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People Believe Wi-Fi Is Making Them Sick

BOSTON (CBS) - Wi-Fi is all around us, but most people never give it a second thought.

A number of people, however, believe all those invisible rays are making them sick.

In the Lawson home, the only phone is a landline. Even the teenagers don't have cell phones. Annura Lawson said quite simply, "I want to live." She is very concerned about potential side effects from Wi-Fi.

Lawson believes the emergence of health problems coincided with the installation of a wireless water meter. She felt better after it was removed.

Then, the school where she teaches went wireless and her symptoms returned.


An 8th grade English teacher, Lawson testified before her board of education about her Wi-Fi concerns.

"I'm the mother of six children," Lawson told the board. "I want to see them grow up, and when I'm in the Wi-Fi classroom, I don't feel good at all."

Dr. Robert Nagourney, an oncologist, explained some patients suffer from a syndrome called Electromagnetic Hyper Sensitivity.

"There are two kinds of radiation that we speak about: one is ionizing, and other is non-ionizing. In ionizing radiation, clearly there's a great risk of DNA damage, mutation, and cancer," added Dr. Nagourney.

This danger has not been proven by non-ionizing radiation which is the type emitted by cell phones, smart meters, and Wi-Fi.

With the explosion of wireless devices, everyone's exposure to non-ionizing radiation has increased dramatically.

"We are bathed in this type of radiation," said Dr. Nagourney. "Does it cause medical illness? Great question, difficult to answer."

David Carpenter, an environmental scientist, believes there is strong evidence this is a "real syndrome that causes real harm to real people."

Carpenter estimates about 5% of the population is Wi-Fi sensitive. Many have no idea was is making them sick. "They walk around feeling ill, and they don't know what to do about it."

That's what Suzanne Hoyt says happened to her, after she had Wi-Fi installed in her apartment. She felt pain in her jaws and her chest. "It was like the physical expansion of the heart."

Dr. William Barr, a neuropsychologist, does not believe the evidence is there to support a link between Wi-Fi and illness. Patients "establish a belief that something has the potential to cause the symptom, and then when they come in contact with the cause, they develop those symptoms."

Dr. Nagourney believes there could something to the problems patients say they are experiencing. "People have different sensitives. One person can get a bee sting and nothing happens. Another person goes into anaphylactic shock. Same bee sting, different reaction."

In addition to heart palpitations, other common complaints include headaches and dizziness. It is important to keep in mind there are many conditions which cause these symptoms.

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