Smart Meter Research

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Assessment of Radiofrequency Microwave Radiation Emissions from Smart Meters, Sage Associates, Santa Barbara, CA, USA, January 1, 2011
UPDATE (2/18/11):
A new study shows that PG&E smart meter RF emissions are significantly more powerful than previously thought, potentially causing more living space to exceed FCC public safety standards.CLICK HERE FOR ADDENDUM, SAGE REPORT

Sage Associates has published an on-line report titled Assessment of Radiofrequency Microwave Radiation
Emissions from Smart Meters, dated January 1, 2011.  
The Report is available for download at:
About the Report (from the website)

This Report is prepared in support of open discussion on radiofrequency microwave radiation levels (RF radiation levels) that are produced by wireless electric meters (i.e., smart meters) in California. There has been virtually no information made available to the public, nor to decision-makers on RF radiation levels. Significant unanswered questions still exist about what levels of radiofrequency microwave radiation will be produced by these meters.

This question has very important consequences for public health and welfare, because the public may be subjected to exposures at levels that either violate federal safety limits, or face chronic exposure levels that have already been associated with adverse health impacts, or both.

This Report uses computer modeling to predict power density levels that may be present where smart meters are in operation. The methodology used in this assessment is consistent with FCC OET 65 equations for prediction of RF power density levels. Many scenarios are modeled, to bracket the range of reasonably predictable RF exposures in typical living conditions. Many variables must be considered (installation very close to occupied space, how many meters are installed on a single wall, how frequently they will transmit an RF pulse, how powerful the RF radiation pulses will be, how far inside a home they will penetrate and at what intensities, how much ‘piggybacking’ of RF signals will occur from neighboring wireless meters, reflections that may increase RF levels, and what amount of RF wireless exposure may already be present beforehand, etc.)

To date, California’s electric utilities have told the California Public Utilities Commission only that they will comply with applicable federal safety limits.  However, there are substantial discrepancies in what the FCC compliance testing says is needed for wireless meters to comply with their safety limits, and the manner in which many meters are being installed and are operating.

People may use this assessment to further their knowledge about wireless meters, using the tables that predict RF radiation levels, the tables that highlight potential violations of safety limits, and the health study-related tables showing RF radiation levels reported to pose health impacts. Although the authors expect there will be differences of opinion about the content of this report, we believe it will provide a basis for more educated decision-making and full disclosure of impacts.

The Report is not intended to be a substitute for disclosure of RF radiation levels by the CPUC and the electric utilities it regulates. They are responsible to the public to provide reliable and comprehensive information on impacts from wireless meters.

Health Effects of Smart Meters, California Council for Science and Technology, CCST, Jan., 2011 (Note: Nonprofit affiliated with US Dept of Energy, architect of Smart Meter Program in USA).
Even though CCST noted significant research gaps and that current FCC standards covered only thermal exposures not applicable to rf radiation, CCST did not recommend improving the FCC radiation standards nor did it suggest use of the precautionary principle w/ regard to smart meters, rf radiation, and health. Some experts feel this report did not adequately take into consideration existing research and reports pertaining to dangers of smart meters or rf radiation nor an increasing global public outcry related to rf health effects, while citing industry studies and language. We look forward to all the public comments being published on the CCST website, including those below.(
Public commentary and criticisms of the CCST report by global scientists and experts on rf radiation:

"Many smart meters are close to beds, kitchens, playrooms, and similar locations. These wireless systems are never off, and the exposure is not voluntary. The smart meters are being forced on citizens everywhere. Based on this, the inauguration of smart meters with grudging and involuntary exposure of millions to billions of human beings to pulsed microwave radiation should immediately be prohibited until ’the red flag’ can be hauled down once and for all."

"I have been involved in review and analysis of studies on electromagnetic fields, including radiofrequency fields, for many years…The evidence for adverse effects of radiofrequency radiation is currently strong and grows stronger with each new study…

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this faulty report, and on the general issue of smart meters. Their use is unwise from both a public health point of view, which is where my expertise lies, but and also from a purely short and long-term economic point of view."

David O. Carpenter, Public Health Physician, (former) Dean of School of Public Health, NYU, Albany, NY, USA

  • A Collection of Expert Letters on CCST Report  (Sage)

When two of the most central errors are corrected – the failure to take into account duty cycles of cell phones and microwave ovens and the failure to utilize the same units (they should compare everything in terms of average whole body exposure) the cumulative whole body exposure from a Smart Meter at 3 feet appears to be approximately two orders of magnitude higher than that of a
cell phone
, rather than two orders of magnitude lower. [emphasis by SMD] (Hirsch)

(Aug., 2007).  Organizing Committee:
Carl Blackman, USA, Martin Blank, USA, Michael Kundi, Austria, Cindy Sage, USA.  Participants: David Carpenter, USA, Zoreh Davanipour, USA, David Gee, Denmark
Lennart Hardell, Sweden, Olle Johansson, Sweden, Henry Lai, USA, Kjell Hansson Mild, Sweden, Eugene Sobel, USA, Zhengping Xu and Guangdin Chen, China.

From: eon3 | January 12, 2008  | 25,668 views
Cindy Sage, environmental consultant, talks about The BioInitiative Report: A Rationale for a Biologically-based Public Exposure Standard for Electromagnetic Fields (ELF and RF), which she editied with a team of international scientists.
They document serious scientific concerns about current limits regulating how much EMF is allowable from power lines, cell phones, and many other sources of EMF exposure in daily life.
The report concludes the existing standards for public safety are inadequate to protect public health.
Find out more at:

View comments, related videos, and more


Identification of Research Needs Relating to Potential Biological or Adverse Health Effects of Wireless Communication (National Academies of Science, 2008)
Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board (

The section from the Report entitled "Base Stations" gives a strong statement that all types of workers' exposures as well as exposures to the general public are not addressed in the existing research record.

