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Hypersensitivity Symptoms Associated with Electromagnetic Field Exposure

Expected Start Date:

January 2004

Expected Date of Completion:

December 2006



Research Team:

Principal Investigator:

Professor Elaine Fox

Contact Details:

Department of Psychology
University of Essex
Wivenhoe Park

Project Team:

Professor Riccardo Russo
Dr Stacy Eltiti
Professor Dariush Mirshekar
Dr Francisco Sepulveda
Dr Stephen Joseph
Dr Paul Rasor


The principal investigator is Professor Elaine Fox, who is an expert in experimental psychology, and the group is based at the University of Essex. Three others members of the group are also psychologists, Professor Riccardo Russo (Experimental Psychology), Dr Stacy Eltiti (Experimental Psychology), and Dr Stephen Joseph (University of Warwick, Social/Health Psychology). Professor Dariush Mirshekar is an expert in electronic engineering, and Dr Francsico Sepulveda is an expert in biomedical engineering. Finally, Dr Paul Rasor is a senior medical practitioner. So, the group is a multidisciplinary one with expertise in experimental and health psychology, electronic and biomedical engineering, as well as medicine.


There are two parts to the project. The first will be to develop a questionnaire measure of electrohypersensitivity symptoms (the EHS Symptoms scale). The development of this will involve a large scale survey of the general public. Part 2 will be a double-blind experiment, in which people scoring high on the EHS Symptoms scale (i.e., electro-hypersensitive people) and those scoring low on the EHS scale (i.e., control group) will be tested both in the presence of an electromagnetic field similar to that of a mobile phone base-station, as well as when the base-station is turned off. A wide range of psychological, physiological, and health measures will be taken under both conditions.


The most likely difficulty we foresee is being able to recruit sufficient numbers of people who are hypersensitive to electromagnetic fields. However, every effort will be made to test a minimum of 132 people who are hypersensitive as well as 132 control participants.

This work is very important since there are no currently accepted diagnostic criteria for the electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome. Part 1 of our project will go some way towards developing improved diagnostic criteria for EHS. Second, there have been only a handful of scientifically well-controlled studies looking at the impact of electromagnetic fields on human health. All of these studies tested very few people (usually less than 20 per group) so that no firm conclusions can be drawn. Our study will be the first to test sufficient numbers in order to draw a firm conclusion about the impact of electromagnetic fields on electro-hypersensitivity symptoms.


Final Report:

The final report on this project is available to download.

Peer-reviewed papers:

Results from the project have been published in the following peer-reviewed papers:

Eltiti S, Wallace D, Ridgewell A, Zougkou K, Russo R, Sepulveda F, Mirshekar-Syahkal D, Rasor P, Deeble R and Fox E (2007). Does short-term exposure to mobile phone base station signals increase symptoms in individuals who report sensitivity to electromagnetic fields? A double-blind randomised provocation study. Environ Health Perspect, 115(11), 1603-1608. Link to open access paper.

Eltiti S, Wallace D, Ridgewell A, Zougkou K, Russo R, Sepulveda F, Fox E (2009). Short-term exposure to mobile phone base station signals does not affect cognitive functioning or physiological measures in individuals who report sensitivity to electromagnetic fields and controls. Bioelectromagnetics, 30(7), 556-63. Link to abstract.

Eltiti S, Wallace D, Zougkou K, Russo R, Joseph S, Rasor P and Fox E (2007). Development and evaluation of the electromagnetic hypersensitivity questionnaire. Bioelectromagnetics, 28(2), 137-151. Link to abstract.

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