Smart for the Planet. Bad for Your Brain?

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions – something the smart grid should do very well – can only make our planet healthier. But what about the foot soldiers of the smart grid – the wireless meters that gather information from our homes and businesses, and relay that information back to utilities? Do those devices pose a public health risk?

Maybe. Maybe not. Smart grid professionals will have to address those fears, either way.

A wave of protests, focused in California but spreading elsewhere across the country, raises the issue of radio-frequency (RF) radiation. Some claim that RF from wireless cell phones, WiFi routers or smart meters causes “electromagnetic hypersensitivity”, or EHS. Symptoms include dizziness, fatigue, headaches, sleeplessness and heart palpitations.

A review of the research from the Maine Public Utilities Commission says “the majority of studies indicated that people who described themselves as suffering from such sensitivity could not detect whether they were being exposed to an electromagnetic field . . . any more accurately than non-EHS individuals.”

The most-frequently cited study on the issue of EF looked at brain tumor risk related to cell phone usage. The data suggested a correlation between heavy cell phone use and an increase in brain cancer rates, but did not establish that one caused the other.

The study recommended further investigation into the possible effects of long-term heavy use.

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