NZ researcher presents e-poster on electrohypersensitivity at public health conference

New Zealand researcher Mary Redmayne PhD  recently presented an electronic poster (an e-poster) at the 2017 World Congress on Public Health in Melbourne.

Dr. Redmayne’s research interests include the effects of electromagnetic radiation and health as well as how the use of wireless devices impacts on educational outcomes.

To learn more about Dr. Redmayne please see this link
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mary_Redmayne2/info

Her e-poster may be accessed through this link:http://wcph2017.paperlessevents.com.au/view-poster/P064

 

NB: There are many other links on www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz relating to electrohypersensitivity (EHS).

 

A paper by an Australian physician has linked smart meters to the development of EHS. Please click HERE for more information.

 

Two links about EHS are below:

 

What is it like to live with electrohypersensitivity (EHS)? One woman’s story

A helpful paper on electromagnetic sensitivity by Dr. Mallery-Blythe

 

 

SOURCE: http://www.naturalmedicine.net.nz/news/nz-researcher-presents-e-poster-electrohypersensitivity-international-public-health-conference/

Health of telecommunications industry workers recklessly endangered?

Website editor’s note:

The following text comes from the latest email newsletter produced by the team who produced the award winning smart meter documentary Take Back Your Power.

The text in italics is quoted from the newsletter.  The comments in [   ] are notes from the editor of www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz.

As you can see by reading the exchange, it appears that at least one company in the North American telecommunications industry is exposing its workers to illegal and dangerous levels of microwave radiation because the transmitters are not turned off when there are workers in the vicinity.

If any readers work in the telecommunications industry in NZ (or other countries) and are concerned that the practice of exposing workers to illegal levels of microwave radiation may be occurring in your country, you can share your concerns via the Contact Form at this link: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/contact-us/

Reports are treated in confidence and information is not posted on the website unless permission is given in writing.

NB: If you would like to keep up with smart meter related (and other EMR related) news in NZ, you may wish to join the email list at www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz

You may also want to check out our new Facebook page at this link https://www.facebook.com/Stop-Smart-Meters-NZ-1211462805538548/

Health of telecommunications industry workers recklessly endangered?

 Excerpt from newsletter from www.takebackyourpower.net

Comment by Travis Burch:


Figured I’d tell this story here about how things are shifting even within the industry…

I saw the AT&T trucks today, the guys were working on the cell towers. I’ve been wanting to talk to them for months but I never get a chance to talk to them.

So I walk over there today and just then a guy comes down and says “Hey”.

So I said “Hey man, do you mind if I ask you some questions about the cell towers?”

He said “Sure thing, go ahead”, real friendly.

I then asked a bunch of technical questions about the design of the towers and stuff, just saying I was fascinated by the technology. He answered them and I learned a bunch of stuff. He mentioned that the round antennas are higher frequency microwaves.

Then he said that the US is soon going to 5G, Korea (I think) is already going to 5G and “they’re ahead of us”, but that “lots of countries are holding off on 5G because of environmental concerns and health concerns”.

I said “really?”

He said, “Yeah, and the head of the FCC recently said ‘We’re not going to let research slow us down.’”

I said “Wow, he said that? That’s really bold.”

He said “Yeah I think so.”

So I said, “Are you interested in the health concerns from this stuff?”

“Yeah, I mean…yeah.”

Me: Me too

Him: Really? Lots of us in this line of work are getting leukemia and cancer. [NB: Recent research has shown a link between exposure to microwave radiation and cancer – see this link for details.]  

Me: I’ve been interested in it for a while because I work here, so close to two towers.

Him: They used to turn off the transmitters when we worked on them. Now they refuse to turn off the transmitters while we work on them and they don’t let us carry around a RF meter anymore. They’ve got transmitters on top of buildings now. . .

Me: Yeah I’ve seen them!

Him: Yeah! You know the M****** H****** Hotel? I was just up there. And you just walk right up to them.

Me: Really? Man you’re right in front of those things!

Him: Yeah, and they’re not turning them off anymore. I’m just getting blasted.