This section of the report says clearly that the existing research has not studied exposures typical to roof-top workers from real-time, real-life exposures in the workplace where they regularly encounter multiple antenna arrays and multiple frequencies of exposure.   Nor does the existing research address antenna base station exposures to members of the public that live in close proximity to the antennas.  The Report finds that the studies to date:

  • assume a single antenna rather than the typical arrangements of four to six antennas

  • do not pertain to the commonly used multiple-element base station radiators.

The Report goes on to state:
        Also, unlike highly localized cell phone RF energy deposition, the base station exposures involve much, if not all, of the body and would have slightly different radiator origins (for multi-element base stations) and may be multi-frequency as well, particularly if several different-frequency base station  antennas are co-located.  Further more, because of the whole-body resonance phenomenon, the SAR [Specific Absorption Rate] is likely to be higher for shorter individuals due to the closeness of the frequency/frequencies of exposure to the whole-body resonance frequency.  In addition to the rapid growth in the number of base stations since 1990, there has also been growth in other sources of RF radiation from cordless phones, wireless computer communications, and other communications systems.  The last general survey of RF levels in U.S. cities was during the 1970s, and an updated survey of RF intensities would be useful background for future epidemiologic studies.  There are many indoor wireless systems as well as cell phones, which are used both indoors and outdoors.  Measurements of the differences in the exposures generated by the use of these devices in these environments will be of value in determining if there are any health effects resulting from exposures to low levels and intermittent sources of RF radiation.

        . . .  An important research gap is the lack of models of several heights for men, women, and children  of various ages for use in the characterization of SAR distributions for exposures characteristics of cell phones, wireless PCs, and base stations.

        Presently, there is negligible or relatively little knowledge of local SAR concentration (and likely heating) in close proximity to metallic adornments and implanted medical devices for the human body.   Examples include metal rim glasses, earrings, and various prostheses (e.g., hearing aids, cochlear implants, cardiac pacemakers).  Research is therefore lacking to quantify the enhanced SARs close to metallic implants and external metallic adornments.

Scientific panel on electromagnetic field health risks: consensus points, recommendations, and rationales.  Fragopoulou A, Grigoriev Y, Johansson O, Margaritis LH, Morgan L, Richter E, Sage C. University of Athens, Athens, Greece. Rev Environ Health. 2010 Oct-Dec;25(4):307-17. PMID: 21268443 [PubMed - in process]
Abstract : …The Scientific Panel recognizes that the body of evidence on EMF requires a new approach to protection of public health; the growth and development of the fetus, and of children; and argues for strong preventative actions. New, biologically-based public exposure standards are urgently needed to protect public health worldwide.

Pathophysiology: Special Issue: Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) Special Issue  (August, 2009)

Carpenter, D.O., Sage, C. Public Health Implications of Wireless Technologies. Pathophysiology (2009). doi:10.1016/jpathophys.2009.01.01 1

Bioinitiative Report : A Rationale for a Biologically-based Public Exposure Standard for Electromagnetic Fields (ELF and RF) (Aug., 2007).  Organizing Committee:
Carl Blackman, USA, Martin Blank, USA, Michael Kundi, Austria, Cindy Sage, USA.  Participants: David Carpenter, USA, Zoreh Davanipour, USA, David Gee, Denmark
Lennart Hardell, Sweden, Olle Johansson, Sweden, Henry Lai, USA, Kjell Hansson Mild, Sweden, Eugene Sobel, USA, Zhengping Xu and Guangdin Chen, China.

Biological effects from electromagnetic field exposure and public exposure standards. Hardell L, Sage C., Biomed Pharmacother. 2008 Feb;62(2):104-9. Epub 2007 Dec 31.

Sage Reports:  RF Studies

Lai, H. Biological Effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. In G.E.Wnek and G.L. Bowlin, eds. Encyclopedia of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, Marcel Decker, New York, 2005. DOI: 10.1081/E-EBBE-120041846

STUDIES SHOWING ADVERSE BIOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF RADIO FREQUENCY RADIATION AT LOW INTENSITIES. Compiled by Dr. Henry Lai, University of Washington. From Analysis of Health and Environmental Effects of Proposed San Francisco Earthlink Wi-Fi Network, Havas, Magda, PhD, Environmental & Resource Studies, TRENT UNIVERSITY, PETERBOROUGH, ONTARIO, CANADA, K9J 7B8, (p. 29/51).

Analysis of Health and Environmental Effects of Proposed San Francisco Earthlink Wi-Fi Network, Havas, Magda, PhD., Environmental & Resource Studies, TRENT UNIVERSITY, PETERBOROUGH, ONTARIO, CANADA, K9J 7B8


Neural Communication: Weak Electrical Fields in the Brain Help Neurons Fire Together

An "unexpected and surprising finding was how already very weak extracellular fields can alter neural activity," he says. "For example, we observed that fields as weak as one millivolt per millimeter robustly alter the firing of individual neurons, and increase the so-called "spike-field coherence" — the synchronicity with which neurons fire with relationship to the field."In the mammalian brain, we know that extracellular fields may easily exceed two to three millivolts per millimeter. Our findings suggest that under such conditions, this effect becomes significant."

USE OF THIS SITE DEPENDS ON AGREEMENT WITH OUR DISCLAIMER: This website is intended to help advance knowledge and stimulate further research. While all reasonable precautions have been taken to ensure the validity of the information given, no warranty is given towards its accuracy. It is not intended to substitute for medical advice nor as a final statement with regard to possible prevention and avoidance recommendations or potential biological effects. No liability is accepted by the authors for damages arising from its use or misuse and interpretation by others. All references to smart meters refer to wireless devices, which may vary in their emissions.
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