Parents sue school for son's illness caused by Wi-Fi electro
A central Massachusetts boarding school is being sued by parents who claim their 12-year-old son has fallen ill due to the school's unusually strong Wi-Fi signalhttp://wifi.fetch.news/.
According to the parents, their son (referred to publicly as "G") has been diagnosed with Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Syndrome (EHS). He began suffering headaches, nausea and nosebleeds shortly after the Fay School in Southboro upgraded to a stronger Wi-Fi signal in 2013. They are now asking the court to compel the school to either turn down its wireless signal or switch to a completely wired (Ethernet cable) Internet system, in addition to $250,000 in damages.
Mysterious but real condition
While some doctors deny the existence of EHS, the World Health Organization (WHO) categorizes it as a real health condition, although it warns that it may be caused by a variety of other factors.
EHS "is not a medical diagnosis, nor is it clear that it represents a single medical problem," the WHO says.
According to a letter sent to Fay School by Dr. Jeanne Hubbuch, who diagnosed G, "It is known that exposure to WIFI can have cellular effects. The complete extent of these effects on people is still unknown. But it is clear that children and pregnant women are at the highest risk. This is due to the brain tissue being more absorbent, their skulls are thinner and their relative size is small."
She noted that because everyone's body is different, some people are more sensitive to electromagnetic signals than others.
According to the family's lawyer, John J.E. Markham, II, G's "ability to do well in class" has suffered due to his EHS. It is unclear whether remaining in the school places him at risk of any long-term health consequences.
School tries to dodge responsibility
According to G's family, the Wi-Fi system at Fay School "emits substantially greater radiofrequency/microwave emissions than ... more low-grade systems used in most homes." When G first began suffering symptoms of EHS, his parents asked to meet with representatives of Fay School to come up with a plan to accommodate his health needs. They say the school repeatedly refused any meetings and threatened to kick G out of school if his parents talked to anyone else about his Wi-Fi-related health problems.
School officials then referred G to another doctor, who spoke with the boy for 10 minutes, did not perform any tests, then claimed that he did not believe in EHS and sent G home.
"Yet he made no alternate diagnosis," the lawsuit notes.
In response to the lawsuit, Fay School hired a company to analyze their Wi-Fi signal. The company declared that the signal was "less than one ten-thousandth (1/10,000th)" of federal and state maximum exposure limits.
The school's defense did not compare the strength of the signal to those typically found in homes or address the fact that some people may have heightened sensitivity.
According to the lawsuit, the school's failure to make accommodations for G violates its policy handbook, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"We're trying to work with the school," said Markham. "We're still hoping to reach a resolution that will allow him to safely be in those classrooms."
Because Wi-Fi signals and cellular phones operate by means of non-ionizing radiation, U.S. scientific consensus has mostly considered those signals harmless. Studies, however, continue to emerge showing that non-ionizing radiation is also capable of producing negative health effects, simply through different mechanisms.
Growing evidence of health risks has moved many European governments to remove Wi-Fi from schools and libraries.