Me: I’ve got a meter and I get readings at this school of 10-20 mW/cm2 per channel. And a cell tower has like 70 channels right?

Him: You have a RF meter? (He couldn’t believe it).

Me: Yeah! I drive around town and see what the levels are like.

Him: No way, eBay? Amazon?

Me: Amazon.

Him: How much was it?

Me: Like… $190.  [Note: You can order via the TBYP website here & support the producer of Take Back Your Power ] 

Him: No way… Like I said, they forbid us from having them now.

Me: So I just looked up the federal limits on Saturday. It says the federal limit is 10 mW/cm2. On this playground I’ve gotten a reading of 15 mW/cm2 on one channel… but the cell tower puts out 70 something channels, does that mean it’s putting out roughly 15×70 mW/cm2?

Him: Most likely, yeah. Yeah all of us are worried about it. It’s high enough levels to heat things up. My face burns whenever I use a cellphone. [This symptom suggests that the telecommunications worker has become sensitised to microwave radiation and could be on his way to developing electrohypersensitivity (EHS).  Some case histories of people who develop EHS suggest that exposure to high levels of microwave radiation may be a causative factor.  So-called “smart” electricity meters are suspected of causing EHS in some people. More information about EHS may be found below.]

Me: Everybody at the school is always hot, even when the air is cold.

(Note: radiant heat [long wave light] heats up a body without heating up air).

Him: Really? The industry people are actually worried that 5G is going to have a really big, even more noticeable thermal presence because the high frequencies have so much more power in them.

(His phone started ringing).

Me: Great talking to you!

Him: You too! See ya!

 

Ed note:  This link has useful information for employers and/or managers of organisations that may be exposing staff, students or customers to wireless radiation:  http://en.geovital.com/risks-regulations-and-liability-around-exposing-people-and-students-to-wireless-technology-emf-radiation-part1/

Links to further information about electrohypersensitivity (EHS)

What is it like to live with electrohypersensitivity (EHS)? One woman’s story

Prostituting Science: A must-read book about “environmental illness”

 

A helpful paper on electromagnetic sensitivity by Dr. Mallery-Blythe

Retired CEO speaks out on electrosensitivity

Electrohypersensitivity – a short film by Time magazine free to watch online

 

 

Petition on electrohypersensitivity and multiple chemical sensitivity

A petition has been organised on behalf of people who have electrohypersensitivity (EHS) and multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) whose serious health problems need better recognition.

Please consider signing this important petition.  If you are on Facebook, please consider putting a link to this post on your Facebook page to share this information. Thank you.

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/World_Health_Organization_Include_EHS_ans_MCS_in_the_International_Classification_of_Diseases/

 

NB: To read about a great book written by a woman who developed multiple chemical sensitivity and electrohypersensitivity, please see this link: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/prostituting-science-a-must-read-book-about-environmental-illness/

For more information about electrohypersensitivity you can use the search function at www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz and search for electrohypersensitivity or EHS.

To sign up for a free email list to keep updated on the smart meter issue, please visit www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz Thank you.

Environmental Sensitivities Symposium March 2015

An Environmental Sensitivities Symposium is coming up in 2015.  The Symposium is designed to help people with a variety of illnesses, including those who have electromagnetic sensitivity (also known as electrosensitivity or  electrohypersensitivity), multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), food allergies and other conditions such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Lyme disease.

The Symposium features international experts such as:

