• 04 MAR 12
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    Conflicting views on smart meters by Dariusz Leszczynski and Cindy Sage

    Dariusz continues his commentary on the issue of smart meters in his latest blog in the Washington Times Communities, provocatively titled “The “smart meters” deployment “” beyond the point of no return”. One of the overriding themes in Dariusz’s blog message (and his previous ones) is a continuing emphasis on scientific uncertainty.

    Now, there is much I like about his blog, it is challenging, thought provoking, and generates plenty of interesting comments – well worth a read! However, in my opinion, his continuing uncertainty theme is uncomfortably close to the tactic of maintaining scientific uncertainty by corporations (including the Telcoms) in order to avoid restrictive regulation of their activities. See: Manufacturing Uncertainty: Contested science and the protection of the Public’s Health and Environment.
    To quote in part: The tactic of manufacturing uncertainty was primarily developed in the mid 1950s by the public relations corporation Hill & Knowlton (H&K) on behalf of the tobacco industry. H&K came up with three points that are still frequently used by opponents of environmental regulation:
    * Cause and effect relationships have not been established in any way
    * Statistical data do not provide the answers
    * Much more research is needed.

    Sound familiar?


    Following is Dariusz’s blog entry “The “smart meters” deployment “” beyond the point of no return” and Cindy Sage’s commentary in response.

    HELSINKI, February 24, 2012-Last week’s post on “smart meters” led to vigorous debate. Some issues that came up in the comments need clarification and further explanation.

    “Smart meter” technology is very fast developing all around the world, but there are differences how it is implemented in different countries. There is no single good answer to the question how much radiation will be added to our environment by this wireless technology.


    Link: http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/between-rock-and-hard-place/2012/feb/24/smart-meters-deployment-beyond-point-no-return/

    Sage: Dariusz has given us all a chance to discuss the merits of industry and pro-regulatory arguments that try to justify the population-wide use of wireless utility meters. I take this as an opportunity to put some fallacious pro-wireless meter arguments on the table and reply to them in a public forum. Thanks, Dariusz. Your blog comments are in black, mine are in blue [ Not in this posting]. No bruising intended.

    Leszczynski: HELSINKI, February 24, 2012-Last week’s post on “smart meters” led to vigorous debate. Some issues that came up in the comments need clarification and further explanation. “Smart meter” technology is very fast developing all around the world, but there are differences how it is implemented in different countries. There is no single good answer to the question how much radiation will be added to our environment by this wireless technology.

    Sage: Exactly the point, Dariusz “” no one knows and one should not base acceptance of a pervasive new “potential human carcinogenic exposure” without knowing more about the health and safety consequences. But every building that has electricity will have a new blanket of involuntary RFR exposure. Every home, office, classroom, medical office, library, convalescent home, pre-school, daycare room and hospital will be exposed to chronic RFR around the clock, with no respite for the body to recover. That is enough of a starting point to illustrate how massive is this unprecedented new RFR exposure for the world”s populations that live in electrified buildings.

    Leszczynski: What the manufacturers and electric utility companies say in public is that independently of whether the meter is working around-the-clock or whether it sends information every-now-and-then, the electro-magnetic field (EMF) exposures should be low and comparable with other wireless technologies, such as wlan exposures, or significantly lower than the consumers receive from the operating cell towers.

    Sage: Dariusz, it is incorrect to characterize these new wireless utility meters as having now-and-then RFR emissions as they are installed and operated in broad use today. Biologically speaking, the body will see this as continuous, pulsed RFR, which is demonstrated in many studies to have serious impacts on the functioning and homeostasis of the human body. The nature of these wireless meters is that they spew out not only an intermittent RFR “chatter” to the mesh network, but the mesh network itself creates up to nine-fold more RFR signals to “keep the network working and in touch” and running. These figures come directly from the utilities submitting sworn information to regulators. So, the total number of signals has to include both these pulses, and also unknown but planned addition of RFR pulses from piggybacking signals from the wireless meters of proximate neighbors. If you think of a strobe light or a laser in the eyes, it is intermittent but powerfully disabling if you are forced to endure it. Signals may be very short bursts of RFR (this depends on the meter and how the utilities choose to operate), but to the human body, it is a continual 24/7 battering of the body with cellular insults. You know perfectly well that “lower SAR” and “lower power density” do not automatically mean “lower health impacts”. To say this is to implicitly accept the “more is worse” concept, which you and I and the informed world have seen is simply not true. Without doubt, you know the work of the Lund University team, Bertil Persson, Leif Salford, Henrietta Nittby and the others. Their work on RFR effects from mobile phone frequencies (same as smart meter frequencies) demonstrates in multiple studies that the lower SAR had as much or more adverse effect on pathological leakage of the blood-brain barrier and was still occurring at more than 50 days post-exposure.

