It’s easy to disregard the potentially harmful effects of what we cannot see, smell, taste, or feel. Especially when the imperceptible thing provides convenience, cost savings, and the promise of energy efficiency. Hence I read with disappointment the latest news in the saga of unintended consequences in the pursuit of energy efficiency. Smart metering technology may be bad for your health.

Smart meters provide for two-way communication between your house and the grid, allowing utilities to optimize energy distribution, identify outages, resolve other services problems, and, in the near future, connect to smart devices in your home so they can automatically respond to pricing signals from the grid. But to do all of this, each smart electric meter comes equipped with a network radio, which transmits data using RF “mesh” technology, creating a pervasive and invisible “mesh” of radio frequencies.

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) issued a position paper, “Electromagnetic and Radiofrequency Field Effect on Human Health,” singling out wireless technologies and smart meters. According to the AAEM, the ill effects of non-ionizing radiation, such as emanates from WiFi, cell phones, and smart meters, has only recently been documented on human health, as these technologies have only recently become ubiquitous, and hence the biological effects of chronic exposure have only recently started coming to light. They urge caution and redoubled research into alternatives to EM and RF device communication that will not adversely affect human health, such as traditional hard-wiring and fiber-optic networks.

The World Health Organization has classified RF emissions as a group 2 B carcinogen, and the AAEM’s position paper lists a string of epidemiological effects documented in regard to EM and RF exposure, including genetic damage, reproductive defects, cancer, neurological degeneration and nervous system dysfunction, immune system dysfunction, cognitive effects, protein and peptide damage, kidney damage, and developmental effects that have all been reported in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

Acknowledging that human body uses electricity in neurological processes, and the orderly sequence of healthy neuron activity can be disturbed by a burgeoning electromagnetic frequency environment, the AAEM calls for exercising precaution with regard to EMF, RF, and general frequency exposure. Stating, “In an era when all society relies on the benefits of electronics, we must find ideas and technologies that do not disturb bodily function.”

The AAEM position paper outlines a series of immediate actions:

• An immediate caution on smart meter installation due to potentially harmful RF exposure;

• Accommodation for health considerations regarding EMF and RF exposure, including exposure to wireless smart meter technology;

• Independent studies to further understand the health effects from EMF and RF exposure;

• Recognition that electromagnetic hypersensitivity is a growing problem worldwide;

• Understanding and control of this electrical environmental bombardment for the protection of society;

• Consideration and independent research regarding the quantum effects of EMF and RF on human health; and

• Use of safer technology, including for smart meters, such as hard-wiring, fiber optics, or other nonharmful methods of data transmission.