“I’m Allergic to Modern Living”
And really, what followed was a laundry list of side effects from current methods of electronic communications. I’m not talking just about the patient’s problem — because the journalist and editor seem similarly afflicted. It’s like they’re all having a reaction to communicating clearly and understandably.
We have so many problems with this article, it’s hard to know where to begin. How about this paragraph:
The 39-year-old is so sensitive to the electromagnetic field (emf) or ‘smog’ created by computers, mobile phones, microwave ovens and even some cars, that she develops a painful skin rash and her eyelids swell to three times their size if she goes near them.
Um, EMF is not smog. But, to focus on the moving charges, the EMF around these devices is small and most are already shielded, otherwise their operations would interfere if they were in any kind of proximity (and, as we’ve repeatedly blogged, it’s hard to get cell phones to cause problems with medical equipment).
The patient’s claims of skin rashes and eyelid swelling are unquantified — it’s ok if this journalist isn’t a doctor, but really, there are some pertinent questions to ask: Where are the rashes? When does the eyelid swelling start? How long does it last? What, specifically, has triggered it? Why now, and not when microwaves and cordless phones became common in the 1980’s? I think readers would want to know this. But all we get is that nonsensicle picture of a scarred forehead, with a caption about swollen eyelids that aren’t even pictured. Really, if you look at the photo too long, you can feel the irritation developing in your own forehead.
And, to be clear, no one has a “microwave allergy,” any more than people have an allergy to fire. Microwaves burn. Now, if this patient’s microwave has a broken or ill-fitting door, the energy could leak out during operation, heating and burning skin or objects close by. But I doubt her problems are so easily identifiable, reproducible, or curable. (One way to check for leakage is to place your cell phone inside the microwave and try calling it – if it rings, there’s leakage.)
We experience this problem every day in the ER, when well-meaning patients point out they’re “allergic” to things like Tylenol, because they vomited within two hours of taking it, back when they were eight. Someone once told me he was allergic to calcium, because it burned when it went through his IV. Allergic to calcium!
No. There’s correlation, and there’s causation. Allergies are real hypersensitive responses to innocuous materials (but, you know, less innocuous than electromagnetic waves). Rashes, blisters, hives, vomiting — these can all be manifestations of allergies, but having these symptoms doesn’t mean there’s been an allergic response. This is high-school level thinking, and it’s clearly missing from everyone involved in this article.
As for the rest of the piece, it’s just one nonsequitor after another. Goth black walls. Silver sleep screens. There’s no explanation for how any of this is supposed to work. There’s a line about how she was going to be seen by a dermatologist, but abruptly moved, instead. Doctors are grouped and anonymously quoted as saying “little scientific evidence to back up a link between EMF and poor health. They claim the symptoms, often attributed to flu or viruses, are psychosomatic.”
Then the journalist pretends that’s just ‘one viewpoint’, and offers the counter point of Rod Read, from Electro-Sensitivity UK, who says the doctors are wrong, and “the pathology is now established.”
Well! Who needs a foundation in medicine, research, and physics when you’ve got Rod Read’s assertions?
Flashback: College bans Wi-fi: No More Reckless Experimentation