Court grants woman disability allowance after she claimed to be ‘allergic to WiFi’

A court in France has ruled that a woman who claims to be ‘allergic to WiFi’ has a valid medical disorder and deserves a disability allowance.

According to reports by French-language media, Marine Richard, aged 39, will receive a monthly allowance of US$615 after a Marseilles court found that she had been forced to move to the country to avoid WiFi signals.

The French woman’s condition, which medical experts remain divided on, is known as electromagnetic hypersensitivity. Those who suffer from the condition, referred to commonly as EHS, claim that any contact with WiFi signals, mobile phones and even the humble TV can cause severe pain.

Understandably, Ms Richard was delighted with the court’s ruling, and spoke positively after the verdict. According to media reports, Ms Richard has been forced to live in a barn in rural France without any electricity in order to avoid the pain caused by EHS.

Throughout Europe, EHS campaigners are beginning to get traction by arguing that WiFi and mobile phone signals are causing them discomfort. There have been a number of successful campaigns to have mobile phone towers moved from residential areas.

Despite Ms Richard’s succesful court case, the debate behind whether EHS is real or not continues. According to a well-respected research journal, there is currently “no scientific basis [for EHS] and is not a recognised medical diagnosis.”

Claims are characterized by a “variety of non-specific symptoms, which afflicted individuals attribute to exposure to electromagnetic fields” – however, there’s been no conclusive link between this exposure and the symptoms.

Those who are self-described with EHS report adverse reactions to electromagnetic fields at intensities well below the maximum levels permitted by international radiation safety standards.

The majority of provocation trials to date have found that such claimants are unable to distinguish between exposure and non-exposure to electromagnetic fields. A systematic review in 2005 showed no convincing scientific evidence for symptoms being caused by electromagnetic fields.

Since then, several double-blind experiments have shown that people who report electromagnetic hypersensitivity are unable to detect the presence of electromagnetic fields and are as likely to report ill health following a sham exposure as they are following exposure to genuine electromagnetic fields, suggesting the cause in these cases to be the nocebo effect.

As of 2005, the World Health Organization recommended that people presenting with claims of EHS be evaluated to determine if they have a medical condition that may be causing the symptoms the person is attributing to EHS, that they have a psychological evaluation, and that the person’s environment be evaluated for issues like air or noise pollution that may be causing problems.

Some people who feel they are sensitive to electromagnetic fields seek to reduce their exposure by avoiding sources of radiation, disconnecting or removing electrical devices, shielding or screening of self or residence, and applying complementary and alternative therapy. Government agencies have enforced false advertising claims against companies selling devices to shield against EM radiation.