Electrophobia as a Health Risk                 SciBarCamp               29 October 2011                Ernst Bonekwww.nt.t...
Wi-fi refugees shelter in West Virginia                      mountains •    Dozens of Americans who claim to have been mad...
What is „Health“?The World Health Organisation WHO says :"A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being,and n...
What is a „Phobia“?Wikipedia:•  A phobia is …. defined as a persistent fear of an   object or situation in which the suffe...
Electrophobia•  Fear of things or phenomena that are  electrical                          Ernst Bonek                     ...
Electric, Magnetic, and Electromagnetic Fields                       (EMF)            WavelengthFrequency                 ...
Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS)Wikipedia:...is a set of claims of adverse medical symptomspurportedly caused by exp...
Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS)    Hypersensitive persons suffer from    •  Head-ache    •  Sleep disturbances    •...
Perception of Radio-Frequency FieldsMeta study of all doubleblind studieswww.who.int/bulletin/volumes/88/12/09-071852/en/ ...
The Evidence from Brain Scans (MRI)                               www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18499479                 Ern...
Significantly Activated Brain Areas                    Inferior frontal gyrus,                    Anterior insular cortex ...
Ernst Bonek 29.10.2011   Seite 12
The Effect of Sham Exposure             Ernst Bonek              29.10.2011                Seite 13
What do we learn?•  EHS patients’ symptoms are objectively unrelated to   emf•  However, they do suffer from real symptoms...
Nocebo effect•  The opposite of placebo effect•  We believe that something may hurt us – and then it   does•  A famous exa...
Why a health risk?•  Constant fear accumulates stress until it becomes   unbearable•  If a genuine condition remains undet...
Electrophobia   When fear is the opponent,science does not stand a chance.                Ernst Bonek                 29.1...
So, who profits ?•  Evidently people who are smart enough to exploit   other people‘s fears                            29....
Thank you for your attention!www.nt.tuwien.ac.at/about-us/staff/ernst-bonek/                       Ernst Bonek            ...
Some further reading•    www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18499479•    www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs296/en/•    www.ncb...
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Ernst Bonek - Electrophobia as a health risk (Vienna 2011)

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Klaus Bichler's talk from SciBarCampVIE about science journalism in Austria as well as a how-to for scientists for interview situations

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Ernst Bonek - Electrophobia as a health risk (Vienna 2011)

