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Some Worry About Naperville's New 'Smart Meters'

NAPERVILLE (CBS) -- Naperville is making a switch next fall to wireless, "smart meter" technology to record electricity usage.

Because Naperville distributes its own power, those in favor of the switch say it will improve service. But CBS 2's Dana Kozlov talked with one group convinced the switch could also be bad for their health.

Lisa Rooney is not a smart meter fan.

"We're in support of the smart grid and the smart meters, we just want to make sure the final solution is a safe one," she said.

Rooney is part of a vocal minority in Naperville raising concerns about the switch to a wireless electrical meter from the old analog models. Their biggest concern? The cumulative, long-term effects of electro-magnetic frequency used to transfer data, in addition to what already exists.

An additional layer could be the proverbial "straw that breaks the camel's back," says Jennifer Stahl. Critic Joanne St. Ives says there should be more research done on the technology.

Those wary of possible health risks base their concerns on research, like the Karolinska Institute's Seletun report that states "adverse health effects can occur with prolonged exposure to very low-intensity emf." 

Naperville's community relations manager, Nadja Lalvani, says the $22 million conversion will improve energy efficiency, service and ultimately the cost to the city and customers. And she insists radio frequencies from smart meters are far less powerful than those from cell phones, Wi-Fi and even a baby monitor.

But what happens when you add another layer to the frequency emitted by those appliances?  Group members say that's an unknown and they're upset by their lack of choice in the matter.

Naperville officials say they are doing their best to address concerns and inform the public, but the conversion is going forward.

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