    Consumers in many urban and some rural areas may already receive unacceptably high RFR levels when they live, work or go to school near some cell towers. To add to that another RFR layer that is unavoidable in daily living is certainly worse for them, not a reason to justify an additional exposure to a possible human carcinogen.

    Leszczynski: This information is met with great skepticism by persons considering themselves as “sensitive” to EMF. Whether this skepticism is founded remains to be seen because not all pertinent information is publicly available.

    Sage: Experts and non-experts who are not EHS, as well as a contingent of EHS sufferers beg to differ. You can count me as one, as well as the other experts responding to the California Council on Science and Technology call for advice (2011). Other than this issue, I normally agree with you in the views you express on the scientific aspects of EMF and RFR, but not on this one. Please go back and do your homework. And, when you respond with more in-depth knowledge on the subject, which we all hope you will, I am sure this will bolster your blog ratings (as this polemic exercise might have been intended to provoke).

    Leszczynski: At home, people meet a variety of electro-magnetic fields emitted by different appliances located inside and on outside homes.

    Sage: This statement is a mainstay of industry, is irrelevant in this context, and ignores the cumulative RFR exposures from the de-minimis view you posit. Justifying one carcinogen because we are already exposed to others is unacceptable. We all strive to limit our exposures in daily life to noxious and harmful things. Not all EMFs are the same. There are differences in frequency and modulation and there are differences in power, the amount of energy emitted by different EMF sources. Therefore, even though some EMF sources emit similar radiation, like microwaves, the energy that is emitted is very different.

    And, Dariusz, what is the consequence of this admission that further complexity is not well understood, nor the effects. This is reason to “go slow” on such a widespread, unavoidable, 24/7 exposure that will affect literally the entire electrified world. Especially when wireless is merely the choice of utilities, and alternatives with fewer or no health risks are available now.

    Leszczynski: Most of the exposures to microwaves come from the use of cell phones.

    Sage: This is false. For people who choose not to use mobile devices, or are unable for health reasons to use wireless devices, the biggest exposure they will get is from smart meters, because they must use electricity.

    Leszczynski: The more people talk on the phone and the longer the conversations are, the more radiation is absorbed by the brain.

    Sage: So, what possible link is there here to the involuntary exposure of unwilling populations to an essential public service like electricity?

    Leszczynski: The second source of exposure is cell towers, but the exposures are 1/1.000 to 1/100.000 part of the cell phone exposure.

    Sage: I disagree with your characterization. Cell phones have highly localized RFR impacts. Smart meters have whole body impacts. Cell phones are optional and can be turned off. Smart meters cannot. Cell phones can be used with a headset or on speakerphone, but you can”t move the electric or gas meter on your wall. Cell phones derive their compliance ratings based on SAR. Cell towers and wireless utility meters derive their compliance ratings based on calculations of power density. You just cannot make them equal. Who are you trying to kid with this false comparison? Cell phones are dangerous, most likely, even at these early stages in seeing the epidemiology results emerge. We shouldn”t even be SEEING increases in glioma at ten years, yet that is what the “heavy user Interphone category demonstrates. Millions of Euros and thirteen years later, the most comprehensive cell phone epidemiological studies in the world find that cell phone exposure is linked to nearly a doubling of risk for glioma in adults. Does this in any way bring justification or comfort to people who are exposed to RFR from smart meters in their own homes, against their better judgement and against their will? I have yet to see a competent “cumulative RFR burden” assessment of a wireless utility meter – a whole body exposure, that is 24/7, which may be amplified by individual surroundings and increased in cumulative terms by other involuntary sources (proximity to AM, FM or TV towers, for example). The Romans learned the lesson of incremental poisoning, one lead cooking pot at a time. Why should we not learn from history?

    Leszczynski: It means that the exposures are minimal. The problem with cell tower exposure is that it is happening 24/7. Similar 24/7 exposures are in some places with wlan networks and, in due time, exposures to “smart meters” and their wireless networks. An important distinction to remember is that cell tower and wlan exposures have much lower power as compared with cell phones.

    Sage: The statement is rebutted sufficiently above.

    Leszczynski: What are the impacts of exposures to people’s health? At this time, we have no scientific certainty.

