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23 January 2017

Spain: A Lleida Court Is Deciding Whether to Grant Permanent Disability to a Woman Who Claims Electrosensitivity

Rosa CT, back to camera, affected by electrosensitivity,
talks to Dr. Carmen Valls before the Lleida court where
he has testified as as an expert in her favor at the trial
held on Thursday.  Javier Martin
[Once again, we are looking for someone who could translate this article from Spanish into better English.] 

A significant article published in a major newspaper: A Lleida court is deciding whether to grant permanent disability to a woman who claims electrosensitivity.

The supposed 'allergy' to wifi on the bench
by Inigo Dominguez, El Pais,
14  January 2016 (Auto-translation)

"A Lleida court decides whether to grant permanent disability to a woman who claims electrosensitivity, an unrecognized disease of great scientific discussion"

Wi-Fi 'allergy' is a colloquial expression for the so-called electro-hypersensitivity, with the acronym EHS, the presumed intolerance to the electromagnetic waves of the wireless connections and other apparatuses.

The issue demands even more qualification because there is not even agreement that this 'allergy' exists, that these waves produce that effect.

The vast majority of the scientific community, the World Health Organization and the committee of EU experts deny it , they say it is not proven. They treat it directly as a Chinese tale.

On the contrary, some scientists believe that this is not the case, and they handle growing documentation, while being disdained by the rest of their colleagues.

It is a matter of enormous mutual hostility. What is undoubted is that there are people that something happens, suffers symptoms that some doctors attribute to that reason and, this is the reality, it ends up in the courts.

Like the morning of this Thursday in the Social Court number 1 of Lleida, where Rosa CT, an administrative official of the Generalitat requests a pension for permanent disability, after three years of retirement. Social Security, which has already won a first trial, opposes its claim.

The room is empty, there are only two relatives and an acquaintance, but it is a case with more significance than it seems.

There was already a ruling last year from the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid that, for the first time in Spain, recognized a total incapacity for electrosensitivity to an employee of a telecommunications company.

This is the second case, brought by the same lawyer, Jaume Cortés, of the Colectivo Ronda, and a new sentence would reinforce the reasons of those affected. And it would also make the cry in the sky to almost the entire scientific community.

In Lleida, the interested woman is not in the court because, according to her husband, she would get sick immediately in this place full of Wi-fi: "Headache, choking sensation, mental confusion and difficulty concentrating, dry mouth, fatigue ..." .

In addition she lives the trial with much nervousness. It's been six years with this.

"It all started in 2011 when she changed offices and began to feel bad, without knowing why,"she explains. Rosa claims that she can not even take the bus, because it has Wi-fi, or go almost anywhere, and has ended up sleeping in the dining room, the most isolated place in the house.

"I searched the floor with her, almost using her almost Sensor, seeing if it was bad or not, because it's enough to get the neighbor's Wi-fi, "says her husband.

The Generalitat has done everything to help the employee, admits his lawyer. Making reforms, shifting it, but there is no way.

"Outside areas with waves is fine, that's the question, for whatever reason. To do a good study you need a lot of money and the affected are four, nobody cares. I just ask that at least they understand and recognize the incapacity, "summarizes Cortes. "Years ago asbestos was not bad, until after a few decades people began to die."

The doctor told this woman that this was nothing and, in the end, that she suffered anxiety, the most frequent conclusion in these cases, which often end up being derived from psychologists and psychiatrists.

It is something that despairs the interested ones, because they feel misunderstood, as if they were invented it or, in the labor world, as if they only wanted the loss.

The scientific world does not hide its incomprehension, even recognizing the human drama.

"We must say things clearly: all well - conducted studies, which are worth, agree that the likelihood of adverse effects is very small , " said Francisco Vargas, epidemiological , medical and scientific director of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Radio Frequencies and health (CCARS) , reference entity in advice regarding possible effects of RF on health.

The Ministry of Health has concluded that exposure to waves below the established levels "but could induce a biological response in experimental conditions, it is not demonstrated that it may involve harmful health effects."

Vargas believes that the first Spanish ruling last year is "very badly substantiated" and that the judge "did not bother to investigate much."

On that occasion the complainant had a report from a specialist from the Guadalajara hospital. Vargas believes that a new sentence in that line in Lleida "would be a great mistake, a failure of scientific knowledge and the ability to value evidence", since from now on could be enough with any expert who presents a favorable report.

He corroborates that, in his experience, in many cases the origin of the symptoms is a psychological disorder, sometimes diagnosed.

