Smart meters: public health nightmare or public utility boon?

Madison Ruppert, Contributing Writer
Activist Post

Like a lot of things, so-called “smart meters” seem quite reasonable and even beneficial from a public health stance at first glance, but once one starts going through the facts with a fine-tooth comb, they don’t seem quite so laudable.

What exactly is questionable about these devices, and what, if any, danger do they pose to the American people?

For starters, these wireless meters have inflated the bills of many-a-consumer while also interfering with household electronic devices. While these highly praised devices are supposedly going to make our lives easier and make power more reliable and efficient, they just happen to ruin the functionality of several crucial gadgets found in the everyday home.

Everything from baby monitors to cordless phones experience static and other audible radiofrequency interference thanks to these “smart” meters. While the previous meters seemed to be working just fine for most and had the wonderful bonus of allowing you to hear your mother clearly over the phone, these new devices seem to only bring trouble.

Not only do these meters pose the somewhat minor annoyance of interfering with phone calls, they also have the potentially dangerous ability to interfere with garage doors, security systems, motion detectors, and more.

One of the corporations behind these imbecilic smart meters is Pacific Gas and Electric or PG&E, a company that rolled out their ironically named SmartMeters in Northern California last year.

When Mercury News contacted the utility, they “said little and put up a bureaucratic hurdle to get responses to readers’ concerns, going so far as to require notarized waivers of confidentiality. That’s the definition of stonewalling.”

Way back in the second quarter of 2009 PG&E discovered this massive issue but claimed that it was in “a limited number of cases” and in a report to the Public Utilities Commission of California they indicated a solution was soon to come.

However, the fix was never made and consumers have reported alarms being randomly triggered, satellite TV signal interference, wireless internet interference and more. The worst part of PG&E’s SmartMeter is that the devices were installed without the customer having any choice in the matter.

In Maine, Central Maine Power has been installing the smart meters in customers’ homes with similar problems.  In January of this year, Central Main Power (CMP) was forced to remove a smart meter from a Portland, Maine, home after it had repeatedly interfered with the home’s security system.

The public utility “allowed” the woman to opt-out of the smart meter, which to any rational person should seem a bit absurd. When we have to be allowed to opt-out of a product being installed on our own homes, something is afoot.

The Bath City Council of Maine passed a city ordinance that changed the ridiculous “opt-out” policy to an “opt-in” policy in which CMP could not install a smart meter on a customer’s home unless they opted to have it installed.

In response to this, the utility employed Pierce Atwood, a prominent Portland, Maine law firm to legally harass the Bath City Council for their laudable moratorium ordinance on the questionable smart meters. The letter was leaked in full to the Smart Meter Safety Coalition, which can be read here.

The annoyance posed by electro-frequency interference of household devices and the smart meters pales in comparison to some of the dangers posed by these seemingly innocuous meters.

According to Gary R. Olhoeft, SBEE and SMEE (MIT) and PhD (Physics, University of Toronto), Professor of Geophysics at Colorado School of Mines, these devices can interfere with sensitive medical implants including deep brain stimulators for Parkinson’s disease as well as pacemakers.

Why are we allowing a utility company to install devices which could have potentially deadly consequences, especially when we cannot even control if they are implemented or not?

Smart meters’ interference with life-sustaining medical devices is not the only health risk these gadgets pose.

According to a letter sent by Stephen J. Kirsch M.D., Local Health Officer of Scarborough, Maine, to Karen Geraghty, Administration Director of the Maine Public Utilities Commission, there are links between negative physical symptoms and the smart meters.

Dr. Kirsch reports that on two occasions one of his patient’s symptoms worsened when she was in her home with the smart meters installed. He also voices concern about the lack of a plan to monitor the safety of the devices and their impact on public health.

Dr. Kirsch mentions that during public sessions held in his town, many citizens reported physical sensitivity to non-ionizing radiofrequencies, the same frequencies emitted by these devices.

Like Dr. Olhoeft, Dr. Kirsch is “particularly concerned” about the effects smart meters will have on those individuals who depend on implantable medical devices to keep them alive. Dr. Kirsch also worries about those lying at the extreme ends of the age spectrum that are especially susceptible to health issues.

Due to the fact that power utilities are usually a monopoly and consumers only have one choice of power provider, Americans are being forced to use these smart meters even when they negatively impact their health.

Dr. Kirsch makes it clear in the letter that Central Maine Power is required to provide customers with the ability to opt-out of having the smart meters installed in their homes, as they have no other choice when it comes to power provider.

He also says that CMP should record all health complaints that are lodged after the smart meters have been installed in order to assess and analyze the health risks associated with this new technology.