Michael Bevington is the chair of Trustees of the charity ElectroSensitivity UK (See http://es-uk.info/)
and
Prof Olle Johansson, associate professor, head of the Experimental Dermatology Unit, Department of Neuroscience, at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, is a world-leading authority in the field of EMF radiation and health effects.
Other speakers include:
Martin Pall, PhD, Dr Christabelle Yeoh and Lucinda Curran.
Basic access to the online Symposium is FREE while there are upgrades available for modest fees.  (A book option is available for people who have severe electrosensitivity issues and cannot use a computer.)
More information about the Symposium speakers may be found at this link: http://ecohealthsolutions.com.au/symposium/environmental-sensitivities-speakers/
The Symposium website is below:
NB:  Please let colleagues, friends and family know about this event as public education about conditions such as electrosensitivity and multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) is badly needed to help improve the lives of people who have these conditions easier.  (The current lack of knowledge among the general public about electrosensitivity, MCS etc. makes life harder than it should be for people who have developed these conditions as neighbours may inadvertently cause harm, by for example, allowing the installation of a  smart meter close to the home of some who has electrosensitivity, or by using toxic garden chemicals etc. etc.)
More information on the Symposium may also be found at this link: http://www.naturalmedicine.net.nz/news/environmental-sensitivities-symposium-march-2015/

Free EMR and Health newsletter: New edition out now

EMR Australia’s free quarterly newsletter is now available.

This issue is particularly good and features an interview with Melbourne physician Dr. Federica Lamech whose article on adverse health effects from smart meters was recently published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The issue may be downloaded from this link:

htttp://emraustralia.com.au/EMR_and_health.html

 

The other topics for this issue are listed below:

  • France’s new law to reduce exposure to wireless radiation;
  • how mobile phones affect the brain and fertility;
  • a recent Australian study on smart meters and how they’re affecting people;
  • an interview with the study’s author, Dr Federica Lamech;
  • the European Union’s new position on electromagnetic hypersensitivity;
  • sleeping on spring coil mattresses – is it a good idea?
  • chemical sensitivity;
  • how digital technology affects sleep;
  • a new Australian book on chemical and electromagnetic sensitivity by Diana Crumpler;
  • the latest news and research and items of interest from around the world.

SOURCE: http://www.naturalmedicine.net.nz/news/free-emr-and-health-newsletter-new-edition-out-now/

Commissioner’s private emails show he knew smart meters were causing harm but did not act to protect the public

The website of the award-winning smart meter documentary Take Back Your Power (www.takebackyourpower.net) has reported on how emails of the former president of the California Public Utilities Commission show that he was aware of adverse health effects from smart meters from as early as 2010 but chose not to do anything to protect public health. He was similarly aware of the problems with high bills after smart meter installations but did nothing to stop the smart meter roll out from going ahead.

You can read excerpts from key emails at this link:

http://www.takebackyourpower.net/news/2015/02/13/utility-commissioners-private-emails-reveal-conspiracy/

 

NB:  If you are interested in the smart meter issue, please sign up to the free email list on www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz  Thank you.

See Take Back Your Power for free on February 24!

Your chance to see the award winning smart meter documentary Take Back Your Power is coming up on February 24 in Auckland.  (If you are not in Auckland, the film may be streamed or purchased from www.takebackyourpower.net.)

This highly recommended documentary covers health, privacy and other issues with smart meters.

Details of the screening are here: http://www.naturalmedicine.net.nz/news/a-chance-to-see-the-award-winning-documentary-take-back-your-power-for-free/

NB: If you are interested in the smart meter issue, please sign up to the free email list on www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz and you will receive updates on the situation in NZ.

Do you live in Victoria (Australia) or have friends or family there?

If you live in Victoria, Australia, you may well be aware of the controversy surrounding the smart meter issue since the State Government mandated electricity companies to use their “best endeavours” to install smart meters.  In practice, as anyone who reads www.stopsmartmeters.com.au will be aware, electricity companies’ “best endeavours” to install smart meters have included a variety of bullying tactics.

One well known case was that of Sofia Telemzouguer, who became suddenly and acutely ill after a smart meter was installed in the cavity of  her bedroom wall while she was away on a business trip.  After being discharged from hospital she subsequently found out that the smart meter had been installed and asked the company to remove it.  Her electricity company refused to do so, so in desperation, Sofia organised for an electrician to remove the smart meter.  This relieved many of Sofia’s symptoms but left her with a new problem because her electricity company cut off her power in apparent retribution for removal of the smart meter. (You can read about Sofia’s story here)  After 155 days without power,  Sofia finally managed to get her power turned back on, see here; however her problems are not over as she developed electrohypersensitivity (EHS) from the exposure to the radiation from the smart meter and is now unable to work and suffers debilitating symptoms from involantary exposure to EMR (such from municipal wi-fi routers etc.)

