Man Claims He is Allergic to Wi-Fi

A man living in Santa Fe, New Mexico claims that his neighbor’s wi-fi is making him sick. According to CNN, Arthur Firstenberg believes that since his neighbor moved in next door, he’s been experiencing a sickness and side effects so severe he’s had to go homeless entirely to escape the discomfort. Firstenberg cannot go to a hotel or motel, since they also use wi-fi, as well as a host of other illness-inducing electronics. Firstenberg claims that his sensitivities extend back decades.

So far, science has yet to determine if electromagnetic interference is a diagnosable condition. Research seems to indicate that it’s rather a psychiatric issue, and not a physical one. According to the article, a German study was unable to come up with any conclusive results:

The major study endpoint was the ability of the subjects to differentiate between real magnetic stimulation and a sham condition. There were no significant differences between groups in the thresholds, neither of detecting the real magnetic stimulus nor in motor response.

The comments on the CNN article, all 113 of them, run the gamut from supporters believing Firstenberg’s claims, while others cry skeptic claiming it’s all in his head. But how about you guys? Is this bunk or believable? I mean, I’ve got to say, I kind of feel bad for the guy next door with all the gadgets… that could well be any of us, what with our geek tendency to hoard electronics!

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24 Responses to Man Claims He is Allergic to Wi-Fi

  1. Shouldn’t that be pretty easy to test? Take him to a room and turn wifi on and off next door and see if he gets sick?
    I guess he didn’t have the option to buy a large plot of land in the country to escape all those evil “electro-waves” and get in touch with his inner Amish.

  2. I read a story recently about a town that was complaining about a cell tower causing problems. So the tower operator shut down the tower for 6 months, and the people were still complaining about the effects.

    Search “Craigavon cell tower”

    • As far as electromagnetic radiation causing illness goes, there is are studies for and against that idea. However, it doesn’t feel right when there’s a ton of energy floating around. A good free test for anyone is to go and stand underneath a telephone power line for at least five minutes. Anyone who has installed microwave dishes for a point to point WIFI connection between buildings would know that you can get burned by the radiation. In addition a lot of aftermarket antennas for WIFI connections, particularly anything over 8DBI can cause headaches. As far as the man getting physically sick from WIFI signals from a house down, where at least 80% of the signal is lost through walls, I call BS. As James pointed out, there’s tons of EMR being thrown around everywhere, TV, Cell, satellite, power lines, etc… The only way to get away from it all is to live in a shielded building or underground.

      • I have no issues standing next to a cell phone tower, or underneath telephone wires. Neither do I have an issue with my Wireless router sitting next to me with a high gain 8 DBI antenna.

        I have my HAM radio license, and even while transmitting at 5 watt using my portable HAM radio I have no issues. (Wifi is generally around 100 mW). It is all crap. As the grandparent poster presented, people were complaining about a cell phone tower, they turned it off for 6 months and people still complained.

        It is all in peoples heads, and they see a nice and easy way to make some cash.

  3. Shouldn't that be pretty easy to test? Take him to a room and turn wifi on and off next door and see if he gets sick?

    I guess he didn't have the option to buy a large plot of land in the country to escape all those evil "electro-waves" and get in touch with his inner Amish.

  4. Here's BoingBoing's post about the tower that was shut down for 6 months. http://www.boingboing.net/2010/01/15/electrosensi

    But yes, it must be a psychosomatic response. EM radiation is all around us at all frequencies. Play around with a geiger counter if you ever get the chance. It'll beep for gamma radiation no matter where you are in a building.

  5. I read a story recently about a town that was complaining about a cell tower causing problems. So the tower operator shut down the tower for 6 months, and the people were still complaining about the effects.

    Search "Craigavon cell tower"

    • As far as electromagnetic radiation causing illness goes, there is are studies for and against that idea. However, it doesn't feel right when there's a ton of energy floating around. A good free test for anyone is to go and stand underneath a telephone power line for at least five minutes. Anyone who has installed microwave dishes for a point to point WIFI connection between buildings would know that you can get burned by the radiation. In addition a lot of aftermarket antennas for WIFI connections, particularly anything over 8DBI can cause headaches. As far as the man getting physically sick from WIFI signals from a house down, where at least 80% of the signal is lost through walls, I call BS. As James pointed out, there's tons of EMR being thrown around everywhere, TV, Cell, satellite, power lines, etc… The only way to get away from it all is to live in a shielded building or underground.

      • I have no issues standing next to a cell phone tower, or underneath telephone wires. Neither do I have an issue with my Wireless router sitting next to me with a high gain 8 DBI antenna.

        I have my HAM radio license, and even while transmitting at 5 watt using my portable HAM radio I have no issues. (Wifi is generally around 100 mW). It is all crap. As the grandparent poster presented, people were complaining about a cell phone tower, they turned it off for 6 months and people still complained.

        It is all in peoples heads, and they see a nice and easy way to make some cash.

  6. Radio and TV broadcasts and even mobile phones became common before WiFi technology. So, if EMR had any noticeable detrimental side-effects, wouldn’t there be a number of people which suffered from them, operation frequencies notwithstanding? And even WiFi has been commonly used for a few years, so surely more people would be affected, especially in big cities.
    I’m not saying it’s impossible for him to have a rare sensibility, but until they take Michaels suggestion and test him to see his reactions, I have to agree that it’s a psychological problem, not a physical one.

