GUEST COLUMN: Smart meters vote a slam dunk
- posted Jun 11, 2015 at 11:00 AM
Recently, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen board of directors voted for an “immediate halt to mandatory installation of advanced (wireless) utility meters on all private residences within the jurisdiction of the RDOS; and further, that all such meters recently installed within Electoral Area ‘D’ be removed immediately, at full cost to FortisBC.”
ITRON’s OpenWay wireless electricity meters being installed by FortisBC are neither UL nor CSA certified. According to the BC Safety Standards Act, utilities are exempted from having their equipment certified by these agencies on the condition that a registered professional engineer licensed in B.C. tests and certifies, in writing, its safety. Why then is FortisBC unwilling or unable to provide the mandatory fire safety certification required under BC law? Its provision is crucial, given that electrical experts have identified disturbing design flaws in the Itron meter that may help explain numerous smart meter fires in Summerland and other areas of B.C., and in Saskatchewan, Ontario and the U.S.
There is another aspect of wireless smart meters that also poses grave concerns: their massive rollout, along with the unchecked proliferation of telecommunication towers and WiMAX services, has produced unprecedented levels of radiofrequency (RF) radiation in urban areas. Many biomedical scientists regard smart meter grid technology as risky and would vigorously challenge any utility’s claim that RF radiation from smart meters is far less harmful than that from cellphones and other wireless devices. Signals of this general type have been found to cause serious biological effects including DNA damage, depressed levels of sleep-regulating melatonin, altered heart rates, opiate-dopamine neurotransmitter disruptions and leakage of the protective blood-brain barrier.
RF radiation, regardless of the wireless source, has been implicated in an alarming array of adverse health effects. These include: Alzheimer’s disorder; memory and attention deficits; male infertility, immune dysfunction; impaired learning in children; sleep disturbances and a negative impact on general well-being. Notably, a 3-to-5 fold increased risk for fatal brain tumours has been independently linked to long-term, next-to-ear use of cellphones (e.g., 20 min/day for a decade or more), prompting the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2011 to classify all RF-emitting wireless devices as Group 2B (possibly cancer-causing) agents.
Unlike exercising individual choice in the usage of cellphones and other consumer wireless devices, installation of smart meters, except for a minority who can afford the radio-off option fee, is mandatory. Would you honestly accept compulsory introduction of lead, pesticide DDT, engine exhaust and other Group 2B (possible carcinogens) in your home?
Recently over 200 distinguished scientists and cancer specialists from 39 nations petitioned the United Nations member states “to adopt more protective exposure guidelines for wireless technology in the face of increasing evidence of risk.” These experts also urged the IARC to reclassify RF-emitting wireless devices as Group 2A (probably cancer-causing) agents.
Similarly, international experts, recently appearing before Parliament’s Standing Committee on Health, launched a withering attack on Health Canada’s Safety Code 6 guidelines for protection against wireless devices as “out-dated, incomplete and invalid,” warning that the microwave levels permitted in Canadian classrooms, residences and workplaces constitute a “disaster to public health.”
FortisBC’s radio-off option is flawed on at least three counts. First, in a common scenario involving adjacent houses with face-to-face meters mounted on opposite outside walls, exercising the option is ineffective if your neighbour does not also comply. Simply put, most of the signal you receive is from your neighbour’s meter as the meter’s faceplate reflects much of the signal being sent inwardly to your own residence. Second, the radio-off option is unfair, penalizing those who would benefit the most but least able to pay the exorbitant fee: young families; the disabled and the elderly and electro-hypersensitive persons. Third, and not least, it does not alleviate the overarching fire hazard concerns nor the creation of high-frequency transients on electrical wiring (dirty electricity) as the meter with its many design flaws is still mounted on the house.
In conclusion, critical concerns regarding either the safety or health issue alone would be more than sufficient to warrant the RDOS vote. These two issues, taken together, make the precautionary-based RDOS motion, a slam-dunk.
Malcolm Paterson, PhD (molecular oncologist)
Signatory of the International EMF Scientist UN Appeal