I was recently asked by SSMA to answer an email from a member of the public. She provided a link to this article http://theconversation.edu.au/smart-meters-are-about-as-dangerous-as-9413 and asked whether SSMA had any comment. She also indicated a friend who is a scientist mentioned “that the smart meter issue is like the wind turbine issue and that both only affect those people who are worried about being affected by them and that there is no reliable evidence of adverse health effects from either.” In writing my response to her I thought it would also be good to share what I wrote with the rest of you in a hope it will generate a healthy discussion. My response began as follows:
“Yes I have seen the article you included in your email and I couldn’t help but note that both contributing authors are mathematicians, which hardly makes them experts in the field of RF emission safety or qualified to make comments on biological effects that radio frequencies are reputed to have (claimed by many independent scientists). Conversely here is a link to an article that is pretty much in opposition to what they have said http://maisonsaine.ca/smart-meters-correcting-the-gross-misinformation/. As you can see it is a very hot topic that has divided scientists.
Just a little background on myself, I have a science degree in Biochemistry and Microbiology. I work in the IT industry and so you can say I have a logical mind and use scientific reasoning when investigating issues like these. For me, Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity also referred to as EHS is a very personal issue because I have been aware of my sensitivity to wireless for more than 10 years when I used mobile phones and wireless internet. Prior to the rollout of smart meters I was able to manage my sensitivity by not having any wireless devices turned on in my house. I did have a cordless phone but I was not sensitive to its frequency of operation which is 30 – 40Mhz. Mobile phones and smart meters (except WiMAX) typically operate at around 900Mhz and I am very sensitive to this frequency. With the recent rollout of smart meters in Victoria without the public’s consent my health is being compromised. EHS symptoms have been acknowledged by WHO and they have also admitted that it can be very disabling for some people but they refuse to link it to electromagnetic radiation (EMR).
Your scientist friend mentioned that smart meter issue is like the wind turbine issue. He is likely to be correct but not in the way he thinks. Both technologies share a lot of common symptoms which include:
- chest tightness
- tachycardia or increased heart rate
Of course EHS has quite a few additional symptoms over and above what is listed immediately above.
I do not proclaim to be an expert in wind turbine technology but I understand that the effects mentioned above have been attributed to low frequency sounds (infrasonic to ultrasonic noise) that are emitted by the turning blades which interfere with the ear’s vestibular system (responsible for controlling our sense of balance). Of course what your scientist friend and many others in the science/electrical fraternity are alluding to is that the ailments claimed by sensitive people for both of these new technologies are psychosomatic in nature. Of course making such a statement is disingenuous to people such as myself who are very aware of our health issues and their cause. Words like ‘Nocebo effect” are being put forward as a possible reason. Of course how does nocebo effect come into play in the following scenarios?
- People who had no prior experiences in the use of a wireless device, have no phobia/fear of using the product and are actually looking forward to experiencing the benefits of said technology suddenly get headaches, tingling in the skin, pressure and pain in the chest, dizziness, altered state of mind (feelings of aggression – short fuse or even anxiousness etc.), joint pain, lethargy etc. when using them. This is exactly what happened to me. It was both perplexing and very troubling when I first experienced this. It is only through applying scientific reasoning and testing myself to various RF sources and for varying durations was I able to come to the conclusion that EHS is real and can be directly attributed to EMR.
- People go to areas without knowing there are RF transmitters in the area, feel the same symptoms as described above and upon further investigation, triggered by these feelings, find that there is a transmitter close by.
- When people are suddenly finding they are waking up at similar times, finding it difficult to fall back asleep and suffering headaches after the installation of a smart meter but never had these symptoms prior to the rollout. With the feelings of worry only developing because of the effects they are experiencing and not because of the fact that a smart meter was installed. Most people in the community are uninformed of the potential dangers wireless emissions have on health and so are unlikely to be worrying about the equipment when they are installed.
EHS is a very misunderstood condition. Tests such as the provocation test which are used to test whether a person is EHS are very subjective. There appears to be a serious lack of interest and funding to look for biological markers – at least in Australia. What also makes it difficult for sufferers is that the majority of people do not experience this and so it is easy for people, including scientists, to come to the conclusion that it is not real and that it is in our heads so to speak. Of course not everyone suffers peanut allergies but we know it can occur because the symptoms are very obvious and visible. How does one see a headache? I believe there are biological markers if one wants to find them and is exactly what a French professor, Dr Dominique Belpomme has indicated in an interview in 2010 on this subject. Refer to http://www.emfacts.com/2012/01/electromagnetic-intolerance-elucidated/.
There is quite a lot that is known about RF effects particularly from a military perspective with over 70 years of research available but conversely there are still huge gaps in our knowledge particularly in terms of understanding the biological processes that are effected/contributing to the generation of non-thermal effects that have been observed by many independent researchers and include genotoxic events.
You will note that I put a lot of emphasis on independent research because it is important to understand what affiliations and sources of funding that researchers have particularly when:
a) The majority of research in the past has been performed by or sponsored by the industry
Evidence: When the FCC created its RF standards they were based on the research that was available at the time which was predominantly performed by the industry. Please refer to page 8 of this document http://transition.fcc.gov/Bureaus/Engineering_Technology/Documents/bulletins/oet56/oet56e4.pdf
One can also safely assume the same research pool was used by the ICNIRP to develop their 1998 international guidelines on RF safety that Australia adopted in 2002.
b) There is evidence that industry is influencing research findings – this is not a new concept especially when we look at past history relating to research on smoking, asbestos, thalidomide etc. and the behaviors of the those peddling their dangerous goods. I can only speculate on the actual reason but I feel pretty confident when I say the wireless industry is unlikely to release results that are unfavorable to their position especially when it could jeopardize a >4 trillion dollar global industry!
Evidence: One only needs to actually look at ratios of finding of “effects” vs “no effects” between industry funded research and independent research to get a clear picture of what is really happening.
Cellphone Biological Studies
Industry Funded: 27 studies 28.1% Effects Found 71.9% No effects found
Independently Funded: 154 studies 67% Effect found 33% No effects found
source: http://www.radiationresearch.org/pdfs/reasons_us.pdf (Page 34)
Another article I had not included in my response but supports my statement above can be found here http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1797826/
There seems to be a lack of commitment by the science community in general to seriously investigate these issues. In some cases this is purely because there is a lot of money at stake particularly in regards to the wireless industry. The catch phrase “follow the money” is very apt. Much of the money provided for research is from the industry that markets these devices and to a lesser degree the government who actually make money from access to the RF spectrum through licensing (ACMA).”
It is my intention to write further blogs on the SSMA website soon.