Cell Phone Industry Looks to Kill San Francisco Radiation Disclosure Ordinance

The cell phone industry is pushing hard against a San Francisco, California ordinance that requires important information about <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/Cell-Phones-Cause-Cancer-Radiation-Exposure-Lawsuit-Lawyer">cell phone radiation be disclosed to consumers. CTIA-The Wireless Association, an industry group, recently filed suit against the city of San Francisco in an effort to prevent the cell phone radiation disclosure ordinance from being enacted.

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.

Earlier this year, researchers at the National Institutes of Health published a study which found that 50-minutes of cell phone use was associated with increased brain glucose metabolism (a marker of brain activity) in the region closest to the phone antenna. The study is one of the first, and the most prominent, to offer scientific evidence that cell phones affect brain metabolism. What is not yet understood is exactly how the brain changes induced by using a cell phone might impact health over the long-term.

Cell phones do come with warnings that consumers should limit their exposure to radio frequency emissions, but such information is buried deep in user manuals that most users probably never read. Passed last year by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the cell phone radiation disclosure ordinance mandates that stores selling the devices post the specific absorption rates (SAR) – the levels at which radio frequencies penetrate body tissue of phones – 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.

According to a report on SFGate.com, CTIA, which has five law firms acting on its behalf, claims the San Francisco ordinance infringes 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 claims that cell-phone regulation is a federal matter, and that no city or state can require the type of disclosure that San Francisco seeks.

CTIA’s lawsuit cited other objections to the San Francisco cell phone radiation disclosure ordinance. Among other things, the lawsuit said the city erroneously referred to SAR as an indication of a type of radiation being emitted, rather than the rate in which the body absorbs radiofrequency energy from a cell phone. But according to SFGate, that and other objections could be addressed if the industry were willing to go along with reasonable disclosure requirements. But so far, it hasn’t been willing.

There’s a great deal at stake in the legal fight over the San Francisco ordinance. Ellie Marks, who became a leading activist on cell-phone danger after her husband’s brain tumor was discovered in 2008, told SFGate that many cities and states are watching what happens in San Francisco.

“If San Francisco caves to the industry – through its threats, manipulation and what some would call extortion – it would be all the more difficult everywhere else,” Marks said.

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