Health Risks Posed by Smartmeters
What are Smartmeters?
Smartmeters are the new utility consumption measurement devices for electricity, water, and gas that are being installed across the nation, at residences and other buildings. There would be a separate meter for each type of utility and they are installed by the companies and governments that provide the utilities.
Most people are unaware that their meter has been switched or is in the process of being switched from an analogue meter to a digital “smart” meter. If your home or building already had a meter, it was probably an analogue meter (used for decades), but the the replacement meter is likely a digital meter—a “smart” meter.
Read Dr. David Carpenter’s letter on smartmeter health impacts PDF of Letter
Even Itron, a manufacturer of Smart Meters warns shareholders that, “We may face adverse publicity, consumer or political opposition, or liability associated with our products…We may be subject to claims that there are adverse health effects from the radio frequencies utilized in connection with our products. If these claims prevail, our customers could suspend implementation or purchase substitute products, which could cause a loss of sales” Itron Inc, SEC Form 10 K 2017
What type of meter do you have?
There are different types of smartmeters; some are called AMI, AMR and PLC. To learn more about the different types of meters, we recommend Dr. Ronald Powell’s paper “Ranking Electricity Meters for Risk to Health, Privacy, and Cyber Security.”
Some Facts About Smartmeters
Smart Meters emit radio-frequency radiation (RFR).
Most smartmeter are designed to emit radio-frequency radiation (RFR). This is a concern because RFR is a biologically-active electromagnetic exposure that is absorbed into our bodies. Many smartmeter systems generate RFR to wirelessly communicate with other smartmeters and to the utility provider and each of these wireless communication networks increase the overall density of manmade pulsed RFR radiation outdoors and indoors, throughout a neighborhood.
The Santa Cruz, Calif., County Board of Supervisors has declared “smart” electric and water meters to be “health hazards, safety and consumer fraud risks.” The Santa Cruz, Calif., County Board of Supervisors also stated PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric) is subjecting residents to “privacy, security, health, accuracy and consumer fraud risks of the unproven Smart Meter technology.” and that because “There is a current and immediate threat to public peace, health, or safety”, a moratorium on further installations must be imposed in order to preserve and protect said public interests.
The radiation generated by smartmeters is the same type as generated by your cell phone- radiofrequency radiation.
Peer reviewed science has found increased cancer, immune system damage, and headaches after exposures to radiofrequency radiation. Dr. David Carpenter’s letter “Correcting the Gross Misinformation” addresses the biological health effects of smartmeters.
Smartmeter radiation penetrates deeper into children’s bodies.
Research consistently finds that radiofrequency radiation penetrates deeper into children’s bodies and brains and the American Academy of Pediatrics considers children more vulnerable to radiofreuncy radiation- whatever the source. Research that has looked specifically at smartmeters has found that the radiation is absorbed at a faster rate and more intensely into their bodies. Read this 2018 published paper (Qureshi 2018) which concludes that the highest observed whole body specific energy absorption rate value was in the child model when radiation from a smartmeter was simulated.
Bees, birds and insects are exposed to higher density of RFR.
The pulsed RFR emitted by smartmeters and other wireless telecommunications poses risks to pollinators and wildlife. Published research has found negative impacts to bees, plants, andwildlife. For example, a review of 113 studies from original peer-reviewed publications found RF-EMF had a significant effect on birds, insects, other vertebrates, other organisms and plants in 70% of the studies. Development and reproduction of birds and insects are the most strongly affected endpoints. Read more.
Most smartmeters emit very strong pulses of RFR twenty four hours a day.
Contrary to claims made by utility providers that the exposure is “low,” many smartmeters continuously emit RFR in millisecond blasts. These short bursts of radiation can be very powerful.
Wireless smart meters typically produce very short high levels of pulsed RF/microwaves. They emit these millisecond-long RF bursts on average 9,600 times a day with a maximum of 190,000 daily transmissions and a peak level emission two and a half times higher than the stated safety signal, as the California utility Pacific Gas & Electric recognized before that State’s Public Utilities Commission when directly asked. To be clear- smartmeters can average 1900 transmissions in a 24 hour period.smartmeters transmit 9600 a day image
Please see “Assessment of Radiofrequency Microwave Radiation Emissions from Smart Meters” by Sage Associates. This research uses computer modeling that has found potential violations of current FCC public safety standards for smart meters and/or collector meters in the manner installed and operated in California are predicted in this Report. Download this entire report as a PDF file
Smartmeter systems intentionally create a “mesh” wireless communications network which is RFR emissions.
Many smartmeters work differently than cell phones. Cell phones communicate by continuous two-way exchange of RFR emissions between the phone and a cell tower, whereas, smartmeters can communicate with each other in a wireless “mesh network.” Every meter in the mesh network wirelessly “chats” by RFR emissions connecting it to every other meter within its mesh network (the size of the network can be all meters within one or two miles).
