Cell Phone Labeling

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, March 19, 2010

Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) has introduced SB 1212, Cell Phones: Specific Absorption Rate Disclosure (SAR).  This bill copies a measure based on a precautionary principle approach passed in San Francisco late last year.  Its intent is to educate the public on and reduce exposure to radio frequency (RF) energy from cell phones.

The bill mandates that a cellular telephone device or hands free device include specific SAR language at the point of sale, on the exterior packaging and in the instruction manual.  SB 1212 states that given children’s smaller head sizes, they may be more susceptible to radiation than adults.  In addition to the SAR value the bill would require the phrase: "This device emits radiation."

SB 1212 creates the impression that FCC safety standards are insufficiently protective and that "the science is incomplete."  Federal standards incorporate a fifty-fold safety factor to provide for safe exposure for all segments of the population, including children and are 20% more stringent than those employed in Europe.  The federal standards are endorsed by the international Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).  In 2008, the U.S. National Cancer Institute stated that concerns about the potential health effects of using cellular phones "and specifically the suggestion that using a cell phone may increase a person’s risk of developing brain cancer, are not supported by a growing body of research on the subject."

Currently consumers have access to information on SAR values and RF through the FCC website (with an appropriate context and corresponding explanation). Wireless carriers and manufacturers also provide this information on their websites and in their device manuals.

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