Diane Schou  (Source:

Diane Schou, who left her home in Iowa to live in West Virginia, said she used to live in a Faraday Cage prior to finding shelter in Green Bank

There have been attempts in the not-so-distant past where citizens strapped on their tin foil hats and complained of Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS), which is an illness typically caused by electromagnetic fields created by mobile devices and Wi-Fi. Earlier this year, for instance, some San Francisco, California residents pushed legislators to force cell phone sellers to display labels providing the amount of electromagnetic radiation their devices produce. This law was shelved in May 2011. 

While this attempt may seem ridiculous to those who believe EHS is a fictitious illness, about 5 percent of Americans say they have become sick due to excessive exposure to electromagnetic radiation from wireless devices -- and some of that 5 percent have found a safe haven in West Virginia. 

Wi-Fi refugees have found a hideout from wireless technology in the mountains of Green Bank, West Virginia according to Discover Magazine. This area is part of the U.S. Radio Quiet Zone, where wireless technologies are banned for 13,000 square miles due to the number of radio telescopes in the area that can’t be exposed to electromagnetic interference. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory and the U.S. military both own telescopes in this area.

Cell phone-fearing people from around the U.S. have flocked to Green Bank in order to live a life without electromagnetic radiation. Many of the people who moved there claim to have EHS, which is not a recognized illness in the United States. Nevertheless, some say they experience negative side effects when exposed to wireless technology.

Diane Schou, a former Iowa resident, is among those who have left their homes to live in Green Bank. She claims to have experienced symptoms such as chest pain, headaches, rashes and vision changes due to radiation from Wi-Fi and other electromagnetic fields in her home state. 

Back in Iowa, Schou lived solely in an insulated living space known as a Faraday Cage. Her husband built the cage for her as a form of protection from the radiation. The cage consisted of a wooden frame with two layers of wire mesh and a door that had the ability to be sealed shut. Inside was a twin mattress on a plywood base, where Schou spent much of her time. 

"It's a horrible thing to have to be a prisoner," said Schou. "You become a 
technological leper because you can't be around people. It's not that you would be contagious to them - it's what they're carrying that is harmful to you."

Schou's symptoms eventually got to a highly uncomfortable point, and that is when she decided to abandon the family farm and move to West Virginia.

"Living here allows me to be more of a normal person," sad Schou. "I can be outdoors. I don't have to stay hidden away in a Faraday Cage.”

EHS may not be a recognized illness in the United States, but there's plenty of debate surrounding the matter. 

The wireless association CTIA has said that scientific evidence shows that 
wireless devices do not pose a public health risk or cause adverse effects because of the limits established by the government. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) agreed, saying that "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, WHO does recognize that the symptoms are genuine and even 
labeled cell phone radiation as a possible carcinogenic hazard back in May.

On the other hand, research from scientists at Louisiana State University showed that EHS can be caused by low-frequency electromagnetic fields. They made this claim after testing it on a 35-year-old physician who had diagnosed herself with EHS. They seated her in a wooden chair while applying voltage to metal plates for 90 second pulses to produce a series of magnetic fields. After each exposure, she was asked to describe her symptoms. Some of the exposures were fake, where no voltage was applied. But the physician was unaware when there were real exposures and fake ones. 

The physician described headaches and muscle twitching during real exposures and no symptoms during fake exposures. 

"The study provides direct evidence that linking human symptoms with environmental factors, in this case EMF," said Dr. Andrew Marino, 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."

Still, other professors, such as physics professor Bob Park from the University of Maryland, say Wi-Fi is too weak to cause any changes in the body that people who claim to have EHS describe.

"The bigger problem that we face is that our society, driven by technological change, people have very little education," said Park. "There are lots of things people need to learn and they're not learning it. The thing that's going to kill them is ignorance."

Currently, Sweden is the only country that recognizes EHS as a real syndrome.

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