Why You’re Hearing That Smart Meters Are Dangerous
As of 2015, electric utility companies had installed about 64.7 million smart meters in the U.S. By the end of 2016, that number rose to over 70 million, with more than half of all U.S. households having their old analog meters replaced by pulsed radiation smart meter networks.1
Why is this a notable development? Because unlike an analog meter, the “new and improved” smart meter emits powerful electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) almost constantly, and evidence suggests that this radiation is affecting people’s health.2
According to The Physicians for Safe Technology, “It is the spikes of pulsed energy [emitting from smart meters] and not the average power density that causes the harm to cellular structures.”3
[Related: 28 Signs That You Are Electrosensitive]
In this post:
- What Are Smart Meters And How Do They Work?
- Reported Health Effects of Smart Meters
- How Do I Know If I Have a Smart Meter?
- Can I Stop Smart Meters From Being Installed At My Home?
- I Already Have A Smart Meter. Can I Get The Analog Meter Reinstalled?
- What if the Utility Companies, or my Neighbors, Tell me I’m Crazy?
- Can I Turn My Smart Meter Off?
- Is There Some Way to Shield the Radiation From a Smart Meter?
What Are Smart Meters And How Do They Work?
Smart meters are digital meters that record your electric power usage and, in some cases, your gas and water as well. They then transmit this information via a wireless network from your home to the main recording station.
Smart meters may also be called “AMI meters” because they are the main component in what is called the Advanced Metering Infrastructure, a utilities networking system that is spreading in North America; in the U.S., AMI is encouraged with grants and other support from the Department of Energy.
This infrastructure also allows smart meters to receive transmission from the utility company, like software updates, or to turn power on or off. Some models are also able to communicate with “smart” devices like thermostats in your home to determine how much energy individual devices use.
Utility companies have a big incentive to replace analog meters with smart meters: they save money because they no longer need to send a meter-reading employee to your home once a month, and they can gather other information or perform tasks like power shutoffs remotely (functions that have prompted cybersecurity concerns).
Smart meters emit EMFs in the radio-frequency microwave range (RF/MW)–a low frequency on the electromagnetic spectrum that lies between extremely low (ELF) and infrared light. This frequency is the same type of EMF produced by wireless devices like bluetooth, Alexa, and cell phones.
Unlike your cell phone, the smart meter emits a pulsed, spiked electromagnetic field every time information is sent to the utility company via radio frequency signals. Sources vary in terms of frequency and range anywhere from 50 to thousands of times per day.4
Reported Health Effects of Smart Meters
Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt specializes in treating people with chronic illnesses in Seattle. His average patient has seen 23 doctors before they find their way to his clinic, and he finds that many have been affected by smart meters and other devices that give off electromagnetic radiation, which he calls “the health crisis of our time.”5
Dr. Klinghardt’s patients are not alone. According to a survey, many people across the U.S. are reporting experiencing negative effects after exposure to smart meters. The following symptoms were reported by people in 28 states:4
- Headaches felt as a pressure or sharp pain
- Sleep problems including insomnia, difficulty falling asleep and nightmares
- Anxiety, stress, agitation and increasing irritability
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Fatigue including muscle weakness
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Loss of concentration and memory
- Respiratory problems including coughing and asthma
- Heart palpitations
- Skin rashes
People are reporting similar symptoms around the world. Smart meters were rolled out in Victoria, Australia in 2006. By August 2013, people reported adverse health effects that include insomnia, headaches, tinnitus, fatigue, cognitive disturbances, dizziness, and abnormal sensations such as burning or tightening of the body, otherwise known as dysesthesias, and associated with multiple sclerosis.6
Radio-frequency microwave range (RF/MW) radiation results in a pulsating barrage of electromagnetic waves that can cause your DNA to vibrate and eventually break. If your body does not repair this broken DNA, it can lead to cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified RF electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans.7
Risks to Eyes
RF/microwave radiation has also proved exceptionally harmful to eyes. The damage induced by this type of radiation includes pain or burning, a feeling of increased pressure, floaters, cataracts, and decreased visual acuity.8
Reports have indicated that RF/MW radiation causes oxidative stress, which contributes to retinal damage9 and the development of several eye diseases,10 including dry eye syndrome, cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration–the number one reason for loss of vision as we age.
How Do I Know If I Have a Smart Meter?
You may not even be aware that a smart meter has replaced your analog meter. Utility companies do not have to tell you when they are making the switch.
You can tell whether you have a smart meter or an analog meter by looking at it: smart meters will have a digital reading area while analog meters usually have five small clock-like dials.
