OKLAHOMA CITY -- NewsChannel 4 is learning more about nationwide fears involving smart meters and allegations that they can negatively affect your health. According to a group that tracks complaints against smart meters, so far, three states instituted moratoriums on them.
In other states, class action lawsuits were filed and at one time, in California, 47 municipal jurisdictions had demanded a halt to installations of the meters.
The following states have either banned smart meters, have pending legislation against them, or have offered customers the opportunity to opt out. Some for health concerns, others over privacy issues: California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Vermont.
Washing dishes at home is rare for Monique Smith since she doesn't actually live here anymore.
"Immediately I started getting a headache; a really bad headache," Smith says.
She claims the recently installed smart meter forced her out of her home. Within hours of it being installed she says she felt the effects.
"That night I got a really bad headache and as the next day went on I got really dizzy and by the third day I started having nose bleeds," Monique Smith explains.
Not long after, her doctors diagnosed her with Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Disorder also known as EHS.
Headaches, nose bleeds, muscle cramps, cognitive dysfunction, fatigue, skin irritation and irregular sleep patterns are just some of the symptoms sufferers describe when they are exposed to electromagnetic fields.
Where did this information come from? These are symptoms described by people who believe they are suffering from EHS. They describe a wide variety of symptoms, but these seem to be the ones that are mentioned consistently from state to state.
Also the doctor we interviewed in Dallas, who has been studying this disorder for decades, says these are the symptoms his patients describe most frequently. Some of these symptoms are also listed in both letters that were written by Monique Smith`s doctors here in Oklahoma.
Smith started living in a camper a quarter mile down the road to escape what she calls torture.
Smith says, "Prior to the smart meters we had a normal life."
Her husband, Billy, begged OG&E to remove the smart meter but the company refuses to do so.
"OG&E won't even listen to me and I've called them two or three dozen times. They won't even call me back now. They think that we're crazy when in fact the truth is right here; it’s evident. I see it every day in my wife," Billy Smith says.
Joe Esposito knows exactly what they're talking about. He also says his smart meter is making him sick.
Esposito founded the website stop smart meters in Oklahoma after his experience.
Esposito says, “I was having pain down my leg for six months, my front teeth, bottom teeth and the roof of my mouth felt like somebody poured Alka-Seltzer at night.”
He was able to find a temporary fix to minimize the amount of electromagnetic frequency from the outside meter.
“I put out a sheet of lead around that meter and nailed it to my house," Esposito says.
He says his pain was gone the next day. Meanwhile, Monique's pain is getting worse. One of her doctors of fifteen years even wrote a letter to OG&E.
Saying it's "medically necessary that the smart meter be removed from the home."
Another doctor states, "It may be beneficial to have the smart meter removed"
They said no, they would never do that. It would affect the system or cost individuals too much money to do that.
Billy Smith had a cage constructed for when they have to sleep in the house; like in cases of severe weather.
The cage was named after scientist Micheal Faraday who made advances in the study of electromagnetic fields. Billy Smith says it's their safe haven.
NewsChannel 4 wanted to talk to the doctors who are treating Monique Smith, both of whom had written letters verifying their treatment for her illness, and saying that her smart meter should be removed from her home.
At first both agreed to an interview, but within weeks both cancelled.
All of the doctors working with Monique declined our invitation for an interview so we traveled here to Dallas to meet with Dr. William Rea one of the foremost experts in the country for electromagnetic hypersensitivity disorder."
"I think it’s becoming the disaster of the 21st century,” Dr. Rea says.
Dr. Rea is an OU graduate and a cardiovascular surgeon who holds other specialties as well; he's treated patients with electromagnetic hypersensitivity disorder for forty years.
"If you have problem with things like the smart meter, you may be getting the wrong impulses, the wrong electrical impulses that come into the body and cause disruption of that synchronized movement that you are supposed to have from electrical impulse," Dr. Rea explains.
He says our cells are protected by membranes which are electromagnetic. They allow crucial materials like calcium, sodium and potassium to pass through.
He believes the frequency from various devices, like smart meters, interrupts this process and causes health problems.
Dr. William Rae says, "My problem is that they should take into account that people are electrical phenomena and that they do run on it and that you can screw up the physiology if you access it improperly if the patient is sensitive.”
Dr. Rea has gone to great lengths to keep harmful frequencies out of his practice. The aluminum blinds, porcelain floors, glass shields over walls, keep his patients protected.
"And what does this do in this room?” our reporter asked.
“This screens the electromagnetic so we don't want anything coming from down below,” Dr. Rae explains.
“And that way you can properly assess if they are really hypersensitive or not?” we asked.
“That's right," Dr. Rae says.
After our trip to Dallas we sat down with a spokesman for OG&E.
Our reporter asked him, "What is your response to the concern over smart meters potentially affecting people's health?"
"There are a number of measures in place to ensure that these devices are meeting all federal standards," the OG&E spokesman, Alford, says.
“Why is it not possible for the Smith family in particular or any family, who says, ‘you know what I don't want this?’” we asked.
"It’s much like TV. I can't watch TV anymore with rabbit ears. I have to have digital equipment or I have to be subscriber to cable. There's cost associated in operating in two different worlds," Alford says.
Alford says everyone on the grid living in one area has to use the same technology and out of 800,000 customers, OG&E has only received two complaints.
"It’s possible, but it’s very; very, improbable,” Alford says.
John Fagan, Professor of Engineering at the University of Oklahoma examined six smart meters to weigh in on the topic. He's not sure how the meters could make a person sick.
Professor Fagan says, "I have not been able to find the cause. I have found much greater radiation from cordless phones, cell phones, cell phone towers, TV stations."
It’s not much consolation for Monique Smith, who is now, not only worried for her health, but also for her grandchildren who share the same symptoms when they come to visit.
"It’s sad when you see little kids. It’s just sad when you see them hurting because; what can you do? You can't do anything you have to have the smart meter on your house,” Smith says.
We spoke with officials from the CDC about "smart meter sickness." The agency has not released any official stance on the controversy, but they tell us they expect more studies in the future.
NewsChannel 4 talked with an attorney about the legal issue concerning health and smart meters. Here is that follow up story:
Local attorney Weighs in on OG&E Smart Meter
OG&E sent out the following letter to it's employees explaining their stance and health concerns as they relate to Smart Meters:
OG&E letter to Employees on Smart Meters