  1. 1. Electrophobia as a Health Risk SciBarCamp 29 October 2011 Ernst Bonekwww.nt.tuwien.ac.at/about-us/staff/ernst-bonek/
  2. 2. Wi-fi refugees shelter in West Virginia mountains •  Dozens of Americans who claim to have been made ill by wi-fi and mobile phones have flocked to the town of Green Bank, West Virginia •  There are five billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide and advances in wireless technology make it increasingly difficult to escape the influence of mobile devices. But while most Americans seem to embrace continuous connectivity, some believe its making them physically ill. •  Diane Schou is unable to hold back the tears as she describes how she once lived in a shielded cage to protect her from the electromagnetic radiation caused by waves from wireless communication. •  Ms Schou is one of an estimated 5% of Americans who believe they suffer from Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS), which they say is caused by exposure to electromagnetic fields typically created by mobile phones, wi-fi and other electronic equipment.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-14887428 Ernst Bonek 29.10.2011 Seite 2
  3. 3. What is „Health“?The World Health Organisation WHO says :"A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being,and not merely the absence of disease" Ernst Bonek 29.10.2011 Seite 3
  4. 4. What is a „Phobia“?Wikipedia:•  A phobia is …. defined as a persistent fear of an object or situation in which the sufferer commits to great lengths avoiding…, often being recognized as irrational. In the event the phobia cannot be avoided entirely the sufferer will endure the situation …. with marked distress ….•  Exaggerated fear makes sick Ernst Bonek 29.10.2011 Seite 4
  5. 5. Electrophobia•  Fear of things or phenomena that are electrical Ernst Bonek Ernst Bonek 29.10.2011 15.3.2011 Seite 5 5 Seite
  6. 6. Electric, Magnetic, and Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) WavelengthFrequency Ernst Bonek 29.10.2011 Seite 6
  7. 7. Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS)Wikipedia:...is a set of claims of adverse medical symptomspurportedly caused by exposure to electromagneticfields. Self-described sufferers of electromagnetichypersensitivity report responding to non-ionizingelectromagnetic fields (or electromagnetic radiation) atintensities well below the limits permitted byinternational radiation safety standards.Observation: To date, no person worldwide has beenfound that objectively can distinguish between fieldor no field at RF frequencies Ernst Bonek 29.10.2011 Seite 7
  8. 8. Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS) Hypersensitive persons suffer from •  Head-ache •  Sleep disturbances •  Fatigue - Concentration problems •  Tinnitus •  Allergies IEI-EMFIdiopathic Environmental Intolerance Attributed to ElectroMagnetic Fields Such persons are not hypochondriacs, i.e. their symptoms are real! Ernst Bonek 15.3.2011 Seite 8
  9. 9. Perception of Radio-Frequency FieldsMeta study of all doubleblind studieswww.who.int/bulletin/volumes/88/12/09-071852/en/ Ernst Bonek 29.10.2011 Seite 9
  10. 10. The Evidence from Brain Scans (MRI) www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18499479 Ernst Bonek 29.10.2011 Seite 10
  11. 11. Significantly Activated Brain Areas Inferior frontal gyrus, Anterior insular cortex Cingulate cortex “anterior cingulate and insular cortex are thought to contribute to the so-called "pain neuromatrix" Ernst Bonek 29.10.2011 Seite 11
  12. 12. Ernst Bonek 29.10.2011 Seite 12
  13. 13. The Effect of Sham Exposure Ernst Bonek 29.10.2011 Seite 13
  14. 14. What do we learn?•  EHS patients’ symptoms are objectively unrelated to emf•  However, they do suffer from real symptoms•  Still, they are no hypochondriacs•  It’s a nocebo effect•  They hurt themselves by clinging to false beliefs Ernst Bonek 29.10.2011 Seite 14
  15. 15. Nocebo effect•  The opposite of placebo effect•  We believe that something may hurt us – and then it does•  A famous example of the nocebo effect: patient information sheet. You read about unwanted side effects of your prescribed drug – and, lo and behold, there you feel them already Ernst Bonek 29.10.2011 Seite 15
  16. 16. Why a health risk?•  Constant fear accumulates stress until it becomes unbearable•  If a genuine condition remains undetected, because the person attributes her symptoms erroneously to EMF•  Even if the person only suffers mildly from anxiety, this is – according to WHO’s health definition – an impairment in quality of life•  There are studies suggesting that the call for “precautionary measures” to reduce public exposure to EMF entail a nocebo effect: Wiedemann & Schütz, „The Precautionary Priniciple and Risk Perception: Experimental Studies in the EMF Area“, Environmental Health Perspectives Vol. 113 (April 2005), 402-405 Ernst Bonek 29.10.2011 Seite 16
  17. 17. Electrophobia When fear is the opponent,science does not stand a chance. Ernst Bonek 29.10.2011 Seite 17
  18. 18. So, who profits ?•  Evidently people who are smart enough to exploit other people‘s fears 29.10..2011 Seite 18
  19. 19. Thank you for your attention!www.nt.tuwien.ac.at/about-us/staff/ernst-bonek/ Ernst Bonek 29.10.2011 Seite 19
  20. 20. Some further reading•  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18499479•  www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs296/en/•  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20538519•  www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2010/pdfs/pr200_E.pdf•  www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs193/en/•  www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs304/en/•  wien.arbeiterkammer.at/bilder/d129/Esoteriktexte.pdf•  www.apg.at/~/media/725E45B5C12A4F9DA6439BF362BB4381.ashx•  www.scienceblogs.de/kritisch-gedacht/2008/11/dr-oberfeld.php•  Speit G, Schütz P, Hoffmann H. Genotoxic effects of exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) in cultured mammalian cells are not independently reproducible. Mutation Res 626:42-47; 2007.•  Wiedemann P.M. & Schütz H., „The Precautionary Priniciple and Risk Perception: Experimental Studies in the EMF Area“, Environmental Health Perspectives Vol. 113 (April 2005), 402-405•  www.faz.net/s/Rub7F74ED2FDF2B439794CC2D664921E7FF/ Doc~EBAAA0BCEC6544EE1AC30A2FB15439B54~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html•  http://ec.europa.eu/health/opinions2/en/electromagnetic-fields/index.htm•  http://web.jrc.ec.europa.eu/emf-net/doc/efrtdocuments/EMF-NET%20Comments%20on %20the%20BioInitiative%20Report%2030OCT2007.pdf•  www.welt.de/videos/wissen/article12722037/Wuenschelruten-persiflieren-sich-im- Tagesprogramm.html#autoplay Ernst Bonek 29.10..2011 Seite 20

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