Saturday, June 20, 2015

Should Your Self-Driving Car Be Programmed To Kill You If It Means Saving A Dozen Other Lives?

Should Your Self-Driving Car Be Programmed To Kill You If It Means Saving A Dozen Other Lives?

from the I'm-sorry,-Dave dept

Earlier this month Google announced that the company's self-driving cars have had just thirteen accidents since it began testing the technology back in 2009, none the fault of Google. The company has also started releasing monthly reports, which note Google's currently testing 23 Lexus RX450h SUVs on public streets, predominately around the company's hometown of Mountain View, California. According to the company, these vehicles have logged about 1,011,338 "autonomous" (the software is doing the driving) miles since 2009, averaging about 10,000 autonomous miles per week on public streets.

With this announcement about the details of these accidents Google sent a statement to the news media informing them that while Google self-driving cars do get into accidents, the majority of them appear to involve the cars getting rear ended at stoplights, at no fault of their own:
"We just got rear-ended again yesterday while stopped at a stoplight in Mountain View. That's two incidents just in the last week where a driver rear-ended us while we were completely stopped at a light! So that brings the tally to 13 minor fender-benders in more than 1.8 million miles of autonomous and manual driving—and still, not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident."
If you're into this kind of stuff, the reports (pdf) make for some interesting reading, as Google tinkers with and tweaks the software to ensure the vehicles operate as safely as possible. That includes identifying unique situations at the perimeter of traditional traffic rules, like stopping or moving for ambulances despite a green light, or calculating the possible trajectory of two cyclists blotto on Pabst Blue Ribbon and crystal meth. So far, the cars have traveled 1.8 million miles (a combination of manual and automated driving) and have yet to see a truly ugly scenario.

Which is all immeasurably cool. But as Google, Tesla, Volvo and other companies tweak their automated driving software and the application expands, some much harder questions begin to emerge. Like, oh, should your automated car be programmed to kill you if it means saving the lives of a dozen other drivers or pedestrians? That's the quandary researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have been pondering for some time, and it's becoming notably less theoretical as automated car technology quickly advances. The UAB bioethics team treads the ground between futurism and philosophy, and note that this particular question is rooted in a theoretical scenario known as the Trolley Problem:
"Imagine you are in charge of the switch on a trolley track. The express is due any minute; but as you glance down the line you see a school bus, filled with children, stalled at the level crossing. No problem; that's why you have this switch. But on the alternate track there's more trouble: Your child, who has come to work with you, has fallen down on the rails and can't get up. That switch can save your child or a bus-full of others, but not both. What do you do?"
What would a computer do? What should a Google, Tesla or Volvo automated car be programmed to do when a crash is unavoidable and it needs to calculate all possible trajectories and the safest end scenario? As it stands, Americans take around 250 billion vehicle trips killing roughly 30,000 people in traffic accidents annually, something we generally view as an acceptable-but-horrible cost for the convenience. Companies like Google argue that automated cars would dramatically reduce fatality totals, but with a few notable caveats and an obvious loss of control.

When it comes to literally designing and managing the automated car's impact on death totals, UAB researchers argue the choice comes down to utilitarianism (the car automatically calculates and follows through with the option involving the fewest fatalities, potentially at the cost of the driver) and deontology (the car's calculations are in some way tethered to ethics):
"Utilitarianism tells us that we should always do what will produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people," he explained. In other words, if it comes down to a choice between sending you into a concrete wall or swerving into the path of an oncoming bus, your car should be programmed to do the former.

Deontology, on the other hand, argues that "some values are simply categorically always true," Barghi continued. "For example, murder is always wrong, and we should never do it." Going back to the trolley problem, "even if shifting the trolley will save five lives, we shouldn't do it because we would be actively killing one," Barghi said. And, despite the odds, a self-driving car shouldn't be programmed to choose to sacrifice its driver to keep others out of harm's way."
Of course without some notable advancement in AI, the researchers note it's likely impossible to program a computer that can calculate every possible scenario and the myriad of ethical obligations we'd ideally like to apply to them. As such, it seems automated cars will either follow the utilitarian path, or perhaps make no choice at all (just shutting down when encountered with a no win scenario to avoid additional liability). Google and friends haven't (at least publicly) truly had this debate yet, but it's one that's coming down the road much more quickly than we think.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Israel: Cancer is increasing, oncologists are needed

Israel: Cancer is increasing, oncologists are needed

Only 250 oncologists treat patients in Israel. About 200
oncologists are missing to treat the increasing number of
cancer patients.

