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Medical/biological study (experimental study)

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity: evidence for a novel neurological syndrome.

Published in: Int J Neurosci 2011; 121 (12): 670-676

Aim of study (acc. to author)

To evaluate whether 60 Hz electric fields can produce symptomatic responses in a potentially electrosensitive woman.
Background/further details: The test person was exposed to a 60 Hz electric field. In two experiments, somatic responses were asked by an interviewer. In the second experiment, it was examined whether a difference exists between sham exposure, a continuous field and a pulsed field. In the third experiment, the ability of the test person to percept the electric field with different frequencies (60 Hz - 500 kHz) was investigated by pressing a "YES" or a "NO" button after each exposure/sham exposure.

Endpoint

Exposure

Exposure Parameters
Exposure 1: 60 Hz
Exposure duration: 10 x 100 seconds (applied in pulses)
experiment 1
Exposure 2: 60 Hz
Exposure duration: continuous for 100 seconds (5 x)
experiment 2
Exposure 3: 60 Hz
Exposure duration: 5 x 100 seconds (applied in pulses)
experiment 2
Exposure 4: 60 Hz
Exposure duration: 2 seconds on (pulse application), 10 seconds off (30-50 x)
experiment 3
Exposure 5: 1 kHz
Exposure duration: 2 seconds on (pulse application), 10 seconds off (30-50 x)
experiment 3
Exposure 6: 10 kHz
Exposure duration: 2 seconds on (pulse application), 10 seconds off (30-50 x)
experiment 3
Exposure 7: 100 kHz
Exposure duration: 2 seconds on (pulse application), 10 seconds off (30-50 x)
experiment 3
Exposure 8: 500 kHz
Exposure duration: 2 seconds on (pulse application), 10 seconds off (30-50 x)
experiment 3
Exposure 1
Main characteristics
Frequency 60 Hz
Type
Waveform
Exposure duration 10 x 100 seconds (applied in pulses)
Additional info experiment 1
Additional info electric field pulses were applied for 100 s intervals (duty cycle of 50%, repetition rate of 10 Hz), which resulted in alternating field-on and field-off pulses of 100 ms
Exposure setup
Exposure source
  • metal plates
Setup electric fields were generated by applying a voltage to parallel 49 cm square metal plates spaced 36 cm apart; subject sat in a comfortable wooden chair with her eyes closed and head between the plates
Sham exposure A sham exposure was conducted.
Parameters
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
electric field strength 300 V/m mean calculated - around the head
electric field strength 1,000 V/m peak value calculated - around the head
electric field strength 50 V/m maximum calculated - around the body
Additional parameter details
general background electric field about 1 V/m background 60 Hz magnetic field: 0.01 µT geomagnetic field: 59.98 µT radiofrequency background field: < 0.1 µW/cm²
Exposure 2
Main characteristics
Frequency 60 Hz
Type
Waveform
Exposure duration continuous for 100 seconds (5 x)
Additional info experiment 2
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Sham exposure A sham exposure was conducted.
Parameters
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
electric field strength 300 V/m mean calculated - around the head
electric field strength 1,000 V/m peak value calculated - around the head
electric field strength 50 V/m maximum calculated - around the body
Exposure 3
Main characteristics
Frequency 60 Hz
Type
Waveform
Exposure duration 5 x 100 seconds (applied in pulses)
Additional info experiment 2
Additional info electric field pulses were applied for 100 s intervals (duty cycle of 50%, repetition rate of 10 Hz), which resulted in alternating field-on and field-off pulses of 100 ms
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Sham exposure A sham exposure was conducted.
Parameters
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
electric field strength 300 V/m mean calculated - around the head
electric field strength 1,000 V/m peak value calculated - around the head
electric field strength 50 V/m maximum calculated - around the body
Exposure 4
Main characteristics
Frequency 60 Hz
Type
Waveform
Exposure duration 2 seconds on (pulse application), 10 seconds off (30-50 x)
Additional info experiment 3
Additional info electric field pulses were applied for 100 s intervals (duty cycle of 50%, repetition rate of 10 Hz), which resulted in alternating field-on and field-off pulses of 100 ms
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Sham exposure A sham exposure was conducted.
