Woman Wants City to Nix its Wi-Fi
Christel Martin says health impacts keep her from some public areas.
A Nanaimo resident is demanding city officials nix public wireless service, claiming it makes people sick.
Christel Martin, 61, has been grappling with electro hypersensitivity - a debilitating "allergy" that makes her more sensitive to the affects of electricity and radiation than the average person - for four years. The condition has forced her to stay away from cafes, restaurants and even public recreation centres, all of which now carry public wireless connections, she said. Martin fears getting "sick for days" with heart palpitations, dizziness and headaches if she's exposed to electromagnetic fields for too long and is now demanding the city turn off its wireless connections indefinitely so she and others with the medical condition can return to public facilities. To do anything less would be discriminatory, she says.
According to Cline Medical Centre in Nanaimo, sensitivities to electromagnetic fields around cellphones and wireless Internet is a legitimate health issue with 1% to 2% of its patients alone suffering from it.
But the city's director of information technology, Per Kristensen, has not seen any proof wireless connections are dangerous to human health and says eliminating the free offering would hinder the city more than it would help.
Eliminating wireless access would not only upset users, but sever service levels. It is tied into the city's disaster recovery system, allowing city staff to continue delivering service to the public even if the internal network goes down and allows staff members to find problems with infrastructure while they're in the field.
"Take something as simple as a water break," Kristensen said. "Staff can see water bubbling up, pull out their lap top and connect through wireless to the city's network and tell exactly where the pipe is broken, what kind of pipe it is and the size . . . before they have even dug the hole."
But Martin argues peoples' health is being affected and like cigarettes it will be a matter of time before it starts to show. At least four other women in the Nanaimo area have come forward with electro hypersensitivity and support the recent bid to turn off wireless. They also oppose smart meters.
"Our society protects allergic people," Martin said. "To protect peanut allergic children . . . most schools ban peanuts or things containing peanuts. You often see signs asking people not to wear scented products. But you never see signs asking people to turn off their laptops or other wireless devices."
Nanaimo (population approx. 84,000)