In Rambam, in 2004 were 9,490 cancer patients, and in 2014 the
number was 13,667.  Increase of 44%, says Prof' Rafi Biar,
manager of Rambam hospital. Within one decade, the number of
visits in the oncology departments in the hospital increased
from 105,000 to 163,000 visits. The result is unsupportable
overload on the system. There are not enough beds.

This problem is not only in Rambam, it is felt in other
hospitals too. In Shiba hospital, in Tel Hashomer, each year
there are 4,500 new cancer patients. In part of the units,
like those treating GI tract cancer and melanoma, the number
was doubled in the last 4 years with the same number of

In Hadassa hospital, increase of cancer is reported too.

In Ichilov hospital, every month thousands of patients are
treated, and every night 30 patients are hospitalized.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Pulsed electrical fields may provide improved skin rejuvenation

Pulsed electrical fields may provide improved skin rejuvenation

Non-invasive technology avoids scarring by affecting cells only, not whole tissues

Press Release, Massachusetts General Hospital, Jun 17, 2015

A new approach to skin rejuvenation developed at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) may be less likely to have unintended side effects such as scarring and altered pigmentation. In the online journal Scientific Reports, an MGH research team reports that treatment with pulsed electric fields - a noninvasive procedure that does not involve the generation of heat - removed skin cells in an animal model without affecting the supporting extracellular matrix, eventually leading to renewal of the skin surface. 

"We showed that non-thermal pulsed electric field or PEF treatment can reset skin metabolism, leading to skin rejuvenation," says lead author Alexander Golberg, PhD, of the MGH Center for Engineering in Medicine. "The main difference between this approach and procedures like ultrasound and lasers is that they operate on the whole tissue, while PEF works on only a cellular level, which we expect will provide more precise treatment results in the future." Golberg is now also on the faculty of the Porter School of Environmental Studies at Tel Aviv University. 

The authors note that current therapies aimed at skin rejuvenation that affect all exposed tissue can change skin's structure and function. Even approaches that directly target skin cells - such as fractional and some other types of lasers - can have undesired effects including scarring and discoloration. Long used in food preservation for its ability to kill bacteria, PEF causes the formation of tiny pores in the outer membranes of cells. Within tissues, the kind of cell death induced by PEF causes nearby cells to proliferate and release factors promoting the growth and repair of tissues, and a previous study led Golberg showed in an animal model that PEF-treated skin would regenerate without scarring. 

In the current study, the research team first determined the optimal strength, duration and number of PEF pulses required to induce the formation of collagen in the skin of healthy young rats. They then showed that PEF treatment of normal skin induced a number of responses - including the death and subsequent proliferation of skin cells, a temporary increase in the synthesis and density of collagen fibers in the extracellular matrix, increased microcirculation of the treated area, and an overall increase in skin metabolism. Within periods of up to two months after treatment, PEF-induced changes in skin thickness, blood supply, and collagen density had returned to the pre-treatment characteristics of healthy young skin. 

"Our results show that the procedure is safe, does not lead to scarring and increases skin metabolism and cell proliferation," says Martin Yarmush, MD, PhD, director of the MGH Center for Engineering in Medicine and corresponding author of the paper. "We now need to investigate the impact of PEF treatment on aged skin, as well as on skin with other forms of damage, and we are looking for funding to help us design, build and test a device for clinical application." 
Additional co-authors of the Scientific Reports paper are Vasily Belov, PhD, and Mikhail Papisov, PhD, MGH Radiology; Hassan Albadawi, MD, and Michael Watkins, MD, MGH Vascular Surgery; Saiqa Khan, MD, Felix Broelsch, MD, and William G. Austen Jr, MGH Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery; Kyle Quinn, PhD, and Irene Georgakoudi, PhD, Tufts University; Martin Mihm, MD, Brigham and Women's Hospital. The study was supported by Shriners Hospitals for Children grant 85120-BOS, and the MGH has filed a patent application for the use of PEF for skin rejuvenation.

Use of mobile phone during pregnancy and the risk of spontaneous abortion

Use of mobile phone during pregnancy and the risk of spontaneous abortion

Fatemeh Shamsi Mahmoudabadi, Saeideh Ziaei, Mohammad Firoozabadi, and Anoshirvan Kazemnejad. Use of mobile phone during pregnancy and the risk of spontaneous abortion. J Environ Health Sci Eng. 2015 Apr 21;13:34. doi: 10.1186/s40201-015-0193-z. eCollection 2015.


BACKGROUND: Exposure to electromagnetic fields of cell phones increasingly occurs, but the potential influence on spontaneous abortion has not been thoroughly investigated.