Instances such as these has led to the formation of a new political party in Australia called People Power Victoria which has as its key platform the overturning of the smart meter mandate for the State.

If you are concerned about the smart meter situation please let friends and family who may live in Victoria know about People Power Victoria so they know there is a party that opposes smart meters.

The party website is below:

http://www.peoplepowervictoria.org.au/

 

 

NB: If you are interested in the smart meter issue, please sign up for the email list at www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz.  This link also includes a search facility to allow you to search the website for topics of interest.

 

 

Electropollution expert’s lecture now online

Earlier this year 92014) electropollution consultant Paul Waddell from www.safespace.net.nz   gave a lecture on electropollution.  Thank you for Vinny Eastwood for filming the lecture and making its available to everyone on youtube.

You can access part one of the presentation at this link and part two will be added when it is available.

http://www.naturalmedicine.net.nz/childrens-health-and-development/see-paul-waddells-lecture-on-electropollution/

 

NB: If you would like to get updates on the smart meter issue in New Zealand please join the free email list at www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz. There is also a search option at www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz to allow you to find articles about other topics of interest on this website

Smart meters, heat pumps and “demand response functionality”

Smart meters, heat pumps and “demand response functionality”

An earlier post on this website (since corrected) erroneously stated that having a smart meter could mean that householders could have their heat pump turned off remotely by their electricity company.  (In actual fact, some smart meters may be able to turn down heat pumps down to their lowest setting, but they should not be able to turn them off  altogether… please read on for more details and to learn whether you may be affected if you have a heat pump that may be able to be controlled via a smart meter.)

My initial error (in stating that a smart meter with a ZigBee chip* could potentially be used to remotely turn off a heat pump) was kindly pointed out to me by Graeme Purches from Trustpower.  In an email he wrote:

“There are probably less than 20 meters in NZ that are equipped for this [turning off  heat pumps and other devices remotely], and they are installed as part of field trials to test their capabilities.”

He added:

“At the end of the day, the direction the industry is headed is that people will in the future be able to determine at which price point they want their appliances to start and stop. The control will be in the hands of the consumer, unlike controlled hot water, which is a network load issue and can legitimately be controlled in return for lower price because those using the option have hot water storage. You can’t  ‘store’ the heat from a heat pump so the industry would never want to control those.”

I decided to investigate the issue of how smart meters may be used to remotely control heat pumps (without the householder’s consent) in more detail.

My initial (and as it turned out, incorrect) information about heat pumps having mandatory “demand response functionality”  came from the website of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

In following up on this issue, I first tried to access the current  standard for heat pumps and found that while there was one in existence, I could not access it unless I either went to the central library in Auckland (not very practical) or paid a couple of  hundred dollars (not feasible either).

I therefore sought the advice of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Agency (EECA). 

A helpful staff member wrote an email that explained the following:

1)  That having “demand response functionality” is not currently mandatory in NZ.

2)  That some of the heat pumps on the NZ market do have “demand response functionality”.  This “demand response functionality” cannot be used to turn the heat pump off altogether but it can be used to turn the heat pump down to its lowest setting.

3)  That manufacturers can choose to show that their heat pump has demand response functionality on the label on their heat pump.  You can click on the image to make it larger.  The tick mark which is circled in red indicates that the appliance has “demand response functionality”.

Photo of labelling showing demand response functionality

Presumably heat pumps that have “demand response functionality” will contain a ZigBee and/or some other radiofrequency radiation (RFR) producing device to allow the appliance to communicate with a smart meter.   I have no idea whether appliances which have “demand response functionality” will be producing RFR all the time or intermittently or whether the default setting for the appliance will have the “demand response functionality” switched off.

However, if you do not want extra RFR in your environment and/or you do not want to risk your electricity company being able to control your heat pump via a smart meter in your home,  it would seem prudent to avoid buying items with “demand response functionality” indicated by the label.

