Public officials are often assumed to be insulated — by their position and privilege — from the issues that plague ordinary citizens.
Not so with Democratic Assemblyman Jared Huffman and SmartMeters, the wireless devices that PG&E is clamping onto North Bay homes and businesses amid protests that their low-power radio waves are a health hazard.
Huffman said a digital meter was affixed to his San Rafael home without notice. “I came home one day and it was on,” he said.
An environmental attorney before he was elected to the Legislature in 2006, Huffman said he is “comfortable that the SmartMeter is safe for me and my family.”
But he also knows that his district, covering Marin and southern Sonoma counties, includes outspoken SmartMeter critics who have questioned the accuracy and safety of the devices.
So Huffman said he was under no illusion that a scientific study released this week would settle the matter, despite a finding that SmartMeter emissions fall far below the safety standards set by the federal government.
Translation: SmartMeter opponents may not invest complete faith in either mainstream science or the government.
Opponents will also grasp that the study conceded there could be some other harm from the radio waves other than “thermal effects,” which refers to heating of human tissue. What that harm might be the scientists could not say, nor could they rule it out.
So Huffman still thinks the solution is to develop an alternative smart meter that uses telephone or power lines — rather than radio waves — to transmit data to PG&E.
1. PG&E has installed about 123,000 electric and natural gas SmartMeters in the Santa Rosa area, accounting for three-fourths of all meters.
2. Cell phones, microwave ovens and Wi—Fi routers emit radio waves similar to SmartMeters. The science report said exposure from a SmartMeter is 40 times higher than a router, and a microwave is five times higher than a SmartMeter.
Exposure from a cell phone held at the ear is 25 times higher than a microwave.
— Guy Kovner
The Press Democrat