1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Italian court rules cell phone use linked to tumor

April 21, 2017

In a landmark decision, a telecommunications worker has been awarded damages for a brain tumor he developed after excessive phone usage required for his job. Roberto Romeo called for public safety guidelines.

Smartphone Handy Display Hülle Schutzfolie
Image: Imago

In a milestone case, an Italian court announced on Thursday that work-mandated mobile phone use could cause tumors. Telecom Italia employee Roberto Romeo has been awarded monthly support from social security after the court found that the excessive phone use necessary for his job contributed to the development of a brain tumor.

"I had no choice but to use my mobile to talk to colleagues and organize work - for 15 years I was calling all the time, from home, in the car," Romeo testified. "I started to have the feeling of my right ear being blocked all the time, and the tumor was diagnosed in 2010. Happily, it was benign, but I can no longer hear anything because they had to remove my acoustic nerve."

Romeo stressed that he didn't think it was bad to use cell phones per se, but that the public should be made aware of safety issues.

According to his lawyer, Stefano Bertone, the verdict was the first in the world that he knew of "to recognize a link between cellphone use and the development of brain tumor." He also applauded the court's decision not to accept into evidence scientific studies financed by the telecommunications industry.

State social security must now pay Romeo 500 euros ($535) a month after a doctor testified that the man had damage to 23 percent of his bodily functions.

Most research has concluded that moderate cellphone use poses no substantial risk to human health. However, some experts say it's too soon to tell what sort of long-term effects heavy usage may have.

es/rc (AP, AFP)