Complaint Filed Over Health Effects of French Mobile Antenna

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A French mobile phone company could face criminal charges for "administration of a harmful substance," following a complaint by a family living near one of its base station transmitters.

The complaint filed Wednesday blames radio signals from an antenna erected by Bouygues Telecom in 2000 for the health problems, including tachycardia and cardiac arrhythmia, of one of two 17-year-old twins living in Chevreuse, southwest of Paris, according to the family's lawyer, Richard Forget.

The state prosecutor now has three months to decide whether to launch an investigation, after which time Forget will seek recognition by the court to pursue the case.

Forget believes it's the first complaint to equate mobile phone signals to a harmful substance, and also the first that could result in criminal charges against a mobile phone network operator. Bouygues is the only operator to have an antenna in the area where the family lives, he said.

Another factor in the complaint is a note from the family's cardiologist, relating the change in the 17-year-old's health to the operation of the transmitter, which entered service in 2003.

Bouygues Telecom has no comment to make on the matter, a representative said.

The effects on health of mobile phone signals has been much studied and debated, but the results have so far been inconclusive.

Employees of the Paris city authority have also blamed radio signals for their health problems, and forced the city to shut down free Wi-Fi access points installed in some public buildings.

However, tests conducted by an independent laboratory in four city libraries found that radio signal levels there were between 80 and 400 times lower than the legal maximum, the city authority said Thursday.

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