Can I Stop Smart Meters From Being Installed At My Home?
Some states offer an opt-out program for smart meters, with varying policies in each state. Many times, states leave it up to utility companies in each municipality to set policies.
If your meter has not been replaced yet, write your utility companies and let them know that you “refuse” their smart meter. While this request may be ignored, it’s best to have it in writing, rather than just a phone call.
Even people who live in municipalities where there are opt-out policies have run into resistance from utility companies. In Michigan, utility company DTE threatened to turn off electricity to homes refusing smart meter installation.11
Some situations have escalated further. Several women in Illinois were arrested for refusing to let utility workers install smart meters on their homes. When one woman returned from jail, the smart meter had been installed in her absence.12
The news isn’t all bad, however. Several smart meter lawsuits have gone in favor of the plaintiff, including a case against Southern California Edison in which the plaintiff claimed negative health effects following the installation of the meter. The judge ruled that the utility company must either pay for health damages or remove the meter. Another man in Kauai filed a federal injunction against the installation of smart meters, and won.13
A group of citizens who formed the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness group sued Illinois over mandatory smart meter installation. Though not a victory, the court did say, “Naperville could have avoided this controversy–and may still avoid future uncertainty–by giving its residents a genuine opportunity to consent to the installation of smart meters, as many other utilities have.”14
I Already Have A Smart Meter. Can I Get The Analog Meter Reinstalled?
If your utility company has already replaced your analog meter with a smart meter, you can check with the company to demand they re-install your analog meter or make modifications to the smart meter to decrease EMF exposure. Again, states and municipalities vary regarding to what extent the utility company must comply, and may charge a monthly fee as well as the cost of reinstallment.
Helen’s Experience With Her Smart Meter Utility Company
One of our health coaches here at GreenSmoothieGirl, Helen in North Carolina, experienced first-hand the multiple steps it took in her quest to unplug from her smart meter.
It began when she realized that a neighboring state had passed a law that allowed for medical opt-outs. This law made going back to a traditional analog meter, without additional monthly charges or a penalty fee, a very real possibility.
(I was excited to hear this, and share this information about what Helen did with you, because I was told by my electric company in Utah that I would have to pay over $200 to re-install the analog meter, and pay $27/month to have it read.)
She called her utility company and asked them to uninstall the smart meter. Supposedly, they did, changing it to a one-way radio meter. Helen, however, was not so sure, as she never saw anyone come by for a reading.
This year, her power company sent out a letter stating that people with medical needs could finally completely opt out and return to the analog meter with no radio waves. Her doctor completed a form, and she has been told that her current meter emits no radio wave frequencies.
She still has yet to see anyone come by for a reading. Her next step will be to test it herself with a meter that measures EMF. (Everyone should have this meter. Measure the levels of EMF in all the parts of your home, so you know areas you need to mitigate.)
What if the Utility Companies, or my Neighbors, Tell me I’m Crazy?
If anyone gaslights you to make you feel like you’re crazy for wanting to opt out, refer your detractors to this scientific international appeal and recommendations from physicians:
As of November 9, 2017, 236 EMF scientists from 41 nations have signed the International Scientists Appeal. These scientists have published peer-reviewed papers on the biological or health effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields including RF used for wireless communications. They urge the development of protective EMF guidelines and the education of the public regarding the health risks. The statement also includes warnings about the use of smart meter/grid technology.15
Physicians of The American Academy of Environmental Medicine released their recommendations regarding electromagnetic and radiofrequency exposure. They recommended that people with adverse conditions or symptoms protect their health by having their smart meters removed.16
Writing Your Utility Company To Refuse Or Replace Smart Meters
The above statements and recommendations are good references to use when you write your utility company to refuse smart meter installation or request an analog replacement. A letter from your functional medical practitioner may also help, as more electric companies are having to deal with the legitimate health problems of a growing number of North Americans.
Can I Turn My Smart Meter Off?
Your smart meter is under the jurisdiction of the utility company. Unlike your home wireless network, which you can choose to put on a timer or connect once again to hard-wired Ethernet, smart meters cannot be hardwired.
If you decide to keep your smart meter, or have no other option, your utility company may offer to shut off the “radio” part for a fee, as Helen’s power company said they did. Be sure to take a measurement with a device that measures radio frequency to ensure that they have complied. You can check out our list of recommended strategies to help clean up EMF in your environment in our free EMF Action Plan.
