Is Your Office Making You Sick?

July 14, 2010

gs403s026How to heal sick building syndrome.

Sick building syndrome (SBS) and the growing prevalence of WiFi and mobile phones are creating long-term health risks that are much more difficult to define—let alone diagnose. With symptoms ranging from dry cough and eye, nose, skin or throat irritation to dizziness, fatigue, headaches, and nausea caused by biological contaminants (like bacteria and molds), toxins from asbestos, carbon monoxide, cleaning agents, and radiation in the workplace, researchers conclude “more focus is needed on the indoor environment” to prevent SBS.

A study at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, for example, shows that cutting ventilation rates even a little can raise the incidence of sick building syndrome among workers by 23%. And exposure to electromagnetic pollution, increasingly prevalent today, only compounds these risks.

New research in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health reports increased cancer and neurological risks from cell towers, which seem to be popping up everywhere—often disguised in church steeples and bell towers. Reviewing 10 epidemiological studies, a Swedish investigation notes that 8 show increased risks within 500 meters (about 1/3 of mile) of mobile phone base stations.

As none of these studies reports exposure above accepted international guidelines for electromagnetic fields (EMFs), the researchers admit “current guidelines may be inadequate in protecting the health of human populations.” Furthermore, this research addresses only one form of radiation surrounding us all 24/7.

Some studies show that American electrical workers with the most electric and magnetic exposure are twice as likely to die of prostate cancer as those with lower exposure. University of Washington research finds that communications and electrical workers have higher rates of breast cancer—even though this study only looked at men—who don’t actually  have breasts!

Data from over 130,000 electrical workers shows an increased risk of suicide, while other studies link EMF radiation to depression and other mental health problems. In an earlier review of occupational exposure to EMFs, 9 out of 10 studies link electromagnetic radiation to ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Dr. Ann Louise’s Take:

It’s beginning to look like many of us may be suffering from a kind of severe allergy to electricity and electronics.

At this point you may well be asking what you can do. I’m certainly not suggesting that you quit your job. What I am suggesting is that it’s time to consider the electropollution on your own personal “radar screen.”

I’ve learned a thing or two about this kind of pollution. And the answer can be as simple as moving your desk a few feet away from hazardous sources.

For starters, take a look around your workspace, identifying areas that could possibly emit EMFs. Culprits can include electrical boxes, cables, electrical utility closets, transformers outside the building, and cell or radio frequency towers nearby.

Elevators may also be cause for concern. One study, for example, linked a hydraulic elevator, which regularly produces power surges with corresponding magnetic fields far above safe limits, to increased risk for breast cancer among women working in this building.

What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You
Check out some of the electromagnetic safety equipment I’ve personally found helpful in my EMF Product Guide. For example, you might want to measure EMFs in your workplace with a GaussMeter, paying special attention to readings in areas where you spend most of your day.

If readings are high—above 1 milligauss (mG) according to The Bioinitiative Report—move your desk and chair away from a wall where wiring is located or if EMF-generating machines (like copy machines or wireless routers) are on the other side. Keep your distance, as well, from surge protectors, extension cords, power bars, and electrical wires.

Whenever you need to make copies, stand away from the machine, particularly the motor, which can produce EMFs. Fax machines, printers, and scanners all give off EMFs, and some laser printers emit ozone, which irritates the lining of the lungs.

Is your computer hard drive located under your desk? If so, move it as far away from your body as possible to distance yourself from EMFs and turn off any electronic equipment when you’re not using it. To learn more ways to remediate the all-too numerous health hazards that invade today’s buildings, go to, and then share your findings with your office manager or supervisor.


Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. V. Alexander

    I was surprised you didn’t include cfl lighting in your article.

    Recently I had new lighting fixtures installed in my apartment. They were all cfl bulbs. Soon after I became aware of fast acting headaches, and realized that the cfl’s were the cause!

    I thought back on my past ‘light sensitivity’. In my last apartment I NEVER used the overhead light in my kitchen (it was fluorescent). And I thought about everytime I’d go to Walmart, how I felt like I was walking through a fog, how even thought I’d have a list in my hand I could never think of what else I needed to get.

    “CFLs give off EMFs in the intermediate radio frequency range of around 100 kHz. Dr. Havas connects these EMFs with many symptoms, including migraine headaches, burning eyes, digestive problems, heart palpitations, immune system disorders, diabetes and even multiple sclerosis.”

    It was good to get outside confirmation that I wasn’t crazy or just extremely sensitive.

    Seeing as most all workplaces (and hospitals, schools, government buildings, malls) have fluorescent lighting, like I said before, I was really surprised you didn’t include lighting in your list. Another problem with cfl’s is that they contain mercury. So not only do we have to deal with the flickering and frequency they put out, but also the poison inside if they break!

    I wonder if you could pass along this information to your readers who get emails to these blogs? I think it might be helpful to other people wondering why they feel strange after time at the mall, school, or wherever else those darned fluorescents reside.


  2. administrator

    Excellent comment and Dr. ALG will cover this topic in an upcoming blog

  3. Amy D

    I just saw LED bulbs designed for standard light sockets in a big box store.

    Are there any known adverse effects from these?

  4. Administrator

    LED is better than the others!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This