    Sage: Scientific certainty is not the benchmark for intelligent action for public health, where the risks are dread, the affected population is nearly the entire planet”s human habitation, and the societal costs are enormous.

    Leszczynski: However, if the potential health effects are confirmed by further research, these effects will surely depend on quality and on quantity of the radiation absorbed by the human body.

    Sage: There is little need for additional “confirmation” that cell phone technology, as presently seen in use around the globe, presents unreasonable and unacceptable public health risks. I don’t disagree with the call for ‘further research’ but not at the expense of rational, clearly warranted preventative action, selection of less risky alternatives to wireless in all environments and warnings to the public.

    Leszczynski: In case of the cell phone radiation, the biggest worry is that the exposure might cause a brain cancer. Unfortunately, because the two largest epidemiology studies, INTERPHONE and Danish Cohort, were executed very poorly, they did not provide any reliable answers as to the possible causality link between brain cancer and cell phone radiation.

    Sage: If you so object to the competency of the Danish and Interphone studies, then you have even less basis to issue an “all clear” for health impacts from wireless utility meters. Only if your standard of evidence for accepting such a link is scientific certainty or causal evidence. No reasonable societies are smart to risk waiting for proof, when the consequences are clearly this weighty. The problem with your argument is you are a scientist, with a very high threshold for demonstrating a causal effect, before you move on to some other research area. You are not a public health expert (although it is welcome to have your scientific views and also your views on precautionary action if they are based on principles of public health expertise). With all due respect for our past association, on what basis are you qualified to render opinions about “when precautionary or preventative public health actions are warranted” if that opinion first requires a demonstration of “scientific certainty” and “causal evidence”? Causal links are unnecessary to take prudent public health action. To wait is anti-science, anti-health and predictable socio-economic disaster.

    Leszczynski: The brain cancer question remains unanswered.

    Sage: Presumably you mean from cell phone use. So what the heck are you justifying new RFR exposures for by comparisons (albeit false comparisons) to cell phones?

    Leszczynski: Other exposures, like wlan, cell towers and “smart meters” are being considered by the part of population as causes of the so-called electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS). People who consider themselves EHS are of the opinion that the deployment of “smart meters” may lead to the increase of EHS in the so far non-EHS majority of population. This suggestion is difficult to accept because deployment of the “smart meters” will add very little radiation beyond existing exposures to cell phones and cell towers.

    Sage: Only with your reductionism blinders on. Please do the RFR calculations yourself using the FCC OET 65 formulas; or review mine at http://sagereports.com/smart-meter-rf. If you can show conclusively that “more is worse” at the frequencies and intensities that are relevant to this discussion, document that cumulative RFR exposures are clearly known and not harmful to health, you might have a point. But, no one, including yourself, who has read and understood the literature would continue to ignore the studies that show “less is sometimes worse”, that we have few studies of health harm (yet) from cumulative RFR exposures over time at low-intensity, and that co-carcinogenic effects with chemicals can amplify adverse health effects in humans. And, we have no idea what people are becoming exposed to from a cumulative standpoint. Read “Tragedy of the Commons Revisited: The High Tech-High Risk Wireless World” in REVIEWS ON ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH. VOLUME 25, No. 4, 2010. It is about where you live, what you live next to, where you work, where your kids go to school, what bus or train or subway you ride, what wireless devices you use, or are used daily next to you, and so on.

    Leszczynski: Currently, 5.7 billons of people use cell phones and more than that is exposed 24/7 to cell tower radiation. Are they all sick?

    Sage: At this point, Dariusz, you have checked your credibility at the door, and may be asking for a job on radio. Shock-scientist.

    Leszczynski: According to some extreme voices from the EHS community the answer is yes (emphasis mine)

    Sage: Dariusz, blaming EHS people for being sick is uncivil. And, if someone made you and your family sick, poor and homeless because, like these “extremists”, the utility has condemned their family home by toxic, by trespassing with their IARC 2B Possible Human Carcinogen emissions all over their habitable space, and they uproot” do you really think your voice would be reasoned? What would be your reaction? Would you sound extreme? Would you then maintain that there is no proof of harm, that it might be in your head, or it might be some other environmental toxin, or “we don”t know enough to act”? Blaming the public controversy on individuals who already believe or have evidence that RFR is a toxic exposure for them is intolerable.

