back to article Wi-Fi phobes hijack disability legislation

The city of Santa Fe is being taken to task over a plan to deploy a Wi-Fi network on the ground they're unfairly discriminating against people who are allergic to electromagnetic waves. The complaint is spearheaded by Arthur Firstenberg, and the Cellular Phone Task Force*, as reported by KOB-TV, and is based on the premise …


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  1. M7S

    We should make the complainers take this to its logical conclusion

    Given the (admittedly small) amounts of em/rf leakage from things like power cables, they should be put on a reservation with no dangerous modern facilities whatsoever. All those cleaning materials are dangerous as well, so maybe they'll all succumb to some nasty bug those of us in the developed world have forgotten are rife elsewhere.

    Hang on. Dont want to expose them to the EM from satellites. Better stuff them all down a disused mineshaft then. Should be safe there.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hang on a minute...

    I thought that this sort of allergy hadn't been proven? How can they consider legal action of this sort when they can't even prove that they have a disability, much less prove that wi-fi causes them harm?

  3. Edward Rose

    Poor buggers

    They want to hide in the big bad non-existance.

    Mind you, I would too if I were allergic to sun-light.

    Good luck on the THz free area especially.

  4. Richard

    Allergic to EM wvaes?!?

    How could you possibly be allergic to EMF and not die instantly the second you leave your lead lined bunker? Radio, TV (which is radio anyway), radar, background radiation etc. are all the same thing. Or, are they only 'allergic' to certain frequencies... and at what magnitude does the signal have to be to elicit and effect.

    Bloody idiots!

  5. TeeCee Gold badge

    Obvious answer.

    Surely Santa Fe can run to some free tinfoil hats?

  6. Steve


    So should we get rid of TV transmitters, mobile phone towers, satellites, bluetooth, mains electricity, alternators, electric motors and all the other stuff that gives off RF?

  7. Anonymous Coward

    EMF-free sanctuaries?


    Cmon' its Friday ;)

  8. Nicholas Ettel

    allergic to electromagnetic waves?

    Well, that would include the planet's natural EM field, then. Time to sue God for not taking into account his "allergies."

    What a twat.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Sue God then!!

    Or Darwin, or The Flying Spaghetti monster depending on your point of view.

    Natural Electromagnetic radiation is all around generated by such inconvient celestrial bodies such as the sun.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Allergic to electromatic waves?

    Wouldn't they just keel over or be miserable then pretty much everywhere on earth except perhaps the deepest darkest jungle? Does the microwave background radiation upset them? Is it just at certain frequencies?

    I call BS on this 'allergy'

  11. Chris Miller

    Can't they just

    provide them with tin (aluminum) foil hats?

  12. Gordon Grant

    What ever next....

    I mean come on how does he expect people to be able to connect on the move oh wait I know....

    The car your driving in connects to the grid and is drive "Johnny Cab" style with an auto pilot that way there is no "wifi" really as the cars are connect a bit like those model racing cars that you can drive around a pre-made track very carefully, cars are all fitted out with terminals + phones so no need to carry a cell just insert your card and all your files are there and people can call you..

    I mean what's the point of an orginization these days if it's not got some form of "Web presence"..

    I'm pretty sure the signal strength would have to be pretty HIGH for it to have any actual affect on people. Cell phone masts have been around for long enough and no-ones really complained about them till someone came up with the idea they "MIGHT" be dangerous, this smacks of the same thing.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One word - Light

    Has someone explained to this wanker that light is an electromagnetic wave? Sheesh.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Watch out...

    ...the Amish are coming!

  15. J. Cook Silver badge
    Jobs Horns

    bloody luddites.

    If he's really that allergic, he need to lock himself up in a giant metal farady hampster ball. that way, he can go about his business free from any RF waves, and the remainder of the general public can laugh their arses off at him.

  16. Nic Brough


    >I thought that this sort of allergy hadn't been proven?

    All of the properly controlled tests done on people who claim electromagnetic sensitivity have clearly demonstrated that they are utterly unable to detect whether a field is present or not. Even to the point where one chap was stuck in an MRI and still felt fine, until the second he was told he was in one (probably an urban myth, but one that rings true)

    There is no evidence whatsoever to support the theory that low level EM radiation causes an form of illness. There is plenty of evidence against it.

