Capdiamont\’s Weblog


Sebastopol officials reject offer of free Wi-Fi downtown due to health concerns
Monday 24 Mar 2008, 09:25
Filed under: Electronics and Computers

That is right folks, some folks down there are claiming to be EMF sensitive, and had their leaders reject free Wifi downtown 4 to 0. Never mind within a one block area of downtown, there was already 25 hot spots. One more is too much!

SR Democrat:

Wireless disruption

Sebastopol officials reject offer of free Wi-Fi downtown due to health concerns; proponents say that’s ridiculous

By ROBERT DIGITALE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Concerned about possible health effects from wireless Internet networks, Sebastopol officials have reversed course and turned down a free Wi-Fi area network.

The City Council voted 4-0 last week to rescind an agreement with Sonic.net that would have allowed the Santa Rosa-based Internet provider to install the network in the city center as it has done in the downtowns of Santa Rosa and Petaluma.

Sebastopol Mayor Craig Litwin thanked Sonic for a “very nice gesture” but said citizens had voiced concerns that “create enough suspicion that there may be a health hazard.”

Sonic CEO Dane Jasper said his company is sympathetic to those who blame radiofrequency signals for their health problems.

But he maintained that the exposure from a Wi-Fi network would be “a drop in the bucket” compared to the amount that people receive daily from TV, radio and cellular phone signals.

Moreover, he said, downtown Sebastopol already has plenty of businesses emitting Wi-Fi signals. In a one-block radius around the town’s central intersection of Bodega Avenue and Main Street, Jasper detected 25 such signals. His company had proposed to add one more signal at that intersection.

“Wi-Fi is pretty much everywhere,” he said.

Jasper and Wi-Fi critics strongly disagree on what is known about the possible health risks from radiofrequency, or RF, signals.

Jasper cited the World Health Organization. Its Internet site concludes: “Considering the very low exposure levels and research results collected to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects.”

But critics said good studies exist that show ill effects to both adults and children from such signals. And they disputed Jasper’s contention that one more wireless network will have a negligible effect on Sebastopol residents.

“A little bit more is going to cause a little more problems,” said Jeffrey Fawcett, president of the Sustainable Health Institute, an educational nonprofit based in Camp Meeker.

Last fall the council reached agreement with Sonic to install the network, which would allow wireless Internet connections for people with Wi-Fi-enabled devices, such as laptop computers and cell phones.

Sebastopol resident Sandi Maurer gathered support to persuade the council to reconsider the matter.

Maurer, who said she is sensitive to electricity much as some people are sensitive to chemicals, worked with others to gather roughly 500 signatures from people concerned about the effects of Wi-Fi signals.

Sebastopol Councilwoman Linda Kelley requested that the issue come back to the council last week, giving Maurer and other critics a chance to successfully plead their case.

“I feel very grateful to the City Council, to Linda Kelley,” Maurer said.

You can reach Staff Writer Robert Digitale at 521-5285 or robert.digitale@pressdemocrat.com

At odds over Wi-Fi effects, former colleagues fume

By NATHAN HALVERSON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Robert Porter was practically shaking with outrage when he stood in front of the Sebastopol City Council last week.

Porter, who has a doctorate in electrophysiology, couldn’t believe the arguments he was hearing about the negative health effects associated with a proposal to provide free Wi-Fi in downtown Sebastopol.

“These people might genuinely believe there is evil in this stuff, but they can’t provide any credible evidence,” said Porter, a former SSU physics instructor. “I was fuming by the time I went up to speak.”

Divisive issues can spread by strange means in a town the size of Sebastopol, and can drive wedges between longtime acquaintances.

The backstory of how the council came to reject an offer by Sonic.net to provide free wireless Internet in downtown Sebastopol is a great example.

Porter is a longtime acquaintance of the main opponents of free Wi-Fi, including the woman who successfully orchestrated the petition to derail free Wi-Fi downtown.

Sandi Maurer, who describes herself as electro sensitive, gathered more than 500 signatures and along with others convinced the City Council to overturn its earlier decision to allow free Wi-Fi.

She learned of electromagnetic fields, EMFs, in the mid-1990s from Michael Neuert, a Santa Rosa resident who has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Wisconsin.

Neuert was an apprentice of Porter. They met at a Sebastopol spiritual retreat known as Summerland in the 1980s. It was a place where people meditated and convened with spirits. Maurer also attended.

