Friday, July 19, 2013

SMART TALK: Refuting Dumb Science

Smart meters emit radio frequencies (RF); so do microwaves, cell phones, baby monitors, wireless laptops and more. Yet, the complaints about health problems are focused on smart meters, even though there is no conclusive scientific evidence that connects human exposure to RF emissions with negative health impacts.

People erroneously assume that smart meters are constantly transmitting data to a utility company over a 24 hour period. That’s not how the meters work. The meters store data in 15-minute intervals but the encrypted data is only sent several times a day. Each transmission only lasts a few seconds. Generally, smart meters transmit less than 1 percent of the time in a 24-hour period. Only a few minutes. (MLGW plans to continue using once daily data transmission, which lasts just a minute or two.)

Still, let’s assume that a smart meter malfunctioned and transmitted all day. According to the Electric Power Research Institute, the exposure level for an automated meter would still be far less than Federal Communications Commission limits; the FCC has set RF emission limits since 1985.

Let’s assume that a person is standing right next to a smart meter. As scientists David H. Bailey and Jonathan M. Borwein explained in a recent Huffington Post article: “Even if one stands less than one meter (3 feet) from a smart meter when it broadcasts its data, the resulting microwave exposure is 550 times less than standing in front of an active microwave oven, and 1100 times less than holding an active cell phone to one's ear.”

They also state that “20-year exposure to radiation from smart meters is no greater than a single 30-minute cell phone call.”

And that leads us to the obviousness of dumb science: who is going to stand three feet in front of a smart meter all day? No one – not to mention that, if someone did, the RF exposure is still about 70 times less than FCC limits.

The anti-smart meter “science” gets even less credible when scientifically-vetted research shows that RF emissions weaken significantly with distance. Construction standards for homes further diminish emissions.
We could go on but Bailey and Borwein provide the best answers to the advocates of “dumb science”:

“If they truly are convinced that microwave radiation constitutes a material threat to good health, even at extremely low levels, then they should:
  1. Not even carry, much less use, a cell phone, smart phone or tablet.
  2. Not permit anyone else coming to their residence to carry or use a cell phone, smart phone or tablet.
  3. Avoid Bluetooth technology for earphones, printers and computer mice.
  4. Not visit any business establishment (almost all) that has public or private WiFi in use.
  5. Not visit any business establishment (almost all) that permits customers to carry or operate cell phones.”
Yet, we’ve seen no signs advocating that at recent townhall meetings.

To learn more about MLGW’s smart meter project,

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