Dr. David Carpenter, a physician trained at Harvard Medical School, former head of the New York State Department of Health for 18 years and now Dean of the School of Public Health points out that while no studies have been done on human health in homes with smart meters installed, there is a plethora of scientific literature showing that electromagnetic radiation has dangerous effects.

Dr. Carpenter is indeed quite right, as finally the World Health Organization’s International Agency on Cancer classified radiofrequency radiation as a “possible human carcinogen.”

Dr. Carpenter comes to a very similar conclusion as Dr. Kirsch: we must be able to demand analog meters instead of the new smart meter technology until they are proven safe.

The logic employed by those pushing smart meter technology is nothing short of fallacious. Since they claim that they are safe due to the fact that there is no research proving otherwise, they are simply appealing to ignorance. This is the fallacy in informal logic known as argumentum ad ignorantiam.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Norbert Hankin, Center for Science and Risk Assessment Radiation Protection Division, “Federal health and safety agencies have not yet developed policies concerning possible risk form long-term nonthermal [radiofrequency radiation] exposures.”

So when even the EPA admits that there is really no protection afforded to consumers by federal health and safety agencies and so-called “public” utilities are actively fighting the real public who is attempting to slow their advance, why are we allowing these untested devices to be installed anywhere?

One can talk about the benefits to one’s heart’s content; it still does not make the lack of credible, independent, peer-reviewed scientific literature on the health effects of smart meters in the home any more real.

While wireless internet routers, cellular telephones, and many other household sources of radiofrequency radiation can be turned off, the smart meters and the neighborhood relay points cannot. Therefore, one has no control over the constant barrage of radiation in their home once the power company has decided they will install the device.

An August 2009 issue of the scientific journal, Pathophysiology, electromagnetic field (EMF) effects were studied and presented on DNA, the brain, and the environment.

Some of the findings were quite startling to say the least, including the finding that EMFs can actually damage DNA. Indeed intermittent Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) EMFs have been shown to increase the risk of cancerous diseases.

A study found that ELF-EMF exposure causes single and double strand DNA breaks at levels well below the proposed guidelines set by the International Commission of Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection. The researchers concluded, “The induced DNA damage is not based on thermal effects and arouses concern about environmental threshold limit values for ELF exposure.”

Keep in mind that this type of EMF is distinct from the field emitted by a smart meter, as Dr. Carpenter mentioned. This simply shows that we require more thorough research on the radiation specific to these meters.

Again, an argument from ignorance should not be accepted by the American people as a justification to roll-out untested, unsafe technology.

Yet, the Western media seems to lack the most rudimentary logical faculties, evidenced by their continual appeals to ignorance that amount to nothing more than a thinly veiled advertisement for the wireless smart meters.

So-called journalists are quick to point out that not all scientists concur on the safety of the meters. It is as if these journalists forgot that every major scientific breakthrough occurs when there is a small group of revolutionaries challenging the stagnant majority opinion.

If the public listened to these ignorant journalists, we would still be saying the world is flat because only a few people agreed with those bright and brave enough to stand up to the scientific establishment.

One might be thinking that this is only in a couple cities and therefore can be brushed aside like so much garbage. Unfortunately for the people of the entire world, this is far from reality.

In California alone 43 different counties have gone on the record in opposition of the smart meters while 10 counties have banned the devices entirely.

In Monterey County, California, the City of Marina’s City Council voted unanimously this week to oppose the smart meters peddled by Pacific Gas & Electric Company or PG&E, while the town of Fairfax says that PG&E’s program is not cost effective and is noncompliant with the state of California’s Public Utilities Commission’s directions.  Currently, PG&E charges consumers for opting out from having the untested devices installed on their home.

These smart meter programs are having a frightening effect on individuals suffering from electromagnetic hypersensitivity or EHS as outlined in one man’s letter to an expert in the field after smart meters had been installed in his apartment building.

For those who would scoff at such a condition, the California Department of Health’s statistics say that at least 3-15% of the population has developed EHS.

Are we really going to force suffering Americans to fork over hard-earned and all-too-spare cash in order to live a healthy and comfortable life in their own home? Is it just me or does something seem seriously wrong with this picture?

IBM, the same wonderful people behind the technology that tracked and catalogued the Jews in Nazi Germany, have been pushing incessantly for a global smart grid, but why?

In part two of this series, we will explore the massive boon this technology would be for the international cover surveillance industry. In future installments we will get into the larger scale plan at work, what a “global smart grid” really means and so much more.

If you have any research or articles to assist in this series please do not hesitate to contact me at I would love to hear from you and I sincerely appreciate all of the e-mails I receive from readers.

Madison. Ruppert is the Editor and Owner-Operator of the alternative news and analysis database End The Lie and has no affiliation with any NGO, political party, economic school, or other organization/cause. If you have questions, comments, or corrections feel free to contact him at
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