San Francisco Rules for Cell Phone Radiation Warnings at Retailers


Photo via Guwashi999 via Flickr CC
Cell phone radiation and its impacts on health is still a highly controversial issue with the debate raging on whether or not humans are at risk every time they hold their phone to their head. Nevertheless, some municipalities aren't willing to take the chance that one day researchers will indeed conclude we're frying our brains and all this while they did little to regulate it. One such municipality is San Francisco, which is days away from creating a new law requiring retailers to show the radiation levels of cell phones they're stocking. According to Techware Daily, "San Francisco's Board of Supervisors has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a law requiring retailers to display the amount of radiation emitted by cellphones. It's likely to become law after a ten-day comment period."

The new law would require that the Specific Absorbtion Rate, or how much of a cell phone's emitted radiation is pulled into the user's body, be displayed in retail stores. If the information isn't displayed, the store is fined $300. Not a big slap on the wrist, and it will be interesting to see how many stores actually adhere to the law -- and even more interesting to see if this sets a precedent for other cities requiring retailers to provide this information in the stores for consumers. Maine has already looked into requiring cell phone manufacturers to put a warning on packaging about the potential risks of radiation. It could have an impact on which cell phone models are more popular among consumers, especially parents concerned with the exposure their families are getting.

San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom points out that "In addition to protecting the consumers' right to know, this legislation will encourage telephone manufacturers to redesign their devices to function at lower radiation levels."

"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."

The Federal Communications Commission has a maximum SPR level set - 1.6W/kg. However, some phones barely make that requirement while others fall far below. The Environmental Working Group keeps a listing of cell phones and their SPRs.

As more research is done on whether or not cell phone radiation harms users, the National Institutes of Health makes a few recommendations, including knowing your phone's SPR, using a conventional phone for long conversations, and using a headset on your cell phone to keep it as far away from your body as possible as often as possible.

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More on Cell Phone Radiation
Green Glossary: Cell Phone Radiation
Dial W For Warning: Radiation and Other Potential Cell Phone Warning Labels
How Much Radiation Does Your Cell Phone Emit?

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