How you interpret the long-awaited California Council on Science and Technology’s report on “Health Impacts of Radio Frequency From Smart Meters,” released yesterday, is largely in your own beholder’s eye. For example, look at the dichotomy between the two groups of headlines below:

The two articles that include the need for further steady in the headlines are from Marin-based media. That’s the bailiwick of State Assembly Member Jared Huffman, who along with Carmel’s Bill Monning, requested the report. A hotbed of anti-SmartMeter activism, Marin has seen a flurry of protests against the mandated installation of the devices, which PG&E and the CPUC, at least, say afford a host of benefits as compared to the old meters, but which detractors say cause unwelcome health effects. Last week the Marin County Board of Supervisors voted for a one-year moratorium on SmartMeter installation, even though the county does not have the authority to enact such a ban, as the meters fall under the jurisdiction of the California Public Utilities Commission.

Here’s the crux of CCST’s report, from the Marin Independent Journal:

(The) current Federal Communications Commission standard provides an adequate factor of safety against known thermally induced health impacts of existing common household electronic devices and smart meters.”

The council added, however, “Ongoing scientific study is being conducted to understand nonthermal effects from long-term exposure to mobile phones and smart meters, etc., especially the cumulative impact from all radio frequency emitting devices including that of a network of smart meters operating throughout a community.”

The council reported that there is “no conclusive scientific evidence pointing to a non-thermal cause-and-effect between human exposure to RF emissions and negative health impacts. For this reason, regulators and policy makers may be prudent to call for more research while continuing to base acceptable human radio frequency exposure limits on currently proven scientific and engineering findings on known thermal effects, rather than on general concerns or speculation about possible unknown and as yet unproven non-thermal effects.”

That carefully worded finding provided enough talking points, apparently, for both sides to seize on. From the Chronicle:

“We’re hopeful that today’s fact-based report helps alleviate some concern that some customers have raised about radiofrequency and SmartMeters,” said PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno.

“This report concludes that they cannot dismiss health impacts from the radiation in SmartMeters,” said Sandi Maurer, founder of the EMF Safety Network.

Which means the issue isn’t going away any time soon. From Huffman and Monning’s joint statement in response to the report:

CCST’s study does not conclusively resolve the smart meter debate. It does provide a credible measure of assurance that smart meters, whether standing alone, in clusters, or in combination with other household electronic devices, do not pose a serious risk of harm from thermal effects…

However, the CCST study does not dismiss the possibility that other, non-thermal health effects from RF exposures might be scientifically established in the future. CCST recommends that studies and monitoring on this issue continue, and that in the meantime, consumers should have more complete information than what is currently available regarding RF emissions from smart meters and other electronic devices so that they can make informed and prudent decisions. The benefits of smart meters and a smart grid do not require wireless technology, and consideration should be given to providing alternative hard-wired meters for consumers who continue to be concerned about potential health risks.

Last month, Huffman introduced AB 37 in the Assembly. The bill requires that utilities offer traditional meters for those who wish to opt out of the SmartMeter program. Yesterday, Santa Cruz County voted to lend its support to Huffman’s bill and to extend a moratorium on the meters, which, like the ban in Marin, has thus far had no effect on installation of the devices.

Until such an opt-out exists, protests will probably continue. Yesterday, two women in Rohnert Park were arrested blocking a SmartMeter installation truck.

State Report on Safety of SmartMeters Does Little to Quell Debate 12 January,2011Jon Brooks

  • RobertWilliams


    Smart meter signal radiation has been shown in laboratories to cause damage to rat brains. But I guess people are not all rats (though some are) and so the political group disguised as a science body, can still say there is no ultimate proof that the signal radiation will also damage human brains.

    If you feed something to rats and they die, most rational people won’t want to eat any, but you can still say there is no proof that it hurts humans.

    Up is becoming down and down up in this place where money and power and influence with lower level managers doing whatever it takes to follow that lead to keep their jobs and salaries and stay in good graces.

    The game of Monopoly is no good when one of the players is using the bank’s money as their own.

    Even insurance companies, based on what they know about smart meter signal radiation will NOT insure health risks from Wireless devices – The rats and even the sheep will have a hard time rationalizing that.

    VIDEO: Insurance Companies Won’t Insure Wireless Device Health Risks (3 minutes, 13 seconds)

    • Christine Johnson

      Refreshing to read the truth about a subject, thank you!

      If you or others would like to see a more comprehensive video supporting and expanding on your comments with highly qualified scientists with old fashioned science capability, truth and integrity (who have not been influenced or bought), watch the following video of the Nov 18 Symposium on Wireless Signal Radiation at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.

  • David O. Carpenter: Report on CCST Review of Health Effects of Smart Meters

    Dr. David O. Carpenter, expert in public health and wireless technologies, reports negatively on the review of the California Council for Science and Technology’s “Health Impacts of Radiofrequency from Smart Meters”. Dr. Carpenter provides his expert opinion, “This document is not an accurate description of the state of the science on the issue of radiofrequency fields, and is full of inaccuracies”, further noting it “is obvious that no persons with medical or biological expertise participated in this report.” Dr. Carpenter’s expert comments on the extensive dangers of smart meters are backed up with his specific concerns about the CCST report, with scientific realities and facts apparently not taken into consideration by the CCST. This confirms SMH comments on the CCST report. (SMH)

    Click here to read the original, signed report by Dr. Carpenter as a pdf.

