Imagine life without cell phones or WiFi. There’d be no text messages, no checking Facebook on your daily commute, no selfies, no GPS. For the residents of Green Bank, West Virginia, that is reality. Welcome to the world of EMF free zones.
Green Bank, West Virginia
Green Bank is a small town in West Virginia. It is home to 143 people (at last count) and one very large, very special telescope. That telescope is why the town sits within the US National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000 square mile chunk of land where radio transmissions are heavily restricted by law.
It is the largest fully steerable radio telescope in the world. And it’s incredibly sensitive; this is a device can detect a radio signal from 13 billion light years away.
This is why Green Bank heavily restricts wireless technology. Switching on a cell phone or a wifi network anywhere nearby is equivalent to screaming in its ear.
While the Green Bank Telescope is busy observing the universe, the radio silence around it has attracted a different audience. These folks aren’t interested in finding life across the galaxy. They want to find a more tolerable life here on Earth.
Reported sufferers of the disorder known as electromagnetic hypersensitivity (or EHS) have been making Green Bank their safe-haven. It’s a place to escape from iPads, bluetooth keyboards and garage door remote controls. It’s an escape from the technology that the rest of us wholeheartedly embrace as part of our lives.
The symptoms of EHS can vary: some people suffer from headaches, sleep problems, heart palpitations; others might experience skin rashes, fatigue or muscle aches. Driving past a mobile phone tower might set someone off, others might be in constant agony from the abundance of WiFi signals bouncing around the air. There’s no standard cause and no standard symptoms, which makes diagnosis difficult.
EHS is Just One Health Risk
That humans might develop a sensitivity to electromagnetic fields isn’t all that far-fetched. After all, there is a mounting body of evidence that cell phone exposure can lead to various negative health effects— ranging from sleep disruption all the way up to brain tumors.
While the exact risks of cell phone use can’t yet be accurately known, studies have suggested that cell phone radiation can significantly increase the risk of malignant brain tumours and potentially effect male fertility, among other diseases and negative health conditions. The more science investigates, and the more wireless technology surrounds us, the more negative health effects will be linked with wireless technology like cell phones.
One thing about electromagnetic hypersensitivity is clear: to the people who suffer from it, the effects are very, very real. Why else would they give up their entire lives as they know them in exchange for a disconnected existence far from the convenience of grocery stores, restaurants and hospitals?
If we really think about it, though, most of us can relate on some level. Think about the last time you were away from the bustle of urban life, somewhere in nature, with fresh air and silence and the smell of rich earth or salty ocean. Even when we have no desire to banish technology from our lives, such moments are a reminder that there’s something about being in a more natural environment that simply makes us feel well. Perhaps EMFs play a role in this that we don’t yet fully recognize.
Not Just Green Bank
Interestingly, other EMF free zones have been popping up around the world. They don’t house impressive, football-field-sized telescopes that can pick up radio signals from across the galaxy. There’s no official scientific reason for their existence, other than as refuges for people wanting a break from EMF-filled life.
The Snowflake community in Arizona is an oasis in a polluted world. The electrohypersentive, as well as people with chemical sensitivity flock here for shelter. There’s The Quiet Dome in California, probably the only rentable accommodation in the world that’s “fireproof, earthquake proof, self heated and cooled, toxic free, electromagnetically quiet” and surrounded by forest.
There are more EMF free zones in Italy, France, Spain and Canada. They differ in scope and style and size. Some have farmhouses. Others focus on holistic heathy living. What they have in common is that their inhabitants feel better without the constant exposure to electromagnetic radiation. And their lives are most definitely quieter.
The Pervasive Internet of Things
EMF free zones highlight just how integrated technology is in our connected world. The internet is everywhere, it’s in everything we do.
Technology is no longer just about devices we can see in front of us. It’s also about the invisible connections these devices maintain 24/7. Because of this invisibility, it’s easy for us to forget that are devices are constantly on, constantly communicating, constantly radiating.
In places like Green Bank, when you turn on your car radio and there’s not a single station. Your mobile phone has zero bars. Reheating yesterday’s leftovers means turning on the gas oven, not a microwave. Here, you are far more aware of the creeping prevalence of technology everywhere else. And perhaps that’s not a bad thing.
Will more EMF free zones continue to pop up globally? From the existing pattern, the answer would seem like yes. But you don’t have to move to an EMF free zone to mitigate the risks of electromagnetic radiation.
Options like our radiation-blocking products can give you some peace of mind without the need to quit technology or change your habits. As things stand, it’s the closest thing you can get to having your cake and eating it too.