  17. Dave

    Fairly Quick

    Well, some EM waves passed through here but they didn't stay long.

  18. Jeremy

    Argh! Help us!

    The EM allergy people are getting all the attention these days. Won't someone please think of the people who are allergic to dihydrogen monoxide?! It's killing thousands of us every day!

    Please learn more at and pressure your local representatives to ban this awful chemical from use today!

  19. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    re: One word - Light

    Hell, IR is an EM wave.

    They should cool their bodies to 0K NOW, before they are killed by the EM from their very own bodies!!!

    See, Register, THIS is why we need a male dumbass icon! You'll just have to imagine he likes dressing up in (foil) women's clothing...

  20. Dave The Cardboard Box

    By my aluminium foil helmet

    ... I WILL BE AVENGED. I'm also wheat intolerant. I feel slightly more bloated when I eat wheat than when I take regular exercise, which I rarely do as I'm trapped in a radiation field - BY SCIENCE!!!

  21. Jacob Reid

    Natural selection

    Just double the transmit power. If anyone is allergic to EM waves (hahahaha, what rubbish) it should kill them all off, then nobody will complain, or those that do will just be laughed out.

    Anyway, what about TV/radio signals, or even background radiation? Why don't those affect them? Or do they want those banned too?

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Ok really

    I admit to being a bit paranoid but really these people take the cake. The Firstenberg article linked to in the story paints a doom and gloom conspiracy theory that Oliver Stone would be proud of.

    Now lets take the luddite and technology geek view points out of the equation for a minute and simply look at the sheer number of people in daily close proximity to all the things Firstenberg is railing against. Then take a look at how many are healthy and happy among his "electromagnetic smog" vs the number of people reporting symptoms such as he describes. Subtract the hypochondriacs, people with other non related issues that have similar symptom(s), etc. I think what you would find is a startlingly small number of people who exhibit aspects of the "allergy" he is describing.

    In other words if Mr. Firstenberg and the other "chicken little" types like him wish to live in the 14th century that is their prerogative. However don't push your hyper paranoid views on the other citizens around you who would welcome the chance to be connected to the rest of the world.

  23. Fatman

    EMF allergy????

    What a f*tard!!!!

    If this is true, then why isn't he dead???

    Considering that he has been subjected to all kinds of EM radiation ever since he began as a fetus?

    Even if you bury him in a deep mineshaft, there is EM radiation that will penetrate the earth. In fact, I remember a special about a year ago on PBS about a research facility that was nearly a mile underground in a Canadian mineshaft in order to study this.

  24. Nebulo


    I'm addicted to EM radiation. It makes me feel *really* good. If these people succeed, they're going to be infringing my right to enjoy this simple, and legal, pleasure. Better sue them now.

  25. Chronos


    I wonder how many of these morons have microwave ovens? I also wonder if they realise the leakage from said machine, from which issues hot, sad bastard meals for one, the watching of which going around on the turntable is most likely the highlight of their day, probably exceeds the level of holding onto the aerial of your average, pitifully low powered (20dBm, or 100mW ERP over here in Rightpondia. I believe the Merkins may use a little more, perhaps 23dBm or 200mW ERP or so) 802.11b/g/n access point? It's the same portion of spectrum.

    Perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned that...

    "They're COOKING us!!!eleventyone!11"

    If only. :o)

  26. Anonymous Coward

    @Anonymous Coward

    i need more tin-foil!

    like A LOT MORE!!! and maybe a sawn-off shotgun...(for the idiot neighbours)

    oh and light is an odd one, its both a wave and a particle, and yes too much light will kill you as easilly as you sticking your head in the microwave oven with the saftey interlock blocked by a fork handle.

    oh well,

    anyone know where there is no mobile phone coverage, cos i wanna go live there, (along with all the REALLY SANE people who well know that capitalism REALLY is trying to kill us ALL)

    you got a real simple choice...


    or die a (long slow/or not) death whilst on the cell phone whilst surfin online via wifi(dont forget your kids will die before you, so enjoy that!)

  27. Aaron

    sucks to be them

    Good lets find people like this strap them on front of a microwave transmitter and crank up the power. If EM waves are harmful for them then the law's of natural selection would mean people with this weakness should die off and not live long enough to pass on their weak sauce gene's to another generation.

