WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Several Pepco customers say they're experiencing irregular heartbeats, headaches, and dizziness after wireless smart meters were installed at their homes.
Smart Meters communicate with utility companies using wireless technology, which means they emit the same kind of radiation as cell phones.
"Ever since this smart meter was installed, I've been dizzy and my heart's been beating fast," said Hepsie Bohman, a Pepco customer who lives in Potomac. "I even went to my doctor and I was informed that I now have an irregular heart rate."
Bohman's next-door neighbor, Laura Simon, says she too has experienced similar symptoms after her old, analog meter was replaced with a smart meter.
"I felt my heart rate speed up and I felt a little bit charged," said Simon.
Pepco did notify customers by mail about the meter change, but both Simon and Bohman are frustrated that the power company installed the smart meter when they weren't home.
"I didn't like that Pepco can just show up and change my meter without my permission, especially since it's giving off radiation," said Simon.
Pepco customers in Maryland are currently eligible to opt-out of the smart meter program. But Pepco customers in the District don't have a choice. They're stuck with their Smart Meters.
"They should not be allowed to put something in our home that radiates our bodies without our permission. Period," said Desiree Jaworski, interim director of the Center for Safer Wireless."
In 2011, the World Health Organization classified radiofrequency radiation as "possibly carcinogenic to humans."
"That is a scary thought," said Jaworski. "No one knows what the long term ramifications are, but we're exposing ourselves and our children."
In the last year, Pepco has installed smart meters for 99% of their customers in the District and 92% of their customers in Maryland. Marcus Beal, a spokesman for Pepco, says they've received complaints from only a very small percentage of those customers.
"All scientific evidence says the meters are safe. There are not any health concerns," said Beal.
Smart meters are currently being deployed by power companies all over the county. Dominion Power has yet to install any smart meters in Northern Virginia, but they're currently being tested in Richmond. Supporters say they're safe, save money, and are easy on the environment. But opponents argue that, until the scientific community can reach a consensus on the safety of smart meters, they want the right to opt-in instead of opting-out.
"I think it's not fair. We're not lab rats," said Simon. "We should be able to decide in our own homes how much radiation we have. "