Please note that I do not know whether it is mandatory for manufactures that make appliances that have “demand response functionality” to declare this capability on the label.  For this reason it would be prudent to ask the retailer whether any appliance you would like to buy has any “demand response functionality”, regardless of the label.  If you already have a heat pump and it not longer has its label, please see the info at the bottom of this post.

Conclusion

So there you have it.  It does appear that some smart meters in NZ (those than contain ZigBee chips*) may have the capacity to remotely control some heat pumps, although this feature may not yet be active.  It also appears that there are heat pumps on the NZ market which have “demand response functionality” which could allow them to be controlled via a smart meter.

 

*In NZ,  smart meters that contain ZigBee chips include:

WEL Networks Ltd “smart box” (actually a Landis+Gyr smart meter) and the Landis+Gyr smart meters being installed by Network Tasman Ltd  and Counties Power in South Auckland/Franklin.  These contain a “silver spring” brand “network interface card” which includes a  modem and a ZigBee.  The default mode for the ZigBee on the “silver spring” brand “network interface card” has been stated to be inactive, so these ZigBee chips, may not yet be functional.  (Presumably they could be activated remotely by a power or lines company should the company with an active link to the smart meter modem decide to do this.)

It is possible other smart meters contain ZigBee chips; some EDMI smart meters which are very common in NZ have the potential to include a ZigBee chip. 

If  you are in any doubt about whether the smart meter at your home has a ZigBee chip,  your electricity retailer should be able to tell y0u.

 

If your heat pump no longer has its label you can find out about its “demand response functionality” through the following procedure:

 

1)  Go to this link: 

http://www.energyrating.gov.au/for-industry/regulation-information-for-industry/meps/

 2) Scroll down the link above until you come to this text:

Next steps for households and businesses

3) Click on the word “Compare energy ratings”…as above and you will get to this link:

http://reg.energyrating.gov.au/comparator/product_types/

 

4) At the link above you will see a list…pick “Air Conditioners” by clicking on this link Air Conditioners – AS/NZS 3823.2 and you will get through to this link:

http://reg.energyrating.gov.au/comparator/product_types/64/search/

 

At the link above you will see a row of black buttons…one is Download CSV. 

Click on this and you will get an Excel file. Open the file.

The field that indicates whether a heat pump has “demand response functionality” is labelled “BE” at the top of the column. The word “TRUE” in the “BE” column indicates the heat pump has “demand response functionality”.  The word “FALSE” in the “BE” column indicates that a heat pump does not have “demand response functionality” .

 

 

October 16, Take Back Your Power Marton!

Just a reminder that there will be a second community screening of the award-winning smart meter documentary Take Back Your Power in Marton on October 16.  Full details are at this link:

http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/october-16-take-back-your-power-marton/

Please let family and friends in this area know about this screening.

Also:  If you are on Facebook you may like to visit this new group and let your friends know about it.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rangitikei-Smart-Meter-Watch/1472539493022803

Thank you!

 

 

Free EMR and Health quarterly now available online

EMR Australia http://www.emraustralia.com.au/ has just published it latest quarterly on different aspects of EMR and health.  The current issue features the following topics:

  • how wireless devices affect children and what you can do about it;
  • how mobile phones affect the brain and fertility;
  • the latest findings from science;
  • how children and teens are using technology;
  • an article on electrosensitivity by guest writer, Dr Richard Conrad;
  • hybrid cars;
  • legislation in France and Australia;
  • news from around the world – and much more.

You can download the issue as a PDF as from this link:

http://emraustralia.com.au/EMR_and_health.html

Retired CEO speaks out on electrosensitivity

Brian Stein, who was the CEO of the largest frozen and chilled food product company in great Britain before he retired, has spoken out about electrosensitivity and the problems with the standards for non-ionsing radiation developed by International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), which he says are designed to protect the mobile phone industry, not human health.

