Smart Meter Fact Sheet: It’s Your Health, Safety and Security. Shouldn’t You Have Freedom of Choice?

CMP claims smart meters are safe because they meet FCC standards.

FCC standards only protect us from getting burned. Burning is of no relevance here. What is relevant is what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said about these standards not protecting our health:

“The FCC’s current exposure guidelines … are thermally-based and do not apply to chronic, non thermal exposure situations…Therefore the generalization by many that the guidelines protect human beings from harm by any and all mechanisms is not justified.” (N. Hankin, EPA, 2002)

CMP has ignored thousands of studies (for a listing of these studies, see showing biological harm from radiofrequency radiation at levels that aren’t strong enough to burn human tissue — levels considered “safe” by FCC standards.

CMP claims the scientific community is in agreement that FCC standards protect human safety.

There is scientific disagreement over the level of protection provided by FCC standards. It’s not black and white. This is one of many cases in which CMP wants any dissenting opinions to be disregarded if they don’t support CMP’s one-sided position.

Even the organizations responsible for weighing in on the standards (such as IEEE) acknowledge scientific controversy over the standards, which do not protect people from chronic, cumulative, non-heating exposure.

“There is disagreement within the scientific community about the risk of EMF and the exposure guidelines.” (deSalles, A. SBMO/IEEE 1999 Proceedings)

Scientists disagree. It’s your health. You should be able to decide.

CMP claims smart meters emit power for less than one minute per day.

Smart meters emit at least 100 bursts per day. The signals travel through homes and bodies. The meters transmit to and from one another in a mesh network, which exposes us to the signals of every smart meter in our area. In a neighborhood of 150 homes, we are exposed to thousands of signals per day.

CMP claims the average smart meter signal from 1 yard away is 67 times less than a
Wi-Fi signal.

The peak burst of each smart meter signal is 10 times greater than a WiFi signal.

CMP claims the average exposure level from a smart meter is very low.

CMP is giving us time-averaged exposure numbers, which dilute and downplay the actual signal blasts. CMP’s levels are averaged/spread out over a 30-minute period. Picture a piercingly loud horn, blaring for 1 second. Averaging that noise level over a 30-minute period dilutes and downplays the intensity of the blast. That’s what CMP is doing with transmission bursts from smart meters.

CMP claims even the earth’s surface and the human body produce a constant RF signal.

This is one of the many cases in which CMP jumps to irrelevant extremes in an attempt to discredit. All RF is not created equal. The low-frequency radiation from the earth and our bodies is natural and not harmful. Conversely, man-made, high-frequency RF like the kind emitted by smart meters has been documented in peer-reviewed scientific literature to cause harm. Incidentally, most smart meters being deployed elsewhere are lower frequency than the 2.4GHz meters CMP has chosen. We are curious as to why CMP chose this higher frequency, which also happens to be the frequency that resonates with water. Many scientists believe this is why wireless technologies of this particular frequency are harmful, since humans are 72 percent water.

CMP claims there is no basis for security or privacy concerns, and the public is well protected.

For an unbiased view of whether citizens can trust CMP, see the recent Scientific American article, “Power Hackers: The U.S. Smart Grid is Shaping Up to Be Dangerously Insecure (November 5, 2010)

CMP claims similar technology (we assume this means Wi-Fi) is already in place in public buildings like schools and municipal offices.

“Public” is they key word here. Since the public is already exposed to significant levels of RF from other sources, smart meter exposure in our homes could place us over existing FCC limits (which are already inadequate) in our private space.

CMP claims this is no different than wireless technologies like cell phones, which people use safely every day.

Hardly reassuring. Either CMP officials aren’t reading the headlines, or they hope we aren’t.

  • New York Times (November 13, 2010)
    “Cell Phones and Cancer — a Far-From-Settled Issue”
  • CBS News (October 27, 2010):
    “The research is ongoing and controversial. You’ll find as many studies that say there could be a risk, as those who say no risk.” — Dr. Jennifer Ashton, MD
  • From the Motorola 120e cell phone manual:
    “The available science does not allow us to conclude that mobile phones are safe, or that they are unsafe.”

CMP claims there is international consensus over the safety of radiofrequency technology.

From the 2009 President’s Cancer Panel Report:

“Considerable disagreement exists within the scientific community regarding potential harm due to RF exposure from cellular phones and other wireless devices, and many of the available studies have been interpreted quite differently by researchers on both sides of the issue.”

