This ordinance is the first in the U.S to require cell phone retailers to distribute a fact sheet that informs customers that cell phone use may increase their risk of cancer. Furthermore, it provides important information about how to use cell phones safely to reduce potential health risks.
All but one of the assertions in the fact sheet appear on the FCC and FDA web sites. (2) A statement about children’s greater exposure to cell phone radiation has been documented in the peer-reviewed, scientific literature by Professor Om Gandhi and his colleagues. (3)
The FCC and FDA make similar recommendations on their web sites for consumers who are concerned about their exposure to cell phone radiation so the San Francisco fact sheet is no more controversial than the Federal government's advice to consumers who wish to reduce potential health risks.
San Francisco's revised fact sheet incorporates the concerns raised by the CTIA, the wireless industry lobbying group, about the original fact sheet developed by the City. The revised fact sheet was approved by U.S. District Judge William Alsup who heard the lawsuit filed by the CTIA against San Francisco. According to the judge, the CTIA chose not to contest the revised fact sheet but now claims it did not have the opportunity to do so.
Although most manufacturers issue safety warnings, the information is often buried in user manuals and poorly written. In contrast, the Blackberry Torch provides exemplary recommendations that are similar to those found in the San Francisco fact sheet. (4)
Since the original hearing on this case, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report that challenges the FCC’s certification of cell phone safety and called on the FCC to revamp its cell phone testing procedures because cell phone users generally keep their phones closer to their body than the test allows. Thus, cell phone users may be exposed to more radiation than the FCC considers to be safe. (5) Also, a bill was introduced in the Congress that would require cell phone warning labels and make the Environmental Protection Agency the lead Federal agency for protecting the public from cell phone radiation health risks. (6)
For more information about the San Francisco cell phone “right to know” ordinance see http://www.prlog.org/
The revised fact sheet and an annotated version of the fact sheet that includes citations from the FCC and FDA web sites is available upon request. (7)
(1) Egelko, B. Court blocks S.F. warning on cell phones. San Francisco Chronicle. Sep 10, 2012. http://www.sfgate.com/
(2) Supporting assertions for the fact sheet can be found at the following URL's on the FCC and FDA web sites:
(3) “When electrical properties are considered, a child's head's absorption can be over two times greater, and absorption of the skull's bone marrow can be ten times greater than adults.” (Gandhi, Morgan, de Salles, Han, Herberman, Davis. Exposure Limits: The underestimation of absorbed cell phone radiation, especially in children. Electromagn Biol Med 2012; 31(1):34-51. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
(4) See page 23 in http://docs.blackberry.com/
(5) "Exposure and Testing Requirements for Mobile Phones Should Be Reassessed."
(6) Tsukayama H. GAO criticizes FCC’s standards for cellphone radiation. Washington Post, Aug 7, 2012. http://www.washingtonpost.com/
(7) For a copy of the revised fact sheet and an annotated version of the fact sheet, email Dr. Joel Moskowitz at email@example.com.