Smart meter testing report seriously flawed

A study on smart meters in Maui Meadows (The Maui News, April 29) came to the erroneous conclusion that the new electric meters are safe.

The report contains substantial errors, omitted readings from inside homes, utilized an inadequate testing protocol, made unsubstantiated health claims, employed an inappropriate testing device, is based on irrelevant guidelines and was conducted by an industry-biased company.

In accordance with BioInitiative 2012 Report and other independent biomedical research, pulsed, chronic radio frequency exposure to levels over 3 to 6 microwatts/m2 can lead to adverse health effects. Nearly all readings recorded were well in excess of this, assuming the values were in microwatts/m2 – which is muddled in the report. Thus, despite the misleading headline trumpeting their safety, the report actually demonstrates that adverse health effects can be expected.

Errors in the report: The report states that values will be listed in units of milliwatts per square centimeter, but the primary chart is labeled in microwatts per square meter. The report should be rejected on this point alone because the results cannot be adequately interpreted.

No readings taken inside homes: Only five meters were tested and all were tested outside homes, none inside – a glaring omission. Since RF penetrates most materials, RF transmission inside the homes should have been measured, especially if a meter is mounted outside a bedroom.

Inadequate testing protocol: The report makes the blanket claim: “Measured signals in this survey do not create a hazard to the public.” Testing only five meters and none inside homes renders the survey inadequate to make this determination.

Unsubstantiated health claims: The fact that a utility consulting company would extend far beyond its area of expertise and proclaim “no hazard to the public” is egregious. A utility consultant’s role is to confirm compliance with Federal Communications Commission guidelines, not comment on the public health impacts of non-ionizing radiation. Such a statement makes a mockery of the World Health Organization’s determination in 2011 that RF radiation, such as that emitted by smart meters, is a Class 2B potential carcinogen (like DDT, lead, and chloroform).

Inappropriate testing device: The report states: “The test instrument has a signal measurement range (designed) to capture the expected signal levels.” However, specifications of the instrument indicate many readings were in excess of the meter’s capability.

The data suggest the meter may have been inappropriate, in which case the peak readings may have well exceeded 2,000 microwatts/m2. If an inappropriate instrument was used, the entire report would be invalid.

Irrelevant guidelines: The report hinges on outdated FCC standards for short-term RF effects, such as shock or burn.

Electromagnetic radiation standards used by the FCC were based on thermal heating, a criterion now nearly 30 years out of date. The FCC allowable levels are dangerously high compared to levels at which biological effects are found according to the biomedical research. Nine other countries, including China, Russia and most of Europe, have significantly lower guidelines.

The outdated FCC standards have been heavily criticized for years by other government agencies. The guidelines were designed to prevent the overheating of flesh, yet there are significant effects – documented in thousands of peer-reviewed research studies – that happen well before flesh overheats. These include cancers, sleep disruptions, DNA damage, breaching of the blood-brain barrier, damage to sperm, and neurological effects on memory, learning and behavior.

Further, smart meters produce peak pulses and it’s the peak pulses that are a problem. Yet these are averaged and become invisible. It’s comparable to a blinding strobe light flashing every 30 seconds but that gets averaged over an hour so it looks like the equivalent of a 40-watt light bulb and is proclaimed safe.

Conducted by an industry-biased company: The testing was conducted by Cascadia PM, whose clients include essentially every major wireless company and obviously has a vested interest in furthering the proliferation of wireless technologies such as smart meters and the cell towers/masts that accompany them. Choosing this company exposes a serious conflict of interest and calls into question the validity of the entire report.

Considering all the pertinent flaws, it is disturbing that the Maui County energy commissioner endorsed the report.

* Debra Greene, Ph.D., is an energy health specialist who founded the nonprofit organization to expose the hazards of smart meters in Hawaii.