Electromagnetic Radiation Litigation

Beginning in the 1990s, lawsuits alleging injuries a result of exposure to electromagnetic radiation started to spring up. These lawsuits are based on the contention that exposure to low-level electromagnetic radiation that is given off by power lines, electric blankets, and video display terminals (VDT's) can cause cancer, birth defects, miscarriages, and other health problems. Electromagnetic radiation occurs when voltages produce electric fields and electrical currents produce magnetic fields.

The Link Between Electromagnetic Radiation and Disease

Numerous research studies have been performed concerning the link between electromagnetic radiation and disease. Many have shown an increased rate of cancer, neurological disorders, and birth defects in populations with more exposure to extra low frequency (ELF) electric and magnetic fields (EMF) such as that given off by cell phones, power lines, and VDTs. Few, if any, of these studies have provided evidence that the exposure to ELF and EMF is to blame for the increased health problem rate. In fact, more recent epidemiological studies show little evidence that either power lines or "electrical occupations" are associated with an increase in cancer. Likewise, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the available scientific evidence does not show any health problems are associated with using wireless phones. Both the FDA and the FCC have stated, however, that there is no proof that wireless phones are absolutely safe. Contrary to the conclusions of the federal government, research in other countries has shown an increased risk of cancer and other diseases as a result of exposure to ELF and EMF.

Lawsuits Alleging Damages from Electromagnetic Radiation

Lawsuits alleging damages from electromagnetic radiation have largely been dismissed by courts because of the inability of plaintiffs to prove that the radiation caused the injury alleged. In California, a case against a utility company alleging that the radiation it omitted caused a rare form of childhood cancer resulted in a jury verdict in favor of the utility. While the plaintiffs could prove that they were exposed to much higher levels of radiation, they could not prove that the exposure actually caused the cancer. In another suit filed by an employee engaged in electromagnetic pulse research for the MX missile, the employer paid a settlement.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

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