‘Smart Meters’ and Cell Phones

Smart meters use basically the same wireless technology as cell phones.

The FCC sets radiation standards, with which all manufacturers of smart meters must comply.

The frequency of cell phone radiation corresponds to a wavelength of approximately one foot. This wavelength is thousands of times larger than structures in the brain responsible for mental processes, and so claims that wireless radiation can cause maladies such as “dizziness” or “memory loss” are absurd.

It is useful to compare the radiation levels of smart meters with those of other wireless devices. Smart meters only transmit data for a few seconds per day. Even if one stands 3 feet from a smart meter when it broadcasts its data, the resulting microwave exposure is 500 times less than standing in front of an active microwave oven, and 1000 times less than holding an active cell phone to one’s ear.

No one spends his life within three feet of a smart meter. Instead, such devices are typically on the outside of a residence, many feet from humans. In addition, microwave intensity decreases as the square of distance from the source, this means that exposure from smart meters is hundreds of times less than cell phones. Indeed, 20-year exposure to radiation from smart meters is no greater than a single 30-minute cell phone call.

A 2011 report by the California Council on Science and Technology concludes, “Exposure levels from smart meters are well below the FCC’s established standards for health effects.”

In short, the health risk to radiation by smart meters is hundreds or even thousands of times less than that of cell phone usage.

BTW, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and the coming “internet of things” also use the same technology. It’s not far-fetched to turn them off when you’re not using them.

With regards to cell phones, in a 2008 Congressional hearing, the Director of the National Cancer institute’s Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program declared that the effect of cell phone radiation “appears to be insufficient to produce genetic damage typically associated with developing cancer.”

Numerous other studies are summarized at the National Cancer Institute website, which finds “no appreciable link between cell phone use and cancers of the brain, nerves, or other tissues of the head and neck.”

Cell phones have been around for more than 20 years. If there were health issues, it would be common knowledge by now.
The American Cancer Society says that “Because the low levels of energy from RF radiation have not been clearly shown to cause problems even at close range, it isn’t clear that lowering exposure to RF radiation has health benefits.”

I want to tell a story. It’s entirely true. I lived it.

Wardsboro, VT sits in a valley, and over-the-air TV reception sucks – big time.

In order to get anything at all, you needed a very expensive antenna with a rotor.

The residents pooled their resources and formed a “cable club” to purchase a super antenna and feed the signal via cables to the members. I became the club president.

It worked. We could get the 3 networks and VT public TV.

After a couple of years, we decided to invest in a “Dish” to add cable TV channels.

We acquired a second-hand dish and installed it in a field in town.

However, we had to save up to buy the necessary electronics, so the dish lay unused for nearly a year.

One of the residents who lived next to the dish started complaining about headaches and sleeplessness which she blamed on the dish.
Since the electronics had never been even purchased, we knew it couldn’t be the dish. It was nothing but a big piece of plastic sitting out in a field. Eventually we were able to convince her that the dish wasn’t the cause of her problems, it was her belief about the dish.

This is called in medicine, a “Nocebo” effect.

I think that nocebos are driving the opposition to smart meters.

Back in 1910, people used to worry about electricity “leaking” from wall outlets and light switches.

Comments | 18

  • Awash in microwaves

    I kind of see the gov’t and the corporations as being on the same side, so I don’t automatically believe their research when they say this stuff is safe.

    In the case of smart meters, wifi, and cell phone transmissions, we’re exposed to lots of sources of that kind of radiation all the time. We didn’t use to be but we are now. No one wants to find problems with this technology so it’s doubtful any will be found. People don’t want to have to worry about phones and wireless technology. They just want to use them for everything.

    But that doesn’t mean that vastly increasing the amount of radiation that people are exposed to has no effect. It just means we haven’t identified the effects. It seems really unlikely to me that there would be no effect, because almost everything you introduce into an environment has some effect on other things in that environment. Why should smart meters or wifi networks be any different?

