One British grandmother claims that the Wi-Fi and cellphone signals that are so ubiquitous in daily life are bad for her health. How has she protected herself from the ever-present signals? She has spent nearly $5,000 on covering the outside of her home in four coats of signal-repelling paint.
Stefanie Russell, 72, from Steyning, West Sussex told local Brighton paper The Argus that she has electro-sensitivity, or electromagnetic hypersensitivity, which encompasses symptoms that are said to be caused by exposure to electromagnetic fields. A 2004 report from the World Health Organization states that the condition “comprises nervous system symptoms like headache, fatigue, stress disturbances,” among others. Electro-sensitivity has drawn its fair share of skeptics over the years who claim that many of the alleged symptoms from the condition are purely psychosomatic.
Russell said the condition is very real.
“Every time I am near Wifi or mobile phone signals I feel ill,” she told The Argus. “It makes it difficult for me to get around and see people. I don’t touch the internet or email — it’s not safe.”
Russell goes to great lengths to stay away from the signals. She avoids traveling on buses or visiting places where there would be a high frequency of wireless Internet or phone signals, and she steers clear of cellphones and computers.
“I have a device which helps me to detect how many wireless signals are near and I’m reassured that I will not have unwanted Wi-Fi guests coming into my home,” she added.
Russell’s situation is not unheard of. In 2013, The Guardian reported on Tim Hallam, a man who spent over $1,200 insulating his home from electromagnetic radiation. Hallam lined his room and home with aluminum tape and tinfoil to avoid the signals that he said caused muscular pain, headaches, and dry eyes.
Russell and Hallam’s concerns over wireless signals feed into experts’ warnings over health risks that may come from wearable technology.
Making sure others are protected against electromagnetic fields has become a passionate cause for Russell.
“Schools could use broadband instead of Wifi, protecting them from early exposure to radiation,” she said. “This is important. Exposing them at an early age is essentially ‘cooking’ our children.”