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Tucson talk to explore health risks of Wi-Fi technology

Magda Havas, Ph.D., is an expert on environmental toxicology. (Courtesy Electromagnetic Safety Alliance Inc.)

Fourteen years ago, Jenny Baldwin, wife of Tucson neurosurgeon Hillel Baldwin, was having sleep problems and was diagnosed with restless leg syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder, making it almost impossible for her to get deep, restorative sleep.

But over the past three years, she says, her symptoms “became increasingly more uncomfortable and unexplainable. Have you ever imagined what it would feel like to be food being zapped in a microwave oven? Everything inside me was throbbing, pulsating, tingling and vibrating. My nervous system was perpetually in fight or flight mode, even when I felt [emotionally] tranquil. My heart was always racing and pounding in my chest and it didn’t make any sense. It felt like my body was struggling to function. And it just kept getting worse.”

She started getting headaches and noticed a tremor every evening after doing restorative yoga.  Hillel thought her tremor might be caused by sleep deprivation, she says, “because on paper I was healthy.”

On her birthday this October, she recalls, “Hillel greeted me so cheerfully in the morning and I just started sobbing. I had never felt so sick in my life.”

A week later, while watching a film called “Take Back Your Power” about the smart meters used by electric companies, they came upon what they believe is the answer: electrosensitivity or microwave illness also called electrohypersensitivity.

On Thursday, March 28 at 7 p.m., the Baldwins are co-sponsoring a talk by Magda Havas, Ph.D., an environmental toxicologist from Canada, “Wireless Technology and Your Health: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”  The event, which is co-sponsored by Elizabeth Kelley, executive director of the Tucson-based nonprofit organization, Electromagnetic Safety Alliance Inc., will be held at the Tucson Jewish Community Center.

“Six months ago, we didn’t even know what electrosensitivity was,” Jenny says. “Once we made the connection to my symptoms, it has been front and center in our lives.” Among other revelations, she realized their home’s smart meter was just outside the wall she’d unwittingly chosen for her yoga practice.

The Baldwins started taking steps to shield themselves from electromagnetic radiation, including using a corded landline phone at home and ethernet instead of Wi-Fi. They keep their cell phones on airplane mode except when checking for messages, and have disabled the Bluetooth in their cars.

“We have taken other steps to mitigate EMFs [electromagnetic field waves] at home such as shielding the smart meter” with a special material designed for that purpose, Jenny says. These changes have made a huge difference in how they both feel.

“Our home is our refuge where our bodies and brains are not being assaulted by EMFs. The difference is so tangible to both of us. Our headaches disappear (yes, Hillel gets them too) and my nervous system and heart palpitations quiet down. I’m getting restorative sleep for the first time in over a decade and I don’t have restless legs.”

But she can’t say she’s cured.

“Once you have extreme sensitivity my understanding is that recovery will take time along with a commitment to lifestyle modifications. My nervous system is still unable to regulate itself. I am better in my home environment but public places are difficult, including friends’ homes with Wi-Fi. In order to heal, many people with EHS have had to move off the grid and live in isolation. I’m urging people to take precautionary measures now so they don’t have to go through what I’ve gone through or worse.”

Some of the simple measures she and experts in the field recommend are turning off the Wi-Fi  in your home at night while you are sleeping, and not sleeping with your phone beside your head on your night table.

The Baldwins know many people have never heard of EMFs, or are skeptical about the dangers they may pose.

“I would say to the skeptics it is certainly healthy to be skeptical,” Hillel says. “We should however be especially skeptical of technology and systems that have been in place that have generally been accepted blindly over the years. The FDA approved multiple pharmaceuticals at the behest of big Pharma only to have these drugs pulled from the shelves once longer-term data was collected. Very few people read the disclaimer that accompanies the update of the iPhone software that includes warnings about the utilization of cell phones next to one’s head. Major insurance companies such as Lloyd’s of London and other carriers have new blanket statements in their policies that exclude any type of electromagnetic-related illnesses. The FCC has provided a federal mandate to communication companies to place cellular instrumentation towers in public locations such as parks, neighborhoods, and schools without public discourse or input. One only has to do a Google search to find out about the multitude of articles that now describe the dangers of cell phone, Bluetooth and wireless technologies and how they affect people on a cellular level unbeknownst to them. 

“There is clear evidence that autoimmune diseases and malignant brain tumors are on the rise,” he adds. “I just recently attended two neurosurgery conferences that presented studies about the uncontrollable and recurrent nature of brain tumors, while the presenting neurosurgeons are baffled as to why this is happening despite their best efforts at achieving a complete removal, with postoperative MRI scans confirming this. They are frustrated that just years and sometimes months later, an aggressive recurrence rears its ugly head on repeat MRI scans. Charlie Teo, M.D., a renowned Australian brain tumor neurosurgeon, has multiple YouTube and TED talks that summarize the clear-cut evidence of the relationship of cell phone use and brain tumors.

“Jenny and I appreciate the importance of the technology that surrounds us and the immeasurable advancements that have occurred in our lives, but that at the same time is a double-edged sword that cannot be accepted as completely safe.  We hope to educate the public to be wise and prudent consumers of this inevitable technology so that their quality of life and survival will be maximized.

“For the skeptics and those unfamiliar with electromagnetic radiation, the Tucson community has a rare and unique opportunity to hear and interact with Dr. Magda Havas, one of the leading scientists in this field. Jenny and I are very excited about supporting this event.”

Havas also will speak following a free screening of the award-winning film “Generation Zapped” on Sunday, March 24 at 2 p.m. at the Loft Cinema, which is co-sponsored by the Electromagnetic Safety Alliance and the Pima County 5G Awareness Coalition. Kelley of the Electromagnetic Safety Alliance says she hopes families with young children and teens will come to see the film.

“More parents and teachers are recognizing there is a direct association between the headaches, brain fog and anxiety that students and teachers are experiencing and exposure to electrosmog in the classroom,” Kelley says.

Admission to the March 28 talk at the J is $5 in advance and $7 at the door, with free admission for students with ID. Register at www.tucsonjcc.org/calendar. For more information, visit www.magdahavas.org or www.emsafetyalliance.org, or contact Kelley at 912-4878. Proceeds benefit the Electromagnetic Safety Alliance, Inc.