Lafayette resident Alan Marks is a prime example of an early cellphone adopter/brain cancer victim. His wife Ellie, his greatest advocate, says Marks has been on the phone for at least an hour a day since the late 1980s. Marks suffered a grand mal seizure in 2008 and was diagnosed with a malignant glioma a month later. Ellie sent her husband’s cellphone and medical records to experts around the world and says she got a collective “absolutely” — absolutely his cellphone use could have contributed to his brain tumor. Ellie has filed a large lawsuit against The Wireless Association and others. She has testified before Congress and appeared on Larry King Live. As a side note, she says she received a phone call from Erin Brockovich.
Consequently, Ellie Marks was extremely upset to find a SmartMeter installed on her property. She called PG&E, explained her husband’s condition, and the company soon agreed to come out and remove the SmartMeter. Ellie says by doing so, PG&E acknowledged there was cause for concern. She has since received a letter stating her SmartMeter will be reinstalled, along with a packet of what she called, “propaganda,” stating that there is no known health risk associated with exposure to electromagnetic fields.
So how do SmartMeters compare to cellphones? Cellphones, cell towers, and other electronic devices emit a near-constant stream of radio frequencies that can vary in strength, while SmartMeters emit short, fraction-of-a-second-long bursts called “pulses.” In addition, most health studies on electromagnetic fields have focused on cellphones and other sources that cause constant, low-level exposure — but not on electronic devices that pulse. Moreover, there’s disagreement about how strong the SmartMeter pulses are, and how often they pulse in the first place.
For example, PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno said that electric SmartMeters emit low-level radio frequency bursts that last a fraction of a second, and occur only once every four hours.
But Dan Mattson, an independent electromagnetic-fields consultant and a former Navy technician in North Oakland discovered that a client in San Leandro had a SmartMeter that pulsed about 100 times in fifteen minutes. And Cindy Sage, a Santa Barbara-based environmental consultant and an outspoken critic of SmartMeters and the utility companies that install them, has measured several SmartMeters in the Bay Area: one in Berkeley pulsed about six times in one minute. Another just north of Berkeley pulsed between eight and fifteen times a minute.
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