    Institute for Health and the Environment
    and Department of Environmental Health Sciences
    School of Public Health
    University at Albany, State University of New York

    This is a report on the review of the California Council on Science and Technology document, “Health Impacts of Radiofrequency from Smart Meters”. I am a public health physician and former Dean of the School of Public Health at the University at Albany. I have been involved in review and analysis of studies on electromagnetic fields, including radiofrequency fields, for many years. I served as the Executive Secretary to the New York State Powerlines Project in the 1980s, and have published several reviews on the subject and have edited two books. In addition I was invited to present to the recent President’s Cancer Panel on the subject of powerline and radiofrequency fields and cancer.

    This document is not an accurate description of the state of the science on the issue of radiofrequency fields, and is full of inaccuracies. My specific concerns are as follows:

    1. The benefit of the smart meters is entirely to the utilities, and is economic in nature. If they install smart meters they can fire those individuals who at present are employed to go around reading meters. Thus this is a job-killing proposal, and will increase unemployment in a state that already has too much.

    2. When a smart meter is installed residents have no choice in the matter nor ability to avoid exposure. But every individual has the option to use or not use other personal wireless devices, until more is know about health consequences of chronic RF exposure. There is a major different between an exposure which an individual chooses to accept and one that is forces on individuals who can do nothing about it.

    3. The statement “The potential for behavioral disruption from increase body tissue temperatures is the only biological health impact that has been consistently demonstrated and scientifically proven to result from absorbing RF within the band of the electromagnetic spectrum that smart meters use” is totally wrong. In the first place there are many adverse health effects other than “behavioral disruption” demonstrated as a result of tissue heating. The evidence for increased risk of brain tumors, acoustic neuromas and parotid gland tumors in individuals who have used a cell phone for 10 years or more is consistent, and the tumors occur only on the side of the head where the phone is used. There is also strong and consistent evidence for increased risk of leukemia in individuals who live near to high power AM radio transmission towers, even though this report characterizes such exposures as being “quite low” and show in Figure 7 that they are lower than the RF fields from smart meters.

    4. The statement “The scientific consensus is that body temperatures must increase at least 1oC to lead to potential biological impacts from the heat” is totally wrong, and makes it obvious that no persons with medical or biological expertise participated in this report. Every enzyme system in the body is exquisitely sensitive to temperature, and increases activity by even a fraction of a degree increase in temperature. In fact all RF generates heat, and what is defined as “nonthermal” is only a function of our ability to measure the temperature increase.

    5. The statement “While concerns of brain cancer associated with mobile phone usage persist, there is currently no definitive evidence linking cell phone usage with increased incidence of cancer” is incorrect. The evidence is strong and consistent among studies looking at long-term and intensive use of cell phones. The AM radio studies mentioned above are also relevant, particularly because like smart phones radio transmission towers give whole body radiation, not just to the head.

    6. The statement “There currently is no conclusive scientific evidence pointing to a non-thermal cause-and-effect between human exposure to RF emissions and negative health impacts is inaccurate, and depends totally on what one defines as “conclusive”. In biology and medicine there is nothing that is 100% proven. We rely on statistical significance and weight of evidence when drawing conclusions about health effects. When one uses these definitions there is conclusive scientific evidence for adverse health effects in humans.

    7. The evidence for adverse effects of radiofrequency radiation is currently strong and grows stronger with each new study. Wired meters with shielded cable do not increase exposure. The report clearly indicates that “smart meters could conceivably be adapted to non-wireless transmission of data. However, retrofitting millions of smart meters with hard-wired technology could be difficult and costly.” Clearly the answer to this dilemma is not to install wireless smart meters to begin with.

    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.

    Yours sincerely,
    David O. Carpenter, M.D.
    Director, Institute for Health and the Environment
    University at Albany

    East Campus, 5 University Place, Room A217, Rensselaer, NY 12144-3429

  • I have recently had a “Smart Meter”, a transmitting device, installed on the house where I live. This was done without my consent. I was in near perfect health before the meter was installed a few months ago. Now I have frequent heart palpitations, overall weakness, sleep disruptions and dizzyness. There was NOTHING wrong with me before. I am sure the darn meter is the cause. It is just outside my home office wall, literaly 8 feet from my head.

    I am able to work for about an hour, then I have to go as far from my office as I can in the house for a few hours to recover.

    I am outraged. I think the CEO of PG&E should have to wear one of these meters as a pendant if he is so sure they pose no risk.

    This should not be happening in a supposedly free country.

    I am interested in a class actioj alwsuit against PG&E. Their history proves that they do not listen to anything short of that.

  • Jeffrey A Bell

    Also, if you are interested in joining me in a class actio law suit, or if you are an attorney interested in discussing this, please e-mail me at:

    Thank you!


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the host and editor of KQED’s health and technology blog, Future of You. He is the former editor of KQED’s daily news blog, News Fix. A veteran blogger, he previously worked for Yahoo! in various news writing and editing roles. He was also the editor of, which documented user-generated content about the financial crisis and recession. Jon is also a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S. He has written about film for his own blog and studied film at Boston University. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

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