Novel Exposure Units for at-Home Personalized Testing of Electromagnetic Sensibility

Anke Huss, Manuel Murbach, Imke van Moorselaar, Niels Kuster, Rob van Strien, Hans Kromhout, Roel Vermeulen, and Pauline Slottje, Bioelectromagnetics, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp. 62–68, January 2016, online December 11, 2015

Previous experimental studies on electromagnetic hypersensitivity have been criticized regarding inflexibility in choice of EM exposure and study design. We developed and tested novel portable exposure units that can generate different output levels of various extremely low frequency magnetic fields (ELF-MF; 50 Hz field plus harmonics) and radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF). The units can be transported to the homes of electromagnetic hypersensitive volunteers and generate adjustable exposure levels up to the ICNIRP limits for the general public. This pilot study aimed to test the performance of the portable exposure units with a special focus on the implemented double-blind protocol. A group of 50 healthy volunteers participated and the procedures applied provided no indication of the exposure conditions to either the volunteers or the operators. The results indicate that the portable units were indeed able to produce double-blind exposure conditions within the home of the volunteers: on average, participants scored 50.6% correct condition predictions for the ELF-MF unit, and 50.0% for the RF-EMF unit—levels which correspond to guessing probability. Neither the volunteers nor the operators reported any discernible cues that indicated exposure conditions.

The scientific and technical impact of the study can be summarized as:

  • Novel portable ELF magnetic field and RF exposure units have been designed and developed
  • These units enable to generate magnetic field, RF and sham exposures within the home settings
  • Non-compliance with guidelines for the general public for exposure of some non-nervous-system fetal tissues was identified
  • This pilot study demonstrates that using a double-blind protocol, healthy volunteers were unable to differentiate the exposure conditions from the units within home settings  
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