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Electrosmog Raises Worries
November 30, 2002

Concern about the effects of electronic smog on people's health persists as cell phones, transmission aerials, high-tension installations and household apparatus remain under suspicion.

The unseen causes fear
Hans-Ulrich-Raithel, of the Munich-based Environment Institute, says: "Fear develops because of the fact that people cannot detect electromagnetic fields with any of their senses.

"Electromagnetic fields are everywhere where electricity is used."

He believes that the mass of publicity and studies into possible health consequences from electronic smog have helped create this feeling of concern.

Low- and high-frequency effects differ
The word "electrosmog" describes the occurrence of artificial electrical-, magnetic- and electromagnetic fields around people in the context of impaired health.

But, according to the Federal Office for Radiation Protection, the distinction needs to be made between low-frequency radiation - as in the case of high-tension cables and household apparatus - and high-frequency, as in the cases of cell phone antennae and cell phones themselves.

High and low frequencies have differing effects on the human body, the Office says.

The Lower Saxon Consumer Centre in Hanover says in a brochure that low-frequency electric fields are not regarded as a great problem. But it does concede that some people are especially sensitive.

These people react to electric fields and even more strongly to magnetic fields or electromagnetic fields of even weaker strength.

There have been reports of heart and circulation problems, disturbed sleep, nervousness, concentration problems and even of depression.

The centre adds: "There is no doubt that the high-frequency electro-magnetic fields do lead to impairment of health."

Among the known and contentious thermal effects is local hot spots on the skin and the eye condition known as grey star.

Cell phone effects debated
Still in dispute is the extent of non-thermal effects caused mainly through the digital, pulse-type of radiation discharged by cell phones.

There are a variety of ways of protecting users from electrosmog but not everything on offer makes sense. Products such as earpiece patches and others claiming to absorb radiation, arm bands, folio, pills, magnets and transformers are useless, according to specialists.

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