So are SmartMeters bad for your health? It's a difficult
question to answer. Though similar in wattage and frequency
to cellphones, SmartMeters infrequently pulse at a greater
intensity, while cellphones emit lower levels of constant
radiation. Still, both devices emit radio frequencies, and
recently, cellphones and cell towers have come under intense
criticism as information has surfaced suggesting that they
may cause cancer.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a bill in June
that was signed into law by Mayor Gavin Newsom, requiring
cellphone retailers to post radiation levels for each type
of phone they sell. Last month, Democratic Congressman
Dennis Kucinich of Ohio announced he would introduce a bill
to create a national research program that would look at the
safety of electromagnetic fields, particularly in cellphones.
The World Health Organization has also said it would conduct
a formal study of the effects of radio frequencies on human
health by 2010, and the International Agency for Research on
Cancer will review the carcinogenic potential of cellphones
by next year.
But so far, the science on cellphones has been somewhat
contradictory. Recent studies from Sweden have found that
placing a cellphone to your head everyday for ten years or
more increases your chance of developing a brain tumor by
280 percent in adults and 420 percent in teenagers.
However, the overall conclusion of the separate, and costly,
13-country Interphone study found no connection between
cellphone use and brain tumors. Some scientists have
criticized this ongoing study as flawed because some of its
sub-studies concluded that cellphones actually prevent brain
More interesting still, different interpretations of the
Interphone study yield different results. Henry Lai, a
professor in the bioengineering department at the University
of Washington found that studies not funded by the industry
were far more likely to find that cellphones cause cancer.
Industry-funded studies found electromagnetic fields affect
our health just 28 percent of the time, while
non-industry-funded studies found human health is affected
67 percent of the time.
And most people don't realize that cellphone manufacturers
acknowledge a link between phone use and human health. To
meet FCC standards, the fine print in most cellphone manuals
state that users are not supposed to put the devices up to
their bodies. A Motorola V195 GMS, for example, is supposed
to be held an inch away from the head while in use.
Lloyd Morgan says he almost died from exposure to
electromagnetic fields. In 1995, Morgan was having lunch
with a friend when he suffered a grand mal seizure that
literally knocked him off his feet. Turns out, Morgan had a
tumor the size of his fist growing inside his head.
"My neurosurgeon said to me, perhaps EMFs [electromagnetic
fields] caused your tumor — and that was fifteen years ago,"
Morgan said. He's since engaged in a battle against the
cellphone industry, attempting to save others from untimely
deaths by brain tumor.
As an electrical engineer, Morgan was certainly exposed to
electromagnetic fields. He was also a ham radio operator in
high school, had a full dental X-ray when he was young, and
slept next to a clock radio for several decades — all
possible contributors, he believes, to his tumor. Morgan
does not use a cellphone and he does not have WiFi in his
North Berkeley home. But he does have SmartMeters.
Though Morgan doesn't appear as concerned about the gas and
electric SmartMeters affixed to the wall outside his living
room, he took time during a recent interview to point out a
bank of about a dozen SmartMeters just a few yards away on
the wall of the apartment building next door. And a dozen
more across the street.
Morgan likens exposure to electromagnetic fields to smoking:
If constant cellphone exposure is like sucking down a
cigarette, SmartMeters are analogous to second-hand smoke.
Cigarettes are generally believed to cause lung cancer in
about 10 percent of heavy smokers. If the same holds true
for heavy cellphone users, Morgan foresees an epidemic of
disastrous proportions. "I believe there will be a tsunami
of brain tumors that will show up in ten to fifteen years,"
he said. If 10 percent of cellphone users worldwide
developed a brain tumor, that could mean tens of millions of
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