SAN FRANCISCO, June 9 – The City of San Francisco will require cell phone retailers to display the levels of radiation emitted by their phones, following the Board of Supervisors’ adoption Tuesday of what is believed to be the first such right-to-know law in the world.
Mayor Gavin Newsom proposed the measure after the Environmental Working Group (EWG) published a report on the evidence and the first consumer-friendly guide to radiation levels of cell phones and other wireless devices, available at www.ewg.org.
Although the science is far from settled about whether long-term use of wireless devices causes brain tumors, studies worldwide have provided evidence to raise serious concerns. A 10-year, 13-nation study released last month by the United Nations’ International Agency for Research on Cancer was inconclusive, but suggested that some heavy users face increased risk of brain cancer, and its lead investigator called for more research on the risks to children, who were not covered by the UN study. The study corresponded “heavy users” to 30 minutes of cell phone use a day, which is now the national average in the U.S.
San Francisco’s law, which after the Mayor’s signature will take effect for most cell phone retailers Feb. 1, 2011, does not require warning labels on phones, but only that radiation levels be displayed at the point of sale. It does not cover other wireless devices or phones sold online. Last week at the State Capitol, a bill by California Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) that would cover all wireless devices and online sales fell short of enough votes to advance.
“While research continues, this is a simple, inexpensive, common-sense idea that will ensure that San Franciscans have the information they need to choose the right phone for themselves and their families,” said Renee Sharp, director of EWG’s California office. “We commend Mayor Newsom and the Board of Supervisors for their leadership in protecting the public’s health and right to know, and we hope it’s the beginning of a movement that won’t stop until everybody shopping for a phone has easy access to this information.”