  • Bombarded

    The fact is we are bombarded by EMFs from numerous technological devices in use today, but we don’t really know enough about these EMFs’ impact on the human body. That is the perfect reason to take extra precautions, especially with cell phones, tablets and Wi-Fi. Having your cell phone attached to you at all times is an unnecessary risk.

  • Cops 'n Radar

    I have seen reports (Perhaps Apocryphal) about police coming down with testicular cancer from nestling their speed guns in their laps when not aiming them at speeders.

  • Just a little

    Smoking one cigarette won’t kill anyone. The exhaust from a single car doesn’t pollute the atmosphere that much. One trash bag tossed by the side of the road isn’t really a threat to the environment.

  • electro-sensitivity


    First off, I’m curious, since the first part of your initial article , up until your personal account about the Wardsboro “Dish” & Nocebo effect, excerpts were taken almost word for word from this 2013 Huffingtonpost article………..


    Why did you not link to it?

    I’ve been aware of this iBratt article since it was posted, and have been ambivalent as to whether or not to join in , as this issue of danger vs no danger concerning wireless technology can be a very complicated one, and hard to fathom for many people. For me, it has been a very personal experience since discovering my own sensitivity to high frequency microwaves, specifically those emitted by Smart Meters, wireless computer modems, and Digital Cordless Phones (DECT) whose base units emit microwaves 24 hrs/day as long as they are plugged in.

    I found out I was electro-sensitive when the power company in Vermont switched over from analog to digital meters (Smart Meters). I was getting bad headaches and resultant sleeplessness, but didn’t know why. Then it occurred to me that a few weeks prior, the power company had replaced the analog electric meters with Smart Meters. The meters were on the outside wall of my bedroom. After doing some research, I decided to purchase a good RF meter, the HF 35C Elektrosmog Analyser, to find out just what EMF levels I was being exposed to, and in using the meter I was able to detect the microwave levels (measured in microwatts per square meter (µW/m2).coming from the bank of 4 Smart Meters on the exterior wall of my bedroom. I was alarmed at the high levels the meters spiked to,….not a few seconds per day as the HuffPost article says, but a few seconds every few minutes it was spiking off greater than the high end reading of the meter.

    Luckily, here in Vermont, the legislature passed a bill requiring Green Mtn.Power to allow its customers to opt-out, and keep their analog meters. So, thankfully, I was able to opt-out and have GMP reinstall the old analog meters, and was soon sleeping better & waking with no headaches. Some people, like me, are more sensitive to high frequency microwaves than others. Many others in Vermont are wisely opting out as well,


    I know other people who are electro-sensitive to various degrees, and I know many who claim they are not affected at all. One friend of mine sleeps with his head right next to a wireless modem on the night stand next to the bed. He asked that I bring my meter over to check the levels , and we saw the meter spike in levels, going off the high end, He was shocked, but nonetheless he still sleeps next to it , feeling no immediate ill effects. I can understand that, and as well can understand that there are a minority of people like myself who are electro-sensitive, and need to take whatever precautions necessary to avoid prolonged exposure to high frequency microwaves.

    Here is a courageous article from The Nation , which goes into detail describing how the Wireless Industry has sought to downplay and neutralize concerns about safety, ……


    …..and here are some excerpts …

    “The scientific evidence that cell phones and wireless technologies in general can cause cancer and genetic damage is not definitive, but it is abundant and has been increasing over time. Contrary to the impression that most news coverage has given the public, 90 percent of the 200 existing studies included in the National Institutes of Health’s PubMed database on the oxidative effects of wireless radiation—its tendency to cause cells to shed electrons, which can lead to cancer and other diseases—have found a significant impact, according to a survey of the scientific literature conducted by Henry Lai. Seventy-two percent of neurological studies and 64 percent of DNA studies have also found effects.”

    ““Everyone knows that if your research results show that radiation has effects, the funding flow dries up,” Leszczynski said in an interview in 2011. Sure enough, the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority of Finland, where Leszczynski had a long career, discontinued research on the biological effects of cell phones and discharged him a year later.”

