What is a smart meter?
Smart Meters are a new digital electric meter that is being installed on every home in the US to replace the analog electric meters. They use wireless technology to send your data to the electric company so that someone does not have to come read your meter anymore. The meters communicate electronically, providing real-time data on electricity use. The power companies say that a customer should be able to track his or her power use, and turn off energy-hogging appliances when the price of power is high.
What are the health hazards?
Wireless “smart” meters emit radio-frequency microwave radiation (called “RF”), similar to that used by cell phones, wifi routers, and other wireless devices. Anything that is wireless uses radio frequency radiation to transmit its signal. Smart meters produce RF radiation exposures equivalent to or even stronger than cell phones.
In 2007, a group of 14 scientists from the US and around the world put together an independant and unbiased report on the scientific evidence on the health effects of EMF and RF radiation. It is called the BioInitiative Report and documents health effects of wireless technologies.
They found that this type of radiation causes these short term health effects:
- insomnia or sleep disruption
- hormone disruption
- lack of concentration
- memory loss
- ringing in the ears
- difficulty multi-tasking
And these long-term health effects:
- DNA damage that can lead to cancer
- altered immune function
- miscarriage risks
- effects on sperm quality
- neurological diseases
Radio frequency radiation has recently been placed in the category “possible human carcinogen” by the World Health Organization (May 2011). This is the same category as leaded gasoline, DDT, choroform, and many other chemicals.
For the most part, we can control how much radio frequency radiation we are exposed to. You can limit your cell phone use or use it on speaker mode, so that you are minimizing your exposure. You can choose to have a wired router for your computer, rather than wireless. You can use a corded phone rather than cordless. The problem with smart meters is that they are being installed without most people having a choice in the matter. Cell phones are optional and can be turned off. Smart meters cannot. Cell phones can be used with a headset or on speakerphone, but you can’t move the electric or gas meter on your wall. This radiation passes right through walls.
This invisible radiation is being transmitted from your smart meter, not just a couple times a day, but actually several times a minute, night and day, for a total of thousands of times every 24 hours!
What about government regulations?
In the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission has set the guidelines for public RF exposure at a very high level, based on science dating back to the 1950s, which looked only at the thermal or heating effect. Their current recommendations are that if the radiation doesn’t heat tissue, it is considered safe. Ionizing radiation (e.g. x-rays) can alter molecular structures and standards for this type of radiation have been established. Non-ionizing radiation (such as cell-phone and “smart”-meter radiation) has been considered safe by government agencies because it doesn’t heat at lower levels of exposure. But a growing number of scientists, researchers, and experts feel this is a flawed position.
Wireless smart meters can produce RF radiation at intensities that actually exceed FCC public safety limits, depending on how close to occupied space within a dwelling they are installed and how they are operated.
Here is my concern
The research has been done on smart meters alone, on cell phones alone, on wifi alone. We now know that this is dangerous. But what about the cumulative effect from overlapping layers of exposure? For instance, what if you are at home working on your computer, sitting near your wireless router. You now are in one hotspot of exposure if you are sitting within 10 feet of your wireless router. Then your cell phone rings, and you answer it while sitting at the computer. You now have another layer of exposure that just doubled the amount of radiation you are exposed to. Then the utility company comes by and replaces your analog meter with a smart meter on the wall just outside of the room you are in. Your level of exposure just tripled!
So, now we not only have single sources of exposure, but overlapping layers of radiation from all sorts of wireless devices that exponentially increase our exposure level.
Did you know?
- Over 8,000 people in California have filed health complaints with the State Public Utility Commission due to smart meters in 2010. Now, more than 45 local governments throughout California have demanded a halt to smart meter installation, and more are considering taking action.
- Once the BioInitiative Report was published, other countries around the world responded by taking precautions against excessive RF exposure. For example, the United Kingdom Health Protection Agency advises children to limit their use of cell phones. Other countries that have either adopted or recommended bans or limitations on cell phone use for children include Russia, Italy and Germany.
- The Russian National Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (RNCNIRP) advises that children to the age of 18 and pregnant women not use wireless devices because of potential risks to health.
- The German Government [Bundesregierung] recommended in 2007 that "the use of WLAN in the workplace or at home should be avoided, if possible. In order to reduce personal radiation exposure, it is better to remain with conventional cable-connected networks."
- French courts are requiring that some cell towers near schools be dismantled (2009) and new antenna sites be banned.
- Some schools and libraries in Paris announced the removal of wireless WLAN systems in 2007 due to health complaints from staff workers, and the French National Library campus opted out of wireless in 2008.
- The French government released a warning in January 2008 concerning mobile phone health effects, particularly on children. The government is not acknowledging a link between mobile phone use and cancer but recommends reducing exposures given the evidence (precautionary principle).
Introducing smart meters into our home living environment is just one more health risk that we should not have to deal with. We need to stand up for our right to choose whether we want a smart meter or not. People all over the country are taking action and demanding the right to opt out of this significant health threat.
Massively increased RF exposure has no precedent in human history. These exposures simply did not exist 100 years ago. Our use of wireless communication means that we have no track record for the consequences, but there is substantial evidence of health risks, particularly for children (BioInitiative Working Group, 2007).
Some of you are moms or Grandmoms. We all want our little ones to be healthy and safe. So, we learn what we can about how to avoid toxins in our environment. We may choose not to let them use cell phones and other wireless devices. But what about their continuous exposure to a smart meter installed on their home or on the wall right outside their bedroom?
The fact that these meters are being installed on most homes across the US, exposing our entire population to another source of continuous RF radiation that has been classified as a possible human carcinogen, is simply appalling!
What you can do about it
- First of all if you still have an analog meter, put this sign on it. Tell your utility company that you do not want a smart meter. If you have a smart meter, demand an analog meter. (I am researching to see if there is an effective way to block the radiation from smart meters).
- Call your state Representatives and let them know you do not want a smart meter and want an option to keep your analog meter.
- Reduce your overall exposure to wireless radiation by using a cell phone 4-5 feet away from your body, and use only a wired router.
- Stay up to date on this issue here: Stop Smart Meters.
- If you live in Georgia, stay up to date on the Stop Smart Meters Georgia Facebook page.
- Inform everyone you know about this issue, so we can make a difference in the lives of millions of people!
We are being told that we do not have a choice in this matter. But we CAN make a difference! It's time to take ACTION!
Sources for this information:
- Public Health Implications of Wireless Technologies
- The BioInitiative Report
- Wireless Health Issues for Children and Young People With Learning Disabilities and Special Health Needs
Becky Mauldin, N.D. is a Naturopath, teacher, speaker, and author. She has authored two gluten-free cookbooks, Vibrant Health and Recipes for Life. Her story of recovery from an incurable illness has inspired many people around the world. She is known for making a healthy diet achievable for real people and real life.
Connect with her on Facebook and let her know what you think of this post.
This post is linked to:
- Monday Mania at the Healthy Home Economist