WIRELESS “SMART” METERS
& THEIR HEALTH EFFECTS
Exposure to EMF radiation in general these days is ubiquitous, increasing, multi-sourced, and unavoidable, and its potential health effects are very concerning. However, one type of industrial technology utilizing increased radiofrequencies (RF) requires special attention. This is the matter of the wireless Advanced Metering Initiative (AMI), or “smart” meters.
“Smart Grid” technology is burgeoning throughout the country and the world. Ostensibly, the Smart Grid (a new concept in the collection of electrical and other usage data, promoted by utilities/industry) has the potential for greater efficiency in electrical usage, and integration of electricity from “clean” energy sources such as solar and wind. So far, development of the Smart Grid has been realized very quietly, with very little public input or even public awareness that it is taking place, until it is deployed.
An assumed foundation of the Smart Grid is the use of wireless AMI (“smart”) meters. AMI meters and their infrastructure are being deployed quietly across the nation and the world, usually without ratepayers’ knowledge or consent. Wireless “smart” meters are not necessary for success of a smarter, more efficient, safer grid. Indeed, some states, such as New Jersey and Vermont, have areas in which Smart Grid initiatives have been launched without using wireless “smart” meters. NStar, Massachusetts' largest electric utility has publicly stated that "There is no cost justification for the implementation of AMI " yet the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities is attempting to mandate them, and most utilities in this country are opting to install the wireless variety.
With all this uncertainty as a backdrop, the industry is forging ahead at an unprecedented, extremely expensive, rapid pace, even as utility customers often have no say in whether “smart” meters will be installed on their homes and businesses, and many have no idea that a “smart” meter has even been installed already. In many states, "opting out" of a “smart” meter has been pursued as a possible option, but customers pay a hefty extra fee for the “privilege” of living with a safer meter, and the homes of medically vulnerable residents have to be further shielded from the radiofrequencies powering the grid that are still active throughout the neighborhood.
So, what is so bad about AMI meters? As many people are finding out the hard way, wireless “smart” meters are a source of pulsed RF radiation that is being emitted 10,000 to 190,000 times per day, transmitting your energy usage and other data to your utility and third parties through a wireless network involving your appliances, nearby meters, and (often camouflaged) relays on homes and microwave antennas. This exposure, 24/7/365, is responsible for injury, sometimes permanent, in thousands of people. Many others who were unaware of AMI meter installation cannot correlate their symptoms because their meters were installed without their knowledge or consent.
This type of continual exposure to pulsed RF radiation can create a constellation of symptoms that has been classified as “electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome” (EHS), also known as premature aging syndrome. (See Health Risks page.) Briefly, symptoms include headaches, tinnitus, fatigue, concentration, cardiac & sleep issues, seizures, rashes, cancer, autism, hyperactivity, infertility, gastrointestinal, etc. People with EHS become increasingly symptomatic with ongoing exposures to RFs and other EMFs. In these times, it is virtually impossible to find relief from this kind of exposure. People with EHS are often forced to live in remote areas and/or to surround themselves with expensive contraptions like modern-day Faraday cages to escape the torment of these symptoms. While EHS can be initiated by heavy exposure to other sources of EMFs, such as close proximity to cell phone towers or high-voltage power lines or even Wi-Fi systems, it is becoming very common for EHS cases to emerge after installation of “smart” meters on houses and businesses.
Much of what is known about health effects from “smart” meters is from anecdotal evidence. In this country, safety limits for RF exposure have been set very high, the basis of which involves old data which conclude that only thermal effects from radiation are harmful. Most of the studies on the subject of health effects from EMF exposure have taken place in other countries, regarding cell phones, but no government has conducted long term comprehensive studies on health effects of “smart” meters in particular as they are part of a new and lucrative technology that has been catapulted forward very rapidly in recent years by industry. However, other countries have used the Precautionary Principle approach and have set much lower safety limits than the US and Canada, in order to protect their populations from the non-thermal impacts of radiofrequency overexposure. Some other countries are not using radiofrequencies in their grid modernization programs. Germany, for instance, is not deploying “smart” meters in spite of the EU mandating them.
Because of the transmission of energy usage and other data to utilities as well as third parties, many are concerned that effects reach beyond health, and may impact privacy, security, finances, choice, and more.
There are now excellent organizations and websites that are dedicated to getting information out about EMFs, “smart” meters and their health effects. The following link can take you to many of them:
Smart Meter Health Effects
Wireless Utility Meter Safety Impacts Survey