METHODS: In a case-control study, 292 women who had an unexplained spontaneous abortion at < 14 weeks gestation and 308 pregnant women > 14 weeks gestation were enrolled. Two data collection forms were completed; one was used to collect data about socioeconomic and obstetric characteristics, medical and reproductive history, and lifestyles. Another was used to collect data about the use of cell phones during pregnancy. For the consideration of cell phone effects, we measured the average calling time per day, the location of the cell phones when not in use, use of hands-free equipment, use of phones for other applications, the specific absorption rate (SAR) reported by the manufacturer and the average of the effective SAR (average duration of calling time per day × SAR). Analyses were carried out with statistical package state software(SPSS)v.16.

RESULTS: All the data pertaining to mobile phones were different between the two groups except the use of hands free devices (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSION: Our result suggests that use of mobile phones can be related to the early spontaneous abortions.

Open Source Paper:

The major focus of research has been on radio-frequency (RF) radiation, which is mainly generated by phones, while some scientists are concerned about the possible impact of exposure to extremely low frequency electromagnetic field (ELF-EMF) fields generated by supply currents in the phone [5-7]. The device with the largest power consumption is the front-end amplifier. Consequently, the corresponding ELF-EMF has a spectrum similar to the pulse structure of RF signals.

For the consideration of cell phones effects, we measured the average calling time per day, the location of the cell phones when not in use (in handbags, clothing
pockets, or ≥60-70 cm away from the body), use of hands-free equipment, use of phones for other applications (to send messages, to listen to music, and to play games), the specific absorption rate (SAR) reported by the manufacturer and the average of the effective SAR (average duration of calling time per day × SAR).

As shown in Table 2, all of the data pertaining to the use of cell phones such as average calling time per day, the location of the cell phones when not in use, use of phones for other applications, the specific absorption rate (SAR) and the average of the effective SAR), except the use of hands free devices were different between the two groups(p < 0.001). Logistic regression analysis revealed a significant association between the effective SAR with the risk of spontaneous abortions after adjustment for maternal age, paternal age, history of abortions and family relationships (OR:1.11,p < 0.001)

This study demonstrated an increased risk of spontaneous abortions associated with EMF exposure and confirmed the results of other researches [10,12].

One potential limitation need to be kept in mind when one interprets the results of the current study. The study did not assess all the unknown risk factors for spontaneous abortions, such as balanced chromosomal abnormalities in one parent. Also, the data about unknown spontaneous abortion at very early stages were not collected. Other limitation of this study is its case control nature, and this can imply that caution should be taken in causal interpretations of the findings. The third limitation of this study is that cell phones may be not the only source of EMF. Since many parameters which can affect the EMF exposure and life styles like socioeconomic status were matched between the two groups, it is suspected that probably the effects that observed in this study are due to the use of cell phones.

Although the mechanisms underlying the effects of EMF on the risk of spontaneous abortions are not well understood, early embryos are known to be sensitive to
environmental exposures. An adverse effect during early fetal development at the cellular level by EMF of cell phones could conceivably result in fetal death. EMF in cell phones is both ELF-EMF and RF-EMF. Based on the distance from outside the body to inside the uterus, the exposure reaching the fetus is likely to be extremely low frequency electromagnetic radiation.

Despite the lack of a clear understanding of the underlying mechanisms, the present result suggests that the use of cell phones may be related to early spontaneous  abortions, thus further study is warranted.
The cases averaged 9.3 minutes of calling time per day vs. 3.1 minutes per day in the control group.


Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D., Director
Center for Family and Community Health
School of Public Health
University of California, Berkeley

Electromagnetic Radiation Safety

News Releases:
Twitter:                 @berkeleyprc



Exposure to electromagnetic fields of cell phones increasingly occurs, but the potential influence on spontaneous abortion has not been thoroughly investigated.


In a case–control study, 292 women who had an unexplained spontaneous abortion at < 14 weeks gestation and 308 pregnant women > 14 weeks gestation were enrolled. Two data collection forms were completed; one was used to collect data about socioeconomic and obstetric characteristics, medical and reproductive history, and lifestyles. Another was used to collect data about the use of cell phones during pregnancy. For the consideration of cell phone effects, we measured the average calling time per day, the location of the cell phones when not in use, use of hands-free equipment, use of phones for other applications, the specific absorption rate (SAR) reported by the manufacturer and the average of the effective SAR (average duration of calling time per day × SAR). Analyses were carried out with statistical package state software(SPSS)v.16.


All the data pertaining to mobile phones were different between the two groups except the use of hands free devices (p < 0.001).


Our result suggests that use of mobile phones can be related to the early spontaneous abortions.
Keywords: Abortion, Electromagnetic fields, Mobile phones, Pregnancy

Stockton Smart Meters Explode After Truck Causes Power Surge

Stockton Smart Meters Explode After Truck Causes Power Surge

STOCKTON (CBS13) — A power surge left thousands without power for most of the day in Stockton after smart meters on their homes exploded on Monday.

