Smart devices are taking over the world.
An electric device is connected to another electric device or network typically via Bluetooth, Wi-fi or other wireless protocol.
Now we have smart meters used by utility companies to measure the consumption of electricity, water, and gas at your home.
People around the country are fighting back, saying no, thank you, to the utility companies knocking on their doors to install smart meters. People are becoming more aware of smart meter dangers.
This article will explain what smart meter wireless devices are, the potential adverse health effects of smart meter radiation exposure, and provide ways to reduce the potential risks.
Read our guide on the best smart meter shield to protect yourself and your family.
Recommended EMF Protection Products
- TriField EMF Meter Model TF2 (Amazon) – measures the 3 different types of EMF radiation, including RF radiation from routers and cell phones
- Wifi Router Guard Cover (Amazon) – blocks up to 90% of EMF radiation from router using a Faraday cage
- Smart Meter Guard Cover (Amazon) – blocks up to 98% of EMF radiation emitted from your smart meter
- EMF Protection Underwear for Men & Women – Lambs uses WaveStopper technology to block 99% of UV and Wireless Radiation.
- EMF Protection T-Shirts for Men & Women – Lambs independently lab tested material blocks 99% of UV and Wireless Radiation
What Are Smart Meters?
I remember getting a letter from our utility company a few years ago letting us know they would be installing new smart meters (it wasn’t a question but more of a notification that is would be happening) and removing the old, traditional meters in our neighborhood.
I thought, okay, what are smart meters?
For your utility company to bill you for the correct amount of energy usage, water, or natural gas you have used in a particular month, they use smart meters to monitor this.
They take the current readings and compare them against the previous month’s readings. The difference between the two readings indicates your total usage for the month, and you’re billed accordingly.
Until recently, utility and power companies had to send their staff to individual homes every month to physically read the old analog meters. Not now, thanks to smart meters.
However, most companies have now adopted smart meters that can automatically transmit usage via these wireless devices’ information back to the supplier.
Most parts of Europe have already implemented this new system. In the US, however, the uptake isn’t as widespread, although many areas already have them.
This is partly due to the controversy surrounding their installation.
Many continue to express concerns over smart meter safety and its potential health risks.
They emit the same radio frequency (RF) radiation as Wi-Fi devices and cell phones. This makes smart meters potentially hazardous to citizens.
Additionally, some people express privacy concerns – you can see when appliances are being used (or not).
My utility company kindly informed me in that letter a few years ago that if we don’t want the smart meter, we’ll pay a monthly penalty for refusing it.
How Do Smart Meters Work?
Smart meters are different from traditional meters in that they communicate directly with a central computer system. They don’t require human intervention to extract information regarding energy consumption from the device.
Smart meters record the total consumption of various utilities over some time before transmitting this data to a central system.
The signals are sent using several communication methods. These include mobile phones, satellites, pagers, Wi-Fi, internet, radio, or power lines.
Smart Meter Radiation Dangers
Smart Meter Dangers
Smart meters send signals using RF radiation. This is the same radiation type cell phones emit to cell towers.
In 2011, the World Health Organization’s IARC termed RF radiation “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
Hundreds of studies conclusively show that long-term exposure to RF radiation may cause cancer and other harmful effects. Some of these health studies dating back to the 1960s (just a few of those studies are here, here, and here).
In the US, the recommended limit for an acceptable amount of RF radiation is capped at 1000 microWatts per square meter.
However, some people report measuring smart meters emitting well above that and have health concerns.
Two Types of Smart Meters
Smart meters fall into two categories: One uses pulsed electromagnetic fields to transfer data, whereas another uses radio frequency (RF) mesh.
They both serve the same purpose. However, how they function is completely different.
Pulsed Data Transfer
Pulsed data transfer was the original smart meter technology. They work by recording energy consumption continuously and then periodically emit strong bursts of RF signals to transfer the data to the utility company’s server.
The companies said they would only transfer the information and emit the RF signal a few times per day, however, Senior Nuclear Policy Lecturer at the University of California, San Diego Daniel Hirsch, proved they could send these pulses up to 14,000 times per day.
Narrowband RF Mesh Network
This is the newer release in smart meter technology.
Utility companies recognized the potential for pulsed data transfer to cause network congestion (no surprise given the number of pulses emitted).
Narrowband is similar to broadband, but it uses frequencies like 150-174 MHz or 421-470 MHz for connection, which are much less congested.
The RF mesh network works to exchange that data. Think of neighborhood streets lined with houses. One smart meter sends its data to another, that one to the next, and so on. It creates a mesh of data.
Which Smart Meter Type Do You Have?
There is no document or label to tell you which type of smart meter you have.
You can try contacting your utility company and ask them directly.
