Do you have an allergy to WiFi?

Spolier Alert - No!

ElectroMagnetic Sensitivity (EMS)

Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance
attributed to ElectroMagnetic Fields (IEI-EMF)

This is typical of the pseudo scientific traps that we can fall into when we are desperate for answers. At the moment science based medicine has few answers for the treatment of long covid. So when someone claiming to be medical professional takes a hair sample, then says you have electromagnetic sensitivity; if you are not quite medically and scientifically literature you will probably believe them and adjust your behaviour accordingly.

This might seem fairly innocuous, and harmless, but that is not the case. Blaming something that does not exist will cause harm. It has lead people to desperate action such as moving to a small town where wi-fi in banned (1) and even suicide. (2)


What is Wi-Fi radiation?

Wi-fi, phone signals and bluetooth signals are all in microwave part of the electromagnetic spectrum, they are oscialltions of the Electromagnetic Field (EMF). This is same thing as visible light, just a lot lower energy. If you go to higher energy, shorter wavelength ultraviolet, X-ray s and Gamma rays, this form of light can pull electrons from atoms or molecules, for this reason it is called ionising radiation. If enough ions are formed this can put you at greater risk of cancer. Since microwave radiation is non-ionising then it cannot cause cancer.

Microwave ovens do cook your food, but these are much higher intensity than Wi-fi. So while there is some plausibility that the heating effect of Wi-fi signals could cause an issue, there is no evidence that this increases your risk of cancer. Even when you put a higher intensity microwave emitter close to sensitive part of you body, like a mobile phone next to your brain for many hours s day, there is no noticeable increase in your risk.

There is some data that your risk increases with more phone use. However, the data is poor, and on closer examination it is negative (3)


How do we test for EM sensitivity EMS?

We have established that EMS is implausible, but people still sell diagnose that they have it. There is now a simple test, find someone who thinks they're sensitive to electromagnetic radiation, stick a hidden source of Wi-Fi/EMF near them, switch it on and off and see what happens. Guess what happens? Nothing.

“182 self-declared electromagnetic hypersensitive EHS individuals could not detect presence or absence of RF-EMF better than other persons” (4)

The best study which complied data from 1175 IEI-EMF patients, found there was no robust evidence to support the fact that exposure to EMF triggered their acute symptoms. (5)

So what is happening in the studies that do support EMS?

“The studies included in the review did support the role of the nocebo effect in triggering acute symptoms in IEI-EMF sufferers.“ (5), and Nocebo effect is like placebo but for effects perceived as negative

“Five studies identified significant effects of exposure such as reduced heart rate and blood pressure, altered pupillary light reflex, reduced visual attention and perception, improved spatial memory, movement away from an EMF source during sleep and altered EEG during sleep. In most cases, these were isolated results that other studies failed to replicate.”

“there is no reliable evidence to suggest that people with IEI-EMF experience unusual physiological reactions as a result of exposure to EMF. This supports suggestions thidemiological study based on self-reported data and electronic medical recordsat EMF is not the main cause of their ill health.” (6).

If EMS is a thing we would expect a dose response, so areas with higher EMF levels would have an increased rate of EMS, however this is not the case. “Perceived exposure had a poor correlation with the actual exposure estimates” (7)

So the studies that do report a positive effect do have all the hall marks of false positives. They are small studies, which have not been replicated, and the bigger studies show no effect.

Moreover, this condition is encouraged by ill-informed media that spread the idea.

“Media reports about the adverse effects of supposedly hazardous substances can increase the likelihood of experiencing symptoms following sham exposure and developing an apparent sensitivity to it.”(8)

So what is going on?

The factor behind their suffering isn't exposure to EM emissions, it's their perception of their exposure. So, the answer to the question "Is electrosensitivity real?" is a firm No.

The real question we should be asking is "What is wrong with these individuals?" There is something genuinely wrong with these people, but it isn’t EMF which is affecting them.

They are blaming their symptoms on a nonexistent phenomena, thus ignoring what is actually causing their symptoms. EMS is a psychosomatic illness and needs to be treated with therapy. Suffers are looking for something external to blame when really they should be looking at themselves.



4. Röösli, M. (2008). Radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure and non-specific symptoms of ill health: A systematic review. In Environmental Research (Vol. 107, Issue 2, pp. 277–287).
5. Rubin, G. J., Nieto-Hernandez, R., & Wessely, S. (2010). Idiopathic environmental intolerance attributed to electromagnetic fields (formerly ’electromagnetic hypersensitivity’): An updated systematic review of provocation studies. In Bioelectromagnetics (Vol. 31, Issue 1, pp. 1–11).
6. Rubin, G.J. et al. (2011) ‘Do people with idiopathic environmental intolerance attributed to electromagnetic fields display physiological effects when exposed to electromagnetic fields? A systematic review of provocation studies’, Bioelectromagnetics [Preprint]. Available at:
7. Baliatsas, C., Bolte, J., Yzermans, J., Kelfkens, G., Hooiveld, M., Lebret, E., & van Kamp, I. (2015). Actual and perceived exposure to electromagnetic fields and non-specific physical symptoms: An epidemiological study based on self-reported data and electronic medical records. International Journal of Hygiene and 8. Environmental Health, 218(3), 331–344.
Witthöft, M., & Rubin, G. J. (2013). Are media warnings about the adverse health effects of modern life self-fulfilling? An experimental study on idiopathic environmental intolerance attributed to electromagnetic fields (IEI-EMF). Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 74(3), 206–212.