The data wirelessly riding on your meter’s RFR emissions is collected by the utility provider’s centralized hub antennas—these may be mounted on utility poles called Data Collector Units or be specially-programmed collector meters or other transceivers spaced throughout a community. Collector meters usually have more powerful emissions because they are communicating with the other meters in the network. Read more about mesh networks.
Smartmeter radiation is neither “low” nor “safe”.
Utility companies claim that the RFR emitted by wireless smartmeters and their networks meet government FCC limits. However, 20-year-old FCC limits (based on 30-year-old science) are not protective of human health and are hundreds of thousands of times too high to protect humans and wildlife from biological effects.
Peer reviewed published studies show the adverse biological effects of pulsed electromagnetic radiation, such as RFR, on the body at emissions levels far below FCC limits. You can find many of these studies at the BioInitiative Report, JustProveIt.net, and Environmental Health Trust.
“When it comes to non-thermal effects of RF, which is the most relevant effect for public concerns, FCC guidelines are irrelevant and can not be used for any claims of SmartMeter safety unless we are addressing heat damage.”—Dr. De Kun Li, a Kaiser research scientist who has published research on electromagnetic radiation and provided expert testimony on health concerns related to smartmeters and the inadequacy of FCC limits here.
All smartmeters state people should be at least at 20 cm (8 inch) distance so they are not exposed to radiation in excess of FCC limits.
Smartmeters are radiation tested for their compliance with FCC limits with 20 cm between the device antenna and body phantom. This means that if you are closer than 20 cm you could be exposed to radiation higher than government limits. Most people are unaware of these warnings. Note: these FCC limits are non protective, so even if you follow this warning, you are not protected from all harmful effects.
- “Warning: To satisfy FCC RF exposure requirements for transmitting devices, a separation distance of 20 cm or more should be maintained between the antenna of this device and persons during device operation. To ensure compliance, operations at closer than this distance is not recommended.” –FLEXGE100 Utility Meter Electric Smartmeter
- “RF Radiation Safety Guidelines: The meter should be installed in a location where there will be a separation greater than 20 cm (8 inches) from locations occupied by humans.” –I2103G WIRELESS UTILITY METER User Manual Users Manual Itron Electric Utility Smartmeter
- Read the Iowa Legal Brief section on “IPL has Not Met its Burden to Show that the Transmitting Module in the Sensus Stratus Meter and Other Meters are FCC Compliant due to the 20 cm Rule that goes into detail on how companies are aware but are not protecting customers.
Smartmeters can increase the “dirty” electricity on the electrical and metal plumbing systems throughout your home.
Digital meters operate by a built-in switched mode power supply, which generates what is commonly known as “dirty electricity” and referred to by electricians and electrical engineers as “voltage transients,” “voltage harmonics,” “line noise,” and “power quality issues.” This is a concern because dirty electricity is also a biologically-active, penetrating, electromagnetic physical agent. This dirty electricity then travels throughout your home via the electrical wiring and metal pipes.
Please watch electrical engineer Bill Bathgate testify before Michigan House Energy Committee on 2/13/18. In this video Bathgate testifies on these transients and also that he has run tests that show that both the smart electric meter and the smart meter with radio turned off are wildly inaccurate but the traditional analog meter is accurate and gives repeatable results.
People are reporting symptoms after smartmeters are installed at their residences.
Reported symptoms include sleep disturbances, rashes, hyperactivity, changes in children’s behavior, high blood pressure, endocrine problems, thyroid problems, facial flushing, nausea, flu-like symptoms, body pain, leg cramps, cardiac symptoms, heart palpitations, heart arrhythmias, dizziness, fatigue, physical weakness, difficulty concentrating, memory loss, learning problems, ringing in the ears, headaches, and more. People report these symptoms immediately or shortly after smartmeters are installed and activated in their communities. Learn more about electrical sensitivity and microwave sickness.
People are suing for the right to remove the smartmeter and they are winning!
For example, the Iowa Utility Board made their final ruling and it appears that people will be able to opt out and not have to pay a fee for doing this.
- Iowa Final Ruling on Smartmeter Opt Out Against Interstate Power and Light 2018
- Iowa Public Version of Post Hearing Brief Lipman Matara
How do I get a smartmeter off my house?
24 States have opt outs for smartmeters.
First, take a glance at your meter and see if you have a smartmeter or an analogue meter. Some people take a photo of the meter from a distance away from the meter so that instead they can look more closely at the photo. If your meter does not look like a digital meter, that is not a guarantee that it is not smart; contact your utility provider and ask (experienced citizens recommend that you do not explain why you are asking, simply ask and ask for the model name/number of your meter. If you do not have a smartmeter, find out if smartmeters are coming to your neighborhood by contacting a local smartmeter advocacy group or your utility provider. If you are not sure whether or not your meter is smart, if you have its model name/number, usually a local smartmeter advocacy group can tell you.
