Smart people and smart meters
by Dr. Robert A. Berry —
I am surprised that so many people are unaware of the smart meter controversy. Some individuals are concerned about the potential health impact resulting from radio frequency (RF) radiation polluting the environment. Some believe that this concern is nonsense, with no evidence to support such claims. Others are concerned about the potential increased cost of electricity to the consumer, as has happened in other states where meters have been in operation for some time, e.g., in California and Oklahoma.
Still others are concerned with the privacy issues, which some people chalk up to paranoia. Both the FBI and James Woosley, former CIA Chief under George Bush, however, have expressed concerns about the increases in hacking and especially in an increase in our country’s electric grid vulnerability. Finally, people are concerned about the potential interference that smart meters may create with other WiFi technologies in households and businesses. This is of special concern for those who rely on electronic medical devices, whether implanted in the body or freestanding.
So, what is fact and what is fiction? The World Health Organization (WHO) is taking the potential impact of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) on health very seriously. It has been funding the International EMF Project for a number of years and has periodic conferences on the research findings of hundreds of scientists from around the world.
Smart people are concerned about the potential impact of EMFs and RFs on human health, not to mention the health of pets and other animals. Smart people are concerned about the potential impact of smart meters on health, technological interference, finances and, for some, privacy.
I encourage smart people to take responsibility for their own well-being by establishing a system of self-reporting about the above issues so that researchers can move toward separating fact from fantasy. In addition, the power companies need to provide information on the technical problems and financial issues associated with smart meter installation.
Also, there is a new initiative to involve health professionals to become aware of the potential increases of non-specific health concerns, such as fatigue, head pressure, headaches, vision problems, mood changes, memory and concentration problems, and to consider the possibility of electromagnetic sensitivity as an etiology.
I have a personal example with respect to health problems and EMFs. My wife and I recently had our home tested for EMF densities, as she had been experiencing chronic sleep problems, would awaken with a headache and experience early morning fatigue nearly every day for at least a year.
The EMF assessment by Paul Harding revealed that the average reading for our home was 170.84 uW/m^2. When the area around our bed was assessed, the level ran up to 180 uW/m^2. It was explained that our all-metal four-poster bed was acting as an amplifier, creating a hotspot for electromagnetic energy.
One by one, we unplugged our WiFi devices, cordless phones and router, watching the readings decrease to a level of 1.2 uW/m^2. The next four evenings, with all WiFi shut off, my wife slept soundly and woke up refreshed, without a headache. The fifth evening, however, she had a restless night and woke up fatigued and with a headache.
Having spent 40 years conducting psychiatric research, I wondered if she had been experiencing a placebo effect that had just worn off. To my relief, I discovered that I had forgotten to shut off the WiFi that evening. The next three evenings she slept soundly and awoke without a headache. But then she had another restless night and woke with a headache. Again, I had forgotten to turn off the WiFi. This happened accidentally a third time with the same negative results.
Since that last time, we have not forgotten to unplug our devices, and my wife no longer wakes from disturbed sleep with a headache. This clearly shows that some people are more outwardly sensitive to EMFs, while others are not, like me. I sleep soundly and wake refreshed, despite the high EMF hotspot that used to be our metal bed.
I was referred a patient who suffered from primarily nocturnal onset migraines. I suggested she experiment with shutting off all WiFi before retiring to bed. For three days in a row she slept better and did not awaken with a migraine. Migraines still occur at times during the day, but a different pattern is emerging. We have yet to see the long-term effect of sleeping without the WiFi turned on.
What I hope to point out from the above examples is that some members of our community might be suffering as a result of added RF radiation coming from smart meter operations. According to research, those most susceptible to EMFs are children, the elderly and those with neurological diseases, such as my wife who has multiple sclerosis. I suggest that we as a community do our own field research and find out if smart meters can contribute to our well-being in any way or merely contribute to health problems, mechanical failures and financial cost.
As previously stated, groups of people are working to collect health data around the country. I believe it would be also beneficial to gather data on mechanical failures, such as electrical fires or WiFi malfunction in homes and businesses that occur after the installation of smart meters.
In addition, records should be kept of any significant increase or decrease in utility bills as a result of smart meter monitoring. Let us take steps to find out for ourselves what is true and not true about the benefits and/or negative impacts of smart meters. For further information regarding health and smart meters, google “smart meter sleep problems” or visit stopsmartmeters.org.
Robert A .Berry, Ph.D., is a retired assistant professor and research scientist for the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. He is in private practice in Sedona, Ariz. 312-719-6789, email@example.com or visit therapists.psychologytoday.com and enter the zip code 86336.
Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 33, Number 3, June/July 2014.