Editor’s Note: This is the final article in a series about smart meters and the technology that critics fear could allow utilities and government to monitor how and for what reason energy is used inside your home. The first article explained the “other purposes” government has for the technology. The second article discussed the dangers from meters that explode or ignite.
Smart meters have been associated with privacy issues, data security issues, and fire safety issues, but the biggest danger from RF (radio frequency) meters may be from the signals they give off while reporting their data to the central utility office.
A study conducted by the industry group, the Electric Power Research Institute, concluded that in their tests the radio frequency emissions of smart meters are well within federal safety guidelines. A Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) study titled, “Summary Discussion of RF Fields and the PG&E SmartMeter™ System” concluded that smart meters are “are in full compliance with Federal Communications Commission regulations by a very wide margin.”
But are they? Many people would disagree.
Joe Esposito from Owasso, Okla., had a smart meter installed on his home in 2011 as part of a pilot program developed by the Public Service Company of Oklahoma. Even though he asked that a meter not be installed on his home, Esposito found one mounted on the side of his house when he came home from work.
It was then his health problems started. Esposito started experiencing dental problems, from aching teeth to a constant tingling sensation. He also started to experience aches in his leg which only got worse at night.
After watching a video titled “Smart Meters & EMR: The Health Crisis of Our Time” by Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, Esposito followed the advice in the video and installed some lead sheeting around the meter on the outside of his house. The results were dramatic. He had the first good night’s sleep in months and the pain in his leg was gone. Additional protection inside the home added later gave relief from many of his other symptoms. As an experiment, he would sometimes sleep without the protection and his pains would return.
Joe Esposito’s experience is not unique. Thousands of people have reported ringing in the ears, insomnia, headaches, dizziness, nausea, heart irregularities, memory loss, and anxiety after a smart meter was installed on their house or business.
According to a survey conducted by Dr. Ed Halteman, Ph.D., the number of people in the survey who had sleep problems doubled after smart meters were installed.
The survey also indicated that the top health issues suffered by the 318 residents in the survey who had smart meters installed on or near the home included sleep problems (49 percent), stress (43 percent), headaches (40 percent), ringing in the ears (38 percent) and heart problems (26 percent).
In May of 2011, the World Health Organization officially recognized that wireless radiation such as emitted by smart meters is a possible carcinogen.
People who also suffer from Electromagnetic Sensitivity (ES) also seem especially vulnerable to the effects of smart meters.
In recent years, there has been a 60-fold increase in cases of autism which may be explained by changes in the environment. A study by the Association for Comprehensive NeuroTherapy reports that there may be a correlation between fetal (pre-natal) or neo-natal (new-born) exposures to radiofrequency radiation and the increase in the incidents of autism.
Another phenomenon reported by smart meter users was the absence of pollinators in their yards. Residents report the absence of bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other small insects since the meters were installed. (Some studies are reporting that RF radiation may be a contributing factor to Colony Collapse Disorder experienced in beehives.)
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has released a report titled
“Electromagnetic and Radiofrequency Fields Effect on Human Health” which warns people with a number of medical conditions to avoid smart meters and has also requested that the Public Utilities Commission of California impose “an immediate and complete moratorium on their [smart meter] use.”
While the AAEM acknowledges that studies such as those conducted by Electric Power Research Institute and PG&E indicate that the meters are safe, the academy contends that “existing FCC guidelines for RF safety that have been used to justify installation of ‘smart meters’ only look at thermal tissue damage and are obsolete, since many modern studies show metabolic and genomic damage from RF and ELF (Extremely Low Frequency) exposures below the level of intensity which heats tissues.”
Magda Havas, Ph.D., professor of Environmental & Resource Studies with Trent University in Ontario, Canada, said, “We are creating a potential time bomb. If smart meters are placed on every home, they will contribute significantly to our exposure and this is both unwise and unsafe.”
Jerry Flynn is a retired Canadian armed forces captain. While in service, Flynn was in signal intelligence and radio warfare. Flynn started looking at the potential dangers from smart meters at the request of his daughter who has three children.
Flynn was immediately concerned about the meters when he learned that the meters used wireless transmissions. He also learned that each smart meter has two radio transmitters inside, both transmitters pulsing microwave radiation which Flynn calls “the most dangerous [electromagnetic radiation] to the human brain.”
Flynn’s time in the military included a period of time the Russians experimented on U.S. embassy staff. Flynn said that the U.S. embassy in Moscow was bombarded with EMF six to eight hours a day five days a week by the Soviets at power levels that were 1/100 of what the U.S. and Canada permit now. They experimented with the same microwave frequencies that come off of standard household wireless appliances.
Between 1953 and 1976, the period of time the testing took place, two U.S. ambassadors died of cancer, one developed leukemia and eventually died from it; 16 women on the embassy staff developed breast cancer, and many others developed immune system disorders, high white blood cell counts, chronic fatigue, and muscle aches.
Flynn said that the United States knew about the testing within a year, but didn’t warn the embassy staff. The U.S. sent researchers over to the embassy with their own monitoring equipment to monitor the tests for themselves. They wanted to also find out the effect of low-level, long-term, non-thermal radiation would have on humans. Flynn said it took 10 years for the embassy staff to be told of the testing.
While most of the embassy staff was subjected to this radiation for a period of two to four years, Flynn points out that the exposure to radiation from a smart meter will be for the rest of your life.
Surprisingly, there is a second transmitter in a smart meter, called a “Zigbee.” This is a transmitter that the utility companies are not talking about now. There are plans for this transmitter to control up to 15 other “smart appliances” in your home. (Anything with a motor on it will eventually be a smart appliance that could be your furnace, refrigerator, dishwasher or “any other thing with a motor.”)
Flynn says these transmitters and smart appliances will be extremely dangerous, especially when used in addition to all the other wireless devices used such as cell phones, Wi-Fi routers, baby monitors, cordless phones – up to 30 devices that emit pulse radiation.
It is interesting to note that Apple advises its customers, “When carrying iPhone, keep it 1.5 cm (5/8 inch) or more away from your body to ensure exposure levels remain at or below the maximum levels.” Lloyds of London refuses to underwrite cell phone manufacturers against the risk of damage to a user’s health. (Cell phones and all the above-mentioned wireless devices operate in the same part of the electromagnetic spectrum as smart meters.)
All these sources of RF have evidence that they be harmful to one’s health.
Smart meters may be especially dangerous since the effects of their use may not be fully appreciated.
Olle Johansson, Ph.D. of the Department of Neuroscience with the Karolinska Institute in Solna, Sweden, stated, “The inauguration of smart meters with involuntary exposure of millions to billions of human beings to pulsed microwave radiation should immediately be prohibited.”
Because of these potential dangers, 52 communities in British Columbia have asked that a moratorium be placed in the installation of smart meters in the province pending further study.
Dr. Eilhu Richter, M.D., an associate professor at Hebrew University-Hadassah, has said, “Were these population-wide exposures to smart meters to be a part of a project carried out in a medical setting, to test the risks and benefits of a new technology on human health and well-being, it would be rejected … as an unethical exercise in human experimentation.”