Smart Meter EMF Health Concerns Unfounded


That appears to be the conclusion of research done to date on the effects of exposure to the radio frequencies from smart meters.  Because of the short 1 second burst typically required to transmit the meter data every 15 minutes exposure to radio frequencies from smart meters is substantially less than many other common household equipment and appliances.

One of the objections to Smart Meter installation in Marin County and elsewhere in California has been the concern about the radio frequency exposure implications from near proximity to the smart meters. Recently the Utilities Telecom Council, admittedly an industry trade group, released an interesting white paper entitled No Health Threat from Smart Meters summarizing the Federal safety standards in effect and a comparison of smart meter radiation to other common devices.

The report said:

“We examine the facts about the impact of radio frequency energy on the body, showing that the devices utilities seek to install pose no threat of harm to humans. We show that the type of radio energy used and emitted by smart meters, cell phone, wireless routers and microwave ovens can only damage the body at extremely high levels. While research continues into long term effects, there has been no conclusive evidence that low level RF energy has a long term negative impact. We concentrate on RF energy and acknowledge that electric meters are connected to the power system and unauthorized tampering or dismantling an electric meter could pose electric shock danger to anyone coming in direct contact with energized electric conductors.”

The Report offers the following comparisons:


Comparison of RF Power Density in the Everyday Environment

Device Relative Power Density in microwatts per square centimeter (μW/cm2)

FM radio or TV broadcast station signal 0.005
SmartMeter™ device at 10 feet 0.1
Cyber cafe (Wi‐Fi) 10‐20
Laptop computer 10‐20
Cell phone held up to head 30‐10,000
Walkie‐Talkie at head 500‐42,000
Microwave oven, two inches from door 5000

Source: Pacific Gas and Electric:

The PG&E link used as a source provides links to a range of studies of EMF issues around the world for more insight into this fear.  To date there is no evidence substantiating any of these health concerns.

Electric utilities installing smart meters typically read the meter once every 15 minutes requiring about 1 second to transmit consumption data.  Under this scenario, smart meters are transmitting about 0.11% of the day in short bursts of less than one second. Even if the meter transmits once every 15 seconds, as is the case when no interrogation signal is used, transmission would still only by 6.7% of the day

Smart meters use low power levels similar to WiFi devices used in wireless home networks. Laptop computers used every day in millions of home transmit at levels higher than the smart meter and the transmitters from these devices are always “on”.

In short, while there is much to criticize in the way utilities have rolled out smart meter programs and interacted with customers about the billings and unintended consequences of old rate designs applied in the age of smart metering, but health concerns about the safety of the smart meters appears not to be valid based upon the evidence to date.