Radiofrequency (RF) Radiation Power Density Levels for Smart Meters, Various Biological Effects, and Exposure Guidelines

Electromagnetic radiation spectrum

Introducing a “Smart” Meter Wireless Radiation Comparison Chart …

There are growing concerns that radiofrequency (RF) emissions from wireless utility “smart” meters cause serious adverse health impacts.  Unfortunately, no human health impact studies were conducted prior to the deployment of RF emitting smart grid technologies, which include the smart meters themselves as well as the associated gatekeepers and routers that are part of the overall mesh communications network for each utility’s smart grid system.

In the absence of health impact studies conducted prior to smart meter deployment by utility companies, equipment manufacturers, or health agencies, there have been myriads of anecdotal reports of adverse effects caused by smart meter emissions.  In addition, there have been at least limited studies (as listed below) subsequent to smart meter deployments indicating ill-effects:

Peer-reviewed studies as outlined in the BioInitiative Report 2012 support an assertion that adverse biological effects should be expected based upon the RF radiation levels produced from wireless smart metersFor information on published studies showing biological effects from RF exposure from various emission sources, one can review summary information charts contained within The BioInitiative Report 2012, and specifically, relevant charts available at the following link:  BioInitiative Report Color Charts for Reported Biological Effects.

Additional support for the claim that adverse effects can be expected from wireless emissions from smart meters can be found in a paper prepared by Ronald M. Powell, Ph.D. at the following link:

Biological Effects from RF Radiation at Low-Intensity Exposure, based on the BioInitiative 2012 Report, and the Implications for Smart Meters and Smart Appliances.”

To more effectively communicate with the public on this topic, a new chart has been prepared (as shown below) to compare:

  1. Possible levels of radiofrequency (RF) radiation emitted from wireless smart meters;
  1. Bioeffects and adverse health impacts that have been measured “at very low levels” based upon published studies from various emission sources; and
  1. Various governmental RF exposure guidelines that do not fully protect public health.  In particular, the guidelines for the USA and Canada were only established to protect tissues from significant overheating and electric shock.

RF Levels Comparison Chart

The above chart was developed in cooperation with Stop Smart Meters!

The vertical axis of the above chart represents an RF power density for each displayed parameter.  The units of measure selected for the vertical axis are milliwatts per square meter (mW/m2). The selected units for the vertical axis work well for relating the RF power density shown to the total RF power that an adult human might receive.  The surface area of an adult (male) human is about 2 square meters (m2).  So the surface area that an adult human presents to an RF wave arriving from the front, or from the back, is about 1 square meter (m2).  One (1) milliwatt (mW) is one-thousandth of a watt.

Thus, when an adult human faces an oncoming wave of radiation with a power density of, say, 10 milliwatts per square meter (mW/m2), that human will receive a total of 10 milliwatts (mW) of radiation over the entire body.  That is, the number describing the power density will be the same as the number describing the total power received, even though the units of measure are different in the two cases.

Descriptive terms used on the above chart are somewhat simplified for purposes of conveying information to the reader in an easy way and getting everything to fit on one chart.  More complete reference information is provided below.RF Comparison Chart April 2015

Somewhat expanded basis information for the above chart values is provided in the linked PDF document shown below.

RF Power Density Comparison Levels – April 2015

Power density is likely just one parameter which may be used as a measure for predicting adverse health effects due to exposure to RF emissions.  Published studies have shown that other characteristics such as the intermittence and modulation of the RF signal, as well as the overall duration of exposure (i.e., short-term vs. chronic) also play a role.

Additional Technical Perspective on Wireless “Smart” Meter Radiation Levels
(for those interested in more technical details)

As mentioned above, the smart meter radiation level delineated in the chart is a value calculated based upon a modeled scenario described in EPRI Document # 1022270, “Radio-Frequency Exposure Levels from Smart Meters:  A Case Study of One Model,” February 2011.  The value of 40 µwatts/cm2 (or 400 mW/m2) at three (3) feet in front of the smart meter should be valid for the model of smart meter analyzed in the EPRI document.  Technically speaking, the 400 mW/m2 represents the RF power density value during signal transmission where wireless smart meters generally transmit that signal intermittently over time.

It is not expected that the 400 mW/m2 RF radiation level would represent the typical exposure level for residents in homes where smart meters are normally mounted external to the home or when people spend most of their time at distances greater than three (3) feet from their smart meter.

Based upon a technical review of available reference documentation and test results, SkyVision Solutions would generally state that a typical maximum indoor RF level associated with wireless smart meters would be about 10 mW/m2.  The point of this explanation is that, based upon information presented below, it should not be considered uncommon to find RF measured values in homes in the range of 1 to 10 mW/m2 or slightly greater than that range.  In fact, if you are in a room of a home with a smart meter on the other side of one of the room walls, the likelihood can be quite high that exposure levels will be within the range of  1 to 10 mW/m2.   These values are still well in excess of levels found in published studies showing bioeffects and adverse health impacts for various RF emission sources.

Meter in CafeIn some situations where a smart meter is not installed on the outside of a home or business but rather on an inside wall, then indoor RF levels may certainly exceed the “typical” maximum value mentioned above.  In those instances, the expected RF levels would more closely compare to the value shown in the above “Smart” Meter Wireless Radiation Comparison chart.

Reference material presented below forms the basis for the perspective that the typical maximum indoor RF level associated with wireless smart meters would be about 10 mW/m2:

Review of Another EPRI Study

  • A review was conducted of EPRI Report # 1021829, December 2011, “Characterization of Radio Frequency Emissions from Two Models of Wireless Smart Meters.”  This report provides industry accepted values for two specific models of smart meters each containing a nominal 1 watt RF transmitter.
  • Overall, ninety (90) to ninety-five (95) % of RF fields inside a home will be less than 10 mW/m2, based upon measurements for six California residences.  [This means that 5 to 10% of RF field measurements inside a home may be equal to or somewhat above this level.]
  • Refer to link at:

RF Exposure Numbers from Smart Grid Advocates


Read more…