Smart But Risky

Jul 19, 2017

To the Editor:

I recently learned that the borough of Barnegat Light has plans to install smart meters. It is disappointing that there has not been full disclosure granted to homeowners regarding the health and privacy risks of smart meters, as there is no shortage of data on these risks as well as the concern of the public about how smart meters are being pushed onto homeowners.

The World Health Organization classifies non-ionizing radiofrequency (RF) radiation as a possible 2B carcinogen – the same as DDT and lead. Military studies have shown pulsed radiation causes serious health problems, including tinnitus, memory loss and seizures. There are thousands of studies that link biological effects to RF radiation exposure, including increased cancer risk, damage to the nervous system, adverse reproductive effects, DNA damage and more.

Shortly after California started installing smart meters, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine sent a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission, calling for a halt to smart meters. Dr. David O. Carpenter of the University at Albany-SUNY School of Public Health wrote an article called “Smart Meters: Correcting the Gross Misinformation,” which was endorsed by over 50 experts and clearly states:

“There have been few independent studies of the health effects of such sources of more continuous but lower intensity microwaves. However, we know after decades of studies of hazardous chemical substances, that chronic exposure to low concentrations of microwaves can cause equal or even greater harm than an acute exposure to high concentrations of the same microwaves. This is why so many scientists and medical experts urgently recommend that measures following the Precautionary Principle be applied immediately – such as using wired meters – to reduce biologically inappropriate microwave exposure. We are not advocating the abolishment of RF technologies, only the use of common sense and the development and implementation of best practices in using these technologies in order to reduce exposure and risk of health hazards.”

Homeowners also should be aware that no human health impact studies were conducted prior to the wide-scale deployment of smart meters. From an industry perspective, safety claims are made based on claims that RF emissions from individual devices comply with outdated Federal Communications Commission or comparable International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection exposure guidelines.

Unfortunately, the FCC and ICNIRP exposure guidelines were never formulated to protect human health. In fact, they are only believed to protect against injury that may be caused by acute exposures that result in tissue heating or electric shock and burn over a timeframe of several minutes of exposure. FCC exposure guidelines have no biological relevance to protect humans from low-level, chronic exposure to RF radiation emitted by devices such as wireless smart meters, wifi routers and wifi-enabled laptops.

Besides the obvious health issues, the other issues are privacy/security issues. There have been reported security issues with wireless transmissions of personal data, the type of appliances owned, when they are used and overall personal activities within the home. It is also worth noting N.J. Assembly Bill 3115 “requires electric public utilities to obtain written consent and provide written disclosure prior to installing smart meters.” Fifteen other states have either introduced or enacted bills relative to smart meters. Clearly, this is a serious concern for other citizens as well as lawmakers on the national level.

In light of the risks of smart meters, residents should have the right:

(1) to receive full disclosure on the health and privacy risks of smart meters prior to installation,

(2) to have the right to “opt out” of having a smart meter installed without being financially penalized,

(3) to have an option of a hard-wired, analog meter installed without being financially penalized by the utility company or any local or state municipality.

Kimberly Patterson

Barnegat Light

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