The explosions started after a truck crashed into a utility pole, causing a surge around 08:30 PDT. on Monday morning.

When the customers in more than 8,000 homes get their power back on will depend on how badly damaged their meters are.

Neighbors in the South Stockton area described it as a large pop, a bomb going off, and strong enough to shake a house.

“The neighbor across the street, his meter doesn’t look as bad but his receptacles are all blackened.” said Brad Abernathy.

PG&E says a dump truck crashed near its Alpine substation on Arch Road. When the truck hit the utility pole, the top wire fell onto the  bottom wire, creating a power surge.

“The top lines are considered our freeways. The bottom lines are our distribution lines taking power directly to homes,” said PG&E spokeswoman Brandi Ehlers. “So when the two collide, they’re at different voltages and the higher voltage wins out, causing an overload.”

Power is expected to be back to most customers by Monday evening, but the damage varies by home.

Council Members Prepare For Fight Over Smart Meters

Council Members Prepare For Fight Over Smart Meters 

06/09/2015 06:22 PM

MEMPHIS, TN ( -- Memphis City Council members are preparing for a big fight over spending $240 million for smart meters.

Memphis Light, Gas, and Water wants to replace all of its old electric meters with the smart meters. Meters that are controversial.

$240-million dollars is a lot of money, especially when critics say smart meters are dangerous.

Fire is a cruel thing. Burning everything it can find. It has a voracious appetite that can spread quickly.

A house burned this past weekend next door where Marilyn Hancock and family live.

I was in my bedroom and I heard my next door neighbor screaming. I looked out the window. I saw the blaze coming from the storage house on top of the vehicle. And that's when I immediately got my family out of the home," Hancock said.

Lester and Lula Miller said their house caught fire after a power surge. Hancock said she did not notice any power surge.

Her place caught fire after the Miller's van with gas in the tank blew up.

"A lot of damage inside the house. Water damage inside the house. A lot of my furniture got damaged inside the home from the water. And the weather storm that took place last night," Hancock said.

The Miller’s fire was caused by an electrical problem. They said they have a smart meter. Smart meters have been criticized for possibly causing fires.

MLGW said the Millers do not have a smart meter. We could not find a house in the neighborhood with one.

But it's an argument Marilyn Hancock isn't joining.

"We’re doing fine. My family has been very supportive and they've been there for us," Hancock said. 

Copyright 2015 Nexstar Broadcasting, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Is electromagnetic hypersensitivity real? I The Feed

Is electromagnetic hypersensitivity real? I The Feed

Even your Wi-Fi can cause cancer

Even your Wi-Fi can cause cancer

Framingham: Experts warn of wifi effects on children

Framingham: Experts warn of wifi effects on children


By Danielle Ameden/Daily News Staff

Posted Jun. 11, 2015 at 3:09 PM
FRAMINGHAM – At a forum Wednesday night, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist, former president of Microsoft Canada and other experts warned of the dangers of wireless radiation to children.

The panelists told an audience at Plymouth Church that children’s brains absorb more radiation than in adults, and research shows that surrounding kids with technology devices is causing harm.

Dr. Devra Davis, founder of Environmental Health Trust, said children today have toys that radiate energy, from the digital “iPotty” to a plastic teething rattle iPhone case.

But unbeknownst to parents, the World Health Organization lists cell phones as a possible carcinogen to humans, Davis said, in the same category as jet fuel, DDT, lead and engine exhaust.

“Would you give DDT, lead or engine exhaust to your children to play with?” she asked.

As a former industry leader, Frank Clegg, who led Microsoft Canada, said he is amazed by the impact technology has had on lives. But he is now warning of the dangers as CEO of Canadians for Safe Technology.

“If not used properly, I think technology can be harmful,” he said.

Davis and the other speakers urged those in the crowd to take steps to be safer, from putting phones on “airplane mode” when possible to using hardwired Internet connections to following the city of Berkley, California’s lead in adopting right-to-know laws.

“Unlike some environmental problems, like global warming, this is something you can fix tomorrow,” Davis said.

Cities and towns can pass cell phone right-to-know laws that require public postings that tell users of devices how to use them safely, Davis said.

Her organization launched the website,, to spread the word.

Author Catherine Steiner-Adair, who lives in Newton, said children today are gazing into a screen 7 to 11 hours a day, more than any other activity in their life, and one out of seven sets of parents allow their infants and toddlers to have screen time for up to four hours a day.
She called it the “Magic of the iPad,” but said those devices are neurological stimulants and society needs to stop denying the ramifications.

Adults may joke they are “so addicted” to their smartphones, yet they give children the same devices and are really psychologically dependent, Steiner-Adair said.

