Mark and Maureen Florio and their children John, Teresa and Joseph outside their home. Picture: Bruce Magilton Herald Sun
A SMART meter health scare has driven residents from their homes amid fears they are being exposed to high levels of electromagnetic radiation.
A young family and another resident have fled the Keilor East street, claiming constant headaches and sleep deprivation is making their lives a misery, but authorities say the controversial devices are safe.
Marc and Maureen Florio, who have been staying with friends since Friday, said they and their four children had suffered side-effects since a neighbour’s smart meter was installed three weeks ago.
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Tests found radio frequency emissions more than 30 times stronger than “precautionary levels” in their 14-year-old son’s bedroom and high levels elsewhere. All readings were within Australian standards.
“It’s like an absolute nightmare,” Ms Florio said.
“I do not know what we are going to do … we are smart meter refugees.”
Mr Florio said a doctor attributed constant headaches to the meter. He and his eldest son are also sensitive to other emissions.
“We are not after compensation,” he said. “We just want it switched off.”
Kathi Buzza, who had the meter installed, also wants the device gone.
YSHIELD general manager David Mould, who tested the Florios’ house, recommended the smart meter be removed.
He said while readings were within Australian standards some people appeared sensitive to weaker emissions and he recommend lower levels as per European guidelines.
Power company Jemena said tests of the meter and another across the road had shown no problems. Other residents had not expressed health concerns.
The Baillieu Government has ordered independent checks to allay concerns about potential health risks from smart meters.
A spokesman for the Energy Minister said testing so far showed they had complied with standards and emitted weaker electromagnetic emissions than other sources such as baby monitors and mobile phones.MAXIMUM READINGS AT THE FLORIO HOME CHILD’S bedroom, 182 (5 precautionary guidelines) DOWNSTAIRS study, 167 (10 precautionary guidelines) MASTER bedroom, 130 (5 precautionary) UPSTAIRS kitchen, 114 (10 precautionary) UPSTAIRS table tennis area, 101 (10 precautionary) Source: YSHIELD. Density measured in microwatts/m2. Precautionary figure based on guidelines from Building Biology and Ecology Institute, Germany. RADIO FREQUENCY EMISSIONS Normal distance from a smart meter 50 Immediately next to a smart meter 88,000 Standing near an operating microwave oven 100,000 Wi-fi wireless routers, laptop computers, cyber cafes 100,000-200,000 Mobile phone at head up to 300,000-100,000,000 Source: Silver Spring Networks Power density measured in microwatts/m2