Using Law and Advocacy to win Accommodations for Clients with Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS)

2021, Clinical Practice Guidelines for Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS) – Proceedings from a Symposium on the Impacts of Wireless Technology on Health

Abstract

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) is explicitly recognized as a disability in many nations. However, individuals with EHS who make disability claims often are not accommodated by employers or service providers and tend to have limited success in the legal system. This paper provides an analysis of legal protections available in Canada for those living with EHS, and discusses the relationship between law, scientific advances, and the role of metapolicy in developing preventative policies that protect vulnerable persons and overall populations. The paper deals with, amongst other things, the role played by medical professionals in providing accommodation for EHS. Recognizing and validating EHS is challenging for a number of reasons. Electromagnetic fields (EMF) and electromagnetic radiation (EMR) are odourless and invisible and there are numerous sources of in homes, workplaces, and public spaces. Thus, professional electromagnetic surveys are typically needed to identify sources of EMF and EMR. Industry experts and some medical specialists have argued that EHS cannot be diagnosed using traditional physiological techniques due to psychological factors, the range of non-specific symptoms, and a resemblance of symptoms to those associated with illnesses such as multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS). Consequently, there is a great deal of skepticism towards EHS, especially amongst industry-employed professionals, engineers and scientists, as well as many medical experts, judges and lawyers. These factors often present problems for the Canadian courts and tribunals when considering medical evidence on EHS. Establishing proof of a workplace-related triggering exposure is a key difficulty in EHS cases due to variations in reaction severity-even between several EHS-impacted employees-and because symptoms tend not to cease when the workplace source is removed. Many of the frustrations that EHS advocates experience with legal and policy systems are related to metapolicies, particularly related to prevention of health impacts and requisite standards of evidence.

The full paper is available at https://bit.ly/3t8mAJI

1 This paper is not legal advice and only provides general information about how the legal system can be used. Patients seeking specific legal advice should contact the lawyer referral service for their respective Law Society or the appropriateorganization in their jurisdiction and retain a lawyer.

2 The author gratefully acknowledges the work of Dr. Meg Sears, Chairperson of Prevent Cancer Now, past and current clients and Canadian medical researchers in preparing this presentation.

3 The author is an environmental lawyer based in southern Ontario, and retired Adjunct Professor. He was pro-bono counsel on the Board of the Wireless Radiation Safety Council of Canada from 2011 to 2013. He has worked with numerous clients on a range of wireless radiation safety, air pollution, water pollution and chemical sensitivity issues. David served for sixteen years as In-House Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor at the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. David has a B.Sc. in Biology and a Master’s in Environmental Studies on Biological Conservation. He graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School, undertook graduate law studies and was admitted to the Ontario Bar in 1990. David taught law to undergraduate and graduate students at York University, Osgoode Hall Law School, the University of Toronto and Humber College between 1987 and 2011. He has published dozens of books, journal articles and articles. Book titles include Risky Business: A Guide to the Use, Handling and Transportation of Asbestos (2012) and My Municipal Recycling System Made Me Fat and Sick  (2012)

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