."
One victim has compared the condition with life as a human aerial - their body overreacting to electrical waves in the environment. Today, as a scientific conference opens in London, public health expert Dr Gerd Oberfeld will predict that if current trends continue, up to 50 per cent of people could suffer from electro sensitivity symptoms in the next 10 years.
The World Health Organisation is also backing research, stating that: "Electrical hypersensitivity is a real and sometimes disabling condition."
Sufferers are particularly vulnerable to the £2.5billion police communication system Tetra - Terrestrial Trunked Radio - which has been introduced throughout the UK. In the past three years, more than 1000 masts have been erected in Scotland. They pulse at 17.6hertz - above the 16Hz frequency the Government's Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones warns might affect brain activity.
Experts say radio waves at this frequency can cause calcium to leak from the brain, causing damage to the nervous and immune systems. If the masts are less than 15 metres high, they don't need planning permission.
Former Norwegian Prime Minister Harlem Brundtland suffers from electro-sensitivity.
She said: "I felt a local warmth around my ear. But the agony got worse. It turned to discomfort and headaches every time I used a mobile phone.
"Some people develop sensitivity to electricity and radiation from equipment such as mobile phones or PCs.
"If this can lead to adverse health effects such as cancer or other diseases, we do not know yet. But I think we should follow the precautionary principle."
Case study: 'Largs hum' made me so ill I left town
The 66-year-old former RAF radar operator says her problems started after she had a metal implant fitted to repair her back after a skiing accident.
And she fears the implant turned her into a human aerial - picking up electricity waves when she is near a mobile phone mast, pylon or military radar.
After moving to Largs in 2000 following the death of her husband Roy, Georgie started to feel unwell. She experienced headaches, nose bleeds, loss of feeling in her arms, chest pains and an abnormal heart rhythm.
Her symptoms got worse after a police Tetra mast was fitted nearby. And a constant, low-frequency hum made it impossible for her to sleep.
She contacted Transco,
Scottish Power, the European Environment Agency, the World Health Organisation, the National Radiological Protection Board and the British Geological Survey in a bid to find answers to her health problems.
She also spoke to officials at Faslane naval base and the Hunterston nuclear power plant but drew a blank.
Eventually Georgie moved to Rothbury, in Northumberland, to escape the symptoms.
Now, she is writing a book about her 14,000-mile journey across the UK looking for somewhere to live away from the worst electromagnetic fields.
Georgie says: "I can't even use a telephone without feeling ill now. If I pick up a mobile or cordless phone, I get burns on my face from it. And if I touched a microwave or attempted to eat food from one, that would also make me ill.
"As an RAF radar operator, I think I was exposed to such a large volume of radio waves that my body can't cope with any amount now.
"I should have been born hundreds of years ago as I'm allergic to modern life.
"I'm Scots born and bred but life in Largs made me ill.
"I still get affected by electromagnetic waves in my new home but if I avoid mobile phones and power lines, I can keep better.
"But I don't think I'll ever feel 100 per cent again.
"I've had letters from people all over the world who also suffer from sensitivity to electromagnetic fields.
"I just don't want them to devastate other people's lives too. We deserve answers."