Addressing health concerns of new KUB smart meters

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- In July, KUB will replace customers' old analog meters and install smart meters.

These meters can detect outages and monitor electric, natural gas and water use all on their own.

But some critics are claiming they could put people's health in jeopardy. Especially because the meters emit radio frequency in order to share data with KUB.

"I think the utilities are running a huge risk with public safety and health when they install banks of smart meters that emit 24/7 very, very strong pulses of radiation similar to cell phones and other devices," said Josh Hart, director of "Stop Smart Meters!" out of California.

He points to the World Health Organization that said radio frequency -- that cell phones or smart meters emit -- are possible carcinogens.

But according to WHO, there's no evidence that show adverse health effects caused by cell phone use.

The American Center Society said the radiation in smart meters is much less than a cell phone. It's very unlikely living in a house with a smart meter will increase a person's chances of getting cancer, according to ACS research.

KUB agrees and said they've looked at all the health data on the topic.

According to KUB, the smart meter technology is not new. Everything from cell phones, to baby monitors, to garage door openers use radio frequency to operate.

In fact, the smart meters have been successfully tested in the UT/Fort Sanders area, said KUB Senior Vice President Eddie Black.

"We can do remote starts and stops of services, we can do automated meter readings, and also it will give the customer the advantage of being able to see on a daily basis their utility consumption," Black said.

The entire project has been budgeted for, so customers should not expect to see rate increased, Black added.

Meters will be installed over the next four years.

KUB said customers can opt out of getting a smart meter. But staff will still have to replace their analog meter with a digital one. It will not have the communication technology of the smart meter.