Cell Phone Industry Kills San Francisco Radiation Ordinance, For Now

Bowing to threats from the cell phone industry, the city of San Francisco has tabled an ordinance that would have provided easily accessible information on radiation absorbed by users of the mobile devices. According to a report from CNET.com, it is expected that a revised bill will be proposed in the place of the scrapped <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/Cell-Phones-Cause-Cancer-Radiation-Exposure-Lawsuit-Lawyer">cell phone radiation ordinance, but it is not known what form such legislation would take.

The San Francisco cell phone radiation disclosure ordinance would have mandated that stores selling the devices post the specific absorption rates (SAR) – the levels at which radio frequencies penetrate body tissue – near cell phones in at least 11-point type. SAR rates can vary from phone to phone, but all phones sold in the United States must have a SAR rate no greater than 1.6 watts per kilogram.

However, according to CNET.com, San Francisco’s ordinance quickly prompted the industry group CTIA to file a lawsuit. As we reported previously, the lawsuit claimed the San Francisco ordinance infringed on the industry’s First Amendment rights by forcing it to acknowledge, against its beliefs, there may be a problem with radiation exposure. CTIA further claimed that cell-phone regulation is a federal matter, and that no city or state can require the type of disclosure that San Francisco seeks. The group warned the San Francisco Board of Supervisors that the city would be liable for CTIA’s legal fees if the lawsuit was successful.

As a result, the implementation of the cell phone radiation disclosure ordinance was delayed on two occasions. After two closed door meetings with the City Attorney, the Board decided to table the ordinance.

However, this doesn’t mean that San Francisco has given up on its quest to require some type of cell phone radiation disclosure. According to CNET.com, Supervisor John Avalos said he would reintroduce a new ordinance next week. However, any new version is unlikely to contain the SAR provisions.

Ellen Marks, the director of government and public affairs for the Environmental Health Trust, told CNET that she could accept the removal of the SAR provision from any San Francisco ordinances. She favors an ordinance that would echo a cell phone radiation disclosure bill currently being considered in California’s Senate. That bill, SB 932 would require retailers to include notices on product packaging that cell phones emit radio frequency (RF) energy. A second notice also must be posted at the point of sale when purchasing online or in a physical store, CNET.com said.

So far, studies about the health effects of cell phone radiation have been inconclusive, but most experts agree that there is an urgent need for more research. Some of the current research, however, has raised red flags. In the World Health Organization’s Interphone Study, for example, the heaviest cell phone users (those who used the devices at least 30 minutes a day) who reported using their phones on the same side of their heads had a 40 percent higher risk for gliomas, the most common type of brain tumor. The Interphone Study involved nearly 13,000 people in numerous countries.

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