My proposal of workshop on EHS has been approved by the Technical Program Committee of the BioEM 2021 conference. Below is the description of the workshop. It will be conducted as hybrid workshop with presentations on-site in Ghent and on-line.

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Sensitivity to EMF: The Present and The Future

The ongoing deployment of 5G wireless communications together with the expansion of the internet social media has led to galvanization of the anti-5G activist movement. Activists are concerned that their health will be affected by the radiation emitted by the 5G networks where base stations will be densely distributed and in close proximity to dwellings and placer of work. Currently available research, predominantly based on psychological provocation studies, does not provide sufficiently reliable evidence of the lack of causality link between health and exposures to EMF.

The proposed EHS workshop will address a number of unresolved questions concerning the EHS:

  • How certain we are that EHS exists?
  • What could be the mechanism of how EHS develops in population?
  • What role in developing EHS plays the density of EMF emitters and what chemical polluters?
  • Are current ICNIRP safety guidelines sufficient to protect persons with self-declared EHS?
  • How reliable and how useful, for setting health policies, is the to-date published EHS research?
  • What additional impact may have 5G on EHS, or will it remain the same as with 3G and 4G?
  • What new research should be done to get more insight into EHS physiology and psychology?
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Speakers invited to present in the EHS workshop (all speakers confirmed):

  • Workshop Chair: Dariusz Leszczynski
  • Martin Röösli – Professor of Environmental Epidemiology & Head of the Environmental Exposures and Health Unit, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Associated Institute of the University of Basel, Switzerland
  • Maël Dieudonné – Max Weber Center, Institut des Sciences de l’Homme, 14 avenue Berthelot, F-69007, and  Health Services and Performance Research, University Hospital of Lyon, 162 avenue Lacassagne, F-69003, Lyon, France
  • Dariusz Leszczynski – Adjunct Professor of Biochemistry, Helsinki University, Finland, and Chief Editor of ‘Radiation and Health’ of the Frontiers in Public Health, Lausanne, Switzerland

Workshop schedule (proposal for 120 min total):

  • Introduction – Leszczynski (5 min)
  • Martin Röösli (30 min)
  • Maël Dieudonné (30 min)
  • Dariusz Leszczynski (30 min)
  • Discussion (25 min)

Brief outlines of presentations (not abstracts)

Martin Röösli: Hypersensitivity and vulnerable populations in environmental epidemiology

  • Individuals are reacting to environmental stressors differently owned to other factors such as genetic predisposition, co-exposures, health literacy etc. Exposure-response curves are used in environmental epidemiology to express how much the likelihood to develop a disease is increasing with increasing exposure. In the public health context, protection of vulnerable populations has received substantial attention in the last few decades. On the top of this natural variation, the existence of so-called hypersensitive individuals have been suggested for various environmental exposures such as chemicals, noise or electromagnetic fields. The basic idea behind is that such individuals are reacting to substantially lower exposure levels outside the typical variation in the population, similar to individuals with an allergy. In this talk I will discuss the concept of vulnerability and hypersensitivity for various environmental stressors including electromagnetic fields.
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Maël Dieudonné: EHS: a problem from the past or a challenge for the future?

  • From a bioelectromagnetic perspective, EHS may no longer appear as a problem: while EHS persons’ symptoms are not consistent with established EMF health effects, many studies have shown that they are not associated with EMF exposure, whether in experimental or real-life settings. Dismissing EHS nonetheless seems premature. EHS persons have not disappeared: they keep raising public concern and challenging the effectiveness of safety regulations, while their symptoms remain perplexing for health professionals. Drawing from available scientific evidence and my personal experience as an EHS researcher, I will contend that the way forward starts with a better definition of EHS, disentangling the roles of EMF exposure, beliefs and behaviours in the genesis of EHS symptoms.

Dariusz Leszczynski: An urgent necessity for overhaul of EHS research

  • Part of the population considers themselves as sensitive to the man-made electromagnetic radiation (EMF) emitted by powerlines, electric wiring, electric home appliances and the wireless communication devices and networks. Sensitivity is characterized by a broad variety of non-specific symptoms that the sensitive people claim to experience when exposed to EMF. While the experienced symptoms are currently considered as a real life impairment, factors causing these symptoms remain unclear. The to-date published scientific studies, examining sensitivity to EMF, are of insufficient methodological design to find the link between EMF exposures and sensitivity symptoms, if such exists. Predominantly psychology-driven efforts to examine sensitivity to EMF are likely inadequate to find physiological ailment. There is a need for a new direction by combining both psychological provocation approach and physiological biochemistry approach to gather not only subjective but also objective scientific evidence. I will present inadequacies of the past research and propose direction for the new EHS research.
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Between a Rock and a Hard Place – Dariusz Leszczynski