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Health Impacts of Radio Frequency Radiation from Smart Meters By Dr. Karl Maret


mart meters have been installed on our homes by utilities in many provinces and states in ?orth America as part of a new Automated Metering Infrastructure. Unfortunately, using microwave radiating devices was a poor health choice that could have been avoided if Powerline Communications (PLC) technologies or other dedicated wired or fiber optic cables had been utilized instead. The most common smart meters transmit thousands of short bursts of powerful microwave radiation at frequencies between 902–928 MHz both day and night. In most places they are configured as part of a mesh network transmitting and retransmitting utility usage information not only from your home but also from all of your neighbours’ homes. They represent the latest additional wireless microwave radiation source that burdens our population, along with the already ubiquitous exposure from cellphones, cordless phones, and WiFi from wireless routers, computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones that are now so prevalent. Microwave radiation is cumulative. Over long time periods, even low levels of microwave radiation that these devices emit can overwhelm the body’s innate repair processes of damaged D?A strand breaks. Research on Biological Effects of Low-level, 0on-thermal EMFs The biological effects of low-level, non-thermal electromagnetic fields (EMFs) have been researched for over 30 years. In 2007, Biomedical engineering professor Arthur Pilla from Columbia University wrote in the authoritative, Handbook of Biological Effects of Electromagnetic Fields: “The biophysical lore prevailing until the late 1980s and lingering to this day is that, unless the amplitude and frequencies of an applied electric field were sufficient to trigger an excitable membrane (e.g. heart pacemaker), produce tissue heating or move an ion along a field gradient, there could be no effect. …. However, this position had to be changed as the evidence for weak (non-thermal) EMF bioeffects became overwhelming.” Today, there are numerous reports on the adverse health effects of non-thermal electromagnetic fields. Some of the early comprehensive research papers were published by Frey (1993), Lai (2000), and Hyland (2000), among many others. In 2009, a special edition of the journal Pathophysiology was published, describing the biological and health effects from low level EMFs. Recently, an international working group of 29 authors, including 10 MDs and 21 PhDs from 10 countries, and three former presidents of the Bioelectromagnetics Society, compiled the “2012 Bioinitiative Report.” This report outlines the dangers of low-level, non-thermal electromagnetic field exposure based on 3800 peer-reviewed studies, 1800 of which, being new studies, dated 2007 and after. The European Journal of Oncology published an entire monograph titled, “Non-Thermal Effects and Mechanisms of interaction between Electromagnetic Fields and Living Matter,” explaining non-thermal effects on living systems. This came from Italy’s National Institute for the Study and Control of Cancer and Environmental Diseases “Bernardino Ramazzini” (L.Giuliani & M. Soffriti, eds. 2010). In 2011, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields as “Possibly Carcinogenic to Humans” (Group 2B). This includes RF/EMFs

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Left : In addition to the radiation emitted by individual smart meters, there is also radiation from the relays, routers, and towers within the smart grid. Photo: Right: Tens of thousands of BC residents, and many more across Canada and US, have chosen to refuse the installation of smart meters in their homes, out of concerns about radiation, privacy invasion, excessive billing, fire hazards, and malfunctioning of appliances associated with the installation. A civil class action lawsuit has been filed against BC Hydro, and a Human Rights Tribunal application has been submitted for accommodation of citizens who suffer from Electrohypersensitivity (EHS). Photo: emitted by cellphones, WiFi, smart meters, and various other sources. Key Mechanisms for the Action of Weak Electromagnetic Fields There is now a large body of scientific literature describing several key mechanisms of how the action of weak electromagnetic fields affects living beings. These processes occur at low electromagnetic field strengths that are quite different from the damage done by microwave heating of tissues (the so-called thermal effect) which is the only consideration in today’s short-term exposure guidelines adopted by the American and Canadian governments. These non-thermal mechanisms include, among others:

Removal of calcium ions bound to cellular membranes, leading to weakened membrane structure and changed cellular functioning

Activation by microwave pulses of voltage-gated calcium channels in cell membranes leading to changed metabolic processes in cells and the production of oxidative stress

Leakage of calcium ions into neurons generating spurious action potentials • Fragmentation of DNA in cells seen through the Comet assay