“They function in our lives like little blankies do for children,” she said.

In children, the devices are causing deficits in language development and their capacity for frustration and self-soothing, she said.

The problem is so severe in Asia, she said, that 5-year-olds, so psychologically addicted to devices, are in recovery treatment therapy programs.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Electrosensitivity caused by chronic nervous system arousal – Dr Roy Fox

Electrosensitivity caused by chronic nervous system arousal – Dr Roy Fox

 | 1 mai 2012 4 Commentaires
Dr Roy Fox
Dr Roy Fox
Pollutant avoidance and detoxification are preferable to neuroactive medication if you suffer from electrosensitivity or chemical sensitivities, says Dr Roy Fox, Medical Director of the Capital Health Integrative Chronic Care Service, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Dr Fox will be speaking on this topic in Montreal next May 25th at the Project ECOSPHERE Environmental and Ecohousing Fair.
Contrary to a common medical practice worldwide, one of Canada’s few experts in environmental medicine says avoiding pollutants and detoxifying the body are the best ways of reducing symptoms of environmental sensitivities and that use of neuroactive drugs is a risky last resort.
“I would never prescribe antidepressants or anxiolytics to someone with electrosensitivity unless they were obviously depressed or anxious and had been treated with psychotherapy or learned some self-management tools and were not responding, Dr Roy Fox said in an interview. Also, the anxiety or depression would need to be diagnosed by the usual criteria and be a clearly significant clinical issue. If I do prescribe medication, then I anticipate limited tolerance and therefore start with a medication I am most familiar with, is usually well tolerated and also at a low dose. A high percentage of patients who are electrosensitive have limited tolerance to medications and particularly antidepressants/anxiolytics. Side effects are more frequent. I am not aware of any evidence to suggest that such medications are beneficial in this situation.”
A chemically-sensitive physician
A gastroenterologist by training and professor of geriatrics at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Dr Roy Fox speaks from experience. In 1990-1991, he was among more than 600 people who became ill because of indoor air quality problems at Camp Hill Medical Centre, near Halifax. The major cause of their illness was thought to be neurotoxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs), specifically mixtures of amines added to the boiler for their anticorrosive properties, accidentally introduced into the hospital’s environment for humidification purposes.
More than 100 of those affected, including senior staff such as Dr Fox, Camp Hill’s first Director of the Centre for Health Care of the Elderly, developed a condition called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). Many remained disabled five years later and were unable to pursue any gainful employment. A significant proportion of those who became ill also developed electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), also known as electrical sensitivity (ES).
Loss of tolerance
“Lessening of ES appeared to parallel improvement in health and reduction of chemical sensitivity… In the [few] patients where this has been identified as a major factor, addressing total body [pollutant] load or the use of desensitization techniques to lessen chemical sensitivity and allergy has resulted in significant amelioration of ES symptoms’’, Dr Fox wrote in a paper presented at the 1997 Annual International Symposium on Man and his Environment, which focused on bioelectricity. He explained how those poisoned at Camp Hill were affected: “The negatively charged amines have a more profound effect on membrane functions such as permeability. These changes in membrane function (…) are likely to result in altered function and altered electromagnetic characteristics.’’
(In a letter written to someone with EHS who forwarded it to us, Parisian oncologist Dr Dominique Belpommehighlights that “most living organisms — including bacteria — are electrosensitive. What individualises electrosensitivity is that certain susceptible organisms become more intolerant to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) than others as a result of prolonged EMF exposure.’’ Dr Belpomme has asked the World Health Organization to stop using the term Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity and adopt the one he coined, Electromagnetic Field Intolerance Syndrome.)
Following the Camp Hill poisoning, Dr. Fox completed a year-long fellowship in Environmental Medicine at the Environmental Health Centre, Dallas (EHCD) and Tri-City Hospital, Dallas, Texas. EHCD’s founder, cardiac surgeon William J. Rea, co-wrote the first scientific paper describing an effective method to evaluate electromagnetic field hypersensitivity. It was published in the Journal of Bioelectricity in 1991.
A unique medical centre
In 1994, Dr Fox was appointed Interim Director of the new Nova Scotia Environmental Health Centre, a 2-million-dollar state-of-the-art facility built by the province with ceramic tiles and other healthy building materials tolerated by chemically sensitive patients. He was appointed Director in 1997 and today he is Medical Director. The Centre, part of the Capital District Health Authority and renamed the Integrated Chronic Care Service, specializes in the treatment of individuals with complex chronic conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and acquired environmental sensitivities.
