Energy and Climate Change CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by SSITA and CAVI Society (SMR63)

SSITA and Cavi Society wish to submit the following concerns:

We raised these issues previously at the DECC meeting last February and our concerns remain.

Smart Meters in Child Care Settings

This would include day nurseries and child-minder settings. The former are often in what we would call former retail premises that have been converted into day nurseries, and the latter might easily be in terraced houses or apartments. In both cases, the smart meters may be situated in far too close a proximity to where children are playing or sleeping. In some settings there may well be a bank of smart meters placed on a wall, just outside these environments or in a hall-way outside a room occupied by children. This would be contrary to the advice of Resolution 1815 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

In day care settings, thought should be given to the risk also to adult personnel—eg, pregnant teachers or nursery nurses or assistants.

We cannot answer the questions individually, and will leave that to others. We have our own remit-which is to seek protection for children from emf/RF radiation and to increase awareness of the risks, to encourage thought into the risks, for example, given above... the more restrictive the location, the nearer the children to the smart meters and therefore the greater the risk.

Boarding SchoolsBoth State and Independent

We consider that the possible risk to children in such settings should be carefully evaluated and should be responsibly mediated to those in a “loco parentis” role. Failure to do this could result in possible future legal action if children become ill and measurements of the emf fields prove that a risk was present.

The recently updated BioInitiative report 2012 concludes that there is now (since 2007) “far more evidence than is necessary” to require us to immediately take more precautionary action to protect children, all personnel and inhabitants likely to be affected. The greater proclivity to electrosensitivity in some individuals should also be borne in mind, and working environments that can no longer be tolerated by such people, possibly leading to involuntary resignation, or constructive dismissal, may well lead to compensation claims in the all too near future. The Government should bear all this in mind.

Exposures to these devices are linked to a variety of adverse health outcomes, may have significant public health consequences, and the cost of this should be borne in mind by the Government, with regard to the necessary health care solutions, as well as those from legal claims.

The Cost to the Environment

There are now studies and reported incidents which give concern for the effect of these microwave fields upon all wildlife—risks to both flora and fauna. Therefore the claims that smart meters contribute to better environmental responsibility should be seriously questioned.

Hijacking the Green Agenda

We all care about our environment and the threat to our only home-Planet Earth. We all care about the waste of valuable natural resources and the threat of green-house gases.

These meters, containing a GSM/GPRS modem, although spending the majority of the time on standby (ie not making calls), similar to a mobile phone, are not necessarily safe for the surrounding environment. Although data transmission, eg, via SMS/GPRS, is typically at night, transmission during the day is possible as part of meter maintenance. One cannot be certain that there is no effect on health or no damage to flora and fauna even from these short bursts of data collection.

The loggers contain a GSM/SMS modem but even if battery powered and turning off the GSM connection for the majority of the day to preserve battery life, no guarantee of safety to individuals or wildlife can be assured.

The GSM modem may only be turned on for a short period to transmit a SMS (text message), and although typically this would be less than 5 minutes, this might affect the vulnerable (eg, babies, and immuno-compromised people), sleeping in bedrooms above integral garages where smart meters have been installed.

Fire Risk

We have read and seen videos about smart meters on exterior walls of houses in Canada and US bursting into flames... and can only imagine worse case scenarios if similar should happen to UK meters in understairs cupboards in houses—particularly at night when householders are asleep. How many fires have already been started in this way? Has there perhaps already been loss of life from smart meters bursting into flames?

Are the benefits worth the risk to life, health and well-being? We think not. Italy has taken a responsible position and has been using wired meters for some time. UK citizens and UK children deserve the same level of precautionary care.

February 2013

Prepared 26th July 2013