    The fact they are surrounded with EM waves from the moment of conception never seams to register. If anything these people are suffering from a Phycological problem if anything. These people should be carted off and given the suitable pills/counciling/electroshock what ever until they mend their crazy ways.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Anyone who says ...

    they are allergic to electromagnetic waves should be simply shot.

    Their bodies emit EM constantly. Stupid fucks.

  29. Charlie van Becelaere
    Paris Hilton

    Santa Fe or Liberty City?

    This group sounds suspiciously like Citizens Raging Against Phones - CRAP.

    Paris, because even she wouldn't be afraid of a little EMF.

  30. Rob

    re: a little emf?

    it's unbelievable!

  31. Stewart Haywood

    Have a larf

    Come on, have a larf. This is new Mexico where people live in underground houses, they have Roswell and the city of Hot Springs that renamed itself "Truth or Consequences" after the well known TV show. They also have Los Alamos and the site of the first atomic explosion, the White Sands misile range and the VLA radio telescope. No wonder half the population is nuts.

  32. kain preacher


    Do these people drive ?? If so then their DL should be revoked. What happens if a cop hits them with a radar, drive to close to an air port. Drive by a radio transmission tower ?? How come I've never heard of the Japanese having this issue??

  33. Richard Hodgson


    ...are they allergic to themselves then?

    Because we produce electromagnetic radiation o_O

  34. Dave

    Re: One word - Light

    The obvious answer is not to tell them but to keep them in the dark.

    Mine's the one with the perfect EM-absorber in the lining.

  35. Peter Gold badge

    Not so fast..

    The problem I have with studies is the sample rate. There are too many stories I hear myself of people having attracted cancer in the vicinity of where they carried their mobile phone.

    We're talking about people with nil history of cancer in their family, and I can't dismiss the stories because they're told to me by people who I have yet to find relating anything but facts.

    A recent, very close to home skin cancer case here has caused a lot of people to start discarding their mobiles or at least no longer carry them on their person, and cut down on their use, diverting to any landline where possible. As I carry TWO of the damn things (a useful Sony Ericsson P1i and an in comparison frankly disappointing 3G iPhone) I'm working on making it one (the Sony) and keep it offline unless I'm travelling. I have already cabled up my place so I can kill WiFi, is more secure anyway (don't use wireless keyboards or mice, and the cables have ferrite coils :-).

    What's more, I used to live with someone who could not get near a magnet or a high voltage power line, it genuinely caused him great pain. This guy didn't fake it - it hurt.

    So I'm surrounded by people who appear to provide real evidence of the opposite what the studies say, which is to me a bit of a problem, who to believe? I figured playing it safe was best. And it saves a lot on phone costs :-).

  36. Anonymous Coward


    See - for a great blog that touches on this often

  37. Jasmine Strong

    What an idiot

    People are not, and in fact cannot be, allergic to electromagnetic radiation.

  38. Henry Wertz Gold badge

    Yes it's ridiculous.

    "I thought that this sort of allergy hadn't been proven? How can they consider legal action of this sort when they can't even prove that they have a disability, much less prove that wi-fi causes them harm?"

    In fact it's essentially been DISproven. In at least several tests, they'd set out a visible wireless access point, and they'd IMMEDIATELY start bitching and moaning about how they've got such a headache and such, and look real embarrased when the tester pointed out "That's not plugged in yet." Meanwhile they'd blast the test subject with (non-visible) access points, and all sorts of other RF and ask how they feel... "oh just fine."

    Note this is essentially a California-specific thing, limited to a few isolated areas, where there's these large concentrations of nutters worried about "cell phone radiation" and the like. The case has no legal standing and will be turned down but here in the states (especially California) people can and will sue over everything and anything; it's up to the court to throw out the case, not people's good sense not to file it.

    "So should we get rid of TV transmitters, mobile phone towers, satellites, bluetooth, mains electricity, alternators, electric motors and all the other stuff that gives off RF?"

    According to them, yes. Oh, they'd still like to *have* electricity, watch TV, and use the cell phone all the time. But transmitters to transmit signals, or power lines to carry that electricity? Oh unacceptable. The nuttier towns in California, people say with a straight face that they can't have "cell phone towers" in the towns due to "radiation"*, while SIMULTANEOUSLY complaining about the poor cell phone service. They NEVER figure out they're getting way more RF from holding a phone (transmitting at maximum power, 250mw or up) *up to the side of their head* than they would from a cell site down the road.