“We always have about 600-700 patients at any one time.’’ Some of them come from Quebec, which reimburses their medical fees because the province has no similar treatment facility. The fact that Nova Scotia physicians became hypersensitive “certainly helped’’ to convince the Maritime province to take environmental illnesses more seriously, recognized Dr Fox.
A growing epidemic 
Chemical and electromagnetic sensitivities share common characteristics with other conditions that are largely due to environmental assaults on the nervous system, such as chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, Dr Fox said in an interview. In 2010, an estimated 5% of Canadians suffered from at least one or a combination of MCS, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue and many of them are too sick to work full time, according to a study co-written by family physician Lynn Marshall of the University of Toronto and president of the Environmental Health Institute of Canada.
In 2007, Statistics Canada reported that 3% of Canadians had received a medical diagnosis of Environmental Hypersensitivity or MCS. In addition, European polls revealed that up to 13% of people say they have become electrosensitive. And up to 35% (2.3 billion people) seem to have become intolerant to EMFs, according to environmental toxicologist Magda Havas, an expert in the health effects of EMFs including transient high frequencies, a form of electrical interference commonly called dirty electricity. “When we cleaned up the dirty electricity in classrooms, the health of about 30% to 35% of the teachers improved, adds Havas, Associate Professor of Environmental & Resource Studies at Trent University, in Peterborough, Ontario. I believe that between 1% and 5% of the population are extremely sensitive and another 30% to 35% are moderately to mildly sensitive.’’
Characteristics of chemical sensitivities
In 1999, six consensus criteria were identified by researchers for the diagnosis of MCS, which can be triggered by an acute or chronic chemical exposure:
• Symptoms are reproducible with repeated exposures.
• The condition has persisted for a significant period of time.
• Levels of exposure lower than commonly tolerated result in increased sensitivity.
• The symptoms improve or resolve completely when the triggering chemicals are removed.
• Responses often occur to multiple chemically unrelated substances.
• Symptoms involve multiple organs.
Overstimulated nervous system 
The same criteria can be applied to EHS, according to Dr Fox. “I see chemical and EMF sensitivities not as separate and unique illnesses, but as the manifestation of a common underlying change in the central nervous system. In the literature, central sensitivity or sensitization syndrome appears be a pathophysiological change that accounts for MCS, migraines, irritable bowel and bladder, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and difficult to treat chronic pain. Those affected have a lower threshold [of tolerance to various stressors] and higher excitation within the nervous system. Reviews on central sensitization were written in the USA by professor of rheumatology Muhammad B. Yunus. A whole variety of things keep this sensitization going, such as infection, endocrine dysfunction, environmental stress, psychosocial stress or chronic joint inflammation. Patients learn to limit their reactivity by avoiding the environmental triggers.’’
Yet there is no medical consensus around the diagnosis and treatment of environmental hypersensitivities, which many physicians consider to be psychosomatic. “I can confirm that 90% of patients referred to our Center have a history which confirms they are environmentally sensitive, 10% of whom had severe reactions, some with anaphylaxis or severe asthma, Dr Fox said. The hypersensitive don’t suffer from more mental illnesses than other groups of patients.” He is thus categorical when he says electrohypersensitivity is not psychosomatic: “It’s not a phobia, said this author of more than 110 scientific papers. Ever since I’ve been in this field, that diagnosis of psychosomatic or somatoform illness has always bothered me. People are so linear, black and white in their thinking.’’
Psychological impacts
But he understands why doctors tend to pose such a diagnosis: “It’s very difficult when there is no objective confirmation or immediate treatment.’’ But he adds that while the cause of environmental diseases is not psychological, “you can’t ignore the psychological impact of suddenly becoming sensitive to things you use daily in modern life. We have patients where psychological issues are important, but a very small number, fewer than 5%, where there is a clear psychiatric diagnosis which is the most important clinical feature. This is no more than in the general population. However in the other 95%, psychological issues may be contributing to their ill health and limiting their potential to heal. We can help if we lower the stress of isolation, financial problems, etc. When the nervous system is in a high state of arousal where you react to the environment, it’s interpreted as being anxious. But any kind of health problem that compromises the body’s overall ability to function in a cohesive, normal way is a stress and alters nervous system function. Threats to the person switch the nervous system into a high state of arousal leading to overprotective responses. Heightened sensitivity is really an over-protective self-protection mechanism. Vulnerability to environmental stress varies and different people are affected in different ways. Multiple body systems are usually involved and most of our patients have multiple diagnoses.’’
Despite Dr Rea’s 1991 study and one coauthored in 2011 by biophysicist Dr Andrew Marino who teaches medicine at Louisiana State University, the World Health Organization still stands behind its 2005 assertion that ‘’there is no scientific basis to link EHS symptoms to EMF exposure.’’ Nevertheless, Dr Fox and thousands of other physicians worldwide say they are indeed linked (details on the International Commission for Electromagnetic Safety (ICEMS) and Cellular Phone Task Force websites).