    “One key player has not been swayed by all this wireless-friendly research: the insurance industry. The Nation has not been able to find a single insurance company willing to sell a product-liability policy that covered cell-phone radiation. “Why would we want to do that?” one executive chuckled before pointing to more than two dozen lawsuits outstanding against wireless companies, demanding a total of $1.9 billion in damages. Some judges have affirmed such lawsuits, including a judge in Italy who refused to allow industry-funded research as evidence.”

    What’s more concerning is that the FCC has given the okay for the telecommunication industry to operate the 5G (fifth generation) technology using new spectral frontiers, making the USA the first country in the world to do so……..


    • As I type into my wireless device

      My situation is a lot like yours, Whitey. They loaded up our neighborhood with smart meters in the space of a week or two, with three on my own apt building and four more about 20 feet away facing it (we opted out, for what it’s worth). Within a week or two I had off the hook tinnitus which I had not had before. I blamed the new meters, but there was nothing I could do about it and even to complain made me a tinfoil hat person.

      A year or so later, Apple started giving everyone wireless mouses for their computers. I used one for a while but within a short time, I started having strange symptoms in my mousing hand — tingling, burning sensations and pain up and down my forearm. I also had some weird episodes that I can only describe as heart spasms which worried me a lot. So I went back to wired mouse and keyboards and the symptoms went away… The only problem now is that it’s really hard to find mice or keyboards that aren’t wireless….

      The risk that scares me the most with this stuff is the possibility that it makes us more vulnerable to cancer which seems to be rampant at the moment. I fear we will just think of it as the new normal rather than seeking to investigate causes or mitigate the problem. Oh well!

      • wired keyboard & mouse

        Lise, interesting that you may have some electro-sensitivity as well. You’ll find wired keyboard & mouse combinations with a Google search…..for “wired keyboard and mouse”. Best Buy seems to have a good selection of them. But I know what you mean….wired items are harder to find these days.

        I’m finding my meter to be indispensable, because it allows me to see just what the microwave levels are anywhere in my apartment. Because this particular meter is directional, I can easily find the direction they’re coming from to figure the source. For instance, a few months after I opted out of the smart meters, and I hadn’t had any ill effects, I started having headaches & disturbed sleep again. I searched for the source with my meter, which gives both an audio & visual dial reading, and it was obvious that the source was above me, in my neighbors upstairs apt. She’s a great neighbor, and long story short….she was very willing to work with me to lessen the microwaves, such as letting me wrap her wireless computer modem with aluminum screening (from Brown & Roberts) to dampen the aggressive output of microwaves, but would not compromise the modem’s ability to function properly.

        Aluminum screening is cheap compared with other materials that are widely used in screening EMF. There’s a company called Less EMF Inc., in Latham,NY, from which I purchased my meter, and they offer variety of shielding materials…..


        If you are concerned about what levels of microwaves you think you’re exposed to, their sources and direction within your home,…I’d be happy to stop by with my meter and see what it might reveal. I’ve done that with a few other folks here in Williamsville, and it’s helped them understand more about what they’re dealing with, which in turn can lead to answers in mitigating the problem.

        • So much stupid

          Ibrattleboro continues to be a shining beacon of ignorance and basic scientific illiteracy.

          A minimal understanding of physics debunks this EM sensitivity nonsense. So does even the most minimal of testing.

          Lets put it this way. Every time we study these claims using blinding protocols they fail.

          If you take someone who claims EM sensitivity and expose them to the very same EM field they claim to be sensitive to, except that they don’t know they are being exposed, they don’t report symptoms. Conversely, if you trick them into thinking that they are being exposed to said EM field when in fact they actually aren’t, then they claim to have symptoms. This means there is not a correlation between exposure and symptoms.

          If you build a cell tower in a town, people will complain of EM sensitivity symptoms before the thing is even switched on, they are complaining about an inert hunk of metal.

          So, its in your heads.

          The best treatment for EM sensitivity is cognitive behavioral therapy. (Or science classes).

          So rather than removing electronic devices from your lives, it’d be better for you to seek therapy to address the real problem.