    Leszczynski: “..all people might be already sick but they might not recognize yet that the EMFs cause their existing health problems. To justify the claims of the “pan-sickness” these individuals site examples of increase in sleep problems, cognitive problems, increase in different types of allergies but also claim more serous ailments like the increase in the numbers of children born with different disorders.Such claims, without good quality scientific evidence are difficult to accept. There might be other “scenarios” to explain these ailments. These scenarios” will not satisfy everyone but they are, nonetheless, possible. The introduction of cell phones has changed in astounding way how people function in the society. In the old days, it was possible to leave the work office and go home and have a break from work-related phone calls “” now it is not. It was possible to go for a walk to relax and recharge but now, unless someone has sufficiently strong will power, it is not possible. Cell phones go for walks too. This new way of living leads to blurring the line between home and office, causing work stress to be increasingly part of the time that before was free, to “recharge and relax”. As a consequence of the new lifestyle, with 24/7 availability, people may experience higher levels of stress”

    Sage: Oh, Dariusz, do you mean stress as in RFR-initiated heat shock protein expression? The world”s unquestioning acceptance of a new wireless world has come without sufficient time or resources for study; and is in place before proper “before and after” testing can be accomplished by even the world”s best epidemiologists. Stress may be in small or large part due to the billions of times greater exposure to EMF and RFR than the human genome evolved with”” primarily to blanket RFR from new wireless technologies.

    Leszczynski: “ leading to sleeplessness and cognitive problems. This 24/7 availability concerns not only adults but also children. Stress to youngsters” could be, and should be, remedied by parental supervision.

    Sage: Remedied by parental supervision? How does a parent prevent wireless utility meter exposure for children in their own beds? Genotoxicity, DNA damage, DNA repair failure, stress proteins, and the other biological expressions of cell and body stress?

    Leszczynski: The stress can also come from the “on-line” life, not necessarily the radiation from the new wireless world.

    Sage: What parents who face serious health and economic consequences of chronic, involuntary exposure to RFR are going to allow “on-line” exposures on top? They simply will not. They will intelligently choose wired alternatives.

    Leszczynski: The serious health claims of the developmental problems in newborn children cannot be easily explained by just the “EMF-connection”.

    Sage: When you have done more research in this area, Dariusz, you will probably find greater public acceptance and support on your blog. Your results and opinions on wireless utility meters need to have explanation – if a reasoned and civil debate of the issue is to ensue.

    Leszczynski: There are very, very, very many environmental pollutants. Singling out EMF without solid evidence “

    Sage: Do you mean conclusive proof? Causal evidence? Scientific certainty?

    Leszczynski: “and supporting the claims using small studies with few cases is not good way to stimulate science and regulatory authorities to action. Besides the ongoing “environmental assault”, human kind is slowly “genetically deteriorating” because the laws of natural selection do not work anymore.

    Sage: To say that “more toxins” for people are okay, because we have so many already, and the human genome is already going to hell in a handbasket is just – well, grumpy thinking.

    Leszczynski: Thanks to progress in medicine, many persons, who in older days would pass away, live and pass on their genes and coded in them ailments. Making EMFs guilty of every possible disease or ailment that causes are unknown is too far fetched to accept.

    Sage: Who says this is our argument? Don”t create some false opinion, attribute it to us, and then criticize us for it. We have solid arguments, factual computer modeling of RFR levels from wireless utility meters, assessments of impacts on habitable space, and a massive scientific literature that, overall, argues for extreme caution in launching new and unnecessary wireless technologies. You would think STUK scientists would spend more time on developing more healthful solutions.

    Leszczynski: The applicability of the 2011 IARC classification of the cell phone radiation as a possible carcinogen to the “smart meters” was one point of the debate.

    Sage: No, obviously you are short on your reading. There is not one utility nor utility consultant on this planet that has done the same computer modeling of wireless meters, using the mandated FCC OET 65 equations, that shows anything different than Sage Associates did in it”s report dated January 1, 2011.

    See http://sagereports.com/smart-meter-rf

    Sage: Math is math. Formulas are formulas. Not one rebuttal “” not one error “” and no replication of our work has been issued in the last year – documenting we are wrong when we concluded that “in the manner installed and operated”, some meters will violate FCC public safety limits, using equations 6 and 10, and the mandated duty cycle, where the public cannot be excluded (as in, their own home). Instead, what has happened is that the utilities, their consultants and lobby industry have commissioned measurement studies that are misleading, inadequate and cannot form the basis for a positive assertion of safety. These exchanges are all posted for the public at http://sagereports.com/smart-meter-rf. Dariusz, I will buy you a lobster dinner in Santa Barbara, with the wine of your choice, if you can show we are wrong in our calculations (the airfare is on you).

