Texas Utility Commission Staff Accuses Smart Meter Opponents with “Negative Bias” … Maybe They Should Look in the Mirror.

In December 2012, the staff of the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) published a report entitled, “Health and RF EMF from Advanced Meters.”  Incidentally, this PUCT staff document was prepared with the help of Federal tax dollars.

First of all, for the record, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has declared that radiofrequency electromagnetic fields from all RF emission sources, including from wireless smart meters, are possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B).

Negative BiasIn a discussion regarding agents classified as Group 2B Carcinogens by the IARC organization, the PUCT staff stated that if “smart meter opponents” mention one group of potentially carcinogenic substances (e.g., lead and DDT) without mentioning another group of substances (e.g., coffee, pickled vegetables, talc) then it “imparts a negative bias” that may “alarm and confuse.”

Refer to the document image shown below to understand the full context of the PUCT staff statements.

Texas Bias Report

The fact is that “smart meter advocates” commonly mention coffee and pickled vegetables without mentioning lead and DDT.  So one could certainly say that smart meter advocates also impart a negative bias that confuses the public in their attempt to disparage the efforts of the IARC organization when identifying potentially carcinogenic agents.

In fact, the PUCT staff did not stop there.  In a discussion regarding DDT and lead, the following additional statement was made by the PUCT staff:

To date, there is insufficient evidence to declare with confidence that either one of these substances is cancer causing.  Otherwise by now, one or both substances most likely would have been placed under a different IARC classification, namely one that required a higher level of evidence.”

The above view is naive and reflects a “negative bias” where the PUCT staff essentially tries to downplay the IARC classifications for even lead and DDT.  In many respects, the rigorous statistical based methodology used for assessing possible cancer causing agents can prevent an upgrade in classification, even when the potential threat is clear.  Let us quote some of the IARC language for DDT, lead, and also engine exhaust that relate to human studies:

  • For DDT:  “Exposure to multiple pesticides in these studies prevents a clear evaluation of the cancer risk associated with DDT alone.”
  • For lead:  As to the risk of lung cancer, “most of these studies were limited in that they didn’t take into account other factors that might affect lung cancer risk, such as smoking and exposure to arsenic.”
  • For engine exhaust:  “Gasoline exhaust and cancer risk was investigated in only a few epidemiological studies and, because of the difficulty to separate effect of diesel and gasoline exhaust, evidence for carcinogenicity was evaluated as ‘inadequate’.”

Do you see the point?  There are a number of reasons why an agent might not be upgraded to a higher classification, e.g., going from “possibly carcinogenic” to “probably carcinogenic”:

  • First of all, an organization has to fund the rigorous epidemiological studies necessary to review a particular agent that will withstand later scrutiny.  When funded, these studies can take years.
  • An IARC Working Group has to be commissioned to study a potentially carcinogenic agent for either an initial evaluation or an updated review.
  • It is very difficult to rule out what are called confounding factors.  In the case of DDT, for human studies, it was not possible to be certain that DDT was the cause of cancer in a particular study or whether possibly a different pesticide was responsible.  In those cases, no conclusion is reached.  For studies where lung cancer is involved, it is always difficult to sort out whether cigarette smoking might have been present as a confounding factor in the study results.  For engine exhaust, it was noted that there was difficultly separating out the effects of diesel exhaust from gasoline exhaust in humans.

Unfortunately, the challenge will be similar for upgrading the radiofrequency emissions classification.  Unbiased studies have to be organized, funded, and conducted.  An IARC Working Group would need to be re-commissioned.  As time passes, and more and more people are exposed to radiofrequency emissions, although cancers may increase, it may also become more difficult to find a true control group for comparison.  When cancers are found, were they due to cell phone exposure, cordless phones, Wi-Fi, smart meters, or some other cause?  There will always be skeptics.

Finally, the PUCT staff had the audacity to make a statement for DDT and lead that “To date, there is insufficient evidence to declare with confidence that either one of these substances is cancer causing,” as if the PUCT staff were in a position of competence to be able to determine whether or not a toxic agent is cancerous or not.  As stated above, there are a series of both technical and administrative barriers that would need to be overcome before any reclassification could be made.

To help make this point on administrative barriers, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a statement on its website that states the following: “EPA has considered lead to be a probable human carcinogen, and, under more recent assessment guidelines, it would likely be classified as likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”  So here you have a case where the EPA officially still lists lead as a “probable human carcinogen,” but basically admits that it now meets the criteria for “likely to be carcinogenic” if the EPA would just get around to formally reviewing lead using more recently established guidelines.

Lead

It would appear that smart grid advocates desire to create the impression that a declaration by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) means nothing.

After reviewing information on this website of carefully collated facts, the reader will no doubt appreciate that the IARC organization had valid reasons for categorizing all substances and agents “mentioned,” including radiofrequency electromagnetic fields.

Hopefully the reader will also gain an appreciation of which groups actually “impart a negative bias” in an attempt to “prejudice the observer.”

About SkyVision Solutions

Raising public awareness and finding solutions for smart grid issues related to invasions of privacy, data security, cyber threats, health and societal impacts, as well as hazards related to radiofrequency (RF) radiation emissions from all wireless devices, including smart meters.
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