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Report: SmartMeters Could Exceed FCC's Radiation Limits

Environmental consultants find FCC public safety limit violations could be possible within six inches of meters.

A new study concludes that the radio frequency (RF) radiation levels of controversial wireless power usage meters being installed at homes in Marin and all over Northern California is higher than previously thought.

Sage Associates, environmental consultants based in Santa Barbara, published the results of its study on SmartMeters online Friday. The devices, which have sparked widespread controversy, protests and installation bans in some cities and counties, allow for remote readings of power and gas usage and eliminate the need for human meter readers.

Opponents of the devices have questioned their accuracy and their potential health effects, particularly for children, elderly and those predisposed to be sensitive to electromagnetic frequencies. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) establishes standards for the health and safety for such devices, while the Califoria Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) regulates Pacific Gas & Electric's installation and use of them in the Bay Area and beyond.

The study found that “no positive assertion of safety can be made by the FCC, nor relied upon by the CPUC, with respect to pulsed RF when exposures are chronic and occur in the general population. Indiscriminate exposure to environmentally ubiquitous pulsed RF from the rollout of millions of new RF sources (smart meters) will mean far greater general population exposures, and potential health consequences.”

The study found FCC public safety limit violations could be possible within six inches of the meter, said Barry Smith, a spokesman for the Environmental Health Coalition of West Marin.

"PG&E is misleading the public with false assurances of safety,” Smith said in a statement. “SmartMeter radiation will be a permanent part of the home, and people have no idea how high their chronic RF exposure might be."

The location of the Smart Meter could also lead to heightened RF exposure, the report concluded.

“In addition to exceeding FCC public safety limits under some conditions of installation and operation, smart meters can produce excessively elevated RF exposures, depending on where they are installed,” the report stated. “With respect to absolute RF exposure levels predicted for occupied space within dwellings, or outside areas like patios, gardens and walk-ways, RF levels are predicted to be substantially elevated within a few feet to within a few tens of feet from the meter.”

The report concluded that there were a number of additional factors at each individual installation that needed to be taken into account when evaluating RF impacts. Those factors include how much wireless activity already exists within a house hold or building, including wireless phones, wireless Internet routers, wireless security systems and wireless baby monitors, among others.

The age and medical condition of the residents of the house also affect the potential impact of RF exposure, as does the exact location of the Smart Meter and how close residents are able to get to it.

The California Council on Science and Technology released a report in early January on the health effects of the wireless meters. The conclusion was that the meters emit lower levels of radio frequencies than many household products, are well below federal standards even under worst-case scenarios and that FCC standards are adequately safe for possible thermal health effects.

However, the report also concluded that not enough is known about the non-thermal health effects from radio frequencies and that more information should be provided to consumers about emissions of all devices, including SmartMeters.

On Feb. 1, misdemeanor charges against a Novato woman in a case stemming from a protest in Rohnert Park against a company that installs SmartMeters. Bahia resident Ilona Gallo called it “jail for justice” when she was hauled off in handcuffs Jan 11 for blocking a driveway entrance to a company that installs the controversial wireless devices that allow for remote readings of power and gas usage.

The Marin County District Attorney's Office decided not file charges against two women who were at a SmartMeter protest in Inverness in December.

— Bay City News Service contributed to this report

peggy February 22, 2011 at 10:16 PM
All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. ~Arthur Schopenhauer~ The precautionary principle or precautionary approach states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action. EMFs and Childhood Leukemia http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1940086/ time to turn off the tv and do some grown-up research.
RobertWilliams February 22, 2011 at 11:31 PM
1. INSURANCE COMPANIES WON'T INSURE THE HEALTH PROBLEMS FROM WIRELESS Smart Meters And Insurance companies don't sacrifice insurance premiums ($$$) for nothing. TV NEWS VIDEO - Insurance Companies Won't Insure Wireless Device Health Risks (3 minutes, 13 seconds) http://eon3emfblog.net/?p=382 2. WIRELESS SMART METERS TRANSMIT RADIATION APPROXIMATELY 25,000 TIMES PER DAY, 24/7, not 45 seconds per day as claimed by PG&E Corporate. VIDEO - Radiation Measured From Smart Meter Mounted On A Home (6 minutes, 21 seconds) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRejDxBE6OE 3. UTILITY BILLS SKYROCKETED AFTER WIRELESS SMART METER INSTALLATION. Senator Florez in a hearing with both PG&E customers whose bills have gone up and PG&E Corporate representatives. TV NEWS VIDEO - Skyrocketing Utility Bills after WIRELESS smart meter installation (3 minutes, 19 seconds) http://www.bakersfieldnow.com/news/63581287.html?tab=video
Alex Zwissler February 23, 2011 at 03:10 PM
This is my last post in The Patch on health effects from smart meters...my final thoughts 1. I find the debate fascinating, and it has led me to seriously research the issue of how do we decide what to believe. My thanks to those who stimulated this inquiry. 2. I soon gave up any illusion of changing the minds of the believers. Folks hold beliefs for many complex reasons, scientific evidence being only one of them. So just as we will never shake the beliefs of creationists, those who fear vaccines, and climate change skeptics, the true believers in EMF risks will continue the fight. They will look at the same data and arrive at conclusions that support their beliefs, irrespective of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They will continue to state that no level of potential risk is acceptable, irrespective of both the validity or scale of the risk. For many, no amount of evidence will ever shake their belief. It's OK. Smart meters will get installed anyway. 4. What's not OK, and why I care,is that the line of reasoning that rejects or manipulates science in favor of the embrace of fear, often driven by ideology, is the same phenomena we are seeing as applied to climate change. Skeptics cite supposedly conflicting scientific studies, create confusion in the public and government, and call into question the motives of those concerned about climate change. Not OK. As a society, we owe it to our kids and future generations to do better than this.
Greg Nudd February 23, 2011 at 04:33 PM
Alex - Thanks for your comments on this topic and for attempting to be a voice of reason. Communicating risk is very tricky business because an individual's perception of risk is not often based on what a scientist of engineer would consider to be a useful set of inputs. There's a lot of intuition and instinct involved and the emotional reaction is often colored by whether the risk is being imposed by the individual on herself (like with smoking, eating unhealthy foods or burning wood) or is being imposed by some outside entity (such as a certain universally disliked utility company). I agree that in the larger sense, the tone of this discussion reflects the same lack of science literacy that one sees in the discussions on climate change and evolution. The climate change "debate" however is different. In that debate, a lack of science literacy is being exploited by wealthy and powerful private entities to delay government action that would impact their profits. The current stage of the climate change debate is very similar to the debate about the health effects of cigarettes, where tobacco companies challenged the science for decades. Unfortunately, the cost of delaying action on climate change is much higher and will be imposed on everyone, not just those who benefit from underpriced fossil fuels. The best approach is to work to improve science literacy for young people.
Alex Zwissler February 23, 2011 at 06:49 PM
Thanks Sol Man...I was intending to also make some of the points you made so eloquently, but ran out of space, and frankly, energy...it takes a village! As you may know (...do we know each other??) I spend my professional time on the issue of science literacy for young people, so I agree it is of paramount importance. However, I'm coming to feel that the challenges of climate change, both in terms of scope and urgency, transcend the ability of only educational efforts to make sufficient impact. Put another way, we may not have enough time to wait for the current generation of youth to grow up and make the needed changes.

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