San Francisco invoked law for cell phone radiation


The cell phone industry has grown tremendously over a decade or so.  I still remember when I was in undergraduate, back in India, cell phone was status symbol and now it has become a commodity. Almost everyone has it.  There has been an ongoing debate about the use of cell phones and its harmful effects on human health.  Well, San Francisco has taken a lead in passing a regulation that requires mobile phone manufacturers to write radiation levels next to the handsets. 

State of California and Maine were unsuccessful in implementation of such a regulation, but San Francisco got 10-1 vote from board of supervisors and the law’s chief sponsor, Sophie Maxwell said that “This is about helping people make informed choices.” 

The Federal Communications Commission has adopted limits that set out safe exposure to these kinds of emissions. The measurement defines the amount of radio waves that people can safely absorb into their bodies when talking on a mobile phone.


 The mobile industry has constantly referred to the scientific studies that have not conclusively shown that the mobile phone radiation is harmful to humans in any way.  But, there is second school of thought and some scientists claim that emissions from mobile phones can cause cancer or brain tumor.


Tony Winnicker, spokesman for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said that “This is not about discouraging people from using their cell phones.” “This is a modest commonsense measure to provide greater transparency and information to consumers.”

Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA), the mobile phone industry’s body, does not agree with this law and in rebuttal said that the warnings posted next to handsets can create lot of confusion for the consumers.  John Walls, vice-president of public affairs for the CTIA acknowledged that “Rather than inform, the ordinance will potentially mislead consumers with point-of-sale requirements suggesting that some phones are ‘safer’ than others, based on radio frequency emissions.”

San Francisco legislation would require all retailers to display details of the emissions alongside the phones and...

point consumers to where they can find out more information about the issue. Violators would face fines of up to $300 (£200).

I think the city of San Francisco may have taken a step in the right direction.  The excessive exposure to radiation from mobile phones can trigger cancer or brain tumor.  But, at the same time I am confounded by the fact that the scientific community has not been able to show this health hazard from the studies that have been conducted.  Are the studies funded and skewed by mobile industries due to which results have been manipulated? Well we have seen that in many sectors, where industries have influenced scientific outcomes. On the other hand, is there a real signal from the studies that radiation from mobile phone is safe for humans?

Where I am struggling is, law calls for details of emission on handsets.  No details are available as to what those details are?  How does consumer judge that the radiation level labeled is safe for consumer? Is there a standard test, which each mobile manufacture will use to measure these emission details? If not then, the information reported can be subjective based on the test used and how the information is reported?  As it is said, little knowledge is dangerous and indeed the information, if not well regulated, can create confusion in consumer. I don’t want to be cynical, but would like to acknowledge, apart from law for mobile makers, public needs to be educated.

None the less, it is a significant step by the regulators and as more clarity rolls out about the law, I hope consumers will benefit from the law.

4 Responses

  1. website says:

    The paper written by several members of the Environmental
    Health Trust, appears in part on the site Safer Phone Zone, claims that when government research scientists tested cell phones for radiation amounts, they failed
    to use models of different sizes to mimic teens
    and children. The mechanism is very clear:
    charged particles or photons of sufficient energy shred cellular tissue by kicking electrons out
    of molecules. Using your home, public or office phone whenever available is another option.

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