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New Study Suggests SmartMeters' Radiation Levels Higher Than Previously Thought

Environmental consultants find FCC public safety limit violations could be possible within six inches of meters.

A new study could show that the radio frequency radiation levels of controversial wireless power usage meters being installed at homes all over Northern California is significantly higher than previously thought, a spokesman for an environmental health coalition said.

Sage Associates, environmental consultants based in Santa Barbara, published the results of its study on SmartMeters online Friday. The devices, which have sparked widespread controversy, protests and installation bans in some cities, allow for remote readings of power and gas usage and eliminate the need for human meter readers.

The study found FCC public safety limit violations could be possible within six inches of the meter, said Barry Smith, a spokesman for the Environmental Health Coalition of West Marin.

"PG&E is misleading the public with false assurances of safety,” Smith said in a statement. “SmartMeter radiation will be a permanent part of the home, and people have no idea how high their chronic RF exposure might be."

The California Council on Science and Technology released a report in early January on the health effects of the wireless meters. The conclusion was that the meters emit lower levels of radio frequencies than many household products, are well below federal standards even under worst-case scenarios and that FCC standards are adequately safe for possible thermal health effects.

However, the report also concluded that not enough is known about the non-thermal health effects from radio frequencies and that more information should be provided to consumers about emissions of all devices, including SmartMeters.

On Feb. 1, misdemeanor charges against a Novato woman in a case stemming from a protest in Rohnert Park against a company that installs SmartMeters. Bahia resident Ilona Gallo called it “jail for justice” when she was hauled off in handcuffs Jan 11 for blocking a driveway entrance to a company that installs the controversial wireless devices that allow for remote readings of power and gas usage.

The Marin County District Attorney's Office decided not file charges against two women who were cited for disobeying police at a SmartMeter protest in Inverness in December.

— Bay City News Service contributed to this report

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