Electricity flows

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 September, 2007, 12:00am

Paper 1a ; reading ; Read the passage paragraph by paragraph and complete the summaries. Help is given for the first three paragraphs. ; Fill in each blank in the summaries with one word

A As a typical urban dweller, you are surrounded by electrical devices. Even now you are probably sitting under a fluorescent tube. It is likely you spend a lot of time in front a computer screen, and you are sure to have many conversations a day on your mobile phone (and even if you do not, lots of people around you do). Microwave ovens are common. Electromagnetic radiation is, clearly, all around us.

People who live in (1) ___________ have a lot of electrical (2)___________, such as lighting, (3)____________ and microwave (4)__________ around them. They also (5)_____________ their mobile phones frequently.


1) What does urban mean? It is about living in a ___________________ (e.g. the sort of place most Hong Kong students live). There is no article so use the plural form here.

2) Find in the passage.

3) Express 'a computer screen' in one word that fits into the rest of the sentence.

4) Find in the passage.

5) Find a suitable general verb for what you do with a mobile phone.

B Most of us do not actually notice any of this, though we may have heard claims that mobile phones can cause brain damage or that it is not a good idea to stay too close to microwave ovens for a long time. Some people, however, suffer greatly from being exposed to all these electromagnetic fields (EMFs). They are victims of electrosensitivity, otherwise called electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS).

Although there are stories about mobile phones and microwave ovens being (6)_______ for us, most of us have no problem about the EMFs around us. There are people who are not so lucky and (7)____________ from electrosensitivity, which is also (8)_____________ as electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS).


6) Sum up the meaning: 'cause brain damage'/ 'not a good idea' - in one adjective.

7) Find a verb that is followed by 'from'.

8) Find a past participle that is followed by 'as' (not 'called').

C EHS-sufferers report a number of symptoms. These include almost all the usual signs of illness: headaches, nausea, dizziness, poor sleep, exceptional tiredness, stomach problems, ringing in the ears, fast pulse rates and even hair loss. With such unpleasant side-effects they find it difficult to function normally and have to take a lot of sick leave or even retire early.

These people feel ill in various (9)__________. They have headaches, feel sick and (10) _________, cannot sleep, are (11)_________ tired, have bad stomachs, hear sounds in their ears, have fast pulses and even (12)__________their hair.


9) When there are alternatives there are various ________ to do something.

10) Turn 'dizziness into an adjective.

1 1) Turn 'exceptional' into an adverb (or replace it with another one).

12) Turn 'loss' into a verb (and spell it correctly).

D It is unclear how many people are electrosensitive. Different surveys have given very different answers. Figures range from one to five per cent, but even at the lower end that is a lot of people who find living in a world of mobile phones with EMFs all around them very difficult.

We don't (13) ___________ how many EHS-sufferers there are. It may be as low as one per cent of the population or as (14)________ as five per cent. Anyway, it is a lot of people.

E There is no particular treatment recommended. Sufferers have tried everything from acupuncture to vitamins, but avoidance seems to bring the only real relief. Aluminium foil on the walls and silvered material over the windows can help shield one from EMFs. Keeping out of popular restaurants and crowded public transport where lots of people are using their phones or BlackBerry's is also necessary. It does not make life easy.

There is no particular way to treat the illness. The best solution is to try to (15) ___________ EMFs by protecting one's home and not going into crowded public places.

F There is one extra problem. Many, if not most, scientists do not think that EHS exists. They say there is no reason why microwaves at the level we experience them in the urban environment should have this sort of effect on people. Some think there may be some sort of allergy involved, but probably not to EMFs. Others just say it is all in the mind. Certainly, there have been experiments with people who claim to have EHS. They are placed in rooms where there may or may not be lots of microwave radiation, but their feelings of illness do not match the actual conditions.

Unfortunately for people who are sure they are electrosensitive, many scientists do not believe there is (16) ______ a condition. They say the level of microwave radiation is not high (17)_______ to cause illness. They think the symptoms are caused by allergies or the imagination. In (18) ___________to test for EHS there is no connection between the presence or (19)________ of microwave radiation and feelings of illness.

G If you are sure you feel ill whenever you use mobile phones or stay near an EMF source, you will be upset and angry if you are told it is all your imagination. Some say the research is not good because the mobile phone and other electrical goods companies want to protect their markets. It seems there will have to be a lot more careful work to try to sort this out.

When they are told this EHS-sufferers are upset and criticise the research. They wonder if powerful electrical (20) ______________ want to protect their sales and profits. More research is needed.


1. cities/ 2. devices/ 3, computers/ 4. ovens/ 5. use/ 6. bad (harmful?, but usually followed by to)/ 7. suffer/ 8. known/ 9. ways/ 10. dizzy/ 11. very; exceptionally/ 12. lose/ 13. know/ 14. high/ 15. avoid/ 16. such/ 17. enough/ 18. experiments; research/ absence/ companies