KNOW THE ANSWERS TO WHAT INDUSTRY SAYS REGARDING THE HEALTH/SAFETY ISSUES OF SMART METERS
The following answers are culled from a variety of articles, statements, and opinions of leading experts in the field of RF microwave radiation and its effects on biological systems. MSMA has assembled these responses to help clarify our thinking when confronted by industry’s assurances of the safety of Smart Meters. It is our understanding that these answers accurately reflect the current thinking of knowledgeable scientists familiar with the biological effects of this kind of radiation.
Industry Says: Smart Meters only emit X seconds/minutes per day (whatever figure is given to prove how little it is) and emit far less radiation than a cell phone.
Answer: Although this statement may reflect the transmission of data about any specific home, Smart Meters continuously emit hundreds of thousands of millisecond long, “chirps” and “chatter” to stay in touch with other meters in the neighborhood and the local data collection point even when not transmitting data about any specific home.
According to Dr. Dan Hirsch, radiation scientist from the University of California, Santa Cruz, the whole body exposure from smart meters is 100 times that of a cell phone. Moreover, unlike cell phones, Smart Meters cannot be turned off. They must operate continuously, as explained above.
Industry Says: Some utilities are deploying meter reading systems that use commercial wireless providers to gather data. These meters have the same radio components as cell phones which consumers raise to their heads every day.
Answer: Cell phone exposures are already showing a doubling of risk for malignant brain tumors at only 10 years and longer ipsilateral use in adults, and a five-fold increased risk for young people. Surely, a comparison of Smart Meter emissions to cell phones is not reassuring. And, the combined exposures are even more likely to be harmful to health.
Industry Says: An examination of a majority of smart meters being deployed today will show these devices use extremely low frequencies associated with unlicensed devices, on the equivalent magnitude as the devices that provide WiFi connectivity in the home. Millions of laptop computers are used in homes every day that transmit at levels similar to Smart Meters and the transmitters from these devices are always “on”.
Answer: Exactly. The public already has significant exposures to radio frequency microwave radiation from other sources. By adding mandatory, wireless Smart Meters, the cumulative exposure may place people over the existing FCC limits (which are already inadequate and hundreds of time higher than allowable exposure standards in some other countries).
Industry Says: There is no demonstrated long term impact on humans of low level non ionizing radiation.
Answer: This assertion is not supported by the science. It ignores decades of published scientific work that delineate bio effects and adverse health effects from long-term, low-intensity ELF (extremely low frequency) RF (radio frequency) exposures.
Industry Says: Ionizing energy, beginning with the ultraviolet component of sunlight, has been demonstrated to have long term impact, but the frequencies associated with Smart Meters are hundreds of orders of magnitude below that of sunlight. Therefore, those who express concern about the safety of Smart Meters are misrepresenting the facts.
Answer: Making the assertion that only ionizing radiation has adverse effects on human beings shows either an intention to mislead, or a gross ignorance of the scientific literature and controversy over the inadequacy of existing FCC and ICNIRP public safety limits for non-ionizing radiation. Further, it ignores scientific evidence that anyone in a position of leadership should take into account before issuing industry-position articles and policies.
Industry Says: The components used in the Smart Grid deployment are significantly below the MPE (maximum permissible exposure) and FCC limits for MPE of the general population are already at least 50 times lower than levels that can cause tissue heating.
Answer: This statement justifies Smart Meter exposures on the basis of antiquated and inadequate FCC public safety limits. Tissue heating is of no relevance. Health effects from chronic, low-intensity exposure to Smart Meters in the manner installed and operated in millions of residences would be due to non- thermal (low-intensity) exposures that are chronic – not acute exposures that are short term. This also ignores the evidence that FCC MPEs for localized exposure (peak exposure) are in all probability being violated since there is no adequate way to mandate safe separation distances for the public.
In the past scientists and engineers developed exposure standards for electromagnetic radiation based on what we now believe are faulty assumptions–that the right way to measure how much non-ionizing radiation humans can tolerate without harm is to measure only the heating of tissue or induced currents in the body. In the last few decades, it has been established beyond any reasonable doubt that bio effects and some adverse health effects occur at far lower levels of RF and ELF exposure where no heating occurs at all. Some effects are shown to occur at several hundred thousand times below the existing public safety limits.
Industry Says: When confronted with complaints that Smart Meters cause a variety of health effects, ask the complainant to produce the science to support this claim. The conversation should end shortly thereafter.
Answer: There are literally thousands of studies on the effects of the kind of non-ionizing radiation emitted by Smart Meters. Many of the tests have been conducted using instruments other than Smart Meters since Smart Meters are relatively new. See, for example, the 2000 studies available at http://www.justprove-it.co or www.magdahavas.com representing just a portion of the studies available.
But even without allowing for adequate time for studies to be carried out on the relatively new Smart Meters, health effects from Smart Meters are already turning up in droves. In California, for example, where Smart Meters have already been installed, there have been many thousands of reports of adverse health effects and some people have been forced to leave their homes.
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You can also read more about this at www.stopsmartmeters.org. .
Suggesting that there is no proof that Smart Meters cause harm is like saying that while we know bullets from blue guns are harmful, we cannot prove that the same kind of bullets fired from a newly minted red gun will also harmful.
