Even residents who opt out of having a smart meter installed in their home could still be subject to “electro smog” in their neighbourhood, says a retired cancer researcher.

Malcolm Paterson, who now lives in Okanagan Falls, outlined his concerns about wireless radio frequency-emitting devices to the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen board. His appearance followed a FortisBC presentation on smart meters during a closed door session in September.

Fortis expects to start introducing smart meters in the South Okanagan-Similkameen in 2015.

Health impacts from prolonged exposure to smart meters and cell phones can be extensive, Paterson said, as smart meters can operate up to 50 per cent of the time in homes throughout a neighbourhood.

“The end result is you are constantly immersed in a pervasive blanket of electro-smog, even if you elect to opt out of the meter upgrade,” he said. “Hence, community-level opt out to smart meter installation should be allowed.”

Paterson said although smart meter emissions fall well under Health Canada safety limits, those levels are based on average emission levels rather than the higher concentrations during peak bursts of data.

“Smart meters emit multi-second pulses, which at peak, far exceed Health Canada’s safety limit. Yet, when averaged over 30 minutes, they appear to be far below it,” he said.

Paterson said smart meters can emit 50-millisecond bursts up to 100 times in a half hour. Each pulse can be 100 times greater than the allowed limit.

He claimed the Health Canada’s radio frequency (RF) safety standards are obsolete. Latent cancers can result from chronic, cumulative exposure to smart meters, cell phones and similar devices.

“The public is not being warned about the potential risk from smart meters,” he said. “No positive claim of safety can be made.”

Paterson said Health Canada relies on international standards coming from the World Health Organization, rather than introduce more precautionary measures regarding RF exposure.

He urged the RDOS board to delay the introduction of smart meters within the regional district until their health impacts are better understood.

Although the RDOS directors agreed the public should be made more aware of the concerns, they noted the decision on their introduction is outside the regional district’s jurisdiction.

However, Tom Siddon, director for OK Falls-Kaleden, said many B.C. communities have banned smart meters.

“You might say they don’t have jurisdiction, but they had the courage in face of this uncertainty to say No,” he said.

Siddon said FortisBC officials didn’t have an answer to such medical concerns during their recent meeting with the RDOS.

The City of Penticton’s electrical utility has been gradually introducing an Automated Meter Reading (AMR) system since 2003. AMR meters differ from smart meters since they only transmit the actual meter reading, not other household information.

Recommended for you