For those people already suffering from Electro-Sensitivity (ES) (2-4% of the population), the prospect of a country-wide wireless super grid is a daunting prospect. In their own consultation literature the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) state they intend to make provision for 'vulnerable' people. However this seems to refer only to those in financial hardship.
Installing a wireless meter in every home, business and school, with relay hubs in every street will effectively mean people with Electro-Sensitivity lose their freedom. Even if they keep their own 'dumb' meter, ES people living in apartments or dense neighbourhoods are likely to be affected by other meters. It will not be possible to sufficiently shield a building from the radiation created by a wireless network envisaged for the Smart Meter scheme; people with severe ES will be unable to live in any area covered by the wireless network (most of the UK). This means they will lose their homes, jobs and their freedom. This is a clear breach of the European Convention of Human Rights, and the Equality Act 2010 which requires provision to be made to support people with a functional impairment. The Electricity Act 1989 (amended 2010) states "..the Secretary of State or the Authority shall have regard to the interests of individuals who are disabled or chronically sick."
As alternatives, 'powered down' meters or a network that uses existing powerlines would not be suitable for ES sufferers or the health of the general population as it creates further sources of radiation. The solution is to adopt a wired fibre optic network for smart meters in the UK with the option of wired Home Area Networks. The minority of sufferers who are not able to have DSL/ADSL or fibre optic equipment in their homes, may be able to use a telephone landline and a simple dialup modem, or should be allowed to keep their 'dumb' meters without any additional costs. Shielding materials should be provided free by the utility companies/ energy industry for people with ES. Sweden already supplies shielding materials for ES sufferers via government grants.
In 2012 Charles Hendry Energy Minister, told the House of Commons: “We believe that people will benefit from having smart meters, but we will not make them obligatory. If people are concerned about the electromagnetic issues, they will not be required to have one. We have been willing to give assurances to Hon Members on that account.” In practice this has not happened. People disabled by ES have been given wrong information by utility companies whose staff don't know about their own smart meters. They have also had no support from local MPs in trying to refuse meters.
How can I avoid getting electro-sensitivity?
Anyone concerned about the cumulative effects of microwave radiation can help themselves by lowering their exposure. Limit the use of your mobile phone, text or use the speaker instead of holding it to your head. Switch phones and Wi-Fi off at night. Ideally replace cordless phones with landlines, or change DECT phones for the orchid type which emit less radiation. Wi-Fi internet connections can be swapped for broadband cable eg fibre optic connections. Remember to turn routers and games consoles off at night. Limit your use or proximity to microwave ovens, baby monitors, compact fluorescent lightbulbs etc.
Resources for ES
Overview of Smart meters for ES: http://www.eiwellspring.org/smartmeter/Smart_Meter_overview.htm
Smart Meter ES help pack from MCS-Aware
No Smart Meter poster and leaflets from Stop Smart Meters.com (external weblink)
ReWire Magazine explaining electro-sensitivity from Radiation Research Trust (external weblink)