Health Impacts of Radio Frequency from Smart Meters
COMPLETED: March 2011
With rapidly emerging and evolving technologies, lawmakers at times find themselves pressed to make policy decisions on complex technologies. Smart meters are one such technology.
Smart meters are being deployed in many places in the world in an effort to create a new generation of utility service based on the concepts of a smart grid, one that is agile, efficient and cost effective.
The electricity crisis of 2000 and 2001 helped force the issue here in California, lending significant urgency to the need for better management of power generation and distribution. In 2006, the California Public Utilities Commission authorized the Pacific Gas and Electric Company to implement a relatively new technology, smart meters, to gather much more precise information about power usage throughout the state. The process of installing the meters throughout the state is still underway.
As with any new technology, there are unknowns involved. Smart meters generally work by transmitting information wirelessly. Some people have expressed concerns about the health effects of wireless signals, particularly as they become virtually ubiquitous. These concerns have recently been brought to the attention of state legislators, with some local municipalities opting to ban further installation of the meters in their communities.
We are pleased that Assembly Members Huffman and Monning have turned to CCST for input on this issue. It is CCST’s charge to offer independent expert advice to the state government and to recommend solutions to science and technology -‐ related policy issues. In this case, we have assembled a succinct but comprehensive overview of what is known about human exposure to wireless signals and the efficacy of the FCC safety standards for these signals. To do so, we assembled a project team that consulted with over two dozen experts and sifted through over a hundred articles and reports, providing a thorough, unbiased overview in a relatively rapid manner.
In situations where public sentiment urges policy makers to make policy decisions with potentially long — term consequences, access to the best information possible is critical. This is the role that CCST was created to fulfill.