By Rita R. Robison
Have you ever wondered about the health effects from the meter your utility installed on your house?
Genetic, hormonal, and fertility effects and an increase risk of certain types of cancer could occur from exposure to wireless radiofrequency radiation from “smart” meters, the Board of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine said in a January statement to the California Public Utilities Commission.
The academy, a group of physicians and others that studies illnesses caused by biological and chemical agents, offered its comments prior to a commission decision on whether Pacific Gas and Electric Co. customers would need to pay to have their smart meters replaced with analog ones.
In its statement, the academy said children are at particular risk for altered brain development and impaired learning and behavior. In addition, wireless radio frequency or extremely low frequency radiation adds to the damage seen from toxic chemicals.
The academy based its opposition on a review of medical literature, which it said raises serious concern about the levels of radio frequency, RF – 3 KHz to 300 GHz, or extremely low frequency, ELF – 0 to 300 Hz, exposures produced by “smart meters.” Its statement calls for an immediate and complete moratorium on their use and installation until further studies can be done.
“Chronic exposure to wireless radiofrequency radiation is a preventable environmental hazard that is sufficiently well documented to warrant immediate preventative public health action,” the academy said.
The academy believes 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. Many modern studies show metabolic and genomic damage from RF and ELF exposures below the level of intensity that heats tissues.
“The FCC guidelines are therefore inadequate for use in establishing public health standards,” the academy said. “More modern literature shows medically and biologically significant effects of RF and ELF at lower energy densities. These effects accumulate over time, which is an important consideration given the chronic nature of exposure from ‘smart meters.’”
The academy also said:
The US NIEHS National Toxicology Program in 1999 cited radiofrequency radiation as a potential carcinogen. Existing safety limits for pulsed RF were termed ‘not protective of public health’ by the Radiofrequency Interagency Working Group, a federal interagency working group including the Food and Drug Administration, Federal Communications Commission, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and others.
Emissions given off by ‘smart meters’ have been classified by the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer as a possible human carcinogen.
In addition to calling for a moratorium, the academy asked the commission to:
- Modify the revised proposed decision to include scheduling hearings on health impacts of RF and ELF in the second proceedings, along with requiring a cost evaluation and community wide opt-out.
- Provide immediate relief to those requesting analog meters.
Early this month, the commission voted 4 to 0 to allow PG&E to charge customers a $75 fee and a $10 monthly charge for restoring or retaining their analog meter. Low-income consumers will pay less.