This is part 2 of my blog Taking A Stand
As I mentioned in my previous blog, I had sent a letter (letter of the week on this site) to Powercor, DPI and the then energy minister Michael O’Brien. Mr O’Brien, after receiving advice from his advisers, responded to my health concerns with “Smart Meters are safe and fall well within the requirements for electromagnetic and radio frequency emissions” and that “the radio emissions are weaker than other household devices such as mobile phones and baby monitors”. I realised I was not going to get anywhere unless I could find flaws with Australia’s RF standards on which he has based his safety comment or find evidence that contradicted what Mr O’Brien was saying with regards to smart meter emission being safe. So I spent the next 6 months of my personal time investigating this issue by reading our RF Standards (all 136 pages), scientific journals (that were peer reviewed) found on reputable medical and university portals, the Bioinitiative report, the Interphone study as well as looking at health issues that were being claimed by people in Australia and other countries. What I found was quite alarming and so I decided to write a letter to ARPANSA challenging them on the current state of our RF standards which can be found here Letter to ARPANSA – for public, a critical review document that analysed specific points raised by the standards ARPANSA RF Standards Critical Review and a separate question sheet which I will provide in part 3 of this series.
A summary of the key findings are as follows:
ARPANSA RF Standards Related Findings
- ARPANSA’s RF standards do not provide any “proof of safety” and are very clear to state this without any ambiguity “It is impossible to prove, with absolute certainty, the absence of an effect. To prove with certainty that radio frequency energy, or any other aspect of the human environment, is completely safe is impossible”, which of course is at odds with what the Minister and the DPI are claiming.
- ARPANSA RF Standards are over 11 years old now and are based on out-dated and presently inadequate ICNIRP guidelines created in 1998. Some of the reasons why they are inadequate are outlined further below.
- They are riddled with uncertainties that have remained unanswered 11 years since the time they were last published. The typical response documented in the RF standards is “more research is needed”
- They provide protection against thermal damage for acute exposures only
- They do not take into consideration the latest scientific research nor do they consider non-thermal effects that have been found by many independent scientists
- They provide no response that adequately addresses WHO/IARC’s categorisation of microwaves as a “group 2b carcinogen”. It should be noted that the IARC rarely down grades a classification. In fact it is more likely that as evidence accumulates that this rating will be upgraded!
- ARPANSA’s RF standards indicate that the use of SAR (measurement of thermal absorption) is only useful for research purposes and device compliance.
Other related findings
- International EMF standards and guidelines are based on the assumption that only ionizing radiation causes chemical change. This is not correct.
- EMF standards are based on the assumption that non-ionizing EMF only causes damage by heating (i.e., damage by thermal effects only). This is not correct.
- There has been no research to date performed on smart meter RF emission safety and potential impacts to health, so any claim that is being made stating that they are safe is unsubstantiated
- Mobile phones and smart meter RF emissions share a lot of similarities including frequency of operation (smart meters that are set up in a meshed network operate between 915 and 928 Mhz while mobile phones operate at a range of frequencies including 900Mhz) and both use pulsed signals. The Interphone study investigated the risk of cancer when using mobile phones and despite its flawed protocols did actually find increased risk of brain cancers amongst heavy users. Heaviest users at the time of the study are normal users by today’s standards (i.e. 30 minutes a day).
- What is truly alarming is that cancers normally taking 20 – 30 years to materialise yet an increased incidence was observed in the Interphone study which only looked at people who used mobile phones over a 10 year period!
- The effects of both ionising (x-rays, gamma rays etc.) and non-ionising (microwaves, RF etc.) are accumulative.
- Although the exposure levels may be lower for smart meters, the accumulated exposure over time has the potential to be greater and to cause greater harm. We usually operate one mobile phone. However several smart meters are typically located very close to bedrooms and living areas especially when living in a high density arrangement.
- Microwave radiation from a cell phone damages theblood-brain barrier, but it does so even when the exposure level is reduced a thousandfold. Even more disturbingly, and contrary to what was expected, the damage to the blood-brain barrier worsened when the experimenters reduced the exposure level. One can assume the same will hold true for exposure to smart meter RF.
- There are literally 1000’s of peer review research articles that show RF EMR below the thermal threshold has biological effects. Some include genotoxic events (DNA breakage) which can lead to the potential formation of cancer.
- The industry is muddying the water with research that shows “no effect” and threatening those who do find effects. Despite this article being over 8 years old its message still holds true today about industry interference http://www.washington.edu/alumni/columns/march05/wakeupcall01.html
- Children are more vulnerable to the effects of microwaves than adults.
- There are no long-term studies (>15 years) of the effects of radio frequency radiation on humans
- We live in bizarre and irrational regulatory world where controlled medical tests of EMR on humans are unacceptable but uncontrolled exposure is accepted and unregulated.
Both documents linked above are quite large and I hope you all can find the time to read them. The documents also include references should people wish to do their own research.
My next blog will look at the response I received from ARPANSA, my response to their letter along with a list of questions I believe the public deserves to have answers to (had been sent with the above letter but were not answered by ARPANSA).