National Expert in Radio Frequency Exposure Finds Negligible Health Impacts from Advanced Metering Infrastructure Technology

Exposure Well Below Safety Standards Set by the Federal Communications Commission and Below Exposure from Cell Phones, Tablets and Wi-Fi

| News Release

OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Laurel, Md. – February 19, 2020 – A new report released today concludes that there are negligible health impacts of non-ionizing radio frequency (RF) used by advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) technology, also referred to as smart meters in the report. The author, Dr. Leeka Kheifets, professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, presented her findings to WSSC Water Commissioners and the public at today’s monthly Commission meeting. Kheifets is an epidemiologist with more than 30 years of experience in non-ionizing research.

The report concludes that “because smart meters are not used in close proximity to the human body (unlike cell phones, tablets, computers and even Wi-Fi) and because they transmit relatively infrequently their exposure levels are very low and far below U.S. and international exposure limits.” Kheifets’ research further states: “The exposures to RF from smart meters are neither long enough nor strong enough to approach the safety standards set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other bodies.”

“WSSC Water is dedicated to protecting public health and this report verifies that RF exposure from AMI technology is generally far below that of cell phone use,” said WSSC Water General Manager and CEO Carla A. Reid. “As we install this innovative technology to better serve our customers, we will always work to protect the health and safety of our customers.”

The report, which is posted on WSSC Water’s website, takes a comprehensive review of the health impacts of RF exposure. It is based on peer-reviewed literature and other studies and compares RF exposure from AMI-compatible meters with other commonly used digital communications devices such as cell phones, Wi-Fi, baby monitors, computers and microwave ovens. During her presentation today, Dr. Kheifets’ noted the risk to human health from RF fields has been classified at the same level as coffee and pickled vegetables.

Key findings of the report related to AMI-technology concluded:

  • The maximum power of smart meters is 1-2 watts
  • Smart meters transmit for very short periods
  • Smart meters are not immediately next to the human body
  • Exposure is generally far below cell phones, Wi-Fi and microwave ovens 

The RF study briefing was part of a larger presentation on WSSC Water’s AMI project. The innovative technology allows water meters to communicate usage information wirelessly using radio or cellular frequencies. AMI will improve customer service by providing near real-time water usage information to customers. Through a user-friendly portal, customers will have water usage information at their fingertips, allowing them to quickly recognize potential leaks and other home plumbing issues – thereby reducing bills and saving money.

AMI will also improve meter reading accuracy and significantly reduce the possibility of errors. It allows for consistent meter reads, regardless of weather or meter access, which reduces the number of estimated and disputed bills. AMI technology will allow WSSC Water to better monitor and proactively identify leaks in their 5,768-mile water distribution system – helping to prevent leaks from becoming large water main breaks disrupting service to customers.

Additionally, the modernization project will help to protect the environment by decreasing the need to drive to locations to read meters – significantly reducing WSSC Water’s carbon footprint. Currently, the vast majority - 96 percent - of WSSC Water’s meters are read by employees driving to neighborhoods and walking house to house. AMI will reduce costs related to meter reading - savings that will be reallocated to other infrastructure priorities. All WSSC Water meter readers will be trained for other positions when AMI is fully implemented. The project is currently in the planning and procurement phase with installation expected to begin in spring 2021.

For more information about the AMI Project, customers can visit wsscwater.com/AMI.

WSSC Water is the proud provider of safe, seamless and satisfying water services, making the essential possible every day for our neighbors in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. We work to deliver our best because it’s what our customers expect and deserve.

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