San Francisco set to require cellphone radiation warnings

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Are cellphone rays harmful? It seems like every few months, another study comes out weighing in on the debate. As soon as one important health organization declares phones are ‘possibly carcinogenic,’ another important-sounding medical journal pops up with a rebuttal.

Well, San Francisco isn’t taking any chances. In a 10-1 vote, the city’s board of supervisors passed an ordinance Tuesday that requires cellphone shops to warn customers about radiation hazards emitted by everyone’s favorite pocket companion.


Specifically, retailers will be expected to post general warnings about potential radiation risks and ways to lower the amount of radiation exposure to people’s bodies.

If this sounds like deja vu, you’re right. Last year, the board passed a similar ordinance requiring cellphone shops to post info on each product’s ‘specific absorption rate.’ Known as SAR values, it’s a dire-sounding reference to the amount of radiation absorbed by a user’s body tissue. Phone manufacturers are required to register those figures, which vary from phone to phone, with the Federal Communications Commission.

That law got quashed after the CTIA Wireless Assn., a wireless industry trade group, brought a suit against the city arguing that such mandates would just confuse consumers into thinking that certain phones were more or less dangerous than others based purely on SAR values.

So far, no signs that the CTIA plans to file another lawsuit against the new ordinance, which still requires the thumbs up from San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee before officially passing into law.


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-- Shan Li