Brian Stein suffers from electrohypersensitivity and discusses his own experiences of how he developed EHS during his fifiteenth year of using a mobile phone on his job…he continued to use the phone until his symptoms became so severe, he could not use a cell phone for even one second without excrutiating pain.   Even worse, he began to suffer from similar symptoms when  using other technologies…

 

You can see him lecture at this link:
http://vimeo.com/24505286

 

For more information about electrosensitivity please see these links:  www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/health-issues/ and

www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/electrohypersensitivity-a-short-film-by-time-magazine-free-to-watch-online/

http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/what-is-it-like-to-live-with-electrohypersensitivity-ehs-one-womans-story/

 

Survey of people adversely affected by “smart meters”

The results of a survey of people whose health has been adversely affected by “smart meters” are now available in summary form at this link http://www.eiwellspring.org/smartmeter/ACCsurvey.htm or the full report may be downloaded from the link below.

The survey used an online questionnaire and asked all participants the same questions.

The majority of people (59%) were not electrosensitive (ES) prior to the installation of the “smart meter” and 82% reported their health was “good” or “excellent” prior to the installation of the “smart meter”.  People were affected in different ways by the “smart meters”, however, according to the link above, “Reports of insomnia, tinnitus, pressure in the head, difficulty concentrating, headaches and heart arrhythmia were particularly common.”

(Similar symptoms, including headaches, tinnitus, sleeping difficulties and heart palpitations, have been reported  to www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz by New Zealanders who have had a “smart meter” installed at their home.)

In the survey, a nocebo affect could be ruled out for a lot of participants because many of  the survey participants (42%) developed symptoms before they knew that a “smart meter” had been installed.  Moreover 63% of the participants had not been concerned about “smart meters” before they developed the “smart meter”-associated symptoms.

The good news was that when the “smart meter” was improved, 91% experienced an improvement in their health.  However, some had ongoing problems even after the “smart meter” was removed.

Quoting from the link above:
“About 45% of the responders believe that the smart meters caused them to become electrically sensitive.”
A similar association  between the development of electrosensitivity in previously healthy people after a “smart meter” installation was found in a case series collated by Australian physician Dr. Federica Lamech. (See:  http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/american-academy-of-environmental-medicine-calls-for-moratorium-on-smart-meters/.)

 

The potential for “smart meters” to cause people to develop electrosensitivity (ES) (also know as electrohypersensitvity or EHS) is a major concern considering that this people with this condition suffer from painful and debilitating symptoms when exposed to levels of electromagnetic radiation and/or electromagnetic fields (from cell phone towers,  cell phones, computers, Wi-Fi, household wiring etc.) that are  almost impossible to avoid in developed countries.  (For more information on EHS: please see these links: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/what-is-it-like-to-live-with-electrohypersensitivity-ehs-one-womans-story/

http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/electrohypersensitivity-a-short-film-by-time-magazine-free-to-watch-online/

(Health professionals who need information on the assessment and treatment of people with electrosensitivities may find this link helpful: www.scribd.com/doc/87308119/Guideline-of-the-Austrian-Medical-Association-for-the-diagnosis-and-treatment-of-EMF-related-health-problems-and-illnesses-EMF-syndrome)

Quoting from http://www.eiwellspring.org/smartmeter/ACCsurvey.htm

“Effects of new or worsened electrical sensitivities, due to smart meters:

•      19% were forced to leave their job

•      24% needed accommodations at work

•      48% needed accommodations at home

•      64% had limited capacity to work

•      17% moved away from their home

•      37% want to move away, but cannot

•      24% can use a cell phone without symptoms, as opposed to 50% before the smart meter

•      39% can use a computer without symptoms, as opposed to 79% before the smart meter

“Could the health effects have another cause?

“The survey explores other explanations through several questions.  Other possibilities include equipment installed in the home around the time the smart meter was installed, as well as outside sources, such as nearby transmitters.  The answers do not point to such alternative explanations.’

