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News Link • Health and Physical Fitness

'Wi-fi refugees' shelter in West Virginia mountains

• www.bbc.co.uk

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.

Diane Schou is unable to hold back the tears as she describes how she once lived in a shielded cage to protect her from the electromagnetic radiation caused by waves from wireless communication.

"It's a horrible thing to have to be a prisoner," she says. "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."

Ms Schou is one of an estimated 5% of Americans who 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.

Hiding in a cage
 
Symptoms range from acute headaches, skin burning, muscle twitching and chronic pain.

"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," Ms Schou says.

To alleviate the pain, her husband built an insulated living space known as a Faraday Cage.

He covered a wooden frame with two layers of wire mesh and a door that could be sealed shut to prevent radio waves from entering.

Diane spent much of her time inside it, sleeping on a twin mattress on a plywood base.

"At least I could see my husband on the outside, I could talk to him," she says.

Diane believes her illness was triggered by emissions from a mobile phone mast.

Her symptoms were so severe that she abandoned her family farm in the state of Iowa and moved to Green Bank, West Virginia - a tiny village of 143 residents in the heart of the Allegheny Mountains.

 
 

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