A woman in the US is wants US$1.7 billion (NZ$2.08b) in damages from a city council after claiming that "smart" parking meters are making her sick.
Denise Barton is suing the city of Santa Monica, California, claiming that radiation from the wireless signals emanating from the meters is causing ringing in her ears, ear infections and tightness on the back, left side of her neck.
"I know it seems a little big, but they can't do things that affect people's health without their consent. I think that's wrong," Barton said about the meters that use signals similar to Wi-Fi, Internet or cellular waves, the Santa Monica Daily Press reported this week.
Barton, who experienced neurological damage following a car accident as a young child, claims her problems started in April, not long after the city rolled out the meters.
Barton told the SMDP she was concerned because there was evidence, including a flag raised by the World Health Organisation, that the low-level radiation may cause cancer and other illnesses in humans.
Besides the US$1.7b claim, Barton also wants US$1.7m (NZ$2.08m) every month thereafter.
"I figured that's the value of my life and health considering how much I had to go through as a child," she told ABC News.
"It's also the value of taking away my choice of the best way to protect my health without my consent."
The city's assistant finance director Don Patterson said Barton's claim was the only concern raised about the meters.
"The Wi-Fi is very low level and only communicates between the meter and the sensor, about 5 to 8 feet," Patterson said.
"It's the same as someone using a cell phone walking on the sidewalk," Patterson wrote. "The meters comply with all necessary regulations related to wireless communication."
Smart meters use a cell phone network to communicate for 2 to 4 seconds when a sensor detects a vehicle or when a sensor detects a vehicle leaving.
But it's the high-tech capabilities that Barton alleged have caused ear infections and tightness on the back, left side of her neck and an irregular period.
"I know it seems a little big but they can't do things that affect people's health without their consent," Barton added.
"I think that's wrong," she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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