For those of you who have not yet met ‘smart meters’ they are, or at least they are sold as, the energy companies’ and the government’s way to help you reduce your energy consumption and allow the whole country to become greener and more sustainable. Anyone who has had an energy audit by their local council will already have been offered a version of smart meter – a neat little electronic device that will monitor your energy usage in each room of your flat or house and thus allow you to minimise your energy consumption – and reduce your bills! The only problem for those of us who are already electrosensitive (and possibly for many of the rest of you too, since our numbers seem to be growing all the time) is that the way that meter or monitoring device communicates with your energy supplier is via a wifi system running though your house.
Likewise a smart meter. In its case, it sends information about your energy consumption, on an ongoing basis, via a wifi network, to a local ‘hub’ that, in due course, remits it onward to a central database. This allows the energy provision companies to monitor your energy consumption 24/7 and to send you bills without having to send out that irritating meter-reading man to ring your door bell. (Good for their profits – maybe not so good for the employment statistics in these times of shrinking employment.)
While there obviously are benefits in this system in terms of better control and monitoring of energy consumption in an energy starved world, the disadvantages seem heavily to outweigh them. In the US (especially California) where fairly large swathes of smart meters have been rolled out, there have already been serious problems. For details see the Stop Smart Meters! site but they have included inflated bills – consumers’ costs have rocketed even though they have not changed their energy consumption habits. The disconnect appears to be related to the mesh wifi network through which the information travels.
Privacy is an even greater concern. Being able to monitor your energy usage 24 hour a days gives the energy companies an alarmingly graphic picture of your daily life – an unpleasantly big brother scenario – and allows them to sell that information on to commercial companies – or something worse.
There also appears to be growing evidence that concentrations of electrosmog (such as a dense mesh of wifi networks connecting every house along a street) can damage wildlife and plants – such as trees. While the whole question of what is causing so many bee colonies to collapse remains open. (See several articles/reports here.)
And then there is the effect of yet another wifi network on human health. Those who believe in the precautionary principle are already very concerend about the huge rise in levels of manmade electromagnetic radiation over the last two decades – regularly connected with increased incidence of tinnitus, headache, nausea, heart arythmias, fatigue and a wide range of other symptoms. Adding yet another layer of radiation via this house-to-house wifi grid cannot be good. Indeed, according to a report drawn up by enviromental consultants, Sage, in California earlier this year, the emissions from the meters will exceed several current recommendations:
Many millions of wireless smart meters will produce RF levels that are excessively high and will exceed recommendations of the BioInitiative Report and the Seletun Scientific Statement. These RF emissions occur on a nearly continuous basis (one RF pulse every second to four seconds – the pulse duration is about 2 milliseconds).
The utilities counter that this is very infrequent RF pulsing – when considering how short the RF pulses are. However, it is reasonable to conclude from the scientific literature that the biological effect of 24/7 RF pulses which occur every few seconds will be registered as a chronic exposure, with the effects accumulating and affecting living tissues and body processes as a chronic stressor will do.
In the UK everything is pretty much in the planning stage although some utility providers, such as British Gas, have jumped the gun and are already installing their own. The public know very little about smart meters and the Government is keeping very quiet about the fact that they will be based on microwave radio, although the EHS community is well aware of this and also that no one (at the moment) is allowed to opt out.
First up – because the event is extremely imminent, is the protest scheduled to take place on Wednesday, 16th Novmber in Brussels (in the rue de Loi across from the Charlemagne Building for any reader who just happens to be in Brussels) to coincide with the EU conference on EMF and Health which is being held in the Charlemagne Building in Brussels on the 16th and 17th November. If you cannot be there to protest, sign the ‘Less Electrosmog! petition here as a matter of urgency.
In the US the People’s Intiative Foundation have three petitions going: an immediate opt out and ban on smart meters, removing wifi from schools and public facilities and a children’s wireless protection act. It would appear that you can only sign them if you live in the US and have a valid ZIP code although the People’s Initative seem to think that you can and suggest that you email them if you have a problem.
Meanwhile, back here you can also sign up to a UK petition. Nicky Greenham of www.mcs-aware.org has started a government e-petition, not attempting to ban smart meters, but asking that they should be connected via an ES-friendly wired fibre-optic network, and that those who are electrosensitive should be allowed to keep their analog meters and be supplied with shielding material if necessary. You can sign up to this one at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/19513.
For those of you who would like to catch up on more electrosensitivity news, check in at our recent articles and our recent research pages. I have just ploughed my way through the last two months worth of ES-related emails and you will find articles/research on the connection between electromagnetic fields and skin cancer, a doctoral dissertation on the ‘Proteomics Analysis of Human Endothelial Cells After Short-Term Exposure to Mobile Phone Radiation’, new Russian research showing that 4 years mobile phone use can have significant effect on 7–12 year old children, toing and froing over a recently republished Danish study on the link between mobile phone and brain cancer (rebuttal here), the recent Mobilewise report, Health Canada’s recommendations on compact fluorescent bulbs, electricity pylons in Suffolk and a comment from the author of the recent IARC report to the effect they included ‘all types of radiation within the radio frequency part of the electromagnetic spectrum’, not just mobile phone radiation, as Class 2 b carcinogens…..