If you do have a smartmeter and you are in the United States, you can contact your utility provider and tell them you want your meter replaced with an analogue meter. Also send a letter via postal mail to your utility provider. Sometimes the provider’s representative who answers the phone is not aware of this issue. We recommend locating the smartmeter advocacy group in your state working on this issue for full information on what you can do in your state and how you can best address this issue. To find the local smartmeter advocacy group in your area go to the EMF Safety Network webpage on global smartmeter groups or StopSmartmeters local group directory.
Many localities have no fees for opting out.
For example, Indiana (Duke Energy) makes it free IF you sign up for the Read-Your-Own Meter Program. In California, opt out fees are no longer collected after 3 years. They are “sunsetted.” New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Los Angeles, California, New York/Central Hudson have no fee. North Carolina has no fee if for health reasons. Texas offers low-income fee option. Read more at Stop Smartmeters BC.
The need for consumer choice.
People should have a right to choose whether or not they want a smartmeter at their home. Yet in many communities residents are told they have no choice and cannot refuse a meter. Or if residents are given an “opt out” they are required to pay monthly fees (in addition to the utility consumption charges) to keep the analogue meter. If you do not have any type of meter at your home (for example, some residents pay a flat fee for water) or have other questions about your options, you can find the local smartmeter advocacy group in your area at the EMF Safety Network webpage on global smartmeter groups or StopSmartmeters local group directory.
People are taking action in the US and worldwide so that citizens have consumer choice in regards to their utility meters, and there are groups formed in every area. Learn more at the resources below this post.
Communities and individuals have been successful in halting the smartmeter rollout in their area and getting analogue meters.
After community awareness was raised, some cities have enacted moratoriums on smartmeters. For example, the Santa Cruz Health Department issued a report and the city has a Moratorium on smartmeters.
Some individuals were initially told they must pay to “opt out” but were successful in getting these opt-out fees dropped after litigation. For example, you can read about Josh Hart’s successful legal battle here.
Expert Testimony on Smartmeters
Testimony on Smartmeters for Michigan Public Service Commission by Dr. David Carpenter May 22 2015 ’“While smart meters are too new for there to be human health studies 10 specifically on exposure from smart meters, there is a strong body of evidence 11 that demonstrates a variety of adverse human health effects, including cancer 12 and effects on brain and behavior, coming from exposure to radiofrequency 13 radiation like that generated by wireless smart meters.”
“Assessment of Radiofrequency Microwave Radiation Emissions from Smart Meters” by Sage Associates, Santa Barbara, CA, USA
- Dr. De-Kun Li Testimonial Letter to FCC regarding electromagnetic radiation. https://ecfsapi.fcc.gov/file/7022311506.pdf
- Dr. De-Kun Li Testimony FCC– Docket2011-00262 https://ecfsapi.fcc.gov/file/7520940945.pdf
BIOLOGICAL AND HEALTH EFFECTS OF MICROWAVE RADIO FREQUENCY TRANSMISSIONS A REVIEW OF THE RESEARCH LITERATURE A REPORT TO THE STAFF AND DIRECTORS OF THE EUGENE WATER AND ELECTRIC BOARD June 4, 2013 lead author Dr. Paul Dart, June 4, 2013
Dr. Martin Pall Testimony: Health Effects of Wireless Massachusetts Statehouse 2017” June, 20, 2017, Testimony given during a hearing on Massachusetts Senate Bill 1864: No Fee Opt Out for Smart Meters.
Health Department Resources on Smartmeters
Published Research of Note
- “Review of some key studies, both recent and old (1971), reveals that the participants’ symptoms were the same as those reported by people exposed to radiofrequency fields emitted by devices other than smart meters. Interestingly, the vast majority of Victorian cases did not state that they had been sufferers of electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome (EHS) prior to exposure to the wireless meters, which points to the possibility that smart meters may have unique characteristics that lower people’s threshold for symptom development.”
“It is a well documented 92 case series that is scientifically valid. It clearly demonstrates adverse health effects in the human population from smart meter emissions. The symptoms reported in this case series closely correlate not only with the clinical findings of environmental physicians, but also with the scientific literature. Many of the symptoms reported including fatigue, headaches, heart palpitations, dizziness and other symptoms have been shown to be triggered by electromagnetic field exposure under double blind, placebo controlled conditions. Symptoms in this case series also correlate with the Austrian Medical Association’s Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Treatment of EMF Related Health Problems.” American Academy of Environmental Medicine Letter
Dr. Ronald Powell’s Resources on Smartmeters
Dr. David Carpenter’s letter “Correcting the Gross Misinformation”