Is it mass hypochondria? More than ten million Americans believe they suffer from physical illness caused by cell phone and wireless internet networks. Some are upending their lives and retreating to remote Green Bank, West Virginia, a safe haven unpenetrated by Wi-Fi. Fast forward ten years, and you can bet they are going to be the last small band of humanity fighting the robot uprising. The BBC writes:
Dozens of Americans who claim to have been made ill by wi-fi and mobile phones have flocked to the town of Green Bank, West Virginia.
Diane Schou is unable to hold back the tears as she describes how she once lived in a shielded cage to protect her from the electromagnetic radiation caused by waves from wireless communication. “It’s a horrible thing to have to be a prisoner,” she says. “You become a technological leper because you can’t be around people.
Ms Schou is one of an estimated 5% of Americans who believe they suffer from Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS), which they say is caused by exposure to electromagnetic fields typically created by mobile phones, wi-fi and other electronic equipment.
Symptoms range from acute headaches, skin burning, muscle twitching and chronic pain. “My face turns red, I get a headache, my vision changes, and it hurts to think. Last time [I was exposed] I started getting chest pains – and to me that’s becoming life-threatening,” Ms Schou says.
Her symptoms were so severe that she abandoned her family farm in the state of Iowa and moved to Green Bank, West Virginia – a tiny village of 143 residents in the heart of the Allegheny Mountains.
Green Bank is part of the US Radio Quiet Zone, where wireless is banned across 13,000 sq miles (33,000 sq km) to prevent transmissions interfering with a number of radio telescopes in the area.
The largest is owned by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and enables scientists to listen to low-level signals from different places in the universe. Others are operated by the US military and are a critical part of the government’s spy network.
As a result of the radio blackout, the Quiet Zone has become a haven for people like Diane, desperate to get away from wireless technology.
The wireless association, CTIA, says that scientific evidence overwhelmingly shows that wireless devices, with the limits established by government regulators, do not pose a public health risk or cause any adverse health effects.
And the World Health Organization, while acknowledging that the symptoms are genuine and can be severe, says: “EHS has no clear diagnostic criteria and there is no scientific basis to link EHS symptoms to EMF (electromagnetic field) exposure. Further, EHS is not a medical diagnosis, nor is it clear that it represents a single medical problem.”
However, new research by scientists at Louisiana State University and published by the International Journal of Neuroscience, claims to show that EHS can be caused by low frequency electromagnetic fields found in the environment.
“The study provides direct evidence that linking human symptoms with environmental factors, in this case EMF,” says Dr Andrew Marino, a neurology professor who led the study. “It’s a watershed in that regard. There have been no previous studies that scientifically assess whether electromagnetic fields in the environment could produce human symptoms.