Could WiFi be the next peanut butter?
A case pending in Massachusetts accuses a school of failing to accommodate a child with an allergy. The allergy is not to a food or synthetics like Latex. Rather, it is to the school’s state-of-the-art WiFi system.
According to a story published by The Daily Beast, the child’s symptoms appeared after the school upgraded their WiFi. Symptoms appeared at school and dissipated at home. After doctors could not diagnose the problem, the parents began researching on their own. They came to suspect electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), which was eventually officially diagnosed by a doctor to be the child’s allergy. EHS is thought to be caused by exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF). The parents argue the condition poses a disability that the school should be required to accommodate.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines the condition as, “characterized by a variety of non-specific symptoms, which afflicted individuals attribute to exposure to EMF. The symptoms most commonly experienced include dermatological symptoms (redness, tingling, and burning sensations) as well as neurasthenic and vegetative symptoms (fatigue, tiredness, concentration difficulties, dizziness, nausea, heart palpitation, and digestive disturbances).”
Studies differ in that some support EHS as a physical condition directly caused by EMF. Others suggest the condition is caused by perception, or that it is a somatoform, or psychosomatic, issue. Whether it is a physical or psychological issue, the symptoms are generally accepted as real.
The outcome of the Massachusetts case could have far-reaching implications. Should the parents win, schools across the nation could be faced with reviewing their WiFi setups, including EMF emissions, and making changes to accommodate students and staff suffering similar symptoms.
Meanwhile, whether they win or lose, an emerging issue will garner public attention. Maybe the attention it needs for questions to be answered and treatments — and potential accommodations — developed.