CBC News Posted: May 25, 2013 3:21 PM ET Last Updated: May 25, 2013 3:45 PM ET Read comments

Smart meters use electromagnetic frequencies to transmit consumption data to power companies, and some people believe they’re a source of health problems. (Toby Talbot/AP file photo)

A relatively new type of air pollution called electrosmog may be the cause of a variety of ailments, said a Quebec group dedicated to fighting air pollution.

Known by its French acronym AQLPA, the organization is calling for a moratorium on Hydro Québec’s smart meters project.

“We know that more and more people are suffering from electric sensitivity and they’re hypersensitive to all kinds of waves. We see the numbers growing year after year,” said AQLPA president André Bélisle.

The group organized an event this morning outside the Montreal Olympic Stadium to talk about electrosmog and its potential health risks.

“We are using all kinds of devices… it’s cellular phones, it’s smart meters, all kinds of antennas around us, and we don’t see it,” he said. “We believe they have an impact on people’s health.”

Dr. Magda Havas, an associate professor of environmental and resource studies at Trent University in Ontario, said research on electromagnetic hypersensitivity is still in its early stages, but that complaints from patients point to recent installations of smart meters.

“When smart meters go on a home, people complain. Not everyone, but some percentage of the population complains of the symptoms we develop when we’re electrically hypersensitive,” Havas said.

Quebec MNA Amir Khadir, who is also a doctor, agreed.

Symptoms thought to be a result of electromagnetic hypersensitivity include headaches and stomach problems.

“Since the installation of smart meters by Hydro Québec, these symptoms are now widely reported by people who never complained about it before,” he said.

Former Quebec environment minister Daniel Breton and AQLPA’s Bélisle agreed that not enough research on the effects of electrosmog and electromagnetic pollution has been done.

“I want to make sure that, before we go full-steam ahead, we have all the arguments,” he said.