  7. Radio and TV broadcasts and even mobile phones became common before WiFi technology. So, if EMR had any noticeable detrimental side-effects, wouldn't there be a number of people which suffered from them, operation frequencies notwithstanding? And even WiFi has been commonly used for a few years, so surely more people would be affected, especially in big cities.

    I'm not saying it's impossible for him to have a rare sensibility, but until they take Michaels suggestion and test him to see his reactions, I have to agree that it's a psychological problem, not a physical one.

  8. Here's BoingBoing's post about the tower that was shut down for 6 months. http://www.boingboing.net/2010/01/15/electrosensi

    But yes, it must be a psychosomatic response. EM radiation is all around us at all frequencies. Play around with a geiger counter if you ever get the chance. It'll beep for gamma radiation no matter where you are in a building.

  9. well i always got headache when i close enough with wireless device (e.g: wifi and bluetooht)

    yes, it is annoying me a lot since i working in IT Dept :(

  10. well i always got headache when i close enough with wireless device (e.g: wifi and bluetooht)

    yes, it is annoying me a lot since i working in IT Dept :(

  11. He’s just got to Faraday-Cage his house… Or build himself a closed aluminium suit.

    A fact, though, is that radio frequencies used previously for radio and television used a pretty large band for it’s power emission. Nowadays, everything went digital and the carrier frequency is narrowed down as much as possible to get more channels on a given band. Using Parseval’s theorem, one could conclude that much more power is emitted on a narrow band, while before 2000 the power was scattered as a gaussian around the carrier frequency…

    I one saw a german research (I think) that proved that cows tend to align perpendicularly to a power line when there is one passing near a field, while they show no distinct sign of organisation when none are near…

  12. He's just got to Faraday-Cage his house… Or build himself a closed aluminium suit.

    A fact, though, is that radio frequencies used previously for radio and television used a pretty large band for it's power emission. Nowadays, everything went digital and the carrier frequency is narrowed down as much as possible to get more channels on a given band. Using Parseval's theorem, one could conclude that much more power is emitted on a narrow band, while before 2000 the power was scattered as a gaussian around the carrier frequency…

    I one saw a german research (I think) that proved that cows tend to align perpendicularly to a power line when there is one passing near a field, while they show no distinct sign of organisation when none are near…

  13. It’s all evolution, some will feel it, some don’t.
    Like smoking, I’d seen old man smoking for the last 50-70 years, several packs a day and still healthy as hell, while non-smoker stay/live near to smoker get lung cancer. Well, how to explain that? And, It’s SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN that smoking is bad!! Right? or Was it then?
    So, conclusion: DNA differ from people to people. Some people just more sensitive to something than the other. People who is fine with 50W microwave might get ill from smoking or BBQ grilling (just example, pls don’t take literally). Some get a cold and just died, while other can’t even bother about H1N1 or SARS… We are evolving, so that no one element alone should kill us all, instead, some get kill by e-coli, some by smoke, some by drug, H1N1… and of course bullets too!

  14. It's all evolution, some will feel it, some don't.

    Like smoking, I'd seen old man smoking for the last 50-70 years, several packs a day and still healthy as hell, while non-smoker stay/live near to smoker get lung cancer. Well, how to explain that? And, It's SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN that smoking is bad!! Right? or Was it then?

    So, conclusion: DNA differ from people to people. Some people just more sensitive to something than the other. People who is fine with 50W microwave might get ill from smoking or BBQ grilling (just example, pls don't take literally). Some get a cold and just died, while other can't even bother about H1N1 or SARS… We are evolving, so that no one element alone should kill us all, instead, some get kill by e-coli, some by smoke, some by drug, H1N1… and of course bullets too!

  15. I have a very sound history of shorting out electronics. It has happened since I was a child. I have friends that will not let me touch even their TV remote control. I have never been able to come up with a definitive explanation. It doesn’t happen at work, that is the only pattern I have detected. I don’t have a computer, microwave, or other “standard amenities” at home because of it.

    The man should be tested to see his reactions before anyone confirms or rejects his claims.

  16. I have a very sound history of shorting out electronics. It has happened since I was a child. I have friends that will not let me touch even their TV remote control. I have never been able to come up with a definitive explanation. It doesn't happen at work, that is the only pattern I have detected. I don't have a computer, microwave, or other "standard amenities" at home because of it.

    The man should be tested to see his reactions before anyone confirms or rejects his claims.

  17. I have the same condition as this guy.
    In the same way that some people are allergic to nuts, some people are allergic to wi-fi.

    Being a techie myself and having this same condition where these things make me sick.

    Bluetooth.
    Wi-fi
    3G
    HSDPA
    DECT phones with a frequency of 1800 mz

    I’m not saying that these are the definative measures because some people are more or less sensitive than others – what is a correlating factor however is the higher frequency signals is a major factor in causing this sickness.

  18. I have the same condition as this guy.

    In the same way that some people are allergic to nuts, some people are allergic to wi-fi.

    Being a techie myself and having this same condition where these things make me sick.

    Bluetooth.

    Wi-fi

    3G

    HSDPA

    DECT phones with a frequency of 1800 mz

    I'm not saying that these are the definative measures because some people are more or less sensitive than others – what is a correlating factor however is the higher frequency signals is a major factor in causing this sickness.