12140 Wickchester Ln Suite #100, Houston, TX 77079
(877) 547-7275

The Facts About Smart Meter Safety

 

Electric utilities around the country are upgrading their aging electric grids with technology that’s designed to make electric service more reliable and more affordable for customers in the utilities’ service territories. But while many have expressed concerns about the long-term effects of smart meters, there isn’t a lot of evidence to indicate they pose a health threat.

As part of the ongoing nationwide electric grid upgrades, many utilities are replacing old electric meters with smart meters. Advanced smart meters allow for the transmission of data to utilities, such as how much electricity is being consumed, and allow the utilities to transmit back to the meters. This gives utilities the ability to quickly and conveniently perform tasks like turning on the power after a customer moves in at a residence. Additionally, smart meters mean that utilities don’t have to pay for things like meter readers, a cost savings the utilities say they can pass on to customers.

Regardless of the purported benefits of smart meters, some are pushing back against the installation of the meters, citing the supposed health risks of radio frequency (RF) energy that is emitted by all electronic devices, including wireless devices like smart meters. Electric customers and advocacy groups opposed to smart meters have said that the devices are inherently dangerous to customers’ health. They cite supposed health risks associated with all RF-emitting devices, such as cancer, and describe symptoms that some customers have reportedly said resulted from installation of smart meters, such as headaches, heart palpitations and sleep disturbances.

However, utility officials, smart meter manufacturers and proponents of the technology point out that people are exposed daily to RF energy, including low levels of naturally-occurring RF energy produced by the earth and the human body, as well as RF energy from common man-made electronic devices like cell phones and microwave ovens. Smart meter supporters also claim that everyday electronic devices typically produce far higher levels of RF energy during longer periods of exposure than smart meters. In short, they say smart meters are safer than other electronic devices that most people use every day.

So which is it? Are smart meters dangerous or are they safe? While the real question may concern the safety of wireless electronic devices in general, here are several facts about smart meter safety.

Smart Meters Are Tightly Regulated by the Federal Government

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, evaluates the effects of RF emissions from electronic devices and regulates the amount of RF energy that electronic devices — including cell phones, microwaves and smart meters — are allowed to emit. Over the years, the FCC has taken recommendations from organizations such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) and the National Council on Radiation Protection and Management (NCRP) regarding human exposure to RF energy.

Like all other communication devices, smart meters, and the amount of RF energy they are allowed to emit, are tightly regulated by the FCC.

Smart Meters Produce Very Low Levels of RF Energy

The amount of RF energy emitted by an electronic device is defined by its power density, which is measured in watts per square meter (W/m²) over a certain distance. According to the Public Utility Commission of Texas, smart meters produce far lower levels of RF energy than many other common household electronic devices, like 16 times less RF energy than a baby monitor and over 4,300 times less than a typical cell phone:

DevicePower DensityTypical Exposure Duration
Bluetooth USB Dongle0.042 W/m² at 4 inchesLess than 1 minute
Baby Monitor0.029 W/m² at 3 feet8 hours
Cordless Phone Base0.052 W/m² at 3 feet1–30 minutes
Microwave Oven0.0043 W/m² at 3 feet10–60 minutes
Smart Meter0.0018 W/m² at 10 feet1–2 seconds

Smart Meters Do Not Continuously Emit RF Energy

Smart meters do not continuously produce a wireless signal or emit RF energy. Instead, they relay information back to a utility once every 15 minutes throughout the day. The actual signal only takes from one to two seconds to send and, according to a study by the Electric Power Research Institute, generates less than 1 percent of the FCC’s daily safe RF energy exposure limit.

FCC: No Scientific Evidence Connects RF Energy With Illnesses

According to the FCC, “some health and safety interest groups have interpreted certain reports to suggest that wireless device use may be linked to cancer and other illnesses.” However, “currently no scientific evidence establishes a causal link between wireless device use and cancer or other illnesses.”

Sources

“Smart Meter Opponents Look to Legislation and Regulation,” San Anselmo–Fairfax Patch, Nov. 1, 2011.

“Study: Smart Meter Radio Frequency Emissions Low,” CNET, Feb. 22, 2011.

Federal Communications Commission, “Wireless Devices and Health Concerns

Federal Communications Commission, Office of Engineering and Technology, “Radio Frequency Safety

Federal Communications Commission, Office of Engineering and Technology, “FCC Policy on Human Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields

Public Utility Commission of Texas, “Smart Meter Safety

Translate »

WAIT!

Here’s a chance to get 200 points every month in Spark Energy Rewards*

Points can be used on local shopping deals, dining, daily deals, travel,
and even gift cards. Terms for the rewards can be found here.
Interested?

*Certain Terms and Conditions apply. This offer is available to first-time customers only. Customers must sign up for a fixed-rate energy plan. The plan may include a monthly service fee depending on the product. Use promo code which is showing above to qualify. Rate expires at the end of the term. Canceling or changing supply service prior to the end of the fixed-rate term may subject the customer to an early termination fee based on the product details. To be eligible to receive Spark Energy rewards, customers must enroll in a fixed term plan and maintain an active Spark Energy account in good standing (no past-due balance owed) for 45 days after the beginning of service. May not be redeemed for cash. This offer is subject to change or cancellation without notice prior to customer acceptance. This offer is nontransferable and cannot be combined with any other offers. This offer applies to services areas where Spark Energy LLC is active. The offer expires on 12/31/2020. See the Terms of Service and Electricity Facts Label (applicable only for TX) at www. SparkEnergy.com for more details.
© 2020 Spark Energy LLC. All Rights Reserved.