    *They now come up with other excuses, because the FCC has flat-out stated that nutter claims about "radiation" cannot be used to deny a cell site. So they know try to claim that a cell site designed to look like a lamp post will be too ugly compared to the 50 other lamp posts in the area.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    The difference between this and Britain:

    Here, nobody takes these nutballs seriously.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simple Enough Test

    Alleged EMF allergy sufferer is placed in a booth, and a wireless router is turned on and off nearby.

    They have to tell you when it's operating. It's actually the same as the test for aura readers and alleged psychics, and nobody has passed that either.

  41. John

    Reg commenters are nasty

    Reg commenters are nasty and seem to be getting nastier. These people, on the whole, genuinely _believe_ that they are EMF sensitive. Calling them f*tards, etc is just childish and mean. I accept that patiently explaining the inverse square law with EMF allergy people usually doesn't get you far, but that doesn't mean we stop trying. And if you want a bogeyman to hurl insults at, maybe target the media (especially the BBC and Panorama) that gives credance to this rubbish.

  42. Rob

    So what can we expect in the future

    Our own bodies give off EMF along with inanimate objects like rocks/stones, plus on top of that we don't even own copyright to portions of our DNA.

    The systematic removal of humans for copyright infrigements and giving off to much EMF, wow technology has progressed so much you can now commit genocide without even bringing race or beliefs into it. Now that's equality and diversity at work like never before.

    Yes mine's the white one with long arms and the day release form in the pocket.

  43. Nexox Enigma

    Re: Allergic to EM wvaes?!?

    """Radio, TV (which is radio anyway), radar, background radiation etc. are all the same thing."""

    Actually, background radiation isn't much like the rest. It is partly composed of gamma rays, which are still photons like the radar, etc, but all photons are not created equal. At higher frequencies (gamma / x-ray are highest) the energy carried by the photon becomes enough to trigger certain chemical reactions, like DNA breakdowns and similar unpleasantries. WiFi, etc isn't anywhere near that energy, which is why it isn't harmful.

    The other components of background radiation (Alpha, beta, Neutron) aren't even kind of a little bit like microwaves or radio broadcasts.

    I remember the (couple) days when I lined my baseball cap with aluminium foil... It ended up making my hair smell weird (weirder than usual anyway) so I had to give into the various parties attempting mind control. At least they seem to have gotten a good song stuck in my head today.

  44. John

    Re: Peter

    Concerning your friend, try holding a piece of paper between you and him so he can't see and then trying real magnet vs fake magnet. Oh better still, involve someone else and make sure you (the tester) don't know which one is real either. Hey presto - you can make a double blinded test in your friend's own home. Do it a 100 hundred times and see if your friend can get it right more than 50% of the time - if he can he'll be famous!

  45. Mark

    @Nexox Enigma

    However, these nutjobs are complaining about being allergic to EM.

    That doesn't make any difference whether it is X, Gamma, IR, Visible or any other form of photon excitation.

  46. Mark


    "These people, on the whole, genuinely _believe_ that they are EMF sensitive. Calling them f*tards, etc is just childish and mean."

    No meaner than making shit up because you don't want the eyesore. This has FUCKALL to do with sensitivity. These morons don't LIKE it and they are making shit up to make it fit the laws.

    Please, prove they _genuinely_ believe this bullshit.

  47. Anonymous Coward

    With Peter

    When was the last 30 year study into the effects of mobile phones and WiFi on people?

    Shit there wasn't one becasue they haven't been around that long.

    Not a nutjob just risk averse I suppose.

  48. Mark
    Thumb Down


    Well, what are the issues raised? After all, the energy from these devices are a common occurrence for much of the 6 Billion people. The energy pales in comparison to what we are subjected to when an aurora occurs.

    I could just as easily call on the existence of the USA as being the reason why people in the West are so obese. It didn't happen until the US was colonised from the first world.

    And have there been ANY studies into the effect of colonisation of a continent on the obesity levels of humanity?


    Case rests.

  49. alan


    As much as I hate this guy and what he wants to do dont point out that light is an EM wave, as surely then sunburn is a symptom of his allergy, this is bound to be an allergic reaction. And even if its seen as the energy from these waves burning the skin, that will give them proof that they are bad for you and we will be back in the cave pronto

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