“Europeans for Safe Connections” call for protection against radiation from smart meters
The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “Stop 5G – Stay Connected but Protected” is calling for effective protections for all of us against radiation from the smart meters being introduced into citizens’ homes. We understand public concerns about the health risks associated with radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF EMF), especially as children now absorb unprecedented dosages of RF EMF putting the EU’s future health in jeopardy.
Europeans for Safe Connections is a coalition of national and international organisations that are aware of adverse consequences from technologies transmitting electromagnetic pulsed energy fields. We must emphasize that we are not against technology. We follow the science and believe there are significant benefits for all from safer technologies, RF EMF safety in practice, and advocate wired connections as a simple way for you to avoid unnecessary, prolonged wireless radiation exposures.
In our ECI we stand by 23 proposals regarding RF EMF. We believe it is critically important to protect human bio-integrity (proposal 9), to prioritise low energy solutions (proposal 12) and to protect citizens from cybercrime (proposal 20).
Wireless meters are a critical source of RF EMF in our lives. We meet them in everyday life under the names of meters with a remote reading function, or wireless meters or “intelligent” consumption meters. Or, simply smart meters. In addition to their basic function of measuring consumed electricity, gas, water, heat they also enable the transmission of measured data remotely – e.g. directly to the service center.
However, radiation is not the only risk. Recent news articles about wireless smart meters highlight their vulnerabilities to hacking, and their abuse by service suppliers cutting people off as they please.
The installation is being justified by the Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiency. In the Final Report for European Commission we can find that today, more than 99 mil electricity smart meters are installed in all EU member states and more than 16 mil gas smart meters. We are being compelled to use them, but what protections do we have against their misuses? Many Europeans are rightfully concerned, for these smart meters have significant disadvantages. We’ll briefly examine why, here.
Myth nr. 1
Smart meters are perfectly safe. The radiation represents no risk to human life.
RF EMF have negative effects as they interfere with biological, chemical, and electrical systems in living organisms. RF EMFs have harmful bioeffects at intensities millions of times lower than current limits.
Many people experience health effects.
Myth nr. 2
Wireless transmission is infrequent.
It is often very difficult, if not impossible, to really know how often and precisely to what agencies they are sending our data to, whether they also receive any data, or what is the purpose of such colossal amounts of data, etc. There are many types of smart meters, some transmit data several times per minute (reportedly up to 15 times per minute), others only on demand. You can read the product specification but the most reliable way to determine when a meter is transmitting, and how much radiation, is with a proper RF EMF meter in the hands of an expert.
Operating frequency: 868.95 MHz (Qundis Caloric, Sontex, Techem, Siemenca), 900-928MHz (Itron, Landys, ARPANSA), 2.4 – 2.48 GHz (Trilliant)
Transmission power: max 10dBm, corresponds to 3183 µW/m² at a distance of 0.5 m (Qundis Caloric, Sontex, Techem, Siemenca), 7000 µW/m² at a distance of 0.5 m (ARPANSA), 620 000 µW/m² at a distance of 0.3 m (Trilliant)
Data transmission: every 112 seconds 24/7 (Qundis Caloric 5.5 C-mód), every 120 seconds 24/7 (Sontex 868), every 128 seconds (Siemeca™ AMR C-mód) 
Myth nr. 3
Smart meters help save energy costs. They help customers understand when they use electricity and help them plan savings. Designers assumed that most users would then be encouraged to switch their usage to off-peak hours to take advantage of the cheaper rates, thereby reducing the demand during peak period.
The peak is there, because the majority arrive home from work, from school at this time. It is not a subject for change.
Smart meters rely on advertising claims they’re advantageous for every apartment owner, because consumption is conveniently reported every month. But how is that advantageous in reality, when the owner can check right away when in the apartment by looking at consumption reading on the meter? There is no reason to wait for the monthly statement.
Myth nr. 4
Smart meters help the planet, and they are green. They help cut greenhouse gas emissions, increase renewable energy usage, and cut energy consumption.
With just the smart meter, you won’t save energy yet. The energy saving actions need to be taken by the consumer himself.
Recent TNO research found that the rollout of 7 million smart meters in the Netherlands did result in far less energy savings than wished for. Moreover, the savings were there due to an optical display, not due to smart meter wireless communication abilities because apps and web applications are not continuously visible and feedback must be actively requested.
And about the meters themselves: It’s crazy but true that smart meters are more difficult to manufacture, are more expensive and consume more energy for their operation, than the meters they replaced. It is simply because there is a radio module added to a conventional meter.
Myth nr. 5
The transmission is encrypted so your private data is secure. Smart meters could also help consumers to monitor their energy use and offer control of appliances remotely by smart phone – this is a benefit for you.
