San Francisco Cell Phone Radiation Law Overturned

San Francisco’s cell phone radiation law has just overturned by a federal appeals court. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has been working to enact an ordinance that would require retailers to display information on radiation and cell phones.

The City and County of San Francisco’s cell phone ordinance was scheduled to go into effect last October; however, enforcement of the proposed ordinance has been delayed pending legal challenges with industry, said Business Insurance. The ruling in CTIA-The Wireless Association v. City and County of San Francisco, California this week, by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, blocked enforcement  of the ordinance, pending resolution of the ongoing challenges.

The law would mandate that cell phone dealers warn customers that use of the devices might expose them to carcinogenic radiation, noted Business Insurance. In fact, dealers would be required to provide cell phone buyers with a fact sheet that tells them that the World Health Organization (WHO) classified radio frequency emissions from the phones as a potential carcinogen and would also require these retailers to display posters and adhere stickers on display ads providing similar information, said Business Insurance.

In 2011, a federal district court judge in San Francisco ruled the poster and sticker mandate as unconstitutional, later ruling that cell phone dealers could be mandated to provide a modified fact sheet. Industry and San Francisco appealed the ruling, said Business Insurance.

This week, the appeals court panel ruled in a unanimous 3-0 vote, in an unpublished opinion, that the modified fact sheet could not be held to meet the required government test compelling that disclosures to consumers be “purely factual and uncontroversial,” explained Business Insurance. The panel upheld the district court judge’s original injunction against enforcing the ordinance in its entirety.

As we’ve reported in the past, the original San Francisco 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 print 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.

The more recent ordinance was a somewhat watered-down version of the prior attempt.

Meanwhile, we previously wrote that the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) decided to classify cell phone radiation as possibly carcinogenic to humans after reviewing hundreds of human and animal studies. Their review included the 2010 INTERPHONE study, which found that the heaviest cell phone users experienced a 40 percent higher risk for gliomas, the most common type of brain tumor. The IARC panel did caution that much of the research they reviewed was limited, and said more study was needed before definitive conclusions could be reached.

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