A woman has won disability payments in a French court after claiming that cell phones and Wi-Fi routers were making her sick. Marine Richard has been awarded 800 Euros per month for the next three years, after she told a Toulouse court she was unable to work due to her electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS).
“It’s almost like they are being electrocuted, but very slowly,” said Lucienne Cendrier, who is the spokesman for a French organization that wants EHS recognized.
The payments are currently frozen due to an appeal making its way through the court, but Richard’s team is confident, and hopes that her case will a beacon of hope for other French citizens suffering.
“It doesn’t help the situation for the time being. But it’s a first and it gives hope to many people with electro-hypersensitivity that they will finally be recognized,” Alice Terrasse told the Toronto Star.
What makes this case unique is the fact that the French government doesn’t officially recognize EHS as a valid disease; medical experts are divide on the subject. Many believe that technology is to blame, and that the condition is made worse through frequent exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF), which generally come from devices such as cell phones, tablets, and laptops.
This condition is incredibly hard to diagnose because most of its symptoms are also common manifestations of other issues. Some of the most common symptoms are redness of skin, tingling and burning in the skin, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, nausea and heart palpitations. EHS is very similar to having chemical sensitivities, since both say patients have “a range of non-specific symptoms that lack apparent toxicological or physiological basis or independent verification,” according to the World Health Organization.
About 10% of electromagnetic sensitivity cases are severe, and Robin des Toits wants the condition to be recognized by the French government, leading to more regulations on EMF exposure. In the French population alone, it is estimated that 1-3% are suffering from EHS.
Richard apparently noticed her health issues in 2010, pointing to memory loss, vertigo, itchy eyes, and fainting as the first symptoms. After her diagnosis, she disconnected from the world as much as possible.
The WHO is not yet convinced of the connection between electronic devices and disease, however.
“Research has not been able to provide support for a causal relationship between exposure to electromagnetic fields and self-reported symptoms, or ‘electromagnetic hypersensitivity,’” said the WHO.
Canada, Austria, and Sweden have both taken steps to fight the condition. Sweden recognizes that about 230,00 to 290,000 Swedish people suffer from EHS. In Austria, there are now guidelines to help diagnosis, and Health Canada has also set limits on EMF exposure. Yet each country is nevertheless erring on the side of caution, stating that other chronic or cumulative health issues “suffer from a lack of evidence of causality, biological plausibility and reproducibility” and should not be used as a scientific basis for other measures.
“On September 5, 2015, WHO recommended that EHS be added to the International Classification of Diseases, thus effectively reversing earlier claims of no causal relationship between symptoms and EMF exposure,” says Virginia Brown, M.S., Occupational Therapist/President, BioElectric Shield Co. “If readers visit www.bioinitiative.org, they will find 1800 studies that prove a causal link between EMF and biological disorder. Now is the time to admit and tackle the issues associated with this growing health crisis.”