Ignoring the existence of the other side, attempting to dismiss legitimate disagreement, pretending there is consensus when there isn’t — all consistent with CMP’s bullying approach to smart meter installation.

Even the Maine CDC report concluding smart meter safety (based on inconclusive cell phone studies) had 30 references to scientific uncertainty, unclear results, ongoing research and the need for further study.

CMP claims “our independent consultants at Exponent say smart meters are safe.”

This Los Angeles Times article says it all:

“When some of the world’s best-known companies faced disputes over secondhand smoke, toxic waste in the jungle and asbestos, they all turned to the same source for a staunch defense: Exponent Inc.” (“Toyota Calls in Exponent as Hired Gun,” The Los Angeles Times, February 18, 2010)

Exponent “scientists” are internationally known for downplaying and dismissing health risks to support industry. They provide legal testimony that helps their client, not health information that helps the general public. They get paid to make a case based on what supports industry’s side, and they are hired for their ability to ignore or distort legitimate health concerns. For example, this same firm has represented the tobacco companies, providing studies showing second-hand smoke doesn’t cause cancer.

Exponent is mentioned prominently in the book Doubt is Their Product: How Industry’s Assault on Science Threatens Your Health, whose author David Michaels heads the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Michaels writes that what Exponent “does best” in health-related lawsuits is “manufacture uncertainty.”

Regardless of which side of the science you believe, we feel it’s important to acknowledge there are two sides. CMP is not playing fair in trying to squelch any open, transparent discussion of this international debate.

CMP claims providing freedom of choice in the form of safer alternatives and opt-outs would be an “undue burden,” too expensive, could render the system inoperable, and it’s up to the PUC and/or the DOE to allow such choice.

CMP, rather than the PUC or the DOE, is in the best position to offer opt-out alternatives that would respect customers who don’t want a smart meter, while maintaining the system’s operability.

California’s largest utility, PG&E, just announced it wants to seek a compromise solution for customers with strong opposition to a smart meter on their home.

New Mexico offers medical waivers for people with health concerns about wireless smart meters.

Portland Water District offered medical waivers for people with health concerns about their meters, which only emit radio waves once per month, when activated by a two-way radio.

Entire countries, states, and two-dozen California communities have slowed down smart meter installation, stopped it, or used safer alternatives like fiber optics, hard-wired cable or phone-line transmission.

Maine editorial writers have recognized the importance of choice for concerned citizens (“CMP Should Allow Opt-Out for New Meters,” Lewiston Sun Journal, October 19, 2010).

Even the Maine CDC stated: “Although we are commenting on the possible health issues related to smart meters, this does not mean we are weighing in on whether or not people should have a choice in having them on their homes.”

CMP claims that according to the Maine CDC review, smart meters are safe.

Many Maine physicians are troubled by this review, which uses inconclusive cell phone studies to somehow conclude that smart meters are safe.

While the Maine CDC cites uncertain cell phone science as justification for installing smart meters, concerned practicing physicians feel that is reason to halt installation.

There is a growing body of good-quality evidence in peer-reviewed medical journals showing harmful health effects from EMF exposures…A cardinal rule of medicine is ‘First Do No Harm.’ Given the probability of harm in this case, I urge you to follow the Precautionary Principle – prove that a new technology is safe before implementing, rather than waiting until harmful effects build up to the point where they can be proven in the scientific community and then the public health community. Two examples of the latter approach are cigarette smoking and DDT.”
— Dr. Sean McCloy, MD, MPH, Portland

“I don’t believe we should install smart meters and wait for the science to conclusively show no risk, because by then it will be too late. We owe it to our children and future generations to make sure this technology will not be causing ill effects prior to installing it.”
— Dr. Karen Emery, MD, Maine Health Pediatrics, Falmouth

“There is definitely cause for concern, especially given that no health studies have been conducted on smart meters, and there are reports of health effects in other parts of the country where the meters have been installed.”
— Dr. Magili Chapman Quinn, DO, Portland

“I believe people should be able to choose whether they want to be part of the neighborhood-wide wireless network…With no scientific evidence that this equipment is safe, with no studies on short- or long-term health effects, I feel the burden should not be on families to prove harm by getting sick.”
— Dr. Amy Kustra Barksdale, MD, Portland

CMP claims: “This is not a health issue for the population.” — Linda Erdreich, Exponent, Inc.

Neither are asbestos, tobacco, or faulty Toyota brakes, according to her firm.


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