Maine, Possibly First State to Require Cell Phone Warnings
Maine Rep. Andrea Boland, D-Sanford wants to make the state the first to require cell phones to carry warnings that they can cause brain cancer. Though there’s no general agreement amongst scientists that they do and industry leaders dispute the claim.
Cell phones now carry such warnings in some countries, but no U.S. states require them, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. The same effort is going on in San Francisco, where Mayor Gavin Newsom wants his city to be the nation’s first to require the warnings.
According to Maine Rep. Boland, numerous studies point to the cancer risk, and she has persuaded legislative leaders to allow her proposal to come up for discussion during the 2010 session that begins in January, a session usually reserved for emergency and governors’ bills. She herself uses a cell phone, but with a speaker to keep the phone away from her head. She also leaves the phone off unless she’s expecting a call. At issue is radiation emitted by all cell phones.
Under her bill, manufacturers would have to put labels on phones and packaging warning of the potential for brain cancer associated with electromagnetic radiation. The warnings would recommend that users, especially children and pregnant women, keep the devices away from their head and body.
The FCC who claims that all cell phones sold in the U.S. are safe, has set a standard for the “specific absorption rate” of radiofrequency energy, but it doesn’t require handset makers to divulge radiation levels. Should the San Francisco proposal pass, it would require the display of the absorption rate level next to each phone in print at least as big as the price. Boland’s bill is not specific about absorption rate levels, but would require a permanent, nonremovable advisory of risk in black type, except for the word “warning,” which would be large and in red letters. It would also include a color graphic of a child’s brain next to the warning.
“Although research has not consistently demonstrated a link between cellular telephone use and cancer, scientists still caution that further surveillance is needed before conclusions can be drawn,” according to the Cancer Institute’s Web site.
Filed: Android • BlackBerry • Hardware • iPhone • News • Palm