San Fran Passes Cell Phone Radiation Law

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San Francisco voted on Tuesday to require that its retailers post how much radiation is emitted from each cell phone sold in their stores. This legislation, considered the first of its kind in the U.S., will require that a phone’s Specific Absorption Rate be printed on materials near the device in 11-point type print (similar to regulations that require calorie counts be listed on food menus).

Mayor Gavin Newsom is expected to sign the legislation into law after a mandatory 10-day comment period.

“Telephone manufacturers currently disclose cell phone radiation levels to the federal government,” Newsom said in a January press release that announced his intention to pursue this legislation. “This same information should also be made easily accessible to the consumer.”

All cell phones emit a certain amount of radiofrequency energy, a form of electromagnetic radiation that is absorbed through users’ bodies when they use their phones. The Federal Communications Commission mandates that no phone sold in the U.S. have an SAR greater than 1.6 watts per kilogram.

Newsom is hoping that his city’s new legislation will persuade cell phone developers to manufacture phones that have lower SARs.

“This is similar to Prop 65, which dramatically reduced public exposure to toxic materials because chemical companies removed toxic ingredients from their products in order to avoid product warnings,” Newsom said in the press release.

However, cell phone manufacturers and retailers maintain that there is no conclusive evidence linking SAR to actual health risks.

“We believe there is an overwhelming consensus of scientific belief that there is no adverse health effect by using wireless devices,” John Walls, a spokesperson for CTIA –The Wireless Association, told The New York Times. “And this kind of labeling gets away from what the F.C.C.’s standard actually represents.”

Walls said that the new law will give consumers the impression that certain cell phones are better than others, despite the fact that studies on cell phone radiation emissions have been largely inconclusive.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, all recent available scientific research, most notably a 13-country study conducted by Interfone, found little to no evidence linking cell phone use to brain cancer. (The Interfone study collected data on cell phone usage between years 2000 and 2004, where people on average didn’t use their cell phones and fewer used smartphones, which emit more radiation. )The FDA also cites a separate National Cancer Institute program that found that, despite the dramatic increase in cell phone use, occurrences of brain cancer did not increase between 1987 and 2005.

However, the Interfone study did show that there was a slight increase in a less common form of brain cancer in extremely heavy cell phone users. Additionally, both the FDA and NCI are awaiting the results of the recently-launched International Cohort Study of Mobile use and Health study, which will monitor 250,000 cell phone users age 18 or older for the next 20 to 30 years.  It mostly collected data on cell phone usage between years 2000 and 2004, when people didn’t use their cell phones as much as they do today.

Guess San Francisco is ahead of the game.

You don’t have to travel to San Francisco to find out the amount of radiation certain cell phones emit. Check out MainStreet’s article on cell phones with the most radiation!

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