FAQ

We’ve been inundated with questions about water meters recently so here is a list of the most frequently asked questions, answered.

Q:  My water supplier is saying that water resources are stretched, that meters are coming, that we have to have a ‘smart’ meter fitted and that we have no choice in the matter.  Is that true?

No.  In April 2014, the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Water, Forestry, Rural Affairs and Resource Management, Dan Rogerson, confirmed in a letter to MP Nicholas Soames that “no water company is ever required [by the Government] to introduce compulsory metering, even in areas of severe water stress” and that any decisions to introduce metering should “be done in consultation with customers”.
See here: http://stopsmartmeters.org.uk/official-defra-confirms-smart-water-meters-are-not-compulsory/

Were you consulted by your water company about ‘smart’ metering?  Did you explicitly give your consent to be ‘smart’ metered?  Can your water supplier provide proof of when, where and how you were consulted with and evidence of your consent?

The Government has repeatedly stated that ‘smart’ meters are not mandatory.  See http://stopsmartmeters.org.uk/a-reminder-your-rights-in-relation-to-smart-meters/

Q:  I have told my water supplier that I will not accept a ‘smart/AMR/AMI’ water meter but will be happy to have a non-‘smart’ meter fitted.  They are now telling me I will be charged an £500+ “no access fee” – can they do this?

A:  If you are not refusing to be metered, but are just refusing to be exposed to continuous, pulsed microwaves — which the WHO classifies as a Class 2B cancer risk factor — whilst being ‘smart’ metered, then a “No Access Fee” would not be applicable.  If your water supplier wishes to place a ‘smart’/AMR/AMI meter on your supply which does more than just ‘meters’ your usage, i.e. constantly exposes you to a known environment toxin, then they need to secure your consent — as well as the consent of anyone else exposed to those fields — otherwise they will likely be liable for harm and any resultant criminal prosecution.

Some water companies will try to claim that “it is unfair for a small group of people who do not cooperate” with their ‘smart’ meter policies, and that they have agreed with OFWAT and with the Consumer Council for Water that a “No Access Fee” can be applied where they cannot “secure the customer’s cooperation in the metering process”.   But the fee is only applicable for “no access” — not for refusing a meter known to expose people continuously to carcinogenic signals.  If you are reasonably cooperating with the process, and are happy to have a non-smart meter installed, but the water supplier is refusing to offer you a safe meter, that reflects an inability to cooperate on their part — not yours.

Q:  My water supplier is telling me that their ‘smart’/AMR/AMI meter emits 0.1µw/cm² — which they claim is less than mobile phones and some other RF-emitting devices — and that I shouldn’t be worried about health effects.  Is that true?

0.1µw/cm² is the German Baubiologie/Building Biology guideline for “Extreme Concern”, and is 500 million times higher than the minimum level at which a mobile phone can work (0.0000000002 µw/cm² — or 0.2 billionths of a microwatt/cm²)  (Source: www.powerwatch.org.uk/science/intguidance.asp – note that values quoted on the PW website are in µw/m² – not µw/cm²).  The values that your water provider is quoting as comparisons with other RF-sources to downplay the risks are maximum values – not the lower, typical values which have been shown to initiate and promote chronic and acute symptoms in numerous peer-reviewed studies.

  • At a level of 0.05µw/cm² — five times lower that the level your water company is claiming their ‘smart’ meters emit — children aged 8 to 17 years experienced headache, irritation, concentration difficulties and behavioural problems (Heinrich (2010) and Thomas (2010)).
  • At levels 5,000 times lower than the maximum level at which mobile phones will work, Dr Leif Salford’s team at Lund University in Sweden have shown that the blood-brain barrier leaks, allowing toxins into the brain.

In practice, actual measurements from ‘smart’ meters have shown exposure levels to be far higher than those often quoted by the companies pushing them.  See this chart of the effects reported by the independent Bioinitiative Working Group at levels commonly seen from ‘smart’ meters.  (http://stopsmartmeters.org.uk/dr-r-m-powell-biological-effects-from-rf-radiation-implications-for-smart-meters-and-smart-appliances/)

If you are unfamiliar with the scientific research in this field, 0.1µw/cm² is 100,000,000,000 (100 billion) times higher than what we are naturally exposed to from the cosmos.  Unlike natural background radiation, though, ’smart’ meters emit sharp spikes/pulses at a rate of up to 190,000 times per day — 365 days a year.   There will also be the combined effect of multiple meters in a neighbourhood where emissions will add together, creating even higher levels of RF pollution.  Our biological evolution has known nothing like it previously.

Many people in the the UK and elsewhere around the world have reported that they (despite the supposed “low” levels of RF emitted by ‘smart’ water meters and water company reassurances) have experienced the onset of debilitating symptoms (insomnia, headaches, palpitations, nausea, anxiety, etc) after the installation of ‘smart’ meters in neighbourhoods.  We know of cases where people have been forced to move house as a direct result of this.  This link gives example case reports of ill-health caused by smart meters http://emfsafetynetwork.org/smart-meters/smart-meter-health-complaints/

Many people who refuse to have a microwave-emitting ‘smart’ or AMR/AMI meter installed in or near their homes tend to avoid other sources of wireless radiation,  so any arguments that this may be less than other wireless devices are irrelevant if you chose not to have them.  Emphasis here, too, on the word “choice” which is what we have in a free and democratic society.  One may not “choose” to switch a smart meter off when not in use, as one can with other devices.