In the early 1990s, Porter decided to design a gadget that would mitigate the electrical radiation produced by electric blankets. Neuert became his apprentice at that time.

Porter abandoned the project after he concluded that electromagnetic radiation in the low levels found in blankets — and Wi-Fi — does not cause serious health problems.

Neuert, who became interested in electric radiation from Porter, decided to continue pursuing the issue of electric radiation after the project and his apprenticeship ended.

“Robert is wrong,” Neuert said. “I’m sensitive to electric radiation.”

Neuert started a business testing people’s homes for EMFs, and providing solutions that ranged from a couple hundred dollars to as much as $25,000.

Neuert introduced the concept of EMFs to Maurer, who says cutting back her exposure to electric radiation has improved her immune system, hair growth, memory and speech.

When Maurer learned of the plan to provide free Wi-Fi in Sebastopol, she began her crusade.

“People have very strong feelings,” Maurer said. “It’s really emotional for people who have electrical sensitivity.”

The debate is burning on local online bulletin boards, such as http://www.waccobb.net, where there are comments like, “We should require proof that it is safe. ‘Unlikely to be a health risk’ is not enough for me. ”

Dale Dougherty, publisher of Make and Craft magazines based in Sebastopol, sounded off from the other side on the O’Reilly Media blog.

“If it wasn’t Wi-Fi, it would be fluoride,” Dougherty wrote. “Something is needed to affix to their anxiety. I can only be glad that they weren’t alive when the city decided on electrification a century ago.”

One thing is for sure, the debate isn’t going away. Daniel Osmer, who founded the group Science Buzz Cafe, plans to invite a panel of experts to debate both sides of the potential health effects of Wi-fi.

“I know people on both sides of the issue here,” he said. “It’s gotten pretty heated.”

You can reach Staff Writer Nathan Halverson at 521-5494 or nathan.halverson@ pressdemocrat.com.

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4 Comments

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I have a Ph.D. in Science with a major in Telecommunications and a contiguous background experience which spans nearly 37 years in telecommunications across all sorts of radio frequencies including Microwave, ground based satellite transponder emmissions and of couse the questionable wireless RF.
If you buy a cheap RF locator you will see that within 25 feet of your home lies open RF, cable TV RF, garage door RF, and many other types of EMI in our kitchens from electrical power recepticals, laptops, TVs, MW ovens, our cell phones, convention ovens and ceiling light. Yes, we have a bit more EMI and RF in our lives now than existed in the 1960’s. Luckily we also have standards boards created to make sure we were safe within these advances as well. All these store bought and industrial level purchased devices must meet FCC standards, and pass distribution standards (UL tested, IEEE, GS, NOM, PCT, CCC, OHSA,etc.) before we ever get them.

As we all learned in grade school, in order for us to turn into jello we would have to be exposed to “concentrated levels” of these low emission for long periods of time. Concentrated in this sense, means sitting in a chair 8 feet away while looking at the MW and turning it on for 10minutes at a time all day long for a month while you watched it. This would infact have a terrible and permanent effect on any human body. If you read the manuals and follow the already tested use basics you will not have an issue. Its the same as going for an XRAY. They are using “concentrated rays” to go through you and thus the reason they protect you and themselves for that short “standards-timed” level dose. If you went everyday for 30 days, you in fact would be permanently harmed. The rules and tested standards are created to make sure we are safe. If you want to assure you are completely OK from all sorts of radiation harm then here is what I learned. Do not go out into the Sun, do not live in a home with electricity, do not use a cell phone or any RF device like a TV remote, do not drive your cars, do not go through scanners of any kind, do not use any computers, simply remove yourself from all things electrical within your own space and you will still manage to control less than 50% of the low level emmissions that are produce around you. On the other hand, if you live near a large power tower then I would agree this is the most dangerous and uncontrolled emission that will affect you now. This can be easily be tested by non-service provider professionals and make sure the service provider is held completely responsible for fixing it, moving it and/or paying for all your healthcare if this was the cause. Nothing less will do on these power towers. Their emissions are directly dangerous to your health.

Best
Doug

Comment by Dr. Doug Linman

Thanks Doug for posting. While I don’t have such a degree, it just fails the common sense test.

Comment by capdiamont

To Capdiamont, yes thank you. I agree with you. It’s simple common sense, unless you are sitting there in consentrated dosages over lengthy periods of time, you will be fine. Very Best to you as well. Doug Linman

Comment by doug linman




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