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We call shenanigans: WiFi "allergies" do not exist, kiddies

God is WirelessOver the past few days there has been increasing furor over a claim made by some "electro-sensitive" folks in Santa Fe that wifi in public buildings violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. Because these people are electro-sensitive (and this sensitivity can be to all sorts of electromagnetic fields, in things like cell phones, or microwaves, or, we'd imagine, things like transformer stations and circuit boxes), they can't enter public buildings due to the horrible health effects they experience. These health effects range from chest pains, to leg numbness, to shortness of breath, and headaches.

Is wifi dangerous? Are cell phones dangerous? There is some debate about various cancers that may or may not result from having a cell phone pasted to your ear and your laptop constantly humming on your lap, but most cancers don't immediately cause things like, oh, chest pain, leg numbness, or shortness of breath. The verdict is still out on long term effects at this point anyway, and we take the stance that something is eventually going to kill us. Life is too short to live in constant fear, or without an internet connection.

Panic attacks cause the above symptoms. Generalized anxiety does as well. An "allergic" reaction to wifi? Eh.

We look at it this way. Right now, we're sitting in a residential area about eight miles outside of a major city. Turning on our wireless connection and sniffing around reveals eleven wifi networks in the area. Eleven that we could in theory connect with successfully, if they are unsecured. Eleven that are not blocked by things like walls, or doors, or tinfoil hats. We are not in a business district in a city.

Can you imagine the rogue wifi signals that are shooting around Santa Fe? Do the electro-sensitive people believe that wifi respects physical boundaries, and that walking by a coffee shop or public building with wifi is different than walking into one? If so, would they walk by a coffee shop with wifi while the door was open? Would the wireless, ahem, rush out the open door? Is there any place in the US where you can be in a city, or moderately populated town, and not be in range of some wireless signal?
Probably not.

Spearheading this move to get wifi out of public buildings is Arthur Firstenberg. He is an author (and also electro-sensitive), we have heard mentioned a few times. It seems he's written and published the book (quite literally) on electro-sensitivity and how we're all doomed unless we unplug, called Microwaving our Planet. But wait, unplugging alone won't do it. Cell phone towers are a huge offender, as are satellites (of the "artificial" variety. The moon has no effect on us, evidently). Anything that gives off radiation is an offender. Anything.

Last we checked, though, everything on this planet is, and always has been, somewhat radioactive. It's why carbon dating works, after all.

According to Firstenberg, who is also president and founder of the Cellular Phone Taskforce, an advocacy group for electro-sensitive people, it only takes two hours on a cell phone to permeate the blood brain barrier and cause albumin to be found in the brain tissue, which in turn causes measurable brain damage. Considering this experiment was done on rats, and that two hours of cell phone exposure (at any level) caused the destruction of 2% of the rat's brain cells, we'd imagine that by this time we'd be seeing human deaths related to these radio-frequency waves. It's not really a new technology.

We don't deny that Firstenberg et al. are experiencing something. Is it an allergy to wifi? Uh, no. Definitely not an allergy, and most likely it has a lot more to do with the "public" than "wifi" aspect of the "public buildings with wifi" descriptor. If the reasoning stands that satellites, and cell towers, and anything that gives off electro-magnetic fields makes some people have this reaction, the added effect of a wifi signal wouldn't make them over the top ill and then mysteriously disappear as they went out of range. They'd be ill in the presence of cars, and pipes, and any place with a clear view of the southern sky.

Tags: ADA, allergy, cell phone, CellPhone, internet, news, wifi

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