          Then I’d recommend learning how to vet sources, because the linked articles so far are notable only for their poor quality and unsubstantiated claims. You don’t get to claim “Growing health concerns” when your evidence is a random credential-less resident who is simply afraid of what they don’t understand. And the article about the George Carlo study is anti-vaxxer level misleading and half-baked while playing to conspiracy theorist predispositions, relying on out of date and poorly regarded “research” that was troubled from the get go and has long since been discarded as junk by a fellow with no real scientific credibility.

          In the decades since this junk was put forward, we’ve looked at this issue. We now have decades of data of long-term high-frequency usage of cell phones starting from youth into adulthood. We consistently find no differences in health outcomes as a result of cell phone use (other than getting into car accidents and the like…)

          Remember, when a study or experiment is replicated and fails, you don’t get to hold onto it because it suits your biases. If 1 in 10 papers goes your way and the other 9 go the other way, you don’t hold on to your 1 because it supports your pre-existing belief. Beliefs should conform to the evidence.

          The evidence is that EM sensitivity and cell phones causing cancer are not real things.

  • Huh?

    Wifi was not something I suspected. It was a last thought, since my understanding was that it was perfectly safe. Moving it DID get rid of the lump. As I said above, it might be a coincidence, but it went away. This was after much other testing and looking for the cause. You are right, it might have naturally gone away. Neither you nor I can know for sure.

    I don’t deny science. I love science. I use it daily. Science isn’t set in stone either. New studies happen all the time. Some paid for by phonies/corporations who want a specific outcome (recall the “scientific” studies showing smoking was ok). Others by real scientists. I am learning all the time. I take on tough subjects. I have a good understanding of radio and TV signals. The only studies I’ve read on wifi and cell phones involve large adults and low emissions. I’m asking sincerely – where are the studies of prolonged exposure to larger doses? I haven’t found them.

    I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything here – just sharing a personal experience. Never said it was “science”. You can sit by a wifi router 3 feet from your head for a decade all you like. Free world! : )

    ( Yes, iBrattleboro has people using it who write about all sorts of things. So? There are stories about budgets, road work, weather, birding, water quality, poetry, music, skateboarding, art, philosophy, economics… it’s for everyone. I’ve never claimed this is a site for Brattleboro scientists only. The way to get more “scientific” stories, if you want them, is to write them or encourage others to do so. I write about robotics from time to time, for example. I love modern physics. Astronomy never bores me. High level math is fun. I love geometry. And so on. Need to do another robot roundup soon… celebrate science! Write some science stories! Educate your neighbors!)

  • Vermont Telecommunication Ten Year Plan community input~

    I am on a learning curve about both EMF and now 5G. Vermont is currently looking at the ten year plan. We are encouraged to give public input on our concerns about the plan. The amount of time we have left to make comments to the Vermont Telecommunication Ten Year Plan is Feb. 1st 2019. Five more days to comment on the inclusion of 5G in our state plan. Department of Public Service 2018 TELECOMMUNICATIONS PLAN read the plan here: https://publicservice.vermont.gov/content/2018-vt-telecommunications-plan Here is the link to making comments.

    A growing number of your neighbors are writing their concerns and sending them in: The 2018 Draft Plan is available here. Copies of the draft plan and information about the comment period may be obtained from the Department of Public Service by calling (802) 828-2811, via email to psd.telecom@vermont.gov, or by writing to the Department of Public Service, 112 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05620.

    Email address: psd.telecom@vermont.gov
    Thank you for reading my comment.

  • Lise's hypocrisy strikes again

    Uh uh, someone criticized Lise’s unhinged beliefs or those of one of her friends again, which means Ibrattleboro’s stealth censorship policy has been triggered yet again.

    Lise deleted some comments that were relatively mellow while leaving one that was less so, making a pattern difficult to discern. Did she merely miss one with her eraser?

    Either leave all of my comments, or delete all of them. You shouldn’t selectively and invisibly edit such that a poster’s comments appear oddly out of context or incomplete.