If you can access your data, bad guys can too. Households in which such meters are installed can be monitored and this data reveals patterns of behavior in the given household – e.g. the time they get up in the morning, the time they go to work, the time they come home from work, shower, go to bed, when the house is vacant, etc. Private data like this, collected and shared, makes any home more susceptible to theft, for example. Household data could get compromised (by hacking, or bad administration) and leave the occupants, families, individuals, open to becoming a target of criminal or other nefarious activity, which would significantly affect their life insurance premium.
Myth nr. 6
You will benefit from the ability of smart meters to communicate with individual plugs or appliances in the home – this would also allow utilities to shut down the power supply for households in return for cheaper tariffs.
The Commission Recommendation 2012/148/EU defines 10 common minimum functionalities for smart metering systems, and the 7th is: “Remote ON/OFF control of the supply AND/OR flow or power limitation“
But there is a risk of abuse. Such remote control over technology can lead to curtailment of personal freedom and can set further precedents for the neglect of our human rights.
In Denver, 22,000 people lost control of temperatures in their smart thermostats in their homes for hours. The temperature was remotely locked due to an “energy emergency.”
In Switzerland there was a draft decree called Ordonnance sur les interdictions et les restrictions d’utilisation de gaz. It proposed a series of mandates for restrictions on use of gas, as we can see from Article 2:
- When heat production is provided mainly by gas or the gas network of the central heat supply, the interior spaces cannot be heated to more than 19°C.
- When hot water is prepared mainly with gas, the water cannot be heated above 60°C.
It did not pass but in the future it may. Such propositions can only happen with smart meters and associated technologies sending household data out all the time.
Is there an obligation to install them?
In the aforementioned Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiency, there is no strict obligation to have smart meters installed. Article 9 paragraph 1 of the directive stipulates that “Member States shall ensure that, in so far as it is technically possible, financially reasonable and proportionate in relation to the potential energy savings, final customers for electricity, natural gas, district heating, district cooling and domestic hot water are provided with competitively priced individual meters that accurately reflect the final customer’s actual energy consumption and that provide information on actual time of use.”
Clearly the Commission leaves room for Member States’ own judgement: if the Member State says that there are situations where installation is technically impossible or when it is not financially reasonable, citizens would not be obliged to install them.
On closer inspection of the directive, we can see that it does not even cover cold water supplies. Nevertheless, administrators force apartment owners, under the threat of a sanction, to also install cold water meters equipped for radiofrequency data collection, and they justify this action using the regulation of this directive.
Regarding hot water and heat meters, to comply with the requirements of the directive, even meters without radiofrequency data collection technology are perfectly sufficient.
In conclusion, the European Commission itself doesn’t qualify smart meters in Directive 2012/27/EU under all circumstances and for all utilities as essential.
It is important to point out the meters are being rolled out without the informed consent of citizens, because the apartment owners are not being informed about certain health and safety risks, such as repeated exposures to pulsed radiofrequencies.
Currently EU countries are divergent in their attitudes regarding children being exposed to these types of bioactive frequencies. However, parents – indeed everyone – needs to be fully informed of the potential health risks they are taking on with smart meters. Everyone should have the choice to refuse a smart meter.
Some Member States indeed offer alternatives. Denmark found a solution for wireless smart meters with an antenna situated on the roof. The Netherlands has an opt-out possibility. In Sweden anyone can decline a smart meter until 2025 (only electricity). Other Member States should consider better alternatives as well, although setting a deadline for when they will be mandatory, as in Sweden, just postpones the same health risk, which doesn’t resolve the central issues.
We really can’t give carte blanche to short sighted industrial-political objectives – being justified as an “environmentally friendly” imperative – that on inspection are as we’ve discovered, very questionable. The smart meter objectives seem predisposed to ignore the prospect of increased harm from RF EMF, especially to children, and Electrohypersensitive (EHS) individuals, who are already physically and behaviourally impacted by RF EMF to an unacceptable degree without adequate, meaningful protections being in place. Industry, guiding the politics, continues to cynically use greenwashing tactics as a lever to pivot society into a state of implied consent which could spell deep trouble for the EU’s future health and create a slippery slope for human rights, if nothing is done.
Corriëlle van Vuuren
on behalf of the Europeans for Safe Connections
 FINAL REPORT, Benchmarking smart metering deployment in the EU-28
 list of some smart meter brands
- Itron, Landys, ARPANSA, Trilliant
https://www.gsma.com/publicpolicy/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/gsma_smart-meters_2015.pdf (page 6)
- Qundis Caloric 5.5 C-mode
- Sontex 566 / Sontex 868
- Techem radio 4
- Siemeca™ AMR C-mode
 list of confessions