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Allergic to Wi-Fi, A French Woman Receives Compensation

The case of a woman claiming to be allergic to Wi-Fi has raised eyebrows. She affirmed not being able to work in environments with devices emitting electromagnetic fields, and the court ruled that she was to be given compensation. The condition she appears to have is known as electromagnetic hypersensitivity(EHS).


Humanity is used to electromagnetic fields – they are all around us, produced by both the Earth and the sun. However, lately, we have become increasingly exposed to electromagnetic energy as technological devices – mobile phones, computers, radio, and television, amongst others – are used more and more. Wi-Fi, which is now growing increasingly popular in our contemporary societies, also accounts for our exposure to electromagnetic fields. It is, therefore, a legitimate concern as to whether this trend is harmful to the health. Recently, the case of a French woman, Martine Richard, allegedly allergic to Wi-Fi has brought this issue under another perspective.

As a consequence, Martine Richard was granted disability payments. It is claimed that she suffers from electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), as indicated by her symptoms. According to her, she is not able to work because of the electromagnetic energy. On the other hand, science has not yet proved any link between exposure to the energy and symptoms.

EHS ‘patients’ claim to suffer from a range of non-specific symptoms such headaches, nausea, and sleeping problems, when they are in the presence of devices emitting electromagnetic fields. Some people cannot even work or function in such environments.

While the symptoms are very much real, the condition has not been clearly diagnosed by experts; the criteria thereof have not been defined yet. Meanwhile, it has no medical or scientific basis. No definite association has been found between electromagnetic field exposure and health.

It might even not be a thing. The possibility that the real reason behind the ‘condition’ to be merely the influence of a person’s expectations/ perceptions is not disregarded – this is known as the nocebo effect.

More research is, therefore, needed to provide logical explanations. Scientists are, in fact, working on finding out whether EHS is a reality.

In spite of the lack of evidence though, the French woman did get a ruling based on her claims to suffer from EHS, and was thus awarded compensations. However, it is to be noted that the court did not declare EHS a legitimate condition.


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