Table of Contents
- How Smart Meters Work
- Hazards of Smart Meters
Smart meters essentially replace the meter reader and collects the information about your energy consumption digitally and sends it back to the utility. The information that is gathered by the smart meters also allows the consumers to monitor their power usage and adjust their energy consumption, so that they can operate the appliances in their homes when the energy rates are low. For instance, using the washing machine in the night can be more cost-effective than running it during the day, when the energy consumption is at its peak.
This can also help in the more efficient use of power and also helps to keep the energy rates very low. While the utility companies claim that the installation of smart meters will help to limit the power outages and also that the stress on the overloaded electrical grid will be reduced, consumers are raising a hue and cry about the harmful effects of these smart meters on their health, safety, privacy and money.
Smart meters monitor and record the amount of gas, electricity, water, etc. that is consumed by you over time. Smart meters are different from the traditional analog meters, as they are electronic and are linked to the central computer system.
Smart meters communicate to the central systems via RF transmissions via a satellite, mobile phone, pager, powerline, radio, internet or Wi-Fi. However, the most preferred options have become the mobile phone and the internet owing to their ease of installation and the flexibility they offer.
There are several reasons why people think smart meters are hazardous.
While the smart grid promised several benefits such as reduction in improved energy security, improved quality of air, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and improvements in the utilization of grid assets, this has not really turned out as promised. There have been several problems with the smart grid, as well as smart meters. There have been many instances of poor quality installations, meters catching fire and meter failures requiring replacement.
While it was estimated that the smart grid would result in energy usage reductions by around 4% by the year 2030, in reality, there have been no major energy savings due to the installation of these smart meters.
In fact, the smart grid has actually raised the energy consumption artificially and several homeowners (around 80%) have complained about being overcharged and getting inflated bills. For example, in one instance, a homeowner’s bill went up from $350 to $1,100 per month after the installation of the smart meter.
Experts believe that smart meters are surveillance devices and are always collecting data in your home. Every appliance in the house has a unique code and the smart meter collects data when you turn on the light, when you watch television, the time you cook if you have guests, if you are at home or away, etc.
This type of data is extremely valuable, as it reveals your activity patterns of the things you do and the time you do it, etc. This usage data can be used to create profiles of people and their day-to-day activities and routines.
There are several theories that believe that the energy usage data of consumers is being sold to 3rd parties. A startling bit of information revealed was that Verizon held the patent for the “smart TV detection zone”, a technology that can detect movement and sounds and make recordings automatically. To this, if technologies such as face, voice and gesture recognition are added, then the TV can identify the people in the room, what they are saying or doing at a particular time. This kind of technology is a complete intrusion into people’s lives and privacy.
Many security experts believe that the smart grid is vulnerable to security breaches. The power meters and devices on the smart grid are not protected from hacking. In fact, it is fairly easy for hackers to get into the grid and they can even take down the entire power grid of the country. Smart grids are quite a huge cybersecurity threat.
Smart meters are usually installed outside homes and are either part of the existing meter or installed in its place. The amount of RF you are exposed to that is emitted by the smart meter really depends on your distance from the antenna of the smart meter and how the device sends the signal. The RF waves transmitted by the smart meter is similar to that of mobile phones, Wi-Fi routers or a cordless phone in terms of the power and frequency.
Smart meters usually receive and send short messages around 1% of the time and since the antenna of the device is located outside your home, your exposure to RF waves from the smart meter is probably lesser than those from other sources such as cordless phones or mobile phones, which are located inside your home. Also, the presence of walls between the smart meter antenna and you reduce the exposure to the RF. There have been concerns about the safety of smart meters because of the emission of these RF waves.
Smart meters emit RF radiation, which is a low-energy radiation. This radiation is called non-ionizing radiation, as it does not have sufficient energy to ionize electrons. However, RF radiation has sufficient energy that enables it to cause the atoms in a molecule to vibrate, which create heat but do not cause any direct damage to the DNA.
RF radiation has been classified by the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) of WHO (World Health Organization) as a 2B carcinogen and states that it is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” And, since smart meters emit RF radiation, there is an increased risk of smart meters causing cancer. However, there is no conclusive link of the quantum of risk posed by smart meters, as we are exposed to so many sources of RF radiation at home. And, the level of exposure from a smart meter is significantly lesser than other sources such as cell phones, etc.