If you want to go the DIY route, you can use a consumer-grade EMF meter and test the emissions patterns from your smart meter. You have a standard Pulsed Data Transfer smart meter if it has pulsed behavior. If it appears to remain constant for long periods, you likely have a narrowband RF mesh network smart meter. This is the EMF meter I use. It’s available from Amazon.
How Do Smart Meters Cause Radiation?
There are two principal ways that smart meters cause radiation. First, the energy consumption meter itself emits electromagnetic energy.
Second, smart meters are known to cause high-frequency electricity surges and spikes through the wire-circuitry running throughout a structure.
When these surges and spikes are above a certain threshold, they become airborne, and the EMF waves radiate through the walls and into the rooms of the building.
This form of radiation is called electromagnetic smog or “dirty electricity.” The radiation risks that smart meters pose have become so dire that some utility companies launched a smart meter opt-out program for their customers.
For an additional monthly fee, power companies can replace your smart meter with a radiation-free analog alternative. This is what my utility company offered me, and it’s $20/month.
This fee is quite expensive, which makes this safer option out of reach for the average American household.
On the other hand, if you think about the anticipated cost of medical care you and your family will require in the long run, after years of EMF radiation, dirty electricity exposure from your smart meters, the extra cost is nothing compared to the potential adverse health effects.
Health Effects of Smart Meter Radiation on Human Health
Sustained exposure to EMF radiation from smart meters and other radio frequency radiation sources are causing a myriad of health problems for people all over the world.
Millions of smart meters are already installed all over the United States, with that number set to rise with every passing year.
Therefore, it is no surprise that people have already started feeling the adverse effects of these devices.
Over the last few years, there has been a growing amount of medical and scientific evidence of the grave smart meter dangers posed to humans.
Dr. David Carpenter, physician graduated from Harvard Medical School, employee of the New York State Department of Health working on electromagnetic fields, and former founding dean of the University at Albany (NY)’s School of Public Health is asked about Central Maine Power saying there’s no reason to be concerned about smart meter dangers, here’s his response:
If you can’t listen to this video, Dr. Carpenter says:
“What evidence do they have to prove this? It is one thing for them to say that they are not sure what the long term repercussions are but to assert that they are safe with no scientific basis to prove this is utter hogwash! The truth is, they have no evidence to back up their claims, and we know what radiofrequency radiation does,”
This mounting evidence from various sources proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that exposure to RF waves at elevated levels is a recipe for a cocktail of adverse health effects.
Richard H. Conrad, Ph.D., a John Hopkins-trained biochemist, testified to the Maine Public Utilities Commission regarding Smart Meter Opt-out Program and stated:
“Many of them said they had never heard of electrical sensitivities before, were developing strange symptoms they never had before, could not use computers, wi-fi or cell phones any more without painful symptoms (even though previously they had been using them heavily with wi-fi in offices and on in homes 24/7). Weeks or months after their symptoms began they first discovered a smart meter on their home. Upon inquiry, they found out it had been installed at the time or just before their symptoms initiated… All this was surprising to me because this device was initiating ES (electrosensitivity) in previously normal, healthy persons who had tolerated wi-fi and cell phones for years with no problems.” (1)
Sweden is one of the few countries worldwide that now recognizes Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS) as a documented debilitating illness. All living organisms are at risk of suffering from electromagnetic poisoning when exposed to sustained high levels of RF radiation.
Since smart meters emit the same type of EMF radiation as cell phones, and in some cases, at much higher levels, it doesn’t take a genius to make the correlation. At these frequencies, the radiation gets absorbed by the skin and other superficial tissues, which results in a myriad of health complaints related to this exposure.
For some people, the symptoms they experience are mild. Others get so severely affected that they have to leave work and change their lifestyle altogether.
But what is Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity anyway? EHS is an illness characterized by various non-specific symptoms experienced by some individuals when they’re exposed to EMF. Some of the most commonly reported human health effects on organ systems include:
- Dermatological symptoms like redness of the skin, as well as, tingling and burning sensations (different from severe burns).
- Vegetative and neurasthenic symptoms like tiredness, fatigue, concentration problems, ear pain, nausea, increase in dizziness, sleep disturbances, digestive problems, and heart palpitations.
These symptoms as a whole are not recognized as part of any existing syndrome. So if you have smart meters installed in your home, look out for a sudden increase in these symptoms among members of your household. It strongly indicates that they’re suffering from electromagnetic poisoning from tissue heating.
Cancer Risk from RF Radiation
Smart meters emit RF radiation. It is considered low-energy given its position in the EM spectrum. Low-energy means it doesn’t have the strength to dislodge electrons from their orbits (ionize).
The RF radiation from smart meters is analogous to the RF radiation from smartphones. Thus, the potential risks are the same.
In theory, RF energy only has enough energy to cause atoms in a molecule to vibrate or move around. This causes heat in some instances but is not enough to damage DNA directly. This is why it is also referred to as non-ionizing radiation.