    Leszczynski: The “smart meters” as such were not debated in Lyon in 2011 and, consequently, the “smart meters” are not mentioned in the summary overview that was published last year in the Lancet Oncology.

    Sage: So what? The principal author, Robert Baan, clarified in communications to the public that the IARC designation does not apply only to cell phones, nor only to cell phone frequencies, but to RFR as an exposure.

    Leszczynski: Of course the IARC decision classifying cell phone radiation as a possible carcinogen can be extended to cover all sources of cell-phone-like radiation, including cell towers, wlan and “smart meters”. However, there is not equality between the sources of radiofrequency radiation and there will not be equality in their potential effects on the living organisms.

    Sage: Demonstration of evidence, please.

    Leszczynski: Sources like cell towers, wlan and “smart meters” emit thousands of times less energy than cell phones and therefore it is logical to expect that the effects, if any, caused by their radiation will be far lesser than the effects caused by cell phone exposures.

    Sage: The fallacy (or out and out misinformation) is addressed above.

    Leszczynski: Treating different sources of EMF as potentially equally important sources of health hazard and justifying such with the IARC classification is a clear abuse of the IARC decision. All concerned with the possible health risks should carefully consider not only the quality of radiation but even more importantly the quantity. Too little of radiation will be unable to trigger any effects even if the quality would be suitable to do so.

    Sage: When you have done a comprehensive study of the range of possibilities of cumulative exposures for individuals, who have a wireless meter (or three) thrust on them, contaminating their private living space, then you can offer an opinion we can count on. No, obviously you are short on your reading. There is not one utility nor utility consultant on this planet that has done the same computer modeling of wireless meters, using the mandated FCC OET 65 equations, that shows anything different than Sage Associates did in it”s report dated January 1, 2011. See http://sagereports.com/smart-meter-rf.

    Leszczynski: The jury is still out and more studies are necessary to determine whether cell phone radiation causes brain cancer and whether EMF are solely responsible for the symptoms experienced by the self-diagnosed EHS people.

    Sage: An irrelevant challenge to the subject at hand. The subject at hand is whether wireless utility meter RFR emissions are possibly toxic, alone by proximity and manner of operation, or in combination with other cumulative RFR sources in their living environment.

    Leszczynski: In this scientific uncertainty time, the one thing is certain “” there is no return to pre-wireless society.

    The health reasons are not anymore sufficient reason to reverse or even slow down wireless technological development. The problem has become policy and politics issue. The problem will be solved by politicians, deciding what “collateral damage” is an acceptable price for the society to pay for the technological and economical development. Any attempts to stop development and deployment of wireless technologies would cause economical catastrophe.

    Sage: Once in place, it becomes “essential” and well-defended by industry who has a gargantuan financial incentive to keep it in place and defend it. You leap to the cause of industry for a miserably failed, corporate strategy. On what moral, ethical or legal basis do you judge the cost of bad planning by industry has to be born by the injured? What of the cost to the human genome? What of the cost for specialized education for children whose brains are harmed by chronic, involuntary RFR exposure or in utero exposure? What of the cost for cancers accelerated by this exposure? What of the cost of homes that are unlivable? What of the cost to national health care budgets? What of the cost to schools who, after buying the sales pitches of wireless tech companies, have to re-wire with cable for internet for the school children? What of the cost to hospitals who cannot even use new imaging and communications systems because their existing ELF and RFR background is so high it interferes with normal operations? What of patients who cannot use hospitals, or visit loved ones in hospitals because they are so blanketed by wireless as to make them sicker? What of the professor who can no longer travel because of his medical implants? Airlines, trains and buses become lethal environments for some who are implanted with metal and/or wireless devices subject to fatal interference?

    Leszczynski: Take home message: The prudent thing to do, in the time of scientific uncertainty, is to implement precautionary policies including free choice between wireless and wired options, whenever technologically feasible. In parallel, politicians, policy makers and industry should set aside funds for further, well designed and specifically targeted, research into the possible health effects of EMFs. Only with the knowledge in hand, development of approaches mitigating the health risks will be possible.

    Sage: Ho, a return to sanity is this now? What ARE you up to, Dariusz? I don’t put any credence in the accusations circulating among the puzzled that you are trolling for more media coverage. Creating a “Howard Stern” moment to cause incendiary reactions in your readers. Getting more comments. More press coverage. Dissing your friends to provoke good responses when they sleep through your column. Making up stories about your colleagues that are unflattering and untrue. Seeking a longer contract on your published blog. Really, I don”t believe any of it.

    Best personal wishes,

    Cindy Sage
    Sage Associates

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