Smart energy meters offered to every British home could be as dangerous as a “bullet from a rifle” because of the radiation they emit, campaigners have told MPs.
Smart meters are meant to cut energy usage but some campaigners are worried Photo: Getty Image
By Rowena Mason, Political Correspondent
3:54PM BST 24 Apr 2013
Officials said smart meters are perfectly safe, as the level of radiation they emit is less than that of a mobile phone. Energy companies are planning to install the devices in British homes by 2019 to make gas and electricity readings more accurate.
However, Stop Smart Meters UK told MPs that there is evidence the radiation could be 140 to 800 times higher than that from mobile phones.
Dr Liz Evans, a campaigner, said there are hundreds of studies showing “evidence of harm could be acute”, including possible “chronic effects from long term exposure such as cancer, infertility, dementia, genetic damage, immune system dysfunction and damage to foetuses”.
“We are many of organisations calling for a precautionary approach, particularly for children,” she said.
Mike Mitcham, another campaigner, said there is evidence that it could be 140 to 800 times more powerful than mobile phones. He said the exposure to radiation from smart meters is “very short in the same way a a bullet from a rifle your exposure to that is very shortlived for that tiny fraction of a time that it enters the body”.
Tim Yeo, the MP who chairs the committee, said the comparison was “ridiculous”, adding: “You can’t be suggesting there is similarity from the effect of a bullet from a rifle and the effect of a smart meter?”
“Why not?” said Mr Mitcham, arguing that radiation from smart meters could also seriously harm people.
Dr Jill Meara, who works for Public Health England, said she is “clearly aware of all the concerns expressed around the world” but cited a “substantial body of evidence” showing smart meters are safe.
She said radiation from smart meters is very low compared to guideline levels.
Dr John Swanson, of the Biological Effects Policy Advisory Group, said the health effects of smart meters should be closely monitored, but said the evidence shows they are safe.
Last year, the Government revealed that having smart meters would be voluntary amid health and privacy fears.
Ministers had promised that every household would have a smart meter by 2019 in a £12 billion programme to stop gas and electricity bills being estimated.
In America, utility companies have been hit with multi-million dollar class action lawsuits from people who have had the devices installed in their homes.