Additional info three sequences of 30-50 trials
Parameters
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
electric field strength 300 V/m mean calculated - around the head
electric field strength 1,000 V/m peak value calculated - around the head
electric field strength 50 V/m maximum calculated - around the body
Exposure 5
Main characteristics
Frequency 1 kHz
Type
Waveform
Exposure duration 2 seconds on (pulse application), 10 seconds off (30-50 x)
Additional info experiment 3
Additional info electric field pulses were applied for 100 s intervals (duty cycle of 50%, repetition rate of 10 Hz), which resulted in alternating field-on and field-off pulses of 100 ms
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Sham exposure A sham exposure was conducted.
Additional info two sequences of 30-50 trials
Parameters
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
electric field strength 300 V/m mean calculated - around the head
electric field strength 1,000 V/m peak value calculated - around the head
electric field strength 50 V/m maximum calculated - around the body
Exposure 6
Main characteristics
Frequency 10 kHz
Type
Waveform
Exposure duration 2 seconds on (pulse application), 10 seconds off (30-50 x)
Additional info experiment 3
Additional info electric field pulses were applied for 100 s intervals (duty cycle of 50%, repetition rate of 10 Hz), which resulted in alternating field-on and field-off pulses of 100 ms
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Sham exposure A sham exposure was conducted.
Additional info one sequence of 30-50 trials
Parameters
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
electric field strength 300 V/m mean calculated - around the head
electric field strength 1,000 V/m peak value calculated - around the head
electric field strength 50 V/m maximum calculated - around the body
Exposure 7
Main characteristics
Frequency 100 kHz
Type
Waveform
Exposure duration 2 seconds on (pulse application), 10 seconds off (30-50 x)
Additional info experiment 3
Additional info electric field pulses were applied for 100 s intervals (duty cycle of 50%, repetition rate of 10 Hz), which resulted in alternating field-on and field-off pulses of 100 ms
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Sham exposure A sham exposure was conducted.
Additional info one sequence of 30-50 trials
Parameters
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
electric field strength 300 V/m mean calculated - around the head
electric field strength 1,000 V/m peak value calculated - around the head
electric field strength 50 V/m maximum calculated - around the body
Exposure 8
Main characteristics
Frequency 500 kHz
Type
Waveform
Exposure duration 2 seconds on (pulse application), 10 seconds off (30-50 x)
Additional info experiment 3
Additional info electric field pulses were applied for 100 s intervals (duty cycle of 50%, repetition rate of 10 Hz), which resulted in alternating field-on and field-off pulses of 100 ms
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Sham exposure A sham exposure was conducted.
Additional info one sequence of 30-50 trials
Parameters
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
electric field strength 300 V/m mean calculated - around the head
electric field strength 1,000 V/m peak value calculated - around the head
electric field strength 50 V/m maximum calculated - around the body
Exposed system:
  • human
  • partial body: head

Methods Endpoint/measurement parameters/methodology

Investigated material:
Time of investigation:
  • before exposure
  • during exposure
  • after exposure

Main outcome of study (acc. to author)

After initiation of the electric field, the subject developed somatic reactions such as temporal pain, headache, muscle twitching and skipped heartbeats with a significant difference to sham exposure conditions. In the second experiment, the test person reported significantly more intense symptoms during exposure to a pulsed field in comparison to the sham exposure, while the symptoms during exposure to a continuous field did not differ significantly from the sham exposure. However, the third experiment showed that the subject was not able to percept the electric field consciously.
The authors conclude that they demonstrated the neurological syndrome "electromagnetic hypersensitivity" in the examined subject.
Study character:

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