This is Dr. Carpenter’s response to the BG&E rhetoric:
21 February 2012
Re: Smart Meters and Baltimore Gas & Electric
This is concerning potential adverse health effects associated with exposure to radiofrequency (RF) radiation, specifically that from smart meters. I am a public health physician and former Dean of the School of Public Health at the University at Albany. I have been involved in review and analysis of studies on electromagnetic fields, including radiofrequency fields, for many years. I served as the Executive Secretary to the New York State Powerlines Project in the 1980s, and have published several reviews on the subject. In addition I was invited to present to the recent President’s Cancer Panel on the subject of powerline and radiofrequency fields and cancer, and the publication that came from that Panel is attached. I have edited two books on effects of EMFs, including RF radiation. I served as the co-editor of the Bioinitiative Report (www.bioinitiative.org), a comprehensive review of the literature on this subject. The public health chapter from this report was subsequently published in a peer reviewed journal. This is a subject which I know well, and one on which I take a public health approach that has as a fundamental principle the need to protect against risk of disease even when one does not have all the information that would be desirable.
There is clear and strong evidence that intensive use of cell phones increases the risk of brain cancer, tumors of the auditory nerve and cancer of the parotid gland, the salivary gland in the cheek by the ear. The evidence for this conclusion is detailed in many publications in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. Smart meters use similar radiofrequency radiation, although the intensity of exposure in the immediate environment is under most circumstances lower than what one gets from holding a cell phone close to your head. The difference between a cell phone and a smart meter environment is that while the cell phone is used only intermittently a smart meter environment is continuous. There is also strong evidence that leukemia rates are increased among people living near to powerful AM radio transmission towers. Because WiFi, radio transmission towers and smart meters all generate similar RF radiation, my conclusion is that if the whole body is exposed, leukemia is the major cancer of concern, while if only the head is exposed as in using a cell phone, one sees increased risk of local cancers, such as brain cancer.
The statement released by BG&E that “Many studies conducted across the country have found that smart meters do not pose a health risk” is totally false. There have been no studies of the health effects of smart meters to my knowledge. The statements about the Food and Drug Administration and World Health Organization are equally untrue. It should be noted that the World Health Organization this past summer declared radiofrequency radiation to be a possible human carcinogen. While it is true that the nature of exposure to RF from smart meters is not significantly different from that coming from other wireless devices, what is important is cumulative, aggregate exposure. My position is that we should practice “prudent avoidance”, which is to say reduce unnecessary exposure to the degree possible until the magnitude of risk is fully understood.
My specific concerns about smart meters are as follows:
- The benefit of the smart meters is entirely to the utilities, and is economic in nature. If they install smart meters they can fire those individuals who at present are employed to go around reading meters. Thus this is a job-killing proposal, and will increase unemployment in a state that already has too much.
- When a smart meter is installed residents have no choice in the matter or ability to avoid exposure. But every individual has the option to use or not use other personal wireless devices, until more is know about health consequences of chronic RF exposure. There is a major difference between an exposure which an individual chooses to accept and one that is forced on individuals who can do nothing about it.
- The BG&E letters states “The meter that we will install at customers’ homes will transmit for less than 15 minutes each day on average.” This is probably true, but is a deceptive statement, because while transmission of data to the utility occurs for short periods of time, the device continuously generates RF radiation that will expose anyone nearby 24/7.
- The evidence for adverse effects of radiofrequency radiation is currently strong and grows stronger with each new study. Wired meters with shielded cable do not increase exposure. The same benefit to the utility could be achieved by use of a wired connection and this would not increase exposure of residents to excessive RF radiation.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important public health concern, and on the general issue of smart meters. Their use is unwise from both a public health point of view, which is where my expertise lies, but and also from a purely short and long-term economic point of view.
David O. Carpenter, M.D.
Director, Institute for Health and the Environment
University at Albany
MARCH 15th, 2012: The PSC and PEPCO now have confirmation that the smart meters are much worse than the manufacture led them to believe based on this refereed test on an actual smart meter. This letter is from Chris Turner who called for the refereed test on his smart meter in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Rather than continuous output, meters are idle most of the time, only waking up periodically – up to six times a day – to send a brief transmission before going back to sleep. An individual meter on a home is idle well more than 99% of the time.” http://www.pepco.com/_res/documents/smartmetersfaqpepcowebsite.pdf
If there is going to be an informed debate about “smart” meters it is important for PEPCO to update this section of their website to reflect how “smart” meters actually work. It is my understanding that PEPCO agreed they would change their website but have not done so in the past six days. In addition PEPCO has presented this information at public meetings and when questions about “smart” meter and EMF safety have been asked.
A California Administrative Law Judge for the California Public Utilities Commission requested data from the California Utilities on how “smart” meters were operating and found that they were broadcasting 23,000 or more times per day. lamesa.patch.com/blog_posts/revealed-sdge-smart-meter-technical-data-and-bio-effects-of-microwave-radiation When the Washington, D.C. City Council passed legislation adopting a “smart” grid did they have this information in front of them. Were they aware that they were somehow mandating that every electric meter would now send out 34,000 to 56,000 or more EMF pulses per day. (Note: The law as passed does not mention a “wireless” meter but rather a two way communicating device. Some utilities in the United Sates and overseas use fiber optics rather than wireless).
A growing body of evidence is emerging that “smart” meters may be causing severe illness in some homeowners and electrical problems including fires. (http://marylandsmartmeterawareness.org/articles/incidents-of-fires/ & http://stopsmartmeters.org/2012/01/20/meters-that-endanger-shocking-details-from-a-whistleblower/) and http://eon3emfblog.net/?p=1724.