How “Green” are the “Smart” Meters?
by “M.H.” of Ann Arbor
As we recover from the snow and rainy storms Michigan is known for in the winter, another storm is forming. Strong, focused and silent, it is making its way into various neighborhoods and businesses without much notice or disruption. It is the installation of Smart Meters, a key piece of the new Smart Grid which is supposed to make our country more energy sustainable.
What most people don’t know is that behind this stealth endeavor by the local utility and wireless companies lies a major threat to our health and that of our families in the form of continuous pulsed, radiation which is plaguing thousands of people across the country and around the world.
About Smart Meters and Why You Should Be Concerned
Smart Meters are digital electric (and soon gas) meters that transmit consumer energy use to the power companies (DTE). The transmission is done by way of cellular technology, which uses high frequency communication and produces non ionizing radiation (RF). Most people use wireless devices and cell phones in their daily lives. We’ve become accustomed to them. But we can choose when to use them, for how long, and at what distance. The inconvenient truth of Smart Meters is that they pulse radiation throughout the day and night, often spiking at high levels that push the FCC limits for radiation emitting devices and in some cases have shown to exceed them.
Unlike your microwave, or the other wireless electronics you choose to use, you cannot turn these meters off, thereby exposing your entire household to continuous bursts of non-ionizing radiation on top of what you already use and your body absorbs.
Dangers Raised by Accredited Health Organizations
Recently, the World Health Organization, (WHO) made a declarative statement calling this type of radiation a possible Class 2B carcinogen, the same label given to lead and DDT pesticides and on January 23rd of this year, The American Academy of Environmental Medicine called for a halt to Smart Meters, given the health hazards they pose:
“The Board opposes the installation of wireless “smart meters” in homes and schools based on a scientific assessment of the current medical literature. The Board wishes to point out 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 exposures below the level of intensity which heats tissues. More modern literature shows medically and biologically significant effects of RF which accumulate over time and include possible genetic and cellular effects, hormonal effects, male fertility, blood/brain barrier damage and increased risk of certain types of cancers from RF at levels similar to those emitted from “smart meters”. Children are placed at particular risk for altered brain development, and impaired learning and behavior.
Given the widespread, chronic and essentially inescapable ELF/RF exposure of everyone living near a “smart meter”, the Board of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine finds it unacceptable from a public health standpoint to implement this technology until these serious medical concerns are resolved. We consider a moratorium on installation of wireless “smart meters” to be an issue of the highest importance.”
Smart Meters were never properly tested or shielded. Consideration was not given to the location of the meter on a resident’s house, the real life proximity of residents on a regular basis to the meter (some utility companies have publicly stated that residents are safe at 6 feet from the meter, and then changed their statement to 10 feet. Most meters wind up being less than 4 feet from resident’s kitchen table, kitchen sink, or bed.). The utility companies (DTE) did not factor in the proximity of neighboring meters in particular in dense neighborhoods; co location of meters as in an apartment or condo complex; or the impact the meters have on implanted medical devices such as pacemakers. Nor did they take into account the additional RF exposure when meter antenna boosters are used to increase the signal.
Numerous physicians and environmental consultants are warning the utility companies and local governments about the dangers of these meters, yet they continue to be installed. Scores of reports of people and pets becoming ill once the meters are put in place are streaming in to local officials and protesters. And yet, more and more cell towers (often disguised as flag poles with no flags or lampposts with no lamps) are being put in and around Ann Arbor to support the impending meter rollout.
According to Cindy Sage, Sage Associates, “Excessively elevated radiofrequency/microwave radiation levels are likely to occur within occupied space of single family homes and multi-family dwellings. Scientific studies report risks for cancer, neurological diseases and cardiac problems at levels at and below those produced by Smart Meters.”
Why are they Being Deployed?
The utilities have been given stimulus money by the Federal Government to develop sustainable energy plans and programs. In theory, and what the utility companies claim is that the Smart Grid and Smart Meters will allow everyone to monitor their energy use and use less. But the real winners are the utility companies who will be able to lay off hundreds of “meter readers”, increase usage rates once they get the detailed data on exactly when and how residents use electricity (load balancing thresholds), and get a tax break by depreciating the existing analog meters, which then have to be disposed of in some landfill somewhere.
Consumers Energy and DTE, like many of their utility company brethren, are telling consumers that the meters are completely safe and no different than commonly used wireless devices. Time and time again, these facts are proven false: even at the controlled levels, Smart Meter RF levels are 8 times that of an iPhone and over 100 times that of a laptop Wi-Fi antenna.
Sustainability does not always equate to healthy or environmentally friendly (as we see now from the toxic waste rendered by disposing Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs due to the mercury). History is full of situations where powerful entities forced products onto unknowing consumers knowing of the potential dangers and taking advantage of legislative loopholes. So it is with Smart Meters. Despite consumer concern and protest, despite medical evidence of the dangers of continuous pulsed RF, despite more and more states calling for halts or opt outs, despite the fact that the Energy Act of 2005 stated that consumers were to be given a choice of whether to accept these new meters, and despite the Michigan Public Service Commission’s recently asking the Michigan utility companies (including DTE) to do an investigation into program, the rollout continues.
Sadly, it will take more than hats and gloves to protect our community from this storm.