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Awesome modifications that would allow a person with severe electromagnetic radiation sensitivity to use a computer? Answered

Here's a challenge: My friend cannot be in the same room as anything emitting electromagnetic radiation, so no computer or phone, but she longs to be in touch with people. She's now limited in contact to her husband and people who come to visit, but is about to move away from the city where we live to a small town with cleaner air (she's also struggling with multiple chemical sensitivity), so will be moving 2.5 hours away from most of her friends. I can imagine some awesome solution that would transition from mechanical technology to digital signals (ie. typewriter keyboard connected to computer in the other room), but I'm not the hacker to do it. Is there anything existing out there? This seems like it would be right up the steampunk folks' alley. Any good ideas? Sources for solutions? Any thoughts that anybody has would be greatly appreciated, and probably put to use. Figuring this out will add significantly to my friend's quality of life...!


Something to be considered on the issue is the cooler itself. It could be she's having problems related to the cooler and EMF but in a round about way. It might be that the cooler is creating interference in nearby electronics and that is causing the effect. As everything is slightly off kilter it's creating problems in a similar fashion to fluorescent lighting. That said, one thing you could rig up ala steampunk is a pneumatic option for the phone. Some piping to each end of the receiver and a essentially a long pole for picking up/dial tone. Dialing out could be accomplished by an old rotary phone as it is the tones that do the actual dialing. Of course if you can hunt down an old rotary phone that might be enough. Mechanical in nearly all it does, and only about as much juice as a flashlight.

Another theory: If she's having chemical issues, things like a small fan can build up with dust/debris. As it heats it gives off faint odors. Odors are a prime trigger for migraines.

Anecdote is not evidence. What other effects did you consider ? Were your on/off tests double blinded. Could the problem be infrasound, with motor vibrations from the cooler coupled to the floor (thats an absolute classic cause of bad headaches) A water cooler does not run constantly. Could she identify when the compressor was on and off ? Or just when it was "switched on"

She was able to tell me the on/off state of the cooler with 100% accuracy once per day, over the 14 day test. I did not tell her what the state was beforehand, and I did not alter my behavior to indicate the state. I randomized the states and either ran or did not run the cooler from around 6pm to around 6am. I would ask her each morning to tell me whether it was on or off overnight, and she was right 7 times on and 7 times off. This particular water cooler operated with a Peltier-device, a heat-sink and a small fan, not at all like a standard refrigerator. The fan ran constantly when it was plugged-in and switched on. So unfortunately, I cannot answer your question about the compressor. I understand that this trial was very short and not 100% scientific, but it would have been rather cruel to put a very good friend through further torture. She satisfied the neighbors and I with the results. By the way, the neighbors later bought a ceramic water dispenser that they're happy with, and my friend hasn't had a serious headache without also having a cold ever since. I also doubt the EM radiation theory. I wholeheartedly agree that it could have been vibrations transferring through to the floor. However, the entire point of sharing my anecdote was to offer another theory beyond psychoses...


8 years ago

You could try building a faraday cage either around the computer, or around your friend so said friend could see the screen and give directions to the person operating the computer.

Now you know and I know that EM radiation, within certain limits, won't pass through a Faraday cage. Will she ?

Unfortunately, anything wired is going to carry some of the radiation from whatever appliance to wherever the wires go. So your typewriter idea probably isn't going to help with that. Anything wireless just creates more radiation. The best suggestion I can make within the confines of your question is to use a scanner and printer. Her husband could scan and email letters from her to friends and he could print their replies for her to read. All of this can be done in a room she doesn't have to go into. Think of it as a slightly faster version of the post office. I actually have doubts it's actually the electromagnetic radiation that's causing her problems. There could be other explanations that make better sense, and incidentally all of them are easier to deal with. First off, how are her eyes? A person with an astigmatism, even mild, can suffer from severe headaches without corrective lenses. There's a connection with electronics there as well. LCD, TFT, Plasma, and LED displays can be very hard for such a person to read and computer displays are often on the top of the list of headache-triggers for almost anyone with imperfect vision (just about everyone). So get your eyes checked, preferably from an ophthalmologist who can diagnose much more than your Walmart optometrist. They may even suggest colored lenses for comfortable computer viewing. This can make all the difference in the world for someone like your friend. Beyond that, could it be noise? Computers and electronics can produce a lot of unwanted noise. There's the usually noise of fans, blowing air and producing a roaring noise. There's the noise of speakers beeping for every little thing and buzzing with electricity. There's the high-pitched whistle of a power supply... It may not be a noise you even notice. Something just at the threshold of hearing can still cause annoyances and headaches. I personally struggle with this issue. Several of the power adapters in my house produce a noise that I can hear and it just drives me crazy. If you haven't heard it, it's much akin to when your ears ring after a blow to the head. I have to unplug my laptop, my speakers, and the cordless phone's base-station in order to get any sleep at night. It's not bad if I can drown it out with music, but during quiet-time, I can't sit near the computer without earplugs. It's livable, but I can see how it's a problem... I've had to return several appliances and gadgets because of noise from adapters and I haven't seen a laptop computer adapter yet that doesn't do it. I'm sure there are other avenues to investigate as well. Unfortunately you didn't mention any of her symptoms so I can't zero in on anything. Wish you the best.

why repeat the same question that you asked yesterday ? There is really no such thing as "severe electromagnetic radiation sensitivity" - this has been established by full on double-blind trials. The Human race has lived in a bath of EM radiation since our species evolved. We EMIT "Electromagnetic radiation" we SEE by receiving "electromagnetic radiation". As you see a thunderstorm, you are bathed with extreme "Electromagnetic radiation" . Standing in an open field, you are sleeted with Gamma rays , extreme EM radiation. Persuade your friend to get good psychiatric support will do more to help than pandering to a psychosis. I'm very sorry she suffers symptoms of her problem, but it is assuredly not from a real effect of "severe electromagnetic radiation sensitivity" no-one has demonstrated such a thing.

Yes, there's little evidence of sensitivity to EM produced by consumer electronics... however there are enough cases worldwide to consider it a possibility. I'd suspect that there's something else going on, but I wouldn't suggest that it's psychological, at least not as a first guess... especially given that most of the sufferers tend to be otherwise mentally healthy individuals. As an anecdote, a friend of mine suffered migraines on a daily basis for a few years. No prior experiences with it, it just started one day and kept up for ages. She spent a lot of time and money going to doctors and getting medicines (which never helped), but eventually she noticed that she never suffered when staying with friends or family. Then one day her upstairs neighbors went on an extended vacation and cut their power for 8 weeks. She didn't have a single headache during that period, but they came back as soon as the power was reconnected. Anyway, she and I knew the neighbors well enough, and I suggested that it might be something electrical bothering her, so we investigated. After looking at a few different things, we finally arrived at a water-cooler. It was the right age to have been first plugged in around the time her headaches started and it happened to be placed right above her bedroom. After unplugging it, her migraines went away. I was even able to convince her and her neighbors to let me test her, and for 14 consecutive days, she was able to tell me when it whether the device was on or off by her headache or lack-therof.