Do smart meters pose health risks?

Do smart meters pose health risks?

Summary: Concerns over electromagnetic radiation and radio waves have prompted the town of Fairfax, Calif., to try to delay a local smart meter installation by Pacific Gas & Electric.

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Compelling article over at the Treehugger blog site about a movement in Fairfax, Calif., (north of the San Francisco Bay area) that aims to put the kibosh on a smart meter project that was planned for this summer.

One motivation for the proposed delay is the town council's concern that smart meters could pose a health risk similar to the debate over cell tower base stations. Its the whole electromagnetic radiation and radio wave argument all over again. There's also the human stress factor: Fairfax is concerned that smart meters equal fewer jobs for human meter readers and that they will boost energy bills. Both, of course, would stress out local residents.

Just more evidence that it will take much longer to get any kind of smart grid in place than all of us can imagine, not just for technology reasons but for cultural factors.

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19 comments
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  • It's what I've been saying all along

    Just try to install these in Detroit
    where 1 in 10 buildings has an illegal hookup
    who are you going to hire to go in and do the work?
    gotta get it past city council
    gotta be local contractors
    union
    Then go out to the houses
    pit bulls
    hostile residents
    civil rights activists

    this is a dream
    you cannot retrofit a 60 year old system with smart meters
    This is what they need to do
    Make it code in new buildings
    forget about the old ones
    zmud
  • I agree with them!

    All Smart Meters will do is cut down the payroll of the power company saving them money all the while you will be apying more because they will be charging more for peak time usage!
    pmfjoe
  • RE: Do smart meters pose health risks?

    As I understand it, smart meters only radiate a low-power signal (much lower than that of a cell phone) when they are interrogated, perhaps once a month. A protocol where they were radiating continuously would be absurd. How could one tell the messages apart and why would one waste the spectrum space by a factor of hundreds of thousands?

    As to the latter point, do we really think that the introduction of Strowger switches, which displaced nearly all of the telephone operator positions a century ago, was a bad thing?
    asc0t
    • meters read very often

      @asc0t
      I do not think there is any more danger from smart meter RF than from radio/tv/cell phone. There are smart meters for gas and smart meters for electricity. Gas meters use wireless network to communicate (they work on a 10 year battery so must be replaced). Electric meters have the option of using power line networking or a wireless network , depending on the system each company selects. The gas meters are only read monthly or weekly. However electric meters are read often, maybe a few times an hour. This does allow peak billing rates. It also lets the power company track and localize any power outages in real time, as well as offer methods to keep the power managed during periods of high power usage.
      computerendangerment
  • RE: Do smart meters pose health risks?

    POOPY! very pure...
    rby09
  • There are some technological issues with the PG&E meters

    It appears that if you surround the meters with aluminum foil that is grounded, they can't phone home. Not that anyone would ever do that ...you know how much we all like getting our utility bills.

    It is likely that a different version that sends a signal back through the utility feed will get around the RF problem (no radiation for tree huggers to complain about).
    WiredGuy
    • You realize

      @WiredGuy
      That if the meter doesn't respond to polling, it will be replaced pretty quickly, and the customer can be fined the same as if they had tried to bypass a conventional meter.
      An early version of this transmitted through your phone line and even your TV cable. Power companies have been looking for ways to stop hiring meter readers since Edison.
      Papa_Bill
  • RE: Do smart meters pose health risks?

    My electric co-op has used remote reading meters they call "Turtles" for years.

    The meter signals its reading at a very low data rate, one so slow it gets through the transformer.

    The data is then collected at the substations for the utility computers.

    I'm pretty sure no RF is involved 'cause otherwise I don't think it wouldn't make it through the transformer.

    I've assumed the smarts of the so-called smart meter were at the utility data center, and the meter itself only smart compared to the old electro-mechanical meters.
    CodeCurmudgeon
  • RE: Do smart meters pose health risks?

    Out here in Northern California PG&E is adding RF smart meters all over. They work in a distributed "RF Mesh" 2 way network, which means that each electric meter is acting as a relay for others, and therefore they are all constantly transmitting.
    There are periodic "Access Points" on poles that collect the data from the Mesh, and relay it to the office via the Cell network.
    I believe the Gas meters connect into the Electric network via the nearest E-meter, but it is possible they connect directly to their own Access Points with Cell relay.
    When you compare the distance they have to be able to connect between meters and the AP's, you could believe it is higher power levels than a WIFi router, and every house has one! That could add up... (I am in the country, so it can be quite a distance between the meters and the AP's)
    They have currently installed 5,488,880 Smart Meters in NorCal...
    http://www.pge.com/myhome/customerservice/meter/smartmeter/howitworks/
    Oh, and they can remotely update the software on the meter. Cue conspiracy theories! :)
    ke6gwf
    • Conspiracy theory No. 1 Times 10 to the 6th

      @ke6gwf
      It's going to be connected directly to our brain to monitor our health for Obama.
      Papa_Bill
      • RE: RE: Do smart meters pose health risks?

