Journal of Public Health

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 461–473 | Cite as

Descriptive self-reporting survey of people with idiopathic environmental intolerance attributed to electromagnetic fields (IEI-EMF): similarities and comparisons with previous studies

  • Soafara Andrianome
  • René De Seze
  • Anne Braun
  • Brahim SelmaouiEmail author
Original Article



In France, cases of people self-reporting symptoms due to electromagnetic fields (EMF) or idiopathic environmental intolerance attributed to electromagnetic fields (IEI-EMF) have emerged over the past 10 years. Several self-help and action groups have claimed an increasing number of members. However, little is known about this population in France.


Our primary objective was to describe the reported symptoms and the sources that may induce these symptoms through a questionnaire-based study. Secondly, we discussed our results alongside those obtained from the existing literature and provide an overview of this physical condition.

Subjects and methods

From April to November 2014, a self-questionnaire survey was conducted in France. With 52 participants, the average age of respondents was 50 ± 11 years and the majority of participants at 79% were women.


Our study results in the French population were consistent with findings in the literature conducted in other countries and also highlighted a number of emerging EMF sources such as wireless area networks, to be perceived as possible causes of symptoms.


Despite methodological differences, we summarized facts from previous comparable investigations. We also provided an overview of people claiming EMF effects and briefly discussed possible avenues of research.


Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (IEI-EMF) Questionnaire study Symptoms Environmental illness Electrohypersensitivity (EHS) Survey 



The authors wish to warmly thank all the respondents for their participation, the members of French self-help and action groups, as well as the association representatives for sharing and communicating about the research, and the representatives of the “Collectif des Electrosensibles de France” for their invaluable assistance.


This work was fully funded by the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES); grant number: SENSI-RF EST-2013-002.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The protocol was approved by the ethics committee of the CPP Nord Ouest CHU Amiens, France (CPP, 2014/8).

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of interest

All authors declare have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017
corrected publication January/2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.INERIS, Experimental Toxicology UnitNational Institute of Industrial Environment and Risks (INERIS)Verneuil-en-HalatteFrance
  2. 2.PériTox Laboratory, Faculty of MedicineJules Verne University of PicardyAmiensFrance

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