A Town Without Wifi or Cellphones is Attracting the Electrosensitive

Written by Lloyd Alter

Whenever TreeHugger covers the issue of electromagnetic hypersensitivity, or EHS, we are deluged with comments about it being anti-scientific nonsense. Certainly it is out there on the fringe, with people complaining that smart meters and routers are making them sick. While I worry a bit about high powered transmitters being installed on apartment buildings, surely the low power of routers and cellphones couldn’t be a problem.

Or could it? Joseph Stromberg writes in Slate about a sort of accidental community that is developing in Green bank, West Virginia, which is inside the US National Radio Quiet Zone, designed to protect the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

What does the EHS do to them? one woman describes what happened after a smart meter was installed on her house:

…she believes this triggered her boyfriend’s heart issues, led to her own hypersensitivity, and even caused her cat to start panting, pacing, and shaking her paws. Over time, Cooney’s symptoms intensified—they included fatigue, numbness, circulation problems, and intense jolts of pain in her heart—and she impulsively moved out one night in October 2011. “I got so sick that I felt my life was in serious jeopardy, and if I didn’t leave that minute, I didn’t know if I’d survive.

Another explains what happened after she moved to the quiet zone:

Over time, living without exposure reduced Diane’s sensitivity, and she can now tolerate many devices without pain. The Schous use a landline and an Internet-connected computer (without Wi-Fi). But they still haven’t found a refrigerator with low enough radiation emissions, so Diane manually fills an icebox with ice each day. Even now, if she leaves the Radio Quiet Zone, exposure can set her off: “I’ll say, ‘Oh, I have a headache,’ and then someone’s cellphone will ring,” she said. “This happens time and time again.”

It’s a fascinating article that looks at both sides of this issue, trying to separate the crazy people from the possibility that there might actually be real issues. In the end it pretty much concludes that it is all in their heads, that non-ionizing radiation is pretty much harmless at low doses.

The alluring idea that life hasn’t evolved to withstand non-ionizing radiation becomes silly when you consider that the main source of it on planet Earth is sunlight.

This post was originally published by TreeHugger.


Photo: NRAO/Public Domain

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


Pamela W.
Pamela W.2 years ago

Leslie A ........ Are you serious ???? Try putting the EMPTY machine through a full cycle on HOT or BOIL setting - that "should" render anything that "might have leaked" inoffensive LOL !!!!! Assuming the cell-phone was in the pocket of some garment - is there any trace of damage on the fabric ???
BTW, does the cell-phone still work ?????

Leslie A.
Leslie B.2 years ago

Hi does anyone know if chemicals from a cell phone can leak into a washing machine, after going through an entire cycle? I'm worried about using the washer again! Thanks for the quick help!

Elisa F.
Elisa F.2 years ago

Thanks, TreeHugger, very interesting.

Meris Michaels
Meris Michaels2 years ago

This article has mistakenly led readers to believe that natural waves (solar, cosmic) are the same as those emitted by wireless technologies. This is not true. Natural waves are linear, emitted in a continuous stream. In contrast, the artificial electromagnetic (EM) waves of wireless technologies are emitted in pulses, which means that they literally “hammer” the living cells they go through, causing health problems in persons physiologically more sensitive to these waves, especially children. More and more persons are becoming sensitive to these waves (an estimated 5% of the population). This is not a sickness "which exists in the head" - EM radiation can cause changes in the blood (cells clump together), affect male fertility, place pregnant women at risk of miscarriage, cause neurodegenerative problems. Long-term use of cell phones can lead to brain tumors. Most information in the mainstream media and from authorities such as WHO and national public health comes from studies financed by the telecoms industry, which of course has a financial interest to deny the harmfulness of EM waves. Independent scientific studies affirm that EM waves can cause serious health effects. Recently, the Italian Supreme Court linked long-term cell phone use to a brain tumor which left the plaintiff partially paralyzed and the Court recognized the bias of industry-funded studies. The health disaster from wireless technology that will manifest itself in 10-20 years' time has

Vicky P.
Vicky P.2 years ago

odd thing to have, but there are chemical sensitivities, why not this. I couldn't live without internet and my cell though lol

Manuela C.
Manuela C.2 years ago

OK, headaches and stuff like that makes sense, but other bigger issues, well... I'm gonna need more proof than anecdotal evidence.

Karen Pyles
Karen P.2 years ago

For a long time... we were told synthetic Flouride was harmless because natural flouride occurred in the ocean...natural flouride is fine..its the synthetic flouride that kills. Likewise natural sunlight being fine vs synthetic radiation causing electro sensitivity being harmful. Then being told its safe...don't be foolish...don't believe its safe. This is the same BS story that flouride was.France had an electrical plant explosion and had all their towers removed. Us didn't hear about it because we were top busy paying attention to the twin tower explosion at that time.

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra2 years ago

Thank you TreeHugger, for Sharing this!

Magdika Cecilia Perez

interesting article

Aud Nordby
Aud nordby2 years ago

smart :-)