Studies have shown that RF radiation can cause many serious health problems and several consumers have had various smart meter related health problems such as:
- Sleep issues
- Sinus problems
- Ear pain
- Heart palpitations
- Concentration and memory loss issues
- Nervous, hormonal and immune system problems
People who may be more vulnerable to RF radiation from smart meters are:
- People with medical implants (pacemakers, for instance).
- Those having EMF sensitivities.
- People with compromised and weak immune systems.
- Pregnant women.
RF microwave radiations have biological effects and one smart meter has a power density of around 7.9-8.0 μW/cm² (microwatts per centimeter square), which is much higher than the power density that is known to cause various ill health effects like:
- DNA damage in the cells (which occurs at 6.0 μW/cm²).
- Alterations in the hippocampus that affects learning and memory (which occurs at 4.0 μW/cm²).
- Changes in the calcium metabolism in the heart (which occurs at 2.5 μW/cm²).
The power densities emitted by the banks of smart meters installed in apartment complexes is hundreds of times more than the safe levels. However, several countries get away with such high emissions, as the “stipulated safety levels” are pegged at around 600-1000 μW/cm², which is several thousand times more than the safe levels.
Research studies reveal that microwaves from various devices can cause significant biological harm. The cell membranes of the cells in your body are embedded with VGCCs or voltage gated calcium channels. When activated by microwave radiation, the VGCCs release around 1 million calcium ions/second. The ions, in turn, cause the release of nitric oxide in the cells and the mitochondria and is converted into hydroxyl free radicals.
These free radicals are hazardous and destroy the nuclear and mitochondrial DNA and also their proteins and membranes, causing mitochondrial dysfunction leading to chronic diseases. The highest density of the VGCCs are found in the human brain, heart and testes and so, excessive exposure to microwave radiation can cause diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, autism, depression, anxiety, infertility and cardiac arrhythmias.
Not only is developing brain tumors a major cause of concern, today, there is an unprecedented number of deaths due to heart disease, which can be attributed to mitochondrial damage due to microwave exposure.
The extensive use of mobile phones, cordless phones, Wi-Fi routers, smart meters, etc. have contributed to the increase in problems such as anxiety and depression. The reason for this is that the human brain has the highest concentration of VGCCs, which when stimulated by microwave radiation releases neuroendocrine hormones and neurotransmitters, which have been linked to depression and anxiety.
Blood tests of many people from homes where smart meters were installed have revealed many effects such as:
- Elevation of inflammatory markers such as MMP-9 and TGF-Beta-1.
- Increase in copper serum levels, an indication of chronic inflammation.
- Neurotransmitter levels and hormone levels adversely affected.
Although exposure to microwaves emanating from devices like the smart meter, cause deformation of the cells and cause free radical damage, the encouraging part is that when the source of this destruction is removed, i.e. the smart meter, the body has the ability to recover from the damage.
So, you must take steps to reduce your exposure to microwaves, as increased exposure will not only cause damage to your DNA, but also increase your risk towards chronic illnesses. It also reduces the ability of your body to detoxify and impair the immune system.
You should take the necessary steps to minimize your and your family’s exposure to EMF by:
- Reducing the use of mobile phones, Wi-Fi routers, cordless phones, wireless computers, tablets, smart meters, etc.
- Reduce the sources that produce dirty electricity in your home.
- Turn off your Wi-Fi when it is not being used.
- Try and switch to wired devices from wireless equipment.
There have been thousands of instances where people have reported of being harmed due to the installation of smart meters and there are measurable ill effects and scientific research reporting serious effects of microwaves, radio frequencies and dirty electricity on human health.
However, there are still several instances where utility companies are forcibly getting consumers to install smart meters in their homes and workplaces. While there have been many cases of utility staff breaking into properties and homes of people to install these smart meters forcefully, there have been other instances where the police have arrested owners of homes who refused to have the smart meter installed.
Today, several states have drafted new laws regarding smart meter installations and forcible installation of these devices against the consent of homeowners. There is no legal requirement to have a smart meter installed in your home. And, if you do discover that there is one that has been installed in your home without your knowledge or permission, you can demand to have it changed back to your regular analog meter.
However, if you can’t pay the fee that is charged by the utility company to remove the smart meter that has been installed and reinstall the analog meter or if you live in a rented property, then it is a good idea to get yourself a smart meter guard. This inexpensive and simple piece of equipment can help to decrease the smart meter radiation by around 98% all around you which should significantly reduce the dangers of smart meters in and around your house.