Judge dismisses lawsuit for electromagnetic sensitivity since claim has no support

Judge: No scientific study proves EMS damages personal health

Arthur Firstenberg lost what might have been his final round in court Tuesday, when state District Judge Sarah Singleton ruled that no scientific study has yet proved that electromagnetic stimulus adversely impacts personal health.

In January 2010, Firstenberg, who has long argued that electromagnetic radiation emitted by cellphones, smartphones, wireless routers and other apparatus can cause illness, sued his neighbor, Raphaela Monribot, for $1 million over the use of such electronic equipment at Monribot’s west-side home.

Earlier this month, Singleton ruled that Firstenberg could not discern that his anxiety was caused by the presence of electromagnetic stimulus, but she still gave him time to try to prove that he had been damaged in some way.

On Tuesday, her order noted that he “failed to carry his burden of proof that the evidence he seeks to admit is scientifically reliable” and that reliable studies, including one from the World Health Organization, “have failed to provide clear support for a causal relationship between electromagnetic fields and complaints of EMS.” Without evidence of general causation, the order states, “plaintiff cannot prevail; therefore, summary judgment is appropriate.”

Tip: R/skeptic

Firstenberg complaining he suffered acute effects of electromagnetic stimulus (EMS) whenever he was home that set his health back for days. But he refused a double-blinded test proposed by the defendants to see if EMS really was the reason for his sickness. The defendants reasonably argued that there could be other causes for Firstenberg’s symptoms, which were subjective.

This is a correct call by the judge. Hopefully, it sets a precedent for other such cases. There is an easy test. The burden of proof is on the claimant to show that this is a genuine illness.

  10 comments for “Judge dismisses lawsuit for electromagnetic sensitivity since claim has no support

  1. Susan Reed
    September 20, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    What science ‘proves’ a person gets asthma or a cough or a runny nose, and other irritation symptoms from tobacco? How long did it take to prove a link to lung cancer? How many years to allow people to become sick from the unprecedented pulsed microwave radiation?

    Look up over 2300 studies compiled for the US military by Zorach R. Glaser (at Magda Havas website). Look up studies referred to in the BioInitiative. Look at a growing number of modern studies showing biological effects. You cannot deny that there is no proof chronic exposure to pulsed microwave and radiofrequency radiation is safe.

    It boils down to this: do you play Russian Roulette with public health and ignore the pioneers in this toxic exposure, who through no fault of their own, are the first to fall ILL? Or do you listen to the canaries in the mine?
    Think how many illnesses could have been prevented had the tobacco industry and the asbentos industry and their government supporters decided to use the Precautionary Principle.

    WHY is environmental toxicity difficult to “prove”? Because harm can be immediate or take time. Because each person’s genetics and health status differ. Because with something like RF it is not a linear biological reaction, like touching a flame. It creates a cascade of events that vary depending on the victim. A person’s cells can only take so much disruption. A person’s normal electrical workings will only maintain health so long under the repeated attacks upon its natural functions.

    The thing that is most disgusting is the glee of your witchhunt. No humanity.

    • David
      September 20, 2012 at 7:16 PM

      So you are going to rant and not provide the links to the studies at all?! There are no scientific studies that show a link, period.

    • Jim
      September 20, 2012 at 7:18 PM

      The connection between cigarettes and lung cancer became very clear once data was gathered on the subject. Additionally, there is a huge difference in plausibility. Microwaves are very low energy and unlikely to cause any health problems. Read more about electromagentic radiation and you will see just how silly the fear of microwaves is. No one is worrying about visible light, but that is also electromagnetic radiation and at higher energy. There is nothing magical or mysterious about the wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation that we can’t see. Also, instead of focusing on the data from one crank, look at the enormous number of studies that have shown no correlation between normal microwave exposure and any health risks.

      Just because there isn’t absolute proof that exposure to microwaves is safe, doesn’t mean one should assume it isn’t. The burden of evidence lies in those making the extraordinary claim that microwaves are a health risk; they have none. If you really want something to worry about, uv and gamma rays are higher wavelengths of emr that do cause cancer and are emitted by the sun– so wear sunscreen!

    • Meg
      September 20, 2012 at 8:33 PM

      If these studies exist AND are of real scientific merit (peer-reviewed, etc.) Perhaps your disgust is better placed with Firstenberg’s legal representation for not bringing them forward in court.

    • kiljoy616
      September 20, 2012 at 10:34 PM

      Bad logic does not make your view of the world come true.

  2. Slugsie
    September 21, 2012 at 4:52 AM

    The fact that Firstenberg refused a double blind test speaks volumes to me. It suggests that he knows about the burden of proof, that he knows that there are no solid studies showing a link, and it shows that he knew he probably wouldn’t pass.

  3. Phil
    September 21, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    Seeing as how the amount of energy produced by wireless is below that needed to break DNA bonds and that intensity falls exponentially with distance, please show some mechanism of harm.

  4. F89
    September 21, 2012 at 8:43 PM

    A quick look at Dr. Havas websits shows it is focused on EMS, within I found the link to Dr. Glaser’s Publication- ““Bibliography of Reported Biological Phenomena (‘Effects’) and Clinical Manifestations attributed to Microwave and Radio-Frequency Radiation” The report is talking about the effect of microwave and electromagenetic radiation from Radar, and Radio transmission-Things which can cause injury and long term damage-due to the HIGH POWER used by those items. Power levels high above what a cellphoe woud emit or recieve.

    My question : if EMS is so dangerous, how are you protecting yourself from it’s effects? I would wager that doing that is near impossible.

    • Jim
      September 21, 2012 at 10:47 PM

      Dr. Hamas is engaging in shameless cherry picking. So many studies have been done on the health effects of radio frequencies, that, by pure chance, we should expect some studies to show deleterious effects. Overall, however, there does not appear to be any connection between normal exposure to radio waves and any health problems.

      It is also important to recognize the inherent implausibility of damage being caused by such low absorption rates of radio waves. The only real mechanism for damage that anyone is aware of is dielectric heating which isn’t an issue at the normal absorption one encounters in modern life.

      • F89
        September 22, 2012 at 12:25 AM

        Jim-I agreee: I was askng the OP that question at the end.
        And I do really wonder about what people that subscribe to this belief (EMS) do to “protect” temselves (I’m afraid it involves quackery and bad science)

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