The explosive spread of electromagnetic fields across the world has undeniably spawned at least one disorder: electrosensitivity syndrome. Millions of people -- most of them in Europe -- say they suffer headaches, depression, nausea, rashes and other problems when they're too close to cellphones or other sources of EMFs. They've formed their own support groups, started their own newsletters and taken drastic steps to avoid EMFs, with some even wearing metallic clothing. A band of EMF "refugees" has moved to a valley in southern France to avoid radiation.
The list of victims includes Gro Harlem Brundtland, the former director-general of the World Health Organization. In 2002, when she still held her title, Brundtland told the BBC that she didn't allow cellphones in her office because the radiation gave her headaches.
In "Full Signal," a documentary that premiered at the 2009 Santa Fe Film Festival, a self-described sufferer of EMF poisoning says that if someone accidentally forgets to turn off a cellphone before entering her house, she starts to feel ill within a couple of hours. "After four hours I can't speak anymore," she says.
Alarming, yes, but such symptoms may not have much to do with electromagnetic fields. Even David Carpenter, a professor of environmental health sciences and biomedical sciences at the University at Albany, State University of New York, who often warns against the dangers of EMFs, isn't convinced that low-level radiation can cause such a wide range of symptoms. He believes that EMFs can cause cancer and possibly neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's and Lou Gehrig's disease, but there's no good evidence that cellphones can cause headaches and other vague complaints, he says. "I'm not sure electrosensitivity is real."