    That way Ibrattleboro can be what you apparently want it to be, which is a safe haven for anti-semetic holocaust deniers and those who harass the parents of school shooting victims as being “paid actors”. After all, clearly those positions are far less offensive to you than being told your EM “sensitivity” is a psychological issue rather than anything “real”. Perhaps those chemtrails your friends are always going on about are getting to you too?

  • Me too

    My comment was also deleted, although I do think that certain of flannelpyjamas’ comments violated ibrattleboro policy and were good candidates for being deleted.

    Part of my comment responded to flannelppyjamas’ gratuitous nastygrams, which is no doubt why mine were deleted. Later I will try to reconstruct the part of my comment which addressed the subject of EMFs and re-post that too.

    • I'll save you some trouble

      The cherry-picked study you cited via a press release in your deleted comment specifically stated in its second paragraph that its conclusions cannot be applied to humans. Furthermore, it concluded that the tumors the rats developed could not be unequivocally linked to radiation from cell phones.

      Oddly, some of the rats exposed to said radiation lived longer on average than those that were not.

      It pays to read something in its entirety before posting it. Its amazing how many times people link to articles or studies that they think backs them up but it doesn’t actually support or even totally contradicts their claims if they had bothered to read more than a few select sentences.

      Moreover, to avoid cherry-picking issues, it also pays to check into what the larger scientific community has to say, if anything, about the study you are citing. Was it praised or was it heavily criticized? Is it contradicted by a larger body of evidence? (You can find examples of contrarian studies on even the most widely accepted of scientific facts, citing them in isolation is a mistake and is textbook cherry picking).

      In the case of your link, even if taken at face value, it doesn’t support the claims being made here. It was also heavily criticized and rejected by the larger scientific community and relevant agencies/bodies. This is an example of a poorly designed experiment that has been mischaracterized by the scientifically illiterate in order to claim something that the study *could not* determine due to its design, no matter its results.


      • Jury Is Still Out

        A fact sheet published on January 9, 2019 by the National Institute of Health (NIH) did not “cherry pick” but cited numerous studies which, taken as a whole, were inconclusive as to whether or not cell phone users are at increased risk of cancer.

        Among these citations are the following:

        “The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that no scientific evidence definitively answers whether cell phone use causes cancer.”

        In a 2011 report by an expert Working Group appointed by the World Health Organization to review all available evidence on the use of cell phones. The Working Group classified cell phone use as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,”

        There is clearly no consensus in the scientific community that cell phone usage is safe.

        flannelpyjamas does not seem well-grounded in the logic structure of science. His or her attempt to use “science” to justify personal vindictiveness betrays an individual who lacks the scientific temperament.

        • Logic fail

          You shouldn’t be accusing anyone of being poorly grounded in logic or epistemology when you are committing a very basic fallacy.

          The time to believe something is *after* it has been demonstrated, not before. It is the very definition of irrational to believe that P is true because P has not yet been proven to be false or visa versa.

          You also don’t understand how the science investigates questions of safety. You can definitively prove that something is dangerous. You *cannot* definitively prove that something is safe. Ever. Full stop.

          All you can do is falsify the proposition that X is dangerous. By falsifying that proposition, you arrive at a tentative conclusion of safety. The confidence required to move from “Dunno” to “Safe” relies on the confidence level of the falsification of the dangerousness. All you can do is disprove that cell phones cause X health effect(s). The absence of evidence of said health effects eventually gets called “safe”.

          We can’t test for risks we havn’t thought of yet. There needs to be operational, testable hypotheses.

          There is *NO* EVIDENCE that cell phones cause health problems. At worst, what we are looking at here is the scientific community is saying “So far everything we know is that this stuff isn’t harmful, but we’d like to look some more to be absolutely sure”. Which is fine by me. I have no problem with double (or triple or quadruple) checking.

          In the meantime it is utterly irrational to hold a belief that is counter to all current evidence in the unjustified belief that a complete 180 is coming just around the corner. What is overwhelmingly likely to happen is that the current tentative conclusion will simply be confirmed.

