November 8, 2011
BehindTheMedspeak: The No-Bars People of West Virginia
While most Americans complain when they can't get a cellphone signal, there are a few who seek out places where this is the norm.
Below, excerpts from the BBC's September 12, 2011 story about WiFi refugees hiding out in the mountains of West Virginia.
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.
There are five billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide and advances in wireless technology make it increasingly difficult to escape the influence of mobile devices.
But while most Americans seem to embrace continuous connectivity, some believe it's making them physically ill.
An estimated 5% of Americans... 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.
Green Bank is part of the US Radio Quiet Zone [below],
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... desperate to get away from wireless technology.
But EHS is not medically recognised in the US.
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. And the symptoms matter because they are the first steps that show how EMFs produce human disease."
Sweden is currently the only country that recognizes EHS as a real syndrome.
November 8, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Permalink
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While I think it has been overhyped and often unfounded, I ad,it it may be possible in some caese, ;argely because of a personal contact.
Some decades back, I worked with a young woman who often asked others about the time. Seems it was her experience that [mechanical] watches would not work more than six weeks or less: the gears became magnetised, to the point of immobility.
Apocryphal? Sure. But I do not dount her experience. And while she is the only person I hace ever known to have the problem, and the occasional "news" stories about people who claim their bodies are so magnetic they can attach bits of metal sound phony, I cannot rule out EVERY occurence. In her case, too, I had additional info - my grandfather, a watch maker, said he had known of perhaps three people with the same problem/claim in some sixty years in business.
Posted by: John A | Nov 8, 2011 11:45:58 PM
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