Advances in wireless technology are welcomed by most, but some Americans, claiming to be physically ill from exposure to electromagnetic radiation caused by wireless signals, have taken shelter in the town of Green Bank, W.Va.
Dozens of people who have gathered in the remote, wireless-free region say their lives under the influence of life-threatening wi-fi and mobile devices were horrible.
One among the refugees, Diane Schou, was almost in tears as she described her life in a Faraday Cage, made of wooden frame and wire mesh, which shielded her from the electromagnetic radiation. She believes her illness was triggered by emissions from a mobile phone tower.
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, Schou was quoted as saying by BBC.
Green Bank comes under the U.S. 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.
Living here allows me to be more of a normal person. I can be outdoors. I don't have to stay hidden in a Faraday Cage, Schou says. I can see the sunrise, I can see the stars at night, and I can be in the rain. Here in Green Bank allows me to be with people. People here do not carry cell phones so I can socialize.
Schou is one of an estimated 5 percent of Americans who believe they suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), a set of symptoms purportedly caused by exposure to electromagnetic fields.
Self-described sufferers of EHS have reported symptoms including headache, fatigue, stress, sleep disturbances, skin symptoms like prickling, burning sensations and rashes, pain and ache in muscles and other health problems.
Most tests to date have found that the sufferers of electromagnetic hypersensitivity are unable to distinguish between exposure to real and fake electromagnetic fields, and it is not recognized as a medical condition by the medical or scientific communities.
Following a study conducted in 2005, the World Health Organization concluded that EHS is not a medical diagnosis despite being a disabling problem.
EHS is characterized by a variety of non-specific symptoms that differ from individual to individual, WHO said. The symptoms are certainly real and can vary widely in their severity. Whatever its cause, EHS can be a disabling problem for the affected individual. EHS has no clear diagnostic criteria and there is no scientific basis to link EHS symptoms to EMF exposure. Further, EHS is not a medical diagnosis, nor is it clear that it represents a single medical problem.