        @becabill@... nope.. it will be used in concert with the obligatory butt probe monitoring system that will be used to access a person's greenhouse gas emissions and carbon foot-print at an individual level
        pcdocms
  • Have to wonder..

    if any of this 'luddite' behavior is based on the FACT that this technology does nothing except give Power companies the monopoly not only on your power use, but your power use timing.
    THEY want to control when you go to BED, by pricing you out of the market for 01:00 consumption, when their reactors are starting the morning heat up cycle.
    mykmlr@...
  • RE: Do smart meters pose health risks?

    Sweden, where I live, has more experience than most countries (because Ericsson Ltd pioneered) about the harmful long time exposure effects of microwave radiation. Our medical experience and research indicates that very low intensities can be harmful. We have a worrisome statistically highly significatn increase in brain tumors on the side where people have held the phone appearing after 10-15 years of usage. Research from several angles confirm that very low levels of radiation can cause cancers and other harmful effects in the long run. The Northern Californian grid system seems questionable, if it means that the radiation is almost continuous. For more on cellphone safety see the website:
    http://psrast.org
    estonijaan
    • RE: Radiation

      @estonijaan <br>The transmit cycle is only about 2 milliseconds every few hours, much, much less exposure than that of a cellphone which is, of course held (usually) directly against the head. (Let's not discuss Bluetooth headsets)<br>Of course, you might be able to work out a deal with your power company to leave you old meter in place, for a substantial fee, of course.
      Papa_Bill
      • Actual data about the PG&E Smart Meters

        @becabill@... <br>I would like to see where you are getting your data.<br>From what I can tell, the PG&E Smart meters have 1 Watt transceivers that act as a multi-path redundant Mesh Topography wireless network.<br>If you are just looking at a single meter to a single AP, then yes you will only need short bursts of data every few minutes. (for smart load balancing they are going to want to know loads more than every couple of hours)<br>On the other hand, if you look at any other standard wireless network such as wifi, does the transmitter shut off when no data is flowing, or does it keep sending packets to keep the link open?<br>In this case one of the advertised benefits is that it keeps several data paths open at once for redundancy, and that the data paths flow through the meters until they reach multiple AP's. To me that means that each meter is broadcasting 1 watt constantly. Even if the transmitter idles between bursts, in a city you might have several hundred meters linking through each other, therefore keeping the transmitters on most of the time.<br>These meters are using IPv6 addressing, so the numbers of Mesh-ed meters is pretty much unlimited!<br><a href="http://www.silverspringnet.com/products/emeters_GE_I-210 .html" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.silverspringnet.com/products/emeters_GE_I-210" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.silverspringnet.com/products/emeters_GE_I-210" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.silverspringnet.com/products/emeters_GE_I-210" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.silverspringnet.com/products/emeters_GE_I-210" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.silverspringnet.com/products/emeters_GE_I-210" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.silverspringnet.com/products/emeters_GE_I-210" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.silverspringnet.com/products/emeters_GE_I-210</a></a></a></a></a> .html</a> (the end of the url should be .....210PlusSign DOT HTML This page doesn't seem to allow the Plus Sign) This is the supplier PG&E uses.<br>They also have the capability for House Networks, which would be the ability to control your dishwasher and dryer and AC and such to shut off when there are overloads on the power grid. That of course would add more radio signals from those appliances.<br><br>Ben~
        ke6gwf
  • RE: Do smart meters pose health risks?

    Their homes are necessarily bathed with electromagnetic radiation, their wi-fi router broadcasts their LOLCats fix to the laptop, and they have a cell phone glued to their ear for hours. Okie dokie then.
    Chiatzu
  • RE: Do smart meters pose health risks?

    Why cant these metres COLLECT the data on file (RAM) and send it ONCE A DAY rather then ever 15 minutes or more, Why? This is WIFI that is radiation exposure, and a key reason why people dont want them. And yes at the other person said, it builds up ... They could have WIRED every metre... and stop telling us that its too costly or too much work, because the Cable TV companies, and Telephone companies have RUN WIRES for years and their products are still in high demand because A- they are secure B- they are safe. Their wires are inplace, why not use them??? wouldnt that be practical? Wired is the way to go to get their metres installed without debate - so listen in industry and get those healthy WIRED metres in production
    8sjd
  • I have an idea for the electric company to maximise employment & save wire.

    Each house has, instead of just an electric meter, a treadmill. The electric company employee comes to your home at 9 a.m. and starts walking on your treadmill, generating electricity for your home and appliances. He has a pedometer so you know how much electricity you have used each day. Not so good if you want light to read in the evening, or to watch TV, and kind of tricky ato accommodate disabled employees, but it's nuclear free!
    Robert Carnegie 2009
  • RE: Do smart meters pose health risks?

    Watch the video out of Stratford Ontario Canada where the smart meters are on a WIFI network - one of the first of its kind in North America says Motorola, and the meters are constantly sending electromagnetic signals to the central station to collect the data. This can NOT be healthy. Infact there are people who cant sleep with this. Same in California, Texas and Maine. This is the same stuff you see getting removed from schools because kids have become ill after it was installed. Think about what this giant mistake will do to health, our economy...if people are not healthy enough to work there goes everything. wire it all and avoid the health issue
    4hd2