Commonwealth Edison has announced their intention to replace all our homes’ electricity meters in the next few months with what they refer to as an upgrade to electronic “smart meters.” For the reasons explained below, Warrenville residents should be given the choice to opt-out of this changeover on their homes, and all citizens and the City Council are urged to advocate for this right at the Warrenville Public Safety Meeting on Monday June 9th (7pm at City Hall). The case for an opt-out offered here considers assertions made by Commonwealth Edison as well as reports and opinions from and regarding other utilities, organizations and citizens around the country and the world. (No allegation of malicious or harmful intent on the part of ComEd is intended here, only a brief and accurate overview of the growing “smart meter” health safety controversy.)
Unlike existing conventional analog meters that have functioned reliably for decades, digital “smart meters” electronically monitor electricity usage and emit radio frequency (RF) pulse transmissions to each other and to the utility, eliminating in-person meter reading. ComEd states that these meters provide benefits to customers, primarily the ability to monitor details of their usage online and adjust their habits to reduce costs. The validity of this claim is debatable, as some communities’ electric bills have actually increased after smart meter installations, and utilities offer no guarantee of cost reduction to consumers. Regardless, serious and growing concerns exist around the country regarding possible health consequences posed to humans and animals living in a home equipped with these RF radiating “smart meters.”
There is increasing evidence and awareness that the RF pulsed-transmission radiation emitted by smart meters (similar in some ways to cell phones, Wi-Fi, etc.) can have a disruptive effect on metabolic functions and may induce in some individuals one or more of a wide variety of serious and debilitating medical symptoms, including nausea, dizziness, fatigue, severe headaches, cardiac irregularities, seizures, and more. Evidence even suggests a possible increase in long-term cancer risk as well as possible links to the occurrence of autism in children, particularly when mothers experience high exposure during pregnancy. Individuals with medical devices such as pacemakers also face possible complications. Physical proximity to the meter and frequency/duration of exposure is a factor in the severity of a human body’s reaction (as well as each individual’s particular sensitivity), but once installed, a smart meter emits its pulsed RF radiation twenty-four hours a day; it cannot be turned off, unlike cell phones, microwave ovens, computer Wi-Fi, and other radiating devices under our own control. And many of us have an electric meter location just outside the wall of a frequently used part of our home, such as a kitchen, family room, or bedroom; this means unavoidably close and prolonged exposure to the meter’s radiation, which propagates in all lateral directions and penetrates through most walls and building materials.
Advocates of smart meters downplay risks of RF radiation exposure, citing limited amounts of total daily data transmission to the utility. However, these time amounts are cumulative totals and also do not take into account the frequent status transmissions between the meters themselves in a neighborhood’s “meshed grid.” In total, smart meters have been reported to produce anywhere from 5,000 to 190,000 energy bursts spread over the course of the day; a higher rate is more likely on a home whose meter functions as a “hub,” funneling other houses’ data to the utility via its clearer transmission line-of-sight. (You likely won’t know if your house is functioning as a hub, nor are you likely to have any choice in the matter.) The result of this continuous pulse operation is that a home’s occupants end up in an essentially constant wash of radiation that is completely beyond their control.
But it doesn’t end there. There are actually two RF radiating antennae inside a smart meter. The second one is there to communicate with next-generation “smart” appliances (refrigerators, air conditioners, furnaces, etc.) in your home, logging detailed usage data and allowing the utility to actually assume control of certain of their functions, such as dialing down your heat or AC during a peak usage event. “Smart” appliances are new and rare so far, but they will be increasingly phased into the market as time passes. As this occurs, adding to the primary antenna radiation the additional radiation of the meter’s second antenna plus that of multiple smart appliances’ own antennae makes for an even denser and more potentially hazardous RF environment, again beyond the control of the homeowner.
Another serious concern is the “switching mode power supply” (SMPS) used by smart meters. This type of power supply converts AC to DC for the meter’s electronic operation and is known to create so-called “dirty electricity,” or electromagnetic spikes that travel throughout a home’s entire wiring system and are believed to contribute significantly to the health effects associated with smart meters. Short of actually shutting off circuit breakers in your house, this phenomenon cannot be “turned off” either. (Some more electrically sensitive individuals living in homes with a smart meter must actually resort to shutting off some or all of their breakers just to get a night’s sleep.)