Julio Carmona, of the Platform Against Electromagnetic Pollution (PECCEM), created in 2009 and that includes associations of affected, considers that as a minimum "with the current knowledge would have to apply the precautionary principle", in view of the risk of future cases by one Exposure for years that is now impossible to verify.

No official data, Carmona cites the estimate of the Spanish Society Syndrome Central Sensitivity (SESSEC) , recently created by experts who defend electrosensitivity calculates, based on studies in other countries, the prevalence in Spain would be nothing less than 5% of the population.

Data that for Vargas are absurd, have no validity and are merely extrapolations without scientific basis.

From this platform they remember that the European Parliament and the European Environment Agency have already expressed their support for taking precautions with mobile phones and Wi-Fi and wielding more than a dozen manifestos of scientists who draw attention to the issue against the current.

The last in Brussels, in 2015, with 120 experts. They also promote a European citizens' initiative to ask for a protectionist regulation in this field, which in Spain have signed teachers from the universities of Alcalá de Henares, Autónoma and Pompeu Fabra de Barcelona, ​​Polytechnic de Catalonia and Madrid, Seville, Zaragoza, Valencia and Reus.

But for the rest of the scientific community they have no relevance. Antonio Hernando, a prestigious Professor of Complutense, director of the Institute of Applied Magnetism and member of the Royal Academy of Sciences, said: "I trust who I trust, no experiment is worthwhile and there are highly respected bodies recognized by all who are the that count".

Naturally all experts agree that further research is needed, especially to verify the long-term effects, which can not yet be known. They differ in what must be done until then: to wait because there is nothing that motivates the alarm or to take action already.

Ángeles Trillo, a researcher on Bioelectromagnetism at the Ramón y Cajal Hospital in Madrid, participated in the first EU study on the effects of mobile phones on isolated cells, called Reflex, in 2004.

"It was criticized, but now the new multiprojects of The EU is partly confirming it. The risk of the mobile is very small and relative, but in the long run it is not known, it has to spend time and there are more studies," he explains.

As for electrosensitivity, it is generally said that those who suffer from these symptoms "usually present multiple sensitivities to other chemical agents". He says there are more and more cases, but it is not known which doctors to direct them to.

Carmen Valls, doctor of Internal Medicine and Endocrinology, has participated in those congresses that give the alarm on the matter, and testified Thursday in Lleida as an expert of the lawyer of the affected.

Before the judge and the lawyer of the Social Security has affirmed that the patient suffers "severe electrosensibilidad", that can not work "anywhere" and contributes a test, "novel in Spain", a study that shows how its hormone of the dream, Melatonin, is altered by electromagnetic waves.

Valls believes that it would be a first step for the Ministry of Health to become interested in electrosensitivity and convene a committee of experts, as it did for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (SQM) in 2011.

An argument widely used by those affected is that of the interests that the big telecommunications companies would have to hide the problem.

Bernardo Hernández Bataller, a lawyer and a member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), who tried to pass an opinion on electrosensitivity in this forum, said that "there are great pressures" without falling into conspiracy theories.

The report was not approved by the opposition of a British expert. Then it came to light that he was an adviser to power companies.

The associations of people affected denounced him to the European Ombudsman, who just gave them the reason.

It is a complex matter. The trial in Lleida lasts half an hour. It is seen for sentencing.


The European Parliament's first recommendations on exposure to electromagnetic waves are from 1999 and in 2011 the Council of Europe called for reducing them with special attention to children and young people, as well as giving "special attention to electrosensitive people", creating areas free of Wi-Fi .

In Sweden disability is recognized for this reason and countries like Switzerland and Israel have much stricter legislation than the EU. The first European ruling in this regard was in 2015 in France : with controversy in the scientific world, a court recognized a pension of 800 euros to a woman who claimed to suffer electrosensitivity.

Years earlier, the European Higher Court of Justice did not grant disability to a Spanish EU official in Brussels because the disease was not officially recognized, but it did consider the symptoms and awarded him compensation.

In Spain the first resolution was in 2011 , in favor of Minerva Palomar, the current president of the Spanish association of people affected, Association Electrosensitive for the Right to Health (EQSDS).

Other failures followed, half a dozen, though electrosensitivity was never the only ailment, it was combined with others.

In July 2016 the High Court of Justice of Madrid issued the first judgment that recognized the pension to a worker of a telecommunications company due exclusively to this cause.

The trial of Lleida, awaiting sentence, must decide whether to make the second. But there are more cases in the courts anyway.

Original article in Spanish:

Note re. translation:  We have altered only some pronouns.

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