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Smart meters and your health

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All smart meters installed in Victoria must comply with electromagnetic exposure limits developed by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA). ARPANSA state, "The combination of the relatively low power of the smart meter transmitters, their location on the outside of buildings and the very short time spent transmitting means that the overall RF EMR (radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation) exposure from smart meters is very low and well below exposure limits, even when a number of devices are communicating simultaneously."

ARPANSA also advise that "The scientific evidence does not support that the low level of RF EMR emitted from smart meters causes any health effects".

More information can be found on the ARPANSA website under Smart Meters or Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI).

Safe exposure levels

All smart meters installed in Victoria are subject to regulatory arrangements made by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. This includes compliance with the electromagnetic exposure limits developed by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA).

In relation to smart meters, ARPANSA state, "The combination of the relatively low power of the smart meter transmitters, their location on the outside of buildings and the very short time spent transmitting means that the overall RF EMR (radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation) exposure from smart meters is very low and well below exposure limits, even when a number of devices are communicating simultaneously".

More information can be found on the ARPANSA website at Smart Meters or Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)

In fact, ARPANSA’s Technical Report 163 states that "the radiofrequency electromagnetic energy transmitted in a single pulse from the smart meter is similar to that from a car remote unlocking fob and much less than a single GSM SMS (Global System for Mobile Communications Short Message Service) transmission". The report, ARPANSA Preliminary Measurements of Radiofrequency Transmissions from a Mesh Radio Smart Meter, can be found on the ARPANSA website under Technical Reports.

Independent testing of radio frequency electromagnetic energy

To test the levels of radio frequency electromagnetic energy (RF EME)1  exposure from smart meters, and make sure these comply with the exposure levels set by ARPANSA, the Victorian Government commissioned an independent study in 2011 and a further study at the end of rollout that reported in 2015.

The purpose of the most recent independent technical study on the radiofrequency electromagnetic energy from smart meters was to ensure they continue to fall within the safety standards developed by ARPANSA. For more information on the standards, please visit ARPANSA or telephone 1800 022 333.

The study measured the smart meter RF EME levels and compared these to the standard. It also compared the RF EME to background levels, which come from sources inside and outside the home such as television stations and mobile phone base stations. This study visited 55 homes across Victoria to ensure a wide range of smart meter scenarios were tested at houses and apartment buildings.

The Total Radiation Solutions field survey found that under normal operating conditions the RF EME of meters inside homes  was in the range 0.0000001 % to 0.009 % (or 1/1,000,000,000 to 1/ 11,100) of the 6 minute average exposure limit. 

The field survey also found that under normal operating conditions meters had instantaneous RE EME inside homes in the range of 0.0000004 % to 0.005 % (1/250,000,000 to 1/20,000) of the exposure limit. 

This TRS field survey result compares with the range of 0.000001 % to 0.0113 % of the 6 minute average exposure limit from the 2011 EMC Technologies’ survey when the meters were operating at a maximum operating duty cycle.

Please contact us for a copy of the full TRS field survey report.

Health and Safety Standards

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer has endorsed the advice of the Victorian Ministerial Radiation Advisory Committee, consisting of doctors and experts in the field of radiation, which found “that there is no substantive evidence to suggest that exposure to radiofrequency radiation such as from Smart Meters can increase the risk of chronic health effects, such as cancer”. Further information is available on the Chief Health Officer’s website.

Electromagnetic exposures safety standards

ARPANSA develops standards, codes of practice and safety guidelines that prescribe safe levels of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. They do this by taking into consideration any health and environmental impacts, in consultation with both scientific experts and the community. ARPANSA's Smart Meter fact sheet is available at the ARPANSA website.

For more information on emission standards, please visit ARPANSA or telephone 1800 022 333.

Other sources of RF EME in and around the home

TRS measured the background RF EME both inside and outside the home. Sources of RF EME outside the home and present in the background (excluding the smart meter RF EME) include FM radio, Wi-Fi, TV signals and mobile phone base stations. TRS concluded that generally the inside home background levels were greater than the levels due to smart meters and the relative contribution by smart meters to RF EME levels inside the homes surveyed was low in comparison to other sources that Victorians are exposed to in their normal everyday lives.

The 2011 study measured the RF EME from other household devices such as mobile phones and baby monitors and found that exposure from smart meters to be lower than other sources in the home (as shown in chart below).

Comparing Smart Meters to other Household Appliances

This graph comparies the radiofrequency power density from Smart meters with other household appliances. Chart: Cordless Phone: 0.17, Mobile phone: 2.03, Baby Monitor: 3.29, Microwave Oven(leakage): 1.49, Wireless Modem :0.05, Smart Meter (Inside): 0.011, Smart Meter (Outside): 0.82

Percentage of the exposure limit – set by ARPANSA
Figure 1: Comparison of radiofrequency (RF) power density from smart meters with other household appliances (at 30cm) – source EMC Technologies 2011, page 7.


Footnote:  1. RF EME and RF EMR refer to the same thing.