 

The full report may be downloaded here: http://www.mainecoalitiontostopsmartmeters.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Exhibit-10-Smart-Meter-Health-Effects-Report-Survey2.pdf

 

Site editor’s note:

If you still have an analogue meter and do not want a “smart meter” please see this link: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/how-to-avoid-getting-a-smart-meter/

If you want to get rid of an existing “smart meter”, please see this link: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/how-to-get-rid-of-a-smart-meter/

Tairua “smart” water meter update

On Thursday or Friday (April 24 or 25, 2014) I put in a request under the Official Information Act to the Thames-Coromandel District Council for information about the trail of “smart” water meters planned for the town of Tairua on the Coromandel Peninsula during May 2014. I addressed the request to Mr Bruce Hinson, who is the Thames Coromandel Council Infrastructure Manager.

On Wednesday (April 30), I received an email from a member of the engineering team stating that the Council could answer my questions, but it would cost me $114 – and payment was required before they would action the request.  (Under the Official Information Act (OIA) councils and other government agencies are allowed to charge for time to prepare answers to OIA requests, but they do not usually do so.)  The tone of the email was friendly, so I decided to phone the respondent to discuss the matter, so that is what I did on May 2, 2014.

I spoke at length to a very personable young man who recently graduated from university with a degree in civil and environmental engineering who is working on the “smart” water meter trial. He explained that the Council’s objective in trialing the “smart” water meters was to better manage water for Tairua.

 

Rationale for the trial of “smart” water meters in Tairua

Water for the town of Tairua is drawn from a river, which naturally carries lower water volumes during summer when demand for water peaks due to an influx of  people arriving for summer holidays in their baches. (People “go crazy” washing things, he said, during the two weeks of the year that they live in their holiday homes.)  The Thames-Coromandel Council had an obligation under its resource consent for drawing water from the river not to create an excessive impact on the river system, he said, the implication being that “smart” water meters could help achieve this. Currently there are no water meters in Tairua, he said. “Smart” water meters were considered by the team to be a better option than conventional meters because there was no need to physically access the meter box (such as by prying up the meter box cover) to get a reading, and the potential for human error in reading meters was eliminated by the wireless transmission of data.

We did not discuss what other measures, if any, the Council has trialled to reduce  or better manage water demand at the peak time of year, such, as for example, public education campaigns to promote water conservation and/or promotion of installation of rain water tanks to supplement the town water supply for some applications.  (This was an oversight on my part.)

 

Technical aspects of the “smart” water meters being trialled in Tairua

The young engineer was excited by the results of the trial so far, in which an initial test had shown that the signal from one of the “smart” water meters could be detected 600 metres from the “smart” meter, despite buildings and trees being in the way between the water meter and receiver.

The “smart” meter chosen by the Council for Tairua is the Sappel Altair Concentric V3 meter supplied in NZ by Hynds.  The Council has chosen to use the 434MHz  option for the transmission frequency (which presumably means that the Council engineering team has chosen to team up the meters with the Diehl IZAR RC radio transmitter.)  434 MHz is a public frequency also utilised by some common gadgets such as automatic garage door openers.  However, the manufacturer of the IZAR RC radio transmitter designed to be compatible with Sappel modular meter states that its transmission range is “500 metres, depending on the environment”, so it is obviously much more powerful than a garage door opening gizmo.  (In practice, as above, the transmission range may be longer than the manufacturer’s specifications.)

According to the engineer, the “‘smart” meters chosen will be transmitting every eight seconds.  (The battery life of the for the transmitter is claimed by the manufacturer to be 15 years, without any sort of guarantee that this will actually be the case.) The Council is exploring different ideas for reading the meters, I was told. The trial is using a handheld or drive-by system in which a portable device is used to collect the data from the “smart” water meters as they transmit.  The transmitters on the meters are unidirectional.  One option the Council team is considering for the ongoing collection of data is to have a receiver mounted in the rubbish trucks which make weekly rounds of the towns to collect garbage, thereby eliminating the need for a separate vehicle (or person on foot) to patrol the streets to collect the data.  This is considered an attractive option because it would reduce the cost associated with gathering data from the “smart” meters.

