Reversing its long-held position on the safety of wireless radiation from cell phones, wi-fi, and “smart” meters, the World Health Organization announced yesterday that it had re-classified such non-ionizing radiation as “possibly carcinogenic.” The organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer placed radiation from these devices in the same category as DDT and leaded gasoline.
PG&E, which leads the nation in deployment of wireless “smart” meters, has relied heavily on the WHO’s assertion of the meters’ safety in defending its devices to critics. However, the WHO’s previous position dated to 1996 and did not reflect the findings of more current research. According to activist group Stop Smart Meters!, a “broad investigation into the peer-reviewed science” ultimately convinced the organization to reconsider its stance on wireless radiation.
“Now that the WHO has come out and publicly confirmed that there are significant risks from wireless technology,” Joshua Hart, director of the Santa Cruz County-based group, said in a statement yesterday, “will the utilities and regulators admit they have made a terrible mistake in deciding to roll out wireless mesh networks that are blanketing our communities with a likely carcinogen?”
Without the WHO’s approval, it’s unclear what approach PG&E and other utilities will take to continue to defend wireless “smart” meters in the face of increasing public criticism. To date, a total of 42 local jurisdictions have asked the California Public Utilities Commission to halt further installation of the meters due to health concerns. The CPUC also has launched its own investigation into wireless radiation effects. In March, PG&E proposed a plan to allow concerned customers to turn off the wireless signals of their new meters, though at considerable cost.
“The federal government and the international health community, including the World Health Organization," PG&E said at the time, "have deemed the low-level radio frequency on which PG&E's SmartMeters rely to be completely safe." But not anymore.