Goodbye meter readers, hello smart readers?

Sugar Loaf residents say the radio frequency radiation emitted by smart meters is harmful, object to opt-out fee

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  • Chris Maurer talks about the health hazards of smart meters at the Oct. 10 town board meeting (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

Can smart meters cause cancer?

The following information is provided by the American Cancer Society (
Smart meters give off RF radiation. RF radiation is low-energy radiation. RF radiation doesn’t have enough energy to remove charged particles such as electrons (ionize), and so is called non-ionizing radiation. Non-ionizing radiation has enough energy to move atoms in a molecule around or cause them to vibrate, which can lead to heat but it can’t damage DNA directly.
RF radiation is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” This is based on the finding of a possible link in at least one study between cell phone use and a specific type of brain tumor. Because RF radiation is a possible carcinogen, and smart meters give off RF radiation, it is possible that smart meters could increase cancer risk. Still, it isn’t clear what risk, if any there might be from living in a home with a smart meter.
It would be nearly impossible to conduct a study to prove or disprove a link between living in a house with smart meters and cancer because people have so many sources of exposure to RF and the level of exposure from this source is so small. Because, the amount of RF radiation you could be exposed to from a smart meter is much less than what you could be exposed to from a cell phone, it is very unlikely that living in a house with a smart meter increases risk of cancer. The World Health Organization has promised to conduct a formal assessment of the risks from RF exposure but this report is not yet available.

By Frances Ruth Harris

— Chris Maurer and Lydia Cuadros of Sugar Loaf warned the community about the health hazards of the impending smart meter roll out in Orange County during Chester's Oct. 10 town board meeting.

Smart meters are electronic devices that do the job utility employees now do. They record how much electricity customers consume and report this information back to the utility, in this case Orange & Rockland. But smart meters use radiofrequency (RF) waves, the same waves emitted by cell phones and Wi-Fi devices, to record and report back daily and even hourly — much more frequently than human readers are able to do.

Maurer and Cuadros said there is strong evidence that RF radiation increases the risk of cancer."

"This RF radiation would send electromagnetic pulses throughout our homes and neighborhoods constantly with leukemia possibly the biggest health risk," said Maurer. "The RF radiation is continuous and cumulative with smart meters. The growing brains of children make them most vulnerable."

It's true that all wireless devices and microwaves emit RF radiation, they said, but the difference is we can turn off those devices.

Residents have the option to “opt out” of smart meter installation but will be charged a $15 per month by O&R. Homeowners may opt to keep their analog meter.

Maurer and Cuadros called the extra fee "very unfair" and asked Orange County Legislator John Vero and the town to pass a resolution that would make it illegal.

In other town news Retired police officers lauded — Supervisor Alex Jamieson applauded Rich Eckert and Janice Oppmann for 39 years of service with the Town of Chester Police Department. Both left for Florida to begin their retirement the morning after their last day on the job. The town will order plaques to give them in commemoration of their service.

Brewery proposal — Dale VanPamelen and his daughter Lauren presented their vision of a brewery sharing space with the Sugar Loaf Performing Arts Center, which the town wants to buy for $1.1 million. Residents will vote on Nov. 6 on whether to go ahead with the purchase. Supervisor Jamieson said a presentation on the performing arts center will be given at the next town board meeting on Oct. 24.

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