In the US in 2012, a report was prepared by the Public Health Department of the County of Santa Cruz on the Health Effects of Smart Meters which covers much of the science http://emfsafetynetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Health-Risks-Associated-With-SmartMeters.pdf

Q:  The water company is saying that their meters are installed globally, that they comply with UK legislation and EU standards  (Radio and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Directive).  Surely that means they are safe?

A:  UK legislation and EU standards/directives do not guarantee that human or ecological health will be protected from the non-thermal, non-ionising radiation emitted by ‘smart’ meters.  ICNIRP guidelines were last updated in 1998 – and protect only from acute thermal effects over 6 minutes of exposure – not chronic, non-thermal, long-term exposures (see below).

Q:   The water company says that they commissioned a safety report by the National Centre for Environmental Toxicology and that the report suggested emissions from ‘smart’ meters are just like other wireless devices (worst case) and that they are well within guideline limits set by international authorities to protect human health.  It sounds like it’s fine?

A:  The UK follows standards set by a private industry group called the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection — commonly known as ICNIRP.

In 2008, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted overwhelmingly against the UK’s thresholds for wireless exposure (based on ICNIRP guidelines), labelling them as “out of date” and “obsolete”.   See http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P6-TA-2008-0410+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN.

(This followed the publication of the acclaimed, independent BioIntiative reports (2007 + 2012), which assessed the results of ~2,000 studies showing harmful effects from low-level RF and microwave irradiation at levels commonly emitted by ‘smart’ meters in the UK.  it is noteworthy that almost all other industrial nations have much more cautious safety thresholds than those used in the UK).

Whilst it is concerning that ICNIRP’s standards are still used in the UK, in 2002 ICNIRP did warn that some groups in the population are more sensitive or vulnerable to low-level wireless electromagnetic radiation than others, and that provisions need to be made for these vulnerable groups.  What special considerations/assessments has your water company performed for these vulnerable groups specifically?  In 2008, ICNIRP’s chairman — Paulo Vecchia — warned that “the ICNIRP guidelines are neither mandatory prescriptions for safety, the “last word” on the issue, nor are they defensive walls for industry or others”.

Q:  The water company says that ‘smart’ meters are used worldwide and are not a trial technology.  They say they are “safe”.  Is that true?

A:  We suggest  you ask your water supplier the following questions:

  • What is the known safe distance for a pregnant woman and foetus from one or more of your ‘smart’/AMI meters?
  • You claim that your smart meters are safe but the wireless telecoms industry itself refuses to state that wireless technologies are safe – why is this, and what do you know about wireless risks that they do not?

“I’m going to be very clear. Industry has not said once…once…that cell phones are safe.”  ~ Dane Snowden, vice president and representative of the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) at a safety legislation hearing in California (direct download).

Q: My water company tells me that their water meters, e.g. the ARAD 3G Dialog, is only “read” when a van drives past to pick-up the signal – surely that’s OK?

A:  Some water companies are being a little deceptive with how they describe this process.  With the ARAD Dialog 3G, it is true that the detector vans only collect the signal when they drive past, but the meters can be configured to constantly emit signals in anticipation for being read.  This is confirmed on the manufacturer’s website.  http://arad.co.il/product/dialog3g-register/

Q:  The company isn’t budging — they are saying that I’m getting a smart/AMR/AMI meter whether I want one or not.

A;  We are not aware of any laws stating that that water companies have the right to force you to have a ‘smart’ or AMR/AMI meter — which does more than meters your usage and in the process exposes you and your family to a known environmental health risk.

Make sure that your communications are now in writing, and delivery is recorded for use later if necessary.

You are in a commercial relationship with your water provider and it is reasonable for you to challenge anything that you feel is unlawful or illegal.  It is also reasonable for you to ask and be provided with full disclosure of all of the facts associated with any technology that your water company are insisting you have in or near to your home.

If you have not done so already, you may wish to ensure you have answers to the following questions:

  • What are the exact frequencies (measured in Hz, MHz + Ghz) used by your meters – both the carrier and the data signal components?
  • How many times are signals emitted per minute/hour/day from the meter – not just data messages, but network mgt messages, etc.?
  • What power densities are present at 1m, 3m, 5m and 10m from the meter
  • Please confirm whether you are aware of any evidence of harm caused by the frequencies/power densities associated with your Smart/AMR Meters, and if so provide details?
  • Do your smart/AMR/AMI meters use RF/MW signals for flow control or measurement, for data transmission, or both?
  • Is the unit capable of being remotely disconnected, terminating my supply?
  • What temperatures is the unit rated to (highest/lowest)?  What happens to the unit — and to my water supply — if these temperates are breached?
  • Is the unit designed to “fail-to-off” in the event of the meter being instructed, compromised or affected by, for example, hackers or adverse weather events?
  • How is the unit’s security handled?  What security technology is used to prevent hacking?
  • Please confirm the manufacturer and model being proposed
  • What pre-market safety testing was done on this  device?
  • Are you aware of any research that has been conducted on the effects of microwave radiation on water?  Please provide details.
  • Dan Rogerson MP confirmed in April 2014 that I am under no obligation to have a ‘smart’ meter – what evidence do you have supporting any claims that I must have a ‘smart’/AMR/AMI meter specifically or any kind of meter which has capabilities beyond the explicit and sole function of metering usage?
  • Are any of your company directors prepared to sign a formal, written Statement of Accountability taking full and personal responsibility for any harm that may be caused to me, my child and/or unborn baby as a result of insisting that I have a ‘smart’/AMR/AMI meter fitted?

If in any doubt, consult a trained legal professional.

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