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Health-conscious Californians have railed against perceived radiation risks from cell phones and wireless utility meters. Now Santa Monica's new wireless parking meters are being challenged in a woman's $1.7 billion claim.
The new meters are sometimes called "smart" parking meters, because they can detect when a vehicle leaves its spot. The meter then zeroes-out the balance of that car's remaining time, the Santa Monica Daily Press reports.
But the meters' wireless technology is making one woman sick -- literally, according to her claim, which could potentially lead to a lawsuit.
Denise Barton claims radiation from the new meters is causing health problems: ringing in her ears, ear infections, and tightness in her torso and neck, the Daily Press reports.
The symptoms started soon after crews installed the new meters, Barton's Santa Monica parking meter claim asserts.
So far, Barton is the only person to complain, according to city staff. They say the meters' wireless signal "is very low level" and extends, at most, about 8 feet.
But there is some scientific evidence that could possibly back up Barton's claims. For example, the World Health Organization has raised concerns about low-level radiation and potential health problems, though the WHO has not made any conclusions.
Similar concerns prompted San Francisco to require cell phone companies to inform customers about possible radiation-related health risks, though a judge struck down part of the disclosure law, CNET reports.
There are also grassroots movements against wireless utility meters in California. Some utility customers claim the wireless meters are making them sick, the Los Angeles Times reports.
It's not entirely clear why Denise Barton is seeking $1.7 billion in her Santa Monica parking meter claim. "I know it seems a little big," she told the Santa Monica Daily Press, "but they can't do things that affect people's health without their consent."
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