Context: In 2006, the government in the state of Victoria, Australia, mandated the rollout of smart meters in Victoria, which effectively removed a whole population's ability to avoid exposure to human-made high-frequency nonionizing radiation. This issue appears to constitute an unprecedented public health challenge for Victoria. By August 2013, 142 people had reported adverse health effects from wireless smart meters by submitting information on an Australian public Web site using its health and legal registers.
Objective: The study evaluated the information in the registers to determine the types of symptoms that Victorian residents were developing from exposure to wireless smart meters.
Design: In this case series, the registers' managers eliminated those cases that did not clearly identify the people providing information by name, surname, postal address, and/or e-mail to make sure that they were genuine registrants. Then they obtained consent from participants to have their deidentified data used to compile the data for the case series. The author later removed any individual from outside of Victoria.
Participants: The study included 92 residents of Victoria, Australia.
Outcome measures: The author used her medical experience and judgment to group symptoms into clinically relevant clusters (eg, pain in the head was grouped with headache, tinnitus was grouped with ringing in the ears). The author stayed quite close to the wording used in the original entries. She then calculated total numbers and percentages for each symptom cluster. Percentages were rounded to the nearest whole number.
Results: The most frequently reported symptoms from exposure to smart meters were (1) insomnia, (2) headaches, (3) tinnitus, (4) fatigue, (5) cognitive disturbances, (6) dysesthesias (abnormal sensation), and (7) dizziness. The effects of these symptoms on people's lives were significant.
Conclusions: Review of some key studies, both recent and old (1971), reveals that the participants' symptoms were the same as those reported by people exposed to radiofrequency fields emitted by devices other than smart meters. Interestingly, the vast majority of Victorian cases did not state that they had been sufferers of electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome (EHS) prior to exposure to the wireless meters, which points to the possibility that smart meters may have unique characteristics that lower people's threshold for symptom development.