No Cell Phones Allowed: America's Wireless-Free Town

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Image: robzand/Creative Commons

In West Virginia, there exists a town with no wireless technology. A techie’s worst nightmare, but for some, this is heaven.

Green Bank, W. Va., is part of the U.S. Radio Quiet Zone, where wireless technology is banned for 13,000 square miles to prevent transmissions interfering with the area’s radio telescopes, BBC reports. So who would want to live in such a tech-free town? For one, Diane Schou, who once lived in a shielded cage designed to protect her from electromagnetic radiation caused by wireless waves.

“It’s a horrible thing to have to be a prisoner,” Schou told the BBC. “You become a technological leper because you can’t be around people.”

About 5 percent of Americans say they suffer from Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity, sensitivity to electromagnetic fields caused by WiFi, cell phones and other electronics. Symptoms include headaches, skin burning, muscle twitching and chronic pain. The condition is not medically recognized in the U.S. Whether it exists is highly debated. The CTIA, a wireless association, says scientific evidence shows wireless devices do not pose a health risk. And while the World Health Organization recognizes the symptoms, its official stance is there is no scientific evidence to link symptoms to electromagnetic field exposure.

Schou’s husband built her what became known as the Faraday Cage, which provides two layers of wire mesh and a door that is sealed shut. She would sleep on a twin mattress in the insulated living space. The couple found sanctuary when they moved from their farm in Iowa to Green Bank, a village of 143 in the Allegheny Mountains.

“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,” she says. “I can go to church, I can attend some celebrations, I can be with people. I couldn’t do that when I had to remain in the Faraday Cage.”

Image: robzand/Creative Commons

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