Massachusetts boarding school sued over Wi-Fi sickness

The parents of an anonymous student at the Fay School in Southborough, Mass. allege that the Wi-Fi at the institution is making their child sick, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court earlier this month.

The parents of an anonymous student at the Fay School in Southborough, Mass., allege that the Wi-Fi at the institution is making their child sick, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court earlier this month.

The child, identified only as “G” in court documents, is said to suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome. The radio waves emitted by the school’s Wi-Fi routers cause G serious discomfort and physical harm, according to the suit, which was first reported by Courthouse News Service last week.

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The lawsuit alleges that Fay’s installation, in spring 2013, of new Wi-Fi routers that operate at 5GHz, instead of the older equipment’s 2.5GHz, caused G to suffer a host of serious symptoms, ranging from nausea and rashes to headaches and even chest pain. G’s parents want an injunction that would force the school to accommodate their child, either by providing cable Ethernet as an alternative or “turning down” the Wi-Fi in G’s classrooms.

The head of the Fay School, Rob Gustavson, said in a statement published Monday that Fay has completed exhaustive studies of its local airwaves, and that the campus is entirely compliant with safety regulations. Emissions from access points, he wrote, citing a consultant’s report, “were less than one ten-thousandth (1/10,000th) of the applicable safety limits (federal and state).”

G’s syndrome, often referred to as EHS, is a controversial one in the scientific world – studies have consistently showed that sufferers don’t directly react to the presence of electromagnetic fields, but their symptoms persist. While G was diagnosed with EHS by a doctor – a fact that underpins much of the case – the syndrome isn’t generally recognized among the broader medical community.

The physician who diagnosed G, Dr. Jeanne Hubbuch, said in a letter to the school last year that EHS was the only possibility that explains the symptoms.

“It is known that exposure to Wi-Fi can have cellular effects,” she wrote. “The complete extent of these effects on people is still unknown. But it is clear that children and pregnant women are at the highest risk.”

District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman has scheduled a hearing for September 4, ahead of Fay’s fall classes resuming on September 9, according to a report from the Worcester Telegram. The family’s lawyer, John J.E. Markham II, told the paper that the goal is to get a preliminary injunction that would allow G to attend school without discomfort.

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