Simon died last year and his parents, Ray and Denise Studholme, blame an electromagnetic field (EMF) in his bedroom at the family's home near Bury, Greater Manchester, where they had moved just two years before. They say the field was generated by the household meter, two underground cables and a substation next door.
The legal action for damages will test whether force fields can be held responsible for cancer, and will be watched by the power industry. The family have been granted legal aid and will draw on studies from the United States and Scandinavia linking exposure to an EMF with leukaemia and brain tumours.
The strength of the EMF in the bedroom is said to have been more than 10 times the level US and Swedish studies have linked to an increased risk of cancer.
Mr Studholme is also said to be seeking damages for his 12- year-old daughter Deborah's epilepsy, and applying for an injunction to compel the electricity company, Norweb, to reduce EMF levels at the house.
Mrs Studholme said yesterday: 'He was a perfectly normal, healthy boy when we moved in.' Mr Studholme said: 'I believe this is happening in many other households. I want people to know what killed my son.'
If the case succeeds, other similar claims could follow, forcing electricity companies to monitor thousands of homes and eliminate any risk from pylons and substations.
A spokesman for Norweb said last night: 'We operate well within the guidelines set by the National Radiological Protection Board.'
A spokeswoman for National Grid, which carries power from generating stations to the regional electricity companies, said: 'We will follow developments in the case with interest . . . the NRPB says there is no firm evidence of a cancer risk . . . from EMFs at normal levels.'
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