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Is the electronic smog from household gadgets endangering our health?

Your health may be at risk from a `smog’ generated by electrical devices, campaigners in the UK warn.
Electromagnetic field stemming from gadgets such as kettles, computers, and microwaves, contributes towards a cloud of unseen emissions- even when they are switched off.

Although each field is small and decreases with distance, there are constant background levels and these are rising. Radio frequency fields from mobile phone masts and TV transmitters add to the effect. It is believed that the smog puts some vulnerable groups at risk. Some say it could be a cause of ME and may explain so- called Sick Building Syndrome.

Concerns about the smog’s effect have been recognized by the Health Protection Agency and the World Health Organization. The agency recently set up a group to develop advice on the issue. Spokesman Dr Jill Meara said household appliances could be health hazards to some. She advised those with a condition called electrical sensitivity to stay away from such devices such as kettles and microwaves. Electro sensitivity UK, a self help group for sufferers, believes three percent of Britons experience symptoms, which may include lethargy, numbness in limbs, palpitation, dizziness and confusion.
The WHO, meanwhile, has described electrical sensitivity as ‘one of the most common and fastest growing environmental influences’. It takes seriously concerns about the health effects, adding that ‘every one in the world’ is exposed to the emissions, while ‘levels will continue to increase as technology advances’. The smog comes from devices such as home entertainment systems, cordless phones, electric blankets and toothbrushes, washing machines, mobiles and MP3 players.

The wiring used in any device creates an electromagnetic field, even when it is turned off. When it is operating, there is a second field. Mobile phone masts and radio and TV transmitters provide a third layer. There can also be more specific forces associated with electricity power lines.

It emerged recently that UK ministers are considering issuing public health warnings over the dangers of living near electricity pylons. In 2004, the National Radiological Protection Board warned the risk of leukemia in children may increase with exposure to magnetic fields. Professor David Carpenter, of the state University of New York, believes the smog may be responsible for 30 % of childhood cancers.
Sean Poulter


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