Difficult to demonstrate scientifically
Dr Fox has seen patients with major problems with electrohypersensitivity, also known as microwave sensitivity or electric sensitivity. But he says it’s indeed a very difficult thing to prove by exposing patients to EMFs in a laboratory, as Drs Rea and Marino have achieved. “I tried here in the Center but it’s very difficult to exclude the presence of EMFs in the modern world.’’ A colleague at the Microwave/RF and Wireless Research Laboratory in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Dalhousie University  has a chamber where microwave intrusion can be eliminated. “However, we found it very difficult to test our patients there: its building materials are very smelly and off-gas pollutants that made them sick.’’
The nervous system of every species including humans can detect EMFs but it is not developed in most humans, Dr Fox added. “They have not learned to be aware of EMFs because it was not useful historically. But when the nervous system detects a change, for example when entering in a strong electromagnetic field that is interpreted as a threat, it goes into arousal and a fight or flight response.’’
Calming this response by avoiding exposure to pollutants is also very difficult to do in modern life. “Many aspects of modern life can trigger this heightened state of arousal, such as mold or anything that the body senses is harmful. Our approach to environmental sensitivities is we recognize that and teach people how to limit their exposure to bring down their level of arousal.’’
One of his patients who was very ill had worked at Camp Hill and worked long hours on a computer over a weekend to finish a report. “He became very sensitive to EMF exposure. He talked to somebody in the power generating industry who told him they grounded themselves. He tried [earthing devices backed by scientific research] as well as Chi Gong. That helped relieve his symptoms.’’
Frog in hot water
People who are in a constant state of nervous system arousal suffer the most. “When they get additional exposure, what happens is the nervous system, which is a very complex network, goes from order into a state of chaos. What we take for granted as humans becomes disrupted: they get brain fog, uncomfortable sensory experiences in parts of the body, pain, incoordination, anticipation and fear.’’ He compares our reaction to the ever rising levels of background EMFs with putting the proverbial frog in a pot of slowly heating water where it stays and gets cooked. Most people have adapted and tolerated the progressive increase and stayed in the pot, whereas today the high peaks of pulsating RFs are making more and more people jump out as if they were in boiling water.
McGill physician disagrees
Dr Gilles Thériault, a professor of occupational epidemiology at McGill University and a clinician at the Montreal Chest Institute’s Environmental Health Clinic, is one of Quebec’s rare medical experts on EMFs. He disagrees with ICEMS scientists and the coauthors of the most recent BioInitiative 2012 report (including his McGill colleague physicist Paul Héroux) who say EMFs may well cause or foster many diseases including cancer. Last year, Dr Thériault wrote us by email: “I am still of the opinion that there is no scientific evidence to justify worrying about the effect of EMF on human health. I am also of the opinion that there is a lack of knowledge and I regret that there is little financial resource for such studies to be conducted by independent researchers. About electrosensitivity, I see patients in the clinic and in a large proportion, they carry diseases whose symptoms they attribute to EMF or RF exposure. Our role is to direct them towards adequate clinical care to treat their underlying diseases.’’ Dr Thériault also wrote us that the last thing he tells his patients is to avoid exposing themselves to the pollutants they believe are harming them, to avoid aggravating their fear and perceived intolerance of their environment.
Roy Fox said that approach is “right, but limiting. It’s very important not to teach people to retreat and live on a desert island. People who are ill become very passionate about what is making them sick and they want to change the world. That makes it difficult because if the only answer for them is for everybody to stop using mobile phones, that’s impossible and they’ll never get better. But when you become ill and everything you are exposed to makes it worse, you have to reduce your exposure so the body can focus on healing. We still teach our patients how to reduce chemical and electromagnetic exposure and when they do that their health improves.’’
Dr Brundtland is also electrosensitive
The challenge is that EMFs are ubiquitous and that since the turn of the century, more and more people say they are particularly hypersensitive to microwave emissions from cell phones, other wireless devices, including cell towers, radio, television and radar antennas located one to several kilometres away. For one, Dr Gro Harlem Brundland, the former Premier of Norway and former Executive Director of the World Health Organization, says she gets headaches from cell phones located 3 to 4 meters away and turned on but not even in use. (Here is her story which she recounted to Magda Havas in front of an Ontario audience in April 2012.)
That’s one reason why wireless devices are not used in Dr Fox’s Centre. “We don’t have Wi-Fi in our Center and we encourage people to turn their cell phones off [by putting it in airplane mode]. When we built the clinic, we created it so in some rooms power can be completely turned off. We do have fluorescent lights but clinicians leave them off. In the last 10 years, all medical records have become electronic, so we use computers daily but not Wi-Fi. We haven’t seen a need for it.’’
