Burlingame