Radio Frequency/Health

Numerous studies – including a study* conducted by the California Council on Science and Technology as well as a study* conducted by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) – have shown that smart meters using radio frequency (RF) technologies pose no health risk. A smart meter with RF technology uses a low-power radio to communicate the electricity usage of a home or business to the electric company through remote telecommunication technologies.

The radio technology employed by digital meters is similar to that used in a variety of devices that are in widespread use in homes, businesses, and public facilities. RF exposure from a smart meter is far below the levels and frequency of other common electric devices, including cell phones, televisions and remote controls, remote garage door openers, motion detectors, baby monitors and microwave ovens. In fact, the RF exposure levels from smart meters are far below the levels permitted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which sets health standards for RF exposure, based on extensive reviews of the biological and health literature.

According to research by EPRI, the "relatively weak" strength of the RF signals generated by smart meters means that any impact of RF exposure would be minimal – similar to the levels of the exposure from televisions and radios.

Due to the extremely brief exposure to the radio waves that smart meters produce, there have been no long-term health effects identified as a result of the installation of smart meters, according to a study* conducted by the California Council on Science and Technology.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states*: “To date, all expert reviews on the health effects of exposure to RF fields have reached the same conclusion: There have been no adverse health consequences established from exposure to RF fields at levels below the international guidelines on exposure limits published by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection.”

Low probability of interference
The low-power design and intermediate frequencies of the smart meters being installed help reduce the probability of interference with other wireless devices.  Based on standards and regulations from the FCC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the likelihood of interference between the smart meter and other RF devices is extremely low. Electromagnetic shielding has been incorporated into the design of modern pacemakers to prevent RF signals from interfering with the electronic circuitry in the pacemaker.

According to the manufacturer of our smart meters, “The transmitting devices operate in compliance with 47 CFR Part 15 regulations, which require coexistence with other Part 15 certified devices. Within the 902-928 MHz frequency band, operation is limited to frequency hopping, direct sequence spread spectrum and digital modulation intentional radiators. This rule facilitates multiple devices operating in the same location. This includes devices such as security systems, cordless phones and pacemakers. The meter’s transmit signal is of very short duration, which further decreases the potential to interfere with other devices.”

Meter safety
Safety is our top priority at FirstEnergy. The companies are using smart meters manufactured in the U.S. by Itron. Itron has rigorous quality assurance processes to ensure the safety, accuracy and reliability of their meters.  These meters comply with safety standards established by a number of utility industry standard bodies including the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the International Electrotechnical Commission and National Electrical Manufacturers Associations.

ANSI is the official representative of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and sets electrical safety and operating standards for the U.S. These safety and operating standards address factors such as humidity, rain, voltage surge and others to ensure meters operate properly when functioning within certified operational parameters.

For additional information on the safety of these meters, read Itron’s meter safety compliance letter*, which details the extensive testing our meters undergo.

Click here for our Fact Sheet on Radio Frequency.

*When you click these links, you will open websites maintained by outside parties. The sites are not maintained by FirstEnergy and FirstEnergy is not responsible for the content.