She said that while it was true that she did not agree to negotiate the use of her iPhone, as it's part of a family calling plan and an important means of communication, she said she did let his friends into her house to try to manipulate wiring and appliances to accommodate Firstenberg's request.
Monribot said that while their houses are close by and connected by electrical wirings, both houses are old-fashioned adobe houses with very thick walls. She also said that other condominiums with thinner walls and larger windows are closer to him than her house.
"It is clear from a superficial visit to the neighborhood where I live that there are many other Wi-Fi networks in the neighborhood, and no doubt most middle class mainstream people who live around here use cell phones and computers, TVs and other devices," she said. "If Mr. F feels that the technology is harmful he could take on the technology itself or those who regulate it. If what bothers him most is the fact that our houses are somehow connected via electric wirings, then he could address that problem."
Dr. Erica Elliott, Firstenberg's doctor, said that it's difficult to quantify the number of people who have electromagnetic sensitivity because many don't report it and symptoms can vary significantly. But in her practice, in the past 15 years, she has seen about 50 people who say they are affected by certain frequencies, she said.
Firstenberg, however, is one of the most sensitive patients she has seen and for him and others like him, she said, day to day living can be a challenge.
"Some have it more severe than others," she said. "Arthur is in the category of the more severe. Others, if they limit their time on the computer, their time on the phone, they can have somewhat of a normal life.
"Others who are in the extreme category ? it's really tragic. They almost have to drop out of regular society. It's just heartbreaking to see what their life has been reduced to."
Though some experts recognize the suffering of people who say they have electromagnetic sensitivity, many others in the scientific community question whether the phenomenon actually exists.
"EHS [electromagnetic sensitivity] has no clear diagnostic criteria and there is no scientific basis to link EHS symptoms to EMF [electromagnetic field] exposure. Further, EHS is not a medical diagnosis, nor is it clear that it represents a single medical problem," according to the World Health Organization.
Kenneth Foster, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania, said that scientists have tried in several studies to establish a link between the symptoms people report and electromagnetic radiation.
In such "challenge studies," scientists will give people reporting electromagnetic sensitivity cell phones or other electronics and deliberately not tell them when the devices are on or off. But, Foster said, they're "universally unable to produce any kind of response from actual exposure."
People report symptoms when they think the devices are on but may not report symptoms when the devices are actually emitting electromagnetic waves, he said.
"There is no doubt that they have serious symptoms, but it's not a direct response to electromagnetic fields. It's something else," he said.