Dr. Sam Milham, MD, MPH has published extensively on the topic.
The Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy published a scientific study to investigate the effects of prolonged RF radiation in various tissues of rats. The results concluded that long-term exposure to 2.4GHz radiation-induced DNA damage to their testes.
In another 2017 scientific study done to measure the effects of high ambient RF radiation in Stockholm city, Sweden, a team of scientists sought to measure the level of RF in the central parts of the city. The mean level was 5,494µW/m2 (microWatts per square meter).
This was well below the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) established guideline of 10 W/m2, which translates to 10,000,000µW/m2.
The findings of this study revealed that even at that low level of radiation exposure, there were increasing reports of burn-out syndromes, sleep disturbances, depression, pain problems, and general ill-health. The number of reported cases of cancer has also been on the rise.
Can Smart Meters Cause Cancer?
Radiation is all around us. The human body is constantly bombarded with low doses of ionizing and non-ionizing radiation throughout the day. This comes from heat and light sources to waves from cell phones, microwaves, and devices like smart meters.
However, the body can recover from the biological damage that radiation induces. The human species would have gone extinct millions of years ago if it didn’t.
The problem arises when the body is exposed to high and/or sustained radiation levels. In both cases, it disassembles atoms, which leads to widespread damage to cellular DNA. The side effect of this includes cancer.
Smart meters in your home are on 24/7. You can’t turn them off. This means that they constantly emit high levels of radiation all day and night. Some scientists have even gone as far as to assert that smart meters expose people to radiation levels equivalent to 160 cell phones bundled together.
It is especially high when a smart meter device relays data to the utility company’s central computer system. This process, also known as a “cycle,” happens thousands of times a day.
This constant long-term exposure to RF radiation from a smart meter device increases the risk of developing certain types of cancer, including glioblastoma brain cancer, which takes 10 to 20 years to manifest, and most types of leukemia except chronic lymphocytic leukemia and lymphoma.
It also increases the risk of cancer of the lungs, thyroid, breast, bladder, colon, liver, stomach, and esophagus.
The risk of developing these cancers later in life is higher for children exposed to RF radiation earlier.
All of these peer-reviewed studies on RF radiation should be considered in the context of the combination of RF radiation and electromagnetic energy, not just smart meters, in your day-to-day life. More on that below.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization works to find causes of cancer.
In 2011 they classified RF EMF radiation as a Group 2B Possible Human Carcinogen. Many researchers, scientists and doctors working in the electromagnetic radiation field are pushing the IARC to upgrade the risk to a Group 1 Known Carcinogen.
Swedish oncologist and professor Lennart Hardell and scientist in the Department of Oncology at Örebro University Hospital Michael Carlberg published a paper in the International Journal of Oncology.
They state the IARC should classify RF radiation as Group 1 in their conclusion:
“There is clear evidence that RF radiation causes cancer/tumor at multiple sites, primarily in the brain (glioma) and head (acoustic neuroma). There is also evidence of an increased risk of developing other tumor types. The results are similar in both the NTP studies (19,20) and the Ramazzini Institute findings (34). Based on the IARC preamble to the monographs, RF radiation should be classified as Group 1: The agent is carcinogenic to humans.” (2)
Interestingly, in 2018 a group of epidemiologists supported the conclusion that the IARC should upgrade the risk to Group 1 in light of health concerns. (3)
Smart Meters and Cancer Survivors: Can They Cause Health Problems?
In instances where RF exposure doesn’t directly cause cancer, concerns have been raised over the effects sustained radiation has on survivors of the chronic disease. Certain substances in the body can likely become cancerous when exposed to even the lowest radiation levels.
This is particularly dangerous for patients undergoing ionizing radiotherapy. It is also a problem for patients treated with chemo medication that might cause cancer. Once someone goes through rounds of chemo or radiotherapy treatment, it is important to eliminate all EMF radiation sources to avoid aggravating the disease.
How to Reduce RF Radiation Exposure from Smart Meters
Once a smart meter is installed in your home, you can take some steps to reduce the amount of EMF radiation exposure you’re getting from the device. Some utility companies offer their customers an opt-out program to install analog meters instead.
This, of course, comes at a price. There’s an extra amount you’re required to pay every month. It caters to the added expense the company incurs to have a meter reader visit your home or workplace premises every month to record the readings. This amount isn’t exactly cheap.
If that doesn’t sound budget-friendly, many affordable technologies exist to help keep exposure levels to a minimum. Here are some options worth exploring:
A Smart Meter Cover
A smart meter cover or smart meter guard is a shield made from a conductive metal mesh screen designed to place over your meter. This material can block up to 90% of your smart meter device emitting RF radiation.
Here is a full article on choosing a smart meter cover.
You’re probably wondering: Do they work? Well, there’s only one way to find out, and that’s by using an EMF radiation meter.
First, use the detector to measure the amount of radiation from the smart meter. Then repeat the test once you’ve installed a smart meter cover. The results you get from your readings will indicate whether it works to reduce the level of radiation exposure you’re subjected to.
Microsurge Meters and Filters
Microsurge meters like this one from Amazon are designed to measure the amount of electromagnetic smog or “dirty electricity” in your home or work premises. They are quite easy to use. First, use an EMF detector to measure the ambient radiation level in your home, brought on by the power spikes and surges caused by smart meters.
Next, plug the micro surge meter in the circuits and identify above the indicated safety range. Those are the ones that need filters placed on them.
If you don’t know how to do this yourself, get a qualified electrical technician to help — Plug-In the micro surge meter into the circuit once the filters have been installed. You should notice a significant reduction in the EMF readings.
This is almost always a suggestion for reducing EMF radiation from a source – keep your distance. Consider moving your bed if your bedroom is on the interior wall where your smart meter is hanging on the exterior wall.
Simple steps like this can help significantly reduce the biological effects of EMF sources like smart meters and protect you from the smart meter dangers explained here.
Reduce EMF Radiation Exposure from Other Sources
The other way to reduce radiation exposure would be to eliminate other sources of EMF radiation to offset the amount emitted by the smart meter device. You’ll be surprised at the number of electronic devices in your home (in addition to smart meters) that all contribute to the high levels of ambient radiation you’re exposed to.
Here are a few notorious sources with linked articles explaining them and how to protect yourself and your family:
- Cell phones (Check the phone radiation chart)
- Bluetooth devices like Airpods. (Check whether Sleeping with Airpods is dangerous or not)
- Wireless chargers (Check wireless charger EMF radiation)
- Induction cooktops (Check radiations of induction cooktops)
- Microwaves (Check the level of radiation by a microwave)
- Wi-Fi devices
Find ways to eliminate EMF sources that you can do without. For instance, most people don’t realize that microwave ovens leak. Ensure that the seal on your microwave door is in good working condition or simply use the stove to heat your food instead.
If you have dimmer lights, change them to the regular “on” or “off” switches. This is because when you dim your lights, the part of the electrical current not being used is emitted as EMF radiation.
As technology advances in leaps and bounds, you need to stay up-to-date with the latest research on the adverse effects these so-called “smart” devices have on your quality of life in the long run.
While it’s not realistic to eliminate all sources of EMF radiation, you do have the power to control how much dirty electricity and the amounts of RF radiation you’re exposed to in your home environment.
Having a smart meter installed might increase the utility company’s profit margins, but it’ll cost you a lot more in the long run. EMF-related health problems are just now coming to light and it’s important to stay educated and keep an eye on what the public health experts say and review the human health studies.
With that said, do you live or work near a 5G tower? Read our post to find out why you need to worry.
More “smart” technology in this article about the dangers of wearing a Fitbit.
References and Resources on Smart Meter Dangers
(2) World Health Organization – IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer). Non-ionizing Radiation, Part 1: Static and Extremely Low-frequency (ELF) Electric and Magnetic Fields.
(3) Miller AB, Morgan LL, Udasin I, Davis DL. Cancer epidemiology update, following the 2011 IARC evaluation of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (Monograph 102). Environ Res. 2018 Nov;167:673-683
(4) Genuis SJ. Fielding a current idea: exploring the public health impact of electromagnetic radiation. Public Health (2007),
(5) Draper G, Vincent T, Kroll ME, Swanson J. Childhood cancer in relation to distance from high voltage power lines in England and Wales: a case–control study. Br Med J2005;330:1290.
(6) Neutra RR, DelPizzo V, Lee GM. An evaluation of the possible risks from electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) from power lines, internal wiring, electrical occupations, and appliances. Final report. California: EMF Program; 2002.
(7) Havas M. Electromagnetic hypersensitivity: biological effects of dirty electricity with emphasis on diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Electromagn Biol Med 2006;25:259–68.
(8) J Chem Neuroanat. 2016 Sep;75(Pt B):116-22. doi: 10.1016/j.jchemneu.2016.01.003. Epub 2016 Jan 8
(9) Hardell L, Carlberg M, Koppel T, Hedendahl L. High radiofrequency radiation at Stockholm Old Town: An exposimeter study including the Royal Castle, Supreme Court, three major squares and the Swedish Parliament. Mol Clin Oncol. 2017;6(4):462–476. doi:10.3892/mco.2017.1180
(10) Physicians for Safe Technology – “Smart” Meters. A great resource with up to date information written by doctors and physicians on health concerns and smart meter dangers
(11) Environmental Health Trust – resources on Smart Meter dangers and a body of evidence against them