New study finds smart meters within FCC safety standards


Rollin Richmond,
President, Humboldt
State University
Sacramento, CA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — January 13, 2011 – A new study from the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) has found that the current FCC standard on exposure to radio frequency (RF) radiation provides an adequate factor of safety against known thermally induced health impacts for smart meters.

According to the report the RF levels of an always on smart meter range from 4 µW/cm2 at 10 feet to 40 µW/cm2 at 3 feet. Even this latter factor is much smaller than the radiation from microwave ovens and cellphones, which can range up to 200 µW/cm2 and 5,000 µW/cm2 respectively under normal conditions of use.

The report, “Health Impacts of Radio Frequency from Smart Meters,” was prepared at the request of California Assembly members Jared Huffman and Bill Monning. Its aim was to address whether the FCC standards for smart meters are sufficiently protective of public health and whether additional technology specific standards are needed for these and other household devices to ensure adequate protection from adverse health effects.

The project team was led by Rollin Richmond, president of Humboldt State University, and the findings were based on extensive literature review and input from technical experts.

The report also finds that to date, scientific studies have not identified or confirmed negative health effects from the potential non-thermal impacts of RF emissions such as those produced by existing common household electronic devices and smart meters. Further, not enough is currently known about the potential non-thermal impacts of RF emissions to identify or recommend additional standards for such impacts.

The thermal impacts of RF pertain to tissue heating from the absorbing energy associated with these emissions, while the non-thermal effects would include cumulative or prolonged exposure to lower levels of RF emissions.

Notwithstanding its findings the report comments that the topic of potential health impacts from RF exposure in general, including the small RF exposure levels of smart meters, continues to be of concern. To this end as wireless technologies of all types increase in usage, it will be important to continue to quantitatively assess the levels of RF emissions from common household devices and smart meters to which the public may be exposed, and to investigate potential thermal and non-thermal impacts of such RF emissions on human health.

Further, the California PUC should consider doing an independent review of the deployment of smart meters to determine if they are installed and operating consistent with the information provided to the consumer, and consideration could be given to alternative smart meter configurations (such as wired) in those cases where wireless meters continue to be of concern to consumers.

Comments on the report are now being accepted up to January 31.