When a man in a gown belligerently pointed at members of the California Public Utilities Commission last month and told them if they didn\u2019t immediately order removal of \u201csmart\u201d meters they were fired, rational people glanced around the room for cover. That man--and others in tin foil hats who ascribe every sniffle and headache to the devices--alienate levelheaded people. They\u2019re their own worst enemies because they make it all too easy to dismiss what may be reasonable concerns about health as the ravings of hypochondriacs and the mentally unstable. But when federal scientists, university medical doctors, and reputable environmental organizations acknowledge that the health effects of the meters are unknown without research that\u2019s another story. It\u2019s not so easy to dismiss that the fairly conservative World Health Organization (WHO) designated radio frequency electro-magnetic field (RF EMF) radiation as a possible carcinogen. After talking to scientists and reading studies on RF EMF, I don\u2019t see evidence justifying immediate removal of smart meters from homes and businesses--not by any stretch of the imagination. The meters generally emit signals for short periods and, unlike cell phones, are not right up against the body. What\u2019s more, coupled with the promise of home energy management systems and greater use of demand-response programs, the meters have the potential to provide significant benefits for the environment and consumers, though to date these benefits remain unrealized and are in doubt. For instance, the guy who wants to fire the CPUC could remotely turn on his washing machine to launder his gown--and avoid peak energy use--while he\u2019s out at an anti-smart meter organizing meeting. Seriously, though, it\u2019s clear there is a rising tide of concern that\u2019s sweeping the towns and cities of California about the potential health effects of the meters. Given that alone, it\u2019s time for regulators who ordered installation of the meters to provide better answers to state residents than that the Federal Communications Commission has everything under control. California can and should do better. The state has at its disposal the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, an authoritative body for determining if products and pollutants present health risks. Originally a small epidemiology unit within the state Department of Public Health in the 1950s, passage of Proposition 65 boosted its role in 1986. The measure requires the state to determine and notify residents about cancer-causing agents in products and the environment. For decades, the office has given wide-ranging advice to regulatory agencies on a variety of health risk concerns--from pesticides to air pollutants and products like pressed wood, a source of formaldehyde in indoor air, and art supplies that are dangerous to children. Today, the office stands with WHO\u2019s International Agency for Research on Cancer and the federal National Toxicology Program as one of the leading agencies for determining what\u2019s safe and what\u2019s not safe in our environment and what dosage levels create significant risks. So why not have the office study radio frequencies from \u201csmart\u201d meters to help shed light on what\u2019s known, unknown, and should be researched. Right now, not enough is known about the potential health effects of radio frequencies. Much of the research has centered on whether cell phones cause brain cancer. WHO looked at this question and said it\u2019s possible. Little is known about whole body exposure. At the same time, there\u2019s been an explosion of radio frequency devices in our homes, work places, and shopping centers, from smart meters to wireless computer networks and electronic readers at every store exit. Today, people are exposed to more devices in more places at close range that emit frequencies. Also, there\u2019s some indication it may have negative health consequences. That\u2019s why it\u2019s important that California, long a leader in the environmental health field, not stick its head in a tinfoil hat when it comes to radio frequency health effects--particularly when it has the talent and resources to launch its own research and help end the uncertainty about potential health effects of smart meters and other devices. Such research is needed to see if health standards are warranted. To that end, the CPUC, state Legislature, and Cal-EPA should request the health hazard office to study what\u2019s known about the potential health effects. The work could easily be squeezed out of existing utility rates without significant impacts on consumers or utility programs. I\u2019d gladly pay a few dimes to get to the bottom of the controversy. If every utility customer pitched in, that should provide more than enough funding for the research. I know this won\u2019t please the guy in the gown shouting at the CPUC last month, but it would help comfort reasonable people with reasonable concerns in the face of what\u2019s now a knowledge void. Those of us without tin foil hats just want to know what\u2019s going on. We have that right, particularly when we foot the bill for the new meters.