          Secondly, you are still cherry picking. Questions like this must be looked at from a variety of independent angles. *If* cell phones caused brain cancer as is claimed then we’d expect to see a correlation between said cancer rates and cell phone usage, right?

          Except we don’t.


          As for the possible carcinogen listing, yup, that happened. Please note that it was listed as *possible* carcinogen, not even a *probable* carcinogen and even that classification sparked quite the uproar in the scientific and medical communities. The representative of the US cancer institute even walked out of the meeting prior to the vote in disgust/protest.

          What happened is that the IARC relied too heavily on a group of fringe scientists such as Lennart Hardell who have made it their life mission to fight telecommunications technology and who make some money serving as “expert” witnesses for lawsuits seeking gigantic judgements against the industry. Every other group and agency looking at the issue gets a similar set of weak, scattered and mostly negative results when studying this question but folks like Lennart Hardell get 100% positive results *every single time* and they churn these studies out at a prodigious rate (turns out they just re-use the same data fairly often). Thats called suspicious.

          After the controversy of the IARC classification, the scientific community had a closer look at these positive studies and tore them to absolute pieces. Lots of criticism of them showed up in the literature. They turned out to use (possibly deliberately) deeply flawed methodologies which generated positive results from data that didn’t quite support their conclusions. When these studies got included in meta-analyses they skewed the results. In other words, the studies and the folks behind them have been discredited. In fact, their screeds read more than a little similarly to anti-vaxxer “doctors”. Therefore these studies and scientists will be de-weighted next time around and if the process works as it should, we’ll see a downgrade.

          See this is what most people don’t understand about how the scientific literature works, and is why I accuse you of cherry-picking. People can cite a bunch of studies for all kinds of things, and can cite IARC classifications based on those studies from years back, but they may not be aware that the scientific literature has continued to develop and may have addressed *everything* they are citing and has moved on.

          This is how it works, and this is why its a huge problem when layman cherry-pick via google rather than trust the expertise of those who have a more complete and working understanding of the *current* literature and trends.

          So, if the process works as it should, the next time the IARC reviews this issue the evidence that turned out to be junk should get dismissed and the classification is more likely to be downgraded.

          Lets look at some other stuff thats on the 2B classification list.

          Coffee was also listed as a possible carcinogen for decades until recently being downgraded, though California may classify it as carcinogenic again, which would mean its considered more dangerous than cell phones. Pickled vegetables are also class 2B (possibly carcinogenic).

          Lets look at some stuff the IARC confirms as definitely carcinogenic. Do any of the folks here worrying about cell phones drink alcohol? How about smoking pot? Oh how I wish the type of people who complain about imagined EM sensitivity and such would apply the same standards to smoking pot as they do to their wireless routers…

  • Jury Is Still Out

    Upon first reading Flannel PJ’s lengthy discourse, my eyes nearly glazed over. Was he trying to demonstrate his erudition? Or is he simply unable to express ideas without jargon and tedious recitations?

    He seems to be saying that you can prove that drinking gasoline will kill you, but that it is impossible to prove that eating a banana or using a cell phone is safe. After all: Tomorrow we might unexpectedly discover that bananas are linked with yellow fever. So the best we can say is that there is no evidence that bananas or cell phones are dangerous, but science can never guarantee that they are safe. PJ tells us that certain ignorant people erroneously think that if cell phones cannot be proven to be safe, therefore they must be dangerous.

    If, in fact, there were no evidence linking cell phones to cancer, then PJ might have been making a valid point. But actually he does a slight-of-hand, switching his argument with the inaccurate statement:

    “There is *NO* EVIDENCE that cell phones cause health problems.”

    PJ: Read the literature! The NIH and the CDC are, in fact, making the point that are studies which link EMFs to cancer, and others which do not. (i.e. The Jury Is Still Out). When the World Health Organization classified cell phone use as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” clearly they were not simply saying that we cannot prove that cell phone use is safe: They are saying that there is evidence that links cell phone use with cancer.

    By the way: How come you call people stupid and other names? If you think I’ve been hard on you… you are right! Your rudeness, PJ, pisses me off.

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