U of T: same approach
Dr Marshall’s group at the University of Toronto’s Women’s College Hospital has the same approach. As its website states: “We at the Environmental Health Clinic are of the opinion that the true safety limits for wireless computers (Wi-Fi) and cell phones are not yet known, so it would be wise to exercise precaution. Toronto Public Health has information on this topic and a fact sheet – Cell phone Use by Children and Youth.’’ This fact sheet states about radio frequency (RF)/microwave exposure: “…in light of the limitations of the research, we cannot rule out the possibility that children require greater protection from RF exposure. In 2005, TPH began to promote parents’ awareness of the need to minimize children’s use of cell phones among other important practices (…) Consistent with messages from the British Department of Health, Toronto Public Health is recommending that children, especially pre-adolescent children, use landlines whenever possible, keeping the use of cell phones for essential purposes only, limiting the length of cell phone calls and using headsets or hands-free options, whenever possible.’’ Dr Fox goes even further and says: “We need regulations and exposure limits, for example, so children don’t spend hours on cell phones.’’
Provincial backing
Despite the lack of scientific consensus over the causes and cures of environmental illnesses, Dr Fox’s team’s approach has been supported by the Nova Scotia government and population: “Over the years, there has been much controversy, but we seem to have more acceptance because people have seen we are trying to help people with a rational approach. For a lot of things, we don’t have much scientific evidence to help our understanding.’’
He says people must consider not only pollution’s impact on the nervous system, but also the non-stop, fast pace of modern life. “There are a number of things that provide high levels of stimulation to humans. When we try to help people, one of the hard things is to get them to slow down. The way our appliances are used, they really speed up and limit down time in people. I meditate and teach patients ways of calming the mind, such as Cardiac coherence. Based upon the programs of the Institute of HeartMath which has done good research in this area and developed interesting electronic tools to use biofeedback, this approach to emotional and stress management has a great deal of evidence in peer reveiwed literature to support it. We also teach  mindfulness, and use an approach based upon the work of Jon Kabat Zinn, again with much documentation of efficacy in peer reveiwed literature. I also recommend Qi Gong, Tai Chi, yoga and other grounding techniques. As a physician I will of course determine whether the person has features of a clinical depression and if so will seek the help of my colleagues. It should also be noted that being electrically sensitive does not preclude someone from having concomitant anxiety or depression. I will treat whatever is appropriate. Some people who cannot accept the need for a self management approach will be prescribed an anxiolytic, when prescribed this may offer some help when symptoms are very disturbing. However this is never front line therapy and in my experience never « cures » the problem.’’
Dr Fox’s team treats its patients holistically: “We treat the whole person, ensuring they have a good balanced diet that does not contain what their body can’t adapt to. Our approach is to get people in a state of optimal health so they can tap into their own ability to restore balance. And it works: while it does not eliminate sensitivities, patients generally react less and manage their symptoms, which lessen, more effectively.’’
When we asked him why he does not use vitamins and supplements such as Dr Rea does in Dallas, Dr Fox responded : “The approach by EHC-Dallas is one of many that are used. Naturopaths and environmental physicians add all kinds of nutrients, vitamins and minerals to detoxify. There is little evidence that this improves outcome. My experience is that in very sensitive patients this approach makes them worse. Some of the materials recommended are expensive and with limited resources I prefer that people spend their money on things that will be long lasting in improving health – changes in their home, etc. With environmental cleanup, changes in diet and personal products used, individuals will detoxify and at a rate that they can handle. We do offer sauna and we use intravenous magnesium to offer relief from fatigue and pain in some patients who appear to be deficient. Some of the other treatments offered in Dallas have limited evidence to support their use. Many treatments are utilized to impact the immune system, but there is litte evidence to support the belief that the immune syustem is damaged or deficient. One might ask why Dallas and various naturopathic approaches do not address the whole person and the problem of an aroused nervous system.’’
(Dry infrared sauna helps the body detoxify because sweat often contains neurotoxins such as pesticides and heavy metals. These “attract and enhance electrical frequencies like a lightning rod’’, according to nutritionist Brian Clement, director of the world-famous Hippocrates Health Institute, a Florida center founded in 1956 by Ann Wigmore, a pioneer in a vegan, living and enzyme-rich diet complemented by exercise, positive thinking and non-invasive therapies.)
Finally, Dr Fox left us with perhaps this wise piece of advice: “Creating space in your life does not mean to stop being active, but to learn to pace yourself, to match demands with your body’s capacities. To do that, you must become aware of those capacities.’’