Commonwealth Edison asserts that smart meters are safe, and a consumer video on their website cites compliance with current FCC and ICC regulations as well as comparisons to other household electronic devices as evidence. However, we are all aware that compliance with a current regulation by no means necessarily constitutes real safety. And a claim of a lack of conclusive evidence of harm does not equal conclusive evidence of safety. One need only reflect on the tragic history of asbestos, leaded gasoline, lead paint and DDT etc. to realize this. Each of these products was perfectly legal and officially considered safe for many years until evidence of its toxicity accumulated to a point which no longer allowed for plausible denial by the industries involved and their regulatory bodies. The lesson is that without independent, established long-term scientific studies, we can all become unfortunate guinea pigs in a real-life experiment with potentially grave consequences. Add the fact that “smart meters” are not necessary for the reliable and efficient delivery of electricity to our homes, and the inevitable conclusion is that forcing these devices (in their current form at least) on homeowners is a bad idea at best and a potentially disastrous mistake at worst.
Homeowners and renters can easily go online and investigate this issue for themselves, beyond the ComEd website which touts alleged benefits and safety. Googling “smart meter health” and “smart meter action” is a good way to find a multitude of sites with relevant information. The amount of personal stories from citizens around the country believed to have suffered ill effects from these meters is staggering; their stories will alarm you, and they should. Be aware that utilities have a pro-smart-meter presence online as well though, some of which attempt to discredit those who are raising questions and concerns about citizens’ rights to safety and control over their home environment. Visiting a multitude of sites can help you sort through the issues and use your own good judgment, bearing in mind sources and their possible motivations, financial or otherwise.
If you share the growing concerns of doctors (including the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, AAEM), scientists, and your fellow citizens about the potential hazards of smart meters and homeowners' rights, please talk to each other and to your city and state representatives without delay. Ask the City Council to advocate on our behalf against the forced installation of smart meters on our homes unless and until they can be rendered and proven to be conclusively safe. Utilities are moving quickly on this, so we must act even more swiftly! Once smart meters are installed on our homes, eliminating them could be extremely difficult; costly and lengthy legal action would almost certainly be necessary, based on the experiences of citizens in other parts of the country, including Naperville, where a federal lawsuit is in progress. Get involved, for your sake and for your family’s sake. The citizens of Naperville lost the first round of this fight due to lack of awareness or indifference. Let us hope we fare better, and work to do so.
Here are some actions you can take:
*Attend Warrenville’s public safety meeting at 7:00pm on Monday June 9th at City Hall, and ask your neighbors to attend as well. A representative from Commonwealth Edison is scheduled to be in attendance to hear your concerns. Educating yourself about smart meter issues in advance of this meeting will help you to understand and interpret claims made by the utility which has already announced its plans to install these new devices on our homes without our input or consent.
*Call and write Commonwealth Edison and insist that they offer you and your fellow Warrenville citizens the choice to “opt-out” of smart meter installation. (Important note: ComEd may offer you a “delay” option; this is not an opt-out and will ultimately not protect you.) ComEd’s website has contact information.
*Inform Commonwealth Edison (in a written letter and via clear written signage on your property) that you do not consent to installation of a “smart meter” or any similar device on your home or property, and that you assert your right to keep your current analog meter.
*Respectfully ask your Aldermen and the City Council to help you protect your rights to control your home’s environment and your family's safety by advocating for a permanent smart meter opt-out choice. Visit www.warrenville.il.us for Warrenville city officials’ contact information, and be heard!
Please contact Steve @ firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. If you are a Warrenville resident your signature would be greatly appreciated. Naperville's smart meters have already been installed and for many with the lack of awareness and the adversity is much harder to confront once the installation has occurred.For those of you that care to be informed where ever you reside protect your rights to control your family's safety and privacy rights.
Warrenville Citizens for Utility Safety
PO Box 175, Warrenville IL 60555