updated 07:50 am EST, Thu December 24, 2009
SF wants phone radiation notice at retail
San Francisco could soon require that all cellphones sold in local stores include an easily visible warning of their radiation levels. Mayor Gavin Newsom says he hopes to pass an ordinance in January that would demand the public display of the possible effects and has backed a city commission that would call on the US government to require such labels on the packaging. The non-binding request would also ask for warnings that phones may cause brain cancer and demand that companies offer headsets to distance the phone from its owner's head.
It's timed with a Maine bill that would require the phones themselves have a radiation level warning.
The San Francisco measures come despite existing concerns as to whether or not typical cellphone use actually triggers cancer or other long-term health effects. A study known as Interphone has been used as the basis for much of the cellphone radiation guidelines worldwide but has yet to provide a definitive answer and has had its creators accused of hiding the real effects of cellphones by, among other things, choosing a demographic less likely to show the results of prolonged exposure.
The CTIA, an industry organization headed primarily by cellular carriers, has rejected both the Maine and San Francisco measures and says it's waiting on harder scientific evidence. The National Cancer Institute has stricken a balance between the two and says there's no certain connection between phones and cancer but that it wants more research.
Regardless of whether the ordinance passes, Newsom and city officials have no plans to ban some or all cellphones and say they primarily want the warnings to let those concerned about the risks choose a potentially safer alternative.