Radiation Leads to Disability

January 26, 2008

Alaska Supreme Court Decision Could Impact Wireless Safety Issues

The Alaska Supreme Court upheld a decision by the Alaska Workers’ Compensation Board awarding an AT&T equipment installer 100% disability benefits due to his exposure to radio frequency (RF) radiation at levels slightly above the FCC’s safety limit.

AT&T worker John Orchitt complained of headaches, eye pain and “mental slowing” following an incident where he was exposed to a 6 GHz signal operating at about 90 W. When Orchitt entered the job site, the amplifier was supposed to have been turned off, but he soon discovered that the wrong amplifier had been disabled. According to EMR Policy Institute, a consumer advocacy group specializing in wireless health issues, Orchitt’s MRI after the incident showed, “tiny areas of hypersensitivity in the frontal lobes.”

Orchitt’s RF exposure level was well below the FCC’s recognized level of “thermal” harm. Though the FCC claims there are no scientifically established harmful effects to a person’s health when exposed to RF levels below the thermal threshold, the Alaska Worker Compensation Board’s decision agrees with medical experts’ findings of adverse health effects occurring above the FCC safety limit but below the thermal threshold.

AT&T appealed the workers compensation board’s decision initially to Alaska’s superior court and then to Alaska’s Supreme Court, which upheld the board’s original decision, stating, “The board has the sole power to determine witness credibility and assign weight to medical testimony. When medical experts disagree about the cause of an employee’s injury, we have held that as a general rule, ‘it is undeniably the province of the Board and not this court to decide who to believe and who to distrust.'”

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