 

Possible implications for privacy if the trial is considered successful

The IZAR transmitters that are compatible with the Sappel meters used in the Tairua trial have the capacity to be used with a fixed “IZAR RECEIVER GPRS/LAN” system which is capable of collecting all the data from “smart” water meters, storing it and then transferring it to a central computer system.  If the Thames-Coromandel District Council were happy with the results of the Tairua trial and chose this option for collection of data from “smart” water meters, this potentially raises privacy concerns, since if the meters transmit data every eight seconds, it should be theoretically possible to use the data to work out patterns of activity in a household, based on patterns of water consumption, in a similar way in which patterns of activity in a household can be inferred from electricity use.  (See the graphic at this link http://www.smartmeterpowerstruggle.wordpress.com/  for an example of how electricity “smart meters” can compromise privacy, and for a discussion of privacy and home security issues please see these links: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/government-and-electricity-industry-positions/network-tasman-there-are-no-privacy-concerns-with-smart-meters-yeah-right/ and www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/how-smart-meters-can-help-burglars/.)

 

Health implications

About 25% of households and businesses in Tairua have been selected by the Council to participate the in trial.  (The properties chosen have been selected on the basis of ensuring that they represent different types of properties (i.e. permanent residential, holiday homes and business) and different areas of the town.) By contrast, the trial of “smart” water meters in Tauranga was limited to one suburb. (See this link for a discussion of the trial of “smart” water meters in Tauranga: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/smart-water-meters-in-nz-the-situation-so-far/.)

Considering that each “smart” water meter used in the Tairua trial will transmit every eight seconds around the clock for a distance of up to half a kilometre (or possibly more) at the 434MHZ frequency, the “smart” water meter trial in Tairua may represent an experiment in exposure of an entire town to this particular frequency at levels that are unique in the history of NZ.

People who have electrohypersensitivity (EHS)** may be adversely affected by this trial.  Overseas, concern has been raised that exposure to the non-ionising radiation produced by “smart” meters used to measure electricity consumption appears to act as a trigger for the development of EHS in some people. (See: http://skyvisionsolutions.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/aaem-wireless-smart-meter-case-studies.pdf )   In NZ, many of the “smart” meters being introduced for electricity are designed to transmit for longer distances (“a few kilometres”), according to the PDF “Smart-Meter-FAQ-Aug11.pdf” on the website of the Electricity Authority, so electricity “smart” meters are obviously more powerful than are “smart” water meters.  Moreover, as the strength of the signal from any “smart” meter declines with distance, “smart” electricity meters which are typically mounted on the wall of a home probably pose more of a risk than “smart” water meters on council property. (Presumably these will be installed in the footpath, as  are the conventional “water” meters in Auckland.)  However, the possibility that “smart” water meters may trigger EHS cannot be ruled out and the longer term effects of living in an area where “smart” waters meters transmit every eight seconds twenty four hours a day must be considered an unknown.

 

Possible outcome of the trial

If the trial is successful, conceivably the Thames-Tairua District Council may choose to introduce “smart” water meters in other towns in its region.

Pe0ple in Tairua (or elsewhere in the  area administered by the Thames-Tairua District Council) who are not happy with the idea of being exposed to additional electromagnetic radiation from “smart” water meters may wish to notify the Council that they do not consent to the installation of a “smart” water meter to measure water consumption at their home or business.  A template that can be personalised may be downloaded from the link below:

FORMAL NOTICE OF NON CONSENT FOR SMART WATER METER

Please share this post with family and friends in this area. 

 

More information on smart water meters in NZ may be found at this post: www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/smart-water-meters-in-nz-the-situation-so-far/

 

**Information on electrohypersensitivity may be found at this link: http://www.es-uk.info/

For a personal story which illustrates how difficult a condition EHS is for sufferers to live with, please see this link: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/what-is-it-like-to-live-with-electrohypersensitivity-ehs-one-womans-story/

Health professionals may want to read this link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/87308119/Guideline-of-the-Austrian-Medical-Association-for-the-diagnosis-and-treatment-of-EMF-related-health-problems-and-illnesses-EMF-syndrome