Maine To Consider Cell Phone Cancer Warning Proposal

It seem that virtually everyone in this country carries a cell phone. Now, in the state of Maine, cell phones could carry a message warning about the devices’ risk of <"">cancer, says the New York Daily News.

Maine Representative Andrea Boland (Democrat-Sanford) says, writes the Associated Press (AP), based on studies implicating cell phones to increased cancer risks, she is seeking a proposal for a printed warning to appear on cell phones. The proposal will be discussed in the 2010 session that begins this month, added the AP.

Over 270 million people were reported to have cell phone service in the U.S. last year, an increase from 110 million at the start of the decade, said CTIA-The Wireless Association, wrote the AP, last year. The Association argues that cell phones are safe.

Maine isn’t the only state to seek warnings. We recently wrote that San Francisco is looking to require similar warnings. According to The New York Times, San Francisco’s environment commission will discuss eight recommendations related to radiation emitted by cell phones and local, state, and federal policies regarding it. The AP then reported that the San Francisco warning would require manufacturers to display the electromagnetic radiation absorption rate level next to each phone in print and at least as large as the pricing label. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set a standard for the “specific absorption rate” of radiofrequency energy—the radiation emitted—but does not require the same of handset makers, said the Daily News.

This past October, we reported that a preliminary analysis of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) groundbreaking Interphone study found a “significantly increased risk” of some brain tumors “related to use of mobile phones for a period of 10 years or more.” While the study was not definitive, and limited because it depended on subjects’ memories to determine cell phone use frequency, preliminary findings caused concern. The study’s head, Dr Elisabeth Cardis, said she backed new warnings for cell phones based on its findings.

The Maine proposal involves a color graphic of the brain of a child with the word “warning” in large, red lettering, said the Daily News. The warnings would also recommend that cell phones be kept away from the body, especially in children and expectant mothers, added the Daily News.

In 2008, we wrote that the head of one of the country’s top cancer centers warned his staff that cell phones could be dangerous to their health. Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, the director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and UPMC Cancer Centers, issued an internal advisory memo to about 3,000 faculty and staff members advising them to take precautions to avoid the possible cancer risks of cell phones.

Herberman’s memo advised that children—whose brains are still developing—only use cell phones in emergencies; adults should keep the phone away from the head and use the speakerphone or a wireless headset. He warned against using cell phones in public places because it exposes others to the phone’s electromagnetic fields. In an interview with “The Pittsburgh Post Gazette,” Herberman noted that other countries have recommended limits on exposure, and that in Canada, Toronto officials advised young people to limit cell phone use.

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