Unfortunately, the modified smart meter will still generate what is known as “dirty electricity.” This is due to the switched mode power supply which creates spiky, pulsed currents that then flow through the electrical wiring in the walls of your home. While not a perfect solution, this is likely to still significantly lower your exposure to radioactive waves.
Is There Some Way to Shield the Radiation From a Smart Meter?
There are shields designed to reduce EMF exposure from household sources of dirty electricity, although most efforts will not entirely protect you from the EMF from a smart meter. The first step is to take a reading with a radio frequency meter, both outside the smart meter and (very importantly) inside the wall it is attached to (inside your home), in order to check the radiation readings before and after to ensure that the shield is working.
I would be exceptionally concerned if a smart meter were outside the room where my child sleeps, and secondarily, where anyone sleeps. You also may experience severe health consequences if waves from multiple smart meters in the neighborhood triangulate in an area in your home where you spend a lot of time.
You will find the meter (and another meter I recommend everyone own, to test dirty electricity bleeding from all your outlets), as well as a review of shielding devices, in our free EMF Action Plan.
I designed this plan after consulting with “Dr. EMF” Libby Darnell to help you easily and inexpensively clean up EMF at home and work, without impractical “biohacks” like turning the power off during the night.
This plan may be your missing link to better health!
Robyn Openshaw, MSW, is the bestselling author of The Green Smoothies Diet, 12 Steps to Whole Foods, and 2017’s #1 Amazon Bestseller and USA Today Bestseller, Vibe. Learn more about how to make the journey painless, from the nutrient-scarce Standard American Diet, to a whole-foods diet, in her free video masterclass 12 Steps to Whole Foods.
- How Many Smart Meters are Installed in the U.S. and Who Has Them? US Energy Information Administration. https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=108&t=3
- Belyaey, I. EUROPAEM EMF Guideline 2016 for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of EMF-related health problems and illnesses. Reviews on Environmental Health. 04/2016.
- Smart Meters. Physicians for Safe Technology. https://mdsafetech.org/smart-meters/
- DeBaun, Daniel and Ryan. Radiation Nation. Icaro Publishing. 2017.
- Klinghardt, Dietrich Dr. Smart Meters and EMR–The Health Crisis of our Time. You Tube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PktaaxPl7RI
- Lamech, F. Self Reporting of Symptom Development from exposure to radiofrequency fields of wireless smart meters in Victoria, Australia: a case series. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 11/2014. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25478801
- IARC CLASSIFIES RADIOFREQUENCY ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS AS POSSIBLY CARCINOGENIC TO HUMANS. International Agency for Research on Cancer. 05/2011. https://www.iarc.fr/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/pr208_E.pdf
- Firstenberg, Arthur. Special Issue on Russian and Ukrainian Research. No Place to Hide. 04/2001. https://ecfsapi.fcc.gov/file/1001034847591/Firstenberg-Symptoms-of-Radio-Wave-Sickness.pdf
- Shuang, Ni et al. Study of Oxidative Stress in Human Lens Epithelial Cells Exposed to 1.8 GHz Radiofrequency Fields. Plos One. 08/2013. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0072370
- Kruk, J. et al. The Role Oxidative Stress in the Pathogenesis of Eye Diseases: CUrrent Status and a Dual Role of Physical Activity. Mini Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26586128
- Hardmon, Cheri. DTE threatens to shut off power to homes without smart meters. ABC. 09/2017. https://www.abc12.com/content/news/DTE-threatens-to-shut-off-power-to-homes-without-smart-meters-444064903.html
- Jenco, Melissa. 2 Meter Opponents Arrested in Naperville: ‘A Society of Violating One Another.’ The Chicago Tribune. 01/2013. https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburb
- Kauai Island Utility Cooperative Adopts Smart Meter Deferral Policy. Pacific Business News. 06/2012. https://www.bizjournals.com/pacific/news/2012/06/27/kauai-island-utility-cooperative.html
- Bilyk, Jonathan. Home Energy Use Info Gleaned from ‘Smart Meters’ is 4th Amend ‘Search’, but not ‘Unreasonable’: Appeals Panel. Cook County Record. 08/2018. https://cookcountyrecord.com/stories/511534395-home-energy-use-info-gleaned-from-smart-meters-is-4th-amend-search-but-not-unreasonable-appeals-panel
- EMF Scientist Appeal. https://www.emfscientist.org/
- Barrier, A.L., M.D., et al. American Academy of Environmental Medicine Recommendations Regarding Electromagnetic and Radiofrequency Exposure. American Academy of Environmental Medicine. 07/2012. https://www.aaemonline.org/pdf/AAEMEMFmedicalconditions.pdf
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