Disruption in the normally protective blood-brain barrier in animals after microwave exposure • A well-defined cellular stress response, including the production of heat shock proteins (HSP) and oxidative stress free radicals that are triggered by low level microwaves Activation of specific genes leading to gene transcription to form RNA, the first stage in the synthesis of proteins. All of the above biological effects are well substantiated in the scientific literature and occurred at much lower exposure levels than current FCC or Canada’s Safety Code 6 standards. The evidence is accumulating that, given sufficient time, health effects will become more widespread. The extensive REFLEX study involving research groups in seven European countries found adverse results in biological systems from cellphone radiation at levels that are 1/40th the current ICNIRP acceptable levels, i.e. at only 2.5 per cent of current exposure guidelines promulgated by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (Adlkofer, 2006). This report focused

on a four-year international collaboration of 12 European research groups involving in-vitro studies of non-thermal radiofrequency radiation from cellphones. 0on-Linear Response Biological systems often respond in a non-linear manner and there is a large degree of genetic variability as to how animals or people are affected. Non-thermal EMFs might be comparable to the hazards of low levels of toxins found in the environment, which can be potent in disrupting enzyme systems in the body at very low concentrations. Dr. Richard Gautier in France offered a full description of active mechanisms for the action of non-thermal EMFs. There are peerreviewed scientific studies for each step of the processes that can lead to chronic diseases such as cancer, leukemia, and neurological diseases. These conditions often require longer time periods to develop and the Precautionary Principle ought to be applied when adding new sources of microwave radiation, such as those from smart meters which are active night and day in our homes and places of work. There is mounting evidence of various types of tumors being caused from cellphone usage including parotid gland tumor (Czerninski, 2011), meningioma (Hardell et al., 2006), acoustic neuroma (Sato et al. 2011), brain tumors (Hardell & Carlberg, 2009), and testicular tumors (Hardell et al., 2007), to name just a few. Considering the increasing number of scientific papers describing various types of tumors associated with non-thermal radiation from cellphones that are appearing in the medical literature, it is not helpful to let the non-thermal radiation from smart meters increase our long-term susceptibility to serious diseases. It is important to remember that the current exposure guidelines are only for short-term microwave exposure and do not consider long-term effects resulting from continuous radiation of cell towers and smart meters. Another problem is the potential health effect of microwave radiation exposure during our sleep, which may adversely affect our biological and circadian rhythms (daily physiological regulatory cycles). Smart meters pulse intermittently day and night and may have an adverse effect on sleep cycles. Since smart meters were not tested for health impacts prior to their deployment, they now represent an epidemiological experiment of gigantic proportions.

E xp o s u r e to m ic r o w a v e / radiofrequency fields affects the neuroendocrine system causing neuroendocrine chemical mod u lat ion s and b eha v iour a l re actions. Already in the 1970s it was known that resonant absorption within the cranium may result in the focusing of energy and the production of electromagnetic “hot spots” in the brain (Johnson & Guy, 1972). Microwaves may disturb the critical hormonal regulatory areas including the hypothalamic-pituitary axis through “low intensity” exposure. The body may elicit “different responses relative to the timing of the exposure with respect to circadian rhythm” (Michaelson, 1982). At night, while sleeping, the body is principally in a repair mode and exposure to the pulsed microwave radiation from smart meters may potentially be more damaging than exposure during the day. Already many sensitive people have reported sleep disturbances, cognitive difficulties, and increased memory issues. I highly recommend that people become more informed about the adverse effects of non-thermal electromagnetic fields and reduce their exposure as much as possible. This includes keeping your old non-radiating analog utility meter or opting out from a smart meter, not placing cell or cordless phones next to your head, using wired telephone landlines rather than cordless phones, and eliminating or decreasing WiFi exposure in schools and homes (turn wireless routers and equipment off when possible or replace them with wired Internet and wired devices). Children, older people, and those who are immunecompromised are especially at risk. So are the growing number of electromagnetically hypersensitive people now estimated to be between three and five per cent of our population. Dr. Karl Maret holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering, a Master of Engineering degree in biomedical engineering, and a Medical Doctor degree. In addition, he has completed a four-year postdoctoral fellowship in physiology. Dr. Maret is president of the Dove Health Alliance in Aptos, CA, a non-profit foundation interested in energy medicine and the health effects of electromagnetic fields. He has presented many lectures to governments, academia, and the public about the adverse health impacts of non-ionizing, non-thermal radiation created by modern wireless technologies. References for this article can be found at Iz8ahq.

April/May 2014