Electrically 'allergic' group seeks a ban on Wi-Fi

A group in New Mexico now wants to ban the use of certain types of wireless networks in the public buildings of Santa Fe.

Self-identified EHS sufferers in New Mexico claim that that electromagnetic fields (EMFs) stemming from Wi-Fi spawn headaches and a veritable witches' brew of other ills that are forcing them out of libraries and other public places.

Now, the city attorney in Santa Fe is now looking into charges that Wi-Fi installations violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by discriminating against victims of a allergy-like condition known as "electromagnetic hypersensitivity" (EHS).

The anti-Wi-Fi contingent in Santa Fe is spearheaded by Arthur Firstenberg, a well-known activist whose previous credits include founding the Cellular Phone Task Force and authoring the book Microwaving Our Planet: The Environmental Impact of the Wireless Revolution.

"From Bill Gates' planned fleet of 300 satellites to the millions of ground based antennas being constructed through-out the world," Firstenberg wrote in 1997, "our privacy is being invaded, our health undermined, our water polluted, endangered species threatened, the ozone layer destroyed, and our climate altered. The assault has already begun."

Firstenberg's crew in New Mexico might take some legal comfort in findings in 2005 by the World Health Organization (WHO), which assert that while "EHS has no clear diagnostic criteria and there is no scientific basis to link EHS symptoms to EMF exposure," EHS is also a "disabling problem for the affected individual."

"EHS is characterized by a variety of non-specific symptoms, which afflicted individuals attribute to exposure to EMF. The symptoms most commonly experienced include dermatological symptoms (redness, tingling, and burning sensations) as well as neurasthenic and vegetative symptoms (fatigue, tiredness, concentration difficulties, dizziness, nausea, heart palpitation, and digestive disturbances)," according to the WHO.

But even if EHS does exist, many different electrical devices aside from Wi-Fi equipment have been suggested over the years as causing symptoms that could be associated with the malady.

One influential health study published in Switzerland revealed that overhead power lines and cordless phones have emerged as some the most commonly cited culprits among those who believe they're suffering from EHS.

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