Newser) – Electromagnetic radiation has been around since the universe first formed; it is, in its “most familiar form,” light, reports the World Health Organization. But as cellphone towers and gadgets proliferate, electromagnetic radiation has increased, and some claim a sensitivity to it. One woman in France is now getting roughly $900 a month from the government in disability pay, reports the BBC. Marine Richard, 39, who says she’s had to move to a barn without electricity in a remote region of France to escape electromagnetic waves, calls the decision a “breakthrough” for those who experience electromagnetic hypersensitivity. But the court in Toulouse—which ruled last month that her symptoms stopped her from working—did not go so far as to call EHS an illness, reports Yahoo News UK.
Though people like Richard have claimed a range of adverse health symptoms, from headaches and nausea to loss of libido and depression, the WHO reports that “scientific evidence does not support a link” between the electromagnetic fields and the symptoms; that “scientific knowledge in this area is now more extensive than for most chemicals”; and that anxiety about exposure could be causing these health problems. In the US, the parents of a 12-year-old boy at a Massachusetts school filed a lawsuit on Aug. 12 claiming that their son has been dealing with headaches, chest pains, nosebleeds, nausea, dizziness, and rashes since the school installed a new wireless network in 2013, reports ABC News. The family is asking for $250,000 in damages. (West Virginia is home to a town for those who say they’ve been sickened by WiFi.)
Toulouse (France) (AFP) – A French court has awarded a disability grant to a woman claiming to suffer from a debilitating allergy to electromagnetic radiation from everyday gadgets such as cellphones.
The applicant, Marine Richard, 39, hailed the ruling as a “breakthrough” for people afflicted by Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS).
The condition is not recognised as a medical disorder in most countries, including France, but sufferers insist that exposure to mobile phones, wifi routers, televisions and other gadgets cause them anything from mild discomfort to life-ruining disability.
Scientific studies have found no evidence linking electromagnetic exposure to the symptoms — tingling, headaches, fatigue, nausea, or palpitations.
Richard, a former radio documentary producer, has opted for a reclusive life in the mountains of southwest France, in a renovated barn without electricity, and drinking water from the well.
In a ruling last month, a court in the southern city of Toulouse decided she can claim a disability allowance — about 800 euros ($912) per month for an adult — for a period of three years.
The ruling accepted that her symptoms prevented Richard from working, but stopped short of recognising EHS as an illness.
Her lawyer Alice Terrasse said the ruling could set a legal precedent for “thousands of people” concerned.
“It’s a breakthrough,” added Richard.
The World Health Organisation lists EHS as a condition, but says there is “no scientific basis” for linking the symptoms to electromagnetic exposure.
Sweden and Germany have classified it as an occupational disease.
Double-blind scientific trials, where neither the patient or researcher was aware whether they had been exposed to electromagnetic waves, have refuted any link to the symptoms, and many experts ascribe the condition to a phobia.
Some believe it might be triggered by the so-called “nocebo” effect — the placebo effect in reverse — when people feel unwell because they believe they have been exposed to something harmful.
A French woman has won a disability grant after telling a court she suffers from an allergy to electromagnetic radiation from gadgets.
Marine Richard, 39, was told she may claim €800 (£580) per month for three years as a result.
She said it was a “breakthrough” for people affected by electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS).
The condition is recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), though it says the causes are unclear.
Ms Richard had resorted to living in a remote area in the mountains of south-west France – in a barn that has no electricity.
She said she had been affected by everyday gadgets such as phones.
Typical symptoms reported by those who say they suffer from EHS include headaches, fatigue, nausea and palpitations.
The disability allowance was granted by a court in Toulouse, though the ruling did not formally recognise EHS as an illness.
In a case in the US, the parents of a 12-year-old boy who they say is hypersensitive to his boarding school’s WiFi have decided to file a lawsuit against the establishment.
The parents say their son, a day pupil, has been diagnosed with EHS.
They say he began suffering from headaches, nosebleeds and nausea after the Fay School installed new WiFi in 2013.
The school asked the communications technology firm Isotrope to assess the electromagnetic emissions on campus.
“Isotrope found that the combined levels of access point emissions, broadcast radio and television signals, and other RFE emissions on campus comply with federal and state safety limits by a wide margin,” the school said in a statement.
The statement also quoted from the Isotrope report, which said that levels of emissions both in the school and on the grounds “were substantially less than one ten-thousandth (1/10,000th) of the applicable safety limits (federal and state)”.
Understanding electromagnetic fields
By Philippa Roxby, BBC News Health Reporter
Electromagnetic fields are all around us but most cannot be seen.
In recent years a lot of research has been carried out into man-made sources of these fields, such as electrical power supplies and appliances in the home.
X-ray machines, TV and radio transmitters, mobile phones, WiFi and microwave ovens are all everyday sources of electromagnetic waves.
Those who are sensitive to them talk of experiencing headaches, sleeplessness, ear pain when using a mobile phone, skin tingling and problems with concentration and memory.
For them, the only solution at present is to avoid objects that emit radiation in the home – not easy in the modern world.
In the UK, electromagnetic hypersensitivity is not a recognised condition.
That’s because Public Health England says there is no scientific evidence that electromagnetic fields damage people’s health.
The WHO agrees and believes more research on long-term health effects needs to be done.
Although some countries, notably Sweden and the US, have officially recognised EHS as a condition, there is still much debate over whether a legal case on the condition would be worthwhile in certain other states.
In the UK, for example, members of the public who are worried about exposure to mobile phone masts tend to challenge their construction on a planning basis, according to research group Powerwatch.
“The health issue is close to a no-win in this country at the moment,” Graham Lamburn, its technical manager, told the BBC.
“You really need to win on things like ‘it’s devalued my property because it’s outside my window’ or ‘there’s an irregularity in the way it’s been put through with planning’.”
Electrosensitivty UK (ES-UK), a charity that campaigns for wider recognition of EHS, said it welcomed the French court’s decision.
“Several people in the UK have been diagnosed with electrosensitivity and received help for the disability but any financial allowance usually refers to a different name for the condition or a related condition,” it said in a statement.