Italian Court Rules Cell Phone Caused Non-Cancerous Brain TumorApr 25, 2017
Judge Says Man's Tumor is Linked to Mobile Phone Use
For the first time in history, a trial court has ruled that excessive cell phone use caused a man's brain tumor. In Italy, a man has been granted a monthly social security award after developing a non-cancerous brain tumor. The plaintiff, a long-time Telecom Italia employee, used the company mobile phone for three hours a day without protection. Legal experts say this is the first time a court has acknowledged a link between cell phone use and a brain tumor.
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According to Phys.org, the ruling was handed down on April 11 and made public on Thursday. The plaintiff says he has used his mobile phone three to four hours a day each working day for the past 15 years. He developed a benign brain tumor that subsequently caused him to lose hearing in one ear. "The standards say severe use is one hour a day," the plaintiff said to Sky TG24. "I went well past the limit."
The man still works for Telecom Italia. He filed his lawsuit against the social security agency. The court, located in the northern city of Ivrea, awarded him monthly social security payments. Under the ruling, he will receive between $6,000 and $7,500 annually.
The plaintiff says he is not against using cell phones, but believes the public should be aware of how to use them safely. "I had no choice but to use my mobile to talk to colleagues and organise work—for 15 years I was calling all the time, from home, in the car," he said, according to Phys.org. "I started to have the feeling of my right ear being blocked all the time and the tumour was diagnosed in 2010. Happily, it was benign but I can no longer hear anything because they had to remove my acoustic nerve."
According to an assessment by a medical expert, the damage affected 23 percent of the plaintiff's bodily function. The compensation will be paid by a state-funded program covering occupational injuries, INAIL.
Notably, the court's expert refused to enter into evidence a cell phone study conducted by the telecom company.
Cell Phone Use and Cancer Concerns Background
Cell phones release a type of non-ionizing radiation called radiofrequency energy, or radio waves. According to the National Cancer Institute, one of the reasons why people are worried is because nearby cells can absorb radiofrequency energy. Additionally, there are concerns because cell phone use has increased dramatically in recent years. According to the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, the number of cell phone users in the United States has tripled from 110 million in 2000 to 327.5 million in 2014. The use of cell phones, including number of calls, duration of calls, and time used, has also increased.
In May 2015, the city of Berkeley, California passed a "Right to Know" ordinance requiring cell phone retailers to address possible risks associated with radiofrequency exposure. The cell phone warning must read in part, "To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cellphones meet radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation."
The ordinance was recently upheld in court. According to East Bay Times, an industry trade group filed a lawsuit against the Berkeley City Council alleging that the warning violated First Amendment rights. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit disagreed. A three-judge panel ruled that "the information in the disclosure was reasonably related to a substantial government interest and was purely factual."
"The panel held that Berkeley's compelled disclosure did no more than alert consumers to the safety disclosures that the Federal Communication Commission requires, and to direct consumers to federally compelled instructions in their user manuals providing specific information about how to avoid excessive exposure," the opinion states in part. "The panel held that far from conflicting with federal law and policy, the Berkeley ordinance complements and reinforces it."
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