Some Smart Meter Dangers You Should Worry About

Technology is advancing at a rapid rate. You get a spanking new smartphone with all the latest features, and before you know it, it’s already outdated. There’s a newer one on the market with features so sophisticated, that you might as well use your old phone as a paperweight.

There’s always some “smart” new device that promises to make your life easier than it has been. Heaven forbid that you should babysit your child when there’s a smart babysitter like Alexa, who does a way better job lulling them to sleep.

Or a smart monitor that sends alerts to your phone with metrics like the quality of sleep your baby is getting? But, enough about babies (can you tell I’ve had two?)! The point is: technology is getting smarter with each passing day.

Now we have smart meters! Gone are the days when your energy supplier had to scramble under cobweb filled stairs just to find your meter. You also don’t have to worry about receiving inaccurate utility bills either. But all good things come at a price. Here are some smart meter dangers you need to be wary of.

Read our guide on the best smart meter shield to protect yourself and your family.

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). I thought, okay, what is a smart meter?

For your utility company to bill you for the correct amount of electricity, water, or natural gas you have used in a particular month, they use a meter 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 companies had to send their staff to individual homes every month to physically read the respective meters. Now, however, most companies have adopted smart meters that can automatically transmit usage 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 there are lots of areas that already have them. This is partly due to the controversy surrounding their installation.

Lots of factions continue to express concerns over smart meter safety. They emit the same kind of radiofrequency (RF) radiation as Wi-Fi devices and cell phones. This makes them 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 me, 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 any human intervention to extract information from the device.

They 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 cell phones, satellites, pagers, Wi-Fi, internet, radio, or power lines.

Learn more about the dangers of cell phone towers in this article.

Smart Meter Dangers

tan colored smart meter attached to grey house

Smart meters send signals using RF radiation. This is the same type of radiation that microwave ovens use to heat food.

In 2011, the World Health Organization’s IARC termed RF radiation as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” This means that, according to the institution, this radiation has the potential to cause cancer after exposure.

However, don’t let the loose use of the word “possibly” fool you into believing that RF radiation exposure isn’t harmful to your health. There have been hundreds of studies done that conclusively show that long term exposure to RF radiation does indeed cause cancer and a myriad of other ailments. Some of these studies date back to the 1960s (just a few of those studies are here, here, and here).

In the US, the recommended limit for what constitutes 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.

How Do Smart Meters Cause Radiation?

There are two principal ways that smart meters cause radiation. First, the meter itself emits electromagnetic field (EMF) 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 has become so dire that some utility companies launched a smart meter opt-out program for their customers. For an additional fee every month, they 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 exposure from your smart meters, the extra cost is nothing in comparison.

Effects of Smart Meter Radiation

Sustained exposure to EMF radiation is causing a myriad of health problems for people all over the world. As it stands, there are more than 70 million smart meters already installed all over the United States with that number set to rise with every passing year.

It, therefore, comes as no surprise that people have already started feeling the adverse effects of these devices. If you’ve heard of Dr. David Carpenter then you know that he is spearheading the fight against the installation of smart meters.

Not only is he a Harvard Med School graduate, but he is also one of the leading public health experts in the US. His bone of contention with the utility companies has to do with their assertion that smart meters are safe.

“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,” said Dr. Carpenter.

Over the last two years, there has been a growing amount of medical and scientific evidence of the grave dangers that smart meters pose to humans. This mounting evidence from a host of different sources proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that exposure to RF waves at elevated levels is a recipe for a cocktail of health issues. It increases the risk for cancer, destroys the nervous and reproductive system, and causes a myriad of symptoms that stem from EMF hypersensitivity.

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 that it doesn’t have the required strength to dislodge electrons from their orbits (ionize).

This is why it is also referred to as non-ionizing radiation. 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 not enough to damage DNA directly. The reason the phrase “in theory” is used is that there have been numerous studies that contradict this assertion.

Dr. Sam Milham, MD, MPH has published extensively on the topic

The Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy published a study that was conducted 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 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 found to be 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 ambient RF 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 have also been on the rise.

Questions on the units of radiation measurement? Check out this article demystifying the topic.

Can Smart Meters Cause Cancer?

Radiation is all around us. The human body is constantly bombarded with low doses, both 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. If it didn’t, the human species would have gone extinct millions of years ago. The problem arises when the body gets exposed to high and/or sustained levels of radiation. 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 are constantly emitting 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 that are the equivalent of 160 cell phones bundled together.

It is especially high when they’re relaying data back to the utility company’s central computer system.  This process, which is also known as a “cycle,” happens thousands of times a day.

This constant long term exposure to smart meter radiation increases the risk of developing certain types of cancer, including glioblastoma brain cancer, which takes 10 to 20 years to manifest, 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 on in life.

Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity

Sweden is one of the few countries in the world 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 problems 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 ones include:

  • Dermatological symptoms like redness of the skin, as well as, tingling and burning sensations.
  • Vegetative and neurasthenic symptoms like tiredness, fatigue, concentration problems, nausea, 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 these symptoms among members of your household. It’s a strong indication that they’re suffering from electromagnetic poisoning.

Smart Meters and Cancer Survivors: Can They Cause Health Problems?

In instances where RF exposure doesn’t directly cause cancer, there have been concerns raised over the effects sustained radiation has on survivors of the disease. Certain substances in the body can likely become cancerous when exposed to even the lowest levels of radiation.

This is particularly dangerous for patients undergoing ionizing radiotherapy. It is also a problem for patients being 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 have analog meters installed instead.

This, of course, comes at a price. There’s an extra amount you’re required to pay every month. It caters for 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, there are lots of affordable technologies that exist to help keep exposure levels to a minimum. Here are some options worth exploring:

A Smart Meter Cover

A smart meter cover is a shield made out of a conductive metal mesh screen that is designed to place over your meter. This material can block up to 90% of all RF radiation your smart meter emits.

You’re probably wondering: Do they work? Well, there’s only one way to find out, and that’s by using an EMF radiation detector.

First, use the detector to measure the amount of radiation coming from the smart meter. Then repeat the test once you’ve installed a smart meter cover. The results you get from your readings will give you a clear indication of whether it works to reduce the level of radiation exposure you’re subjected to.

Microsurge Meters and Filters

Microsurge meters 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 level of ambient radiation 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 those that are way 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.

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 being emitted by the smart meter. You’ll be surprised at the number of 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:

  • Cell phones
  • Smart TVs
  • Refrigerator
  • Mixer
  • PCs
  • Microwave ovens
  • Wi-Fi hotspots from neighbors
  • Wi-Fi devices
  • Electrical heaters
  • Electrical Appliances
  • Dimmer lights

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 that’s not being used is emitted as EMF radiation.

See our full guide on protecting your home from EMFs.

Smart Technology Isn’t Always So Smart

As technology continues to advance 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 of it you’re exposed to in your home environment. Having a smart meter installed might increase the utility company’s profit margins, but it’ll certainly cost you a lot more in the long run. 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

Genuis SJ. Fielding a current idea: exploring the public health impact of electromagnetic radiation. Public Health (2007), doi:10.1016/j.puhe.2007.04.008

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.

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.

Havas M. Electromagnetic hypersensitivity: biological effects of dirty electricity with emphasis on diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Electromagn Biol Med 2006;25:259–68.

J Chem Neuroanat. 2016 Sep;75(Pt B):116-22. doi: 10.1016/j.jchemneu.2016.01.003. Epub 2016 Jan 8.

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 ParliamentMol Clin Oncol. 2017;6(4):462–476. doi:10.3892/mco.2017.1180