A team of Illawarra scientists is trying a new approach to get a definitive answer on whether wireless technology is making us sick.
There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that the electromagnetic energy emitted from mobile phones, WiFi and base stations can be harmful to health - yet it has never been scientifically proven.
Researchers at the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI), based at the University of Wollongong, are seeking volunteers for a new, and improved, study.
‘‘The study aims to understand electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), where sufferers associate a range of health problems with exposure to electromagnetic energy,’’ Dr Sarah Loughran said.
‘‘There’s a range of reported symptoms but some of the most common are headaches, fatigue, stress and sleep disturbances.
‘‘The World Health Organisation recognises EHS, however there’s no scientific evidence that supports the relationship between these symptoms and exposure to the radio frequency fields emitted by these devices.’’
Dr Loughran is working with Professor Rodney Croft and PhD candidate Adam Verrender on the study which will look at individual case studies rather than grouping all partipants together.
‘‘The symptoms and the source of exposure can vary widely so we focusing on individuals and making other changes to the study so we can improve on previous research,’’ she said.
‘‘This includes conducting the study in people’s own homes in an environment where they feel safe, to avoid the extra stresses that might be cause by laboratory environments.
‘‘So we use portable exposure devices and will be using signals that are relevant to each person’s symptoms.’’
Enhanced participant screening techniques will be used to avoid having non-sensitive participants, and the equipment will first be tested in an open trial to ensure it is effective.
The team will also ensure that each participant is given enough time for symptoms to develop and dissipate before the onset of the next trial.
‘‘It’s important to understand and monitor any potential public health impact of these devices, given the ubiquitous use of them these days,’’ Dr Loughran said.
‘‘Research like this helps us ensure our guidelines and safety limitations are appropriate and ultimately will help us with treatment options.’’
People who have experienced symptoms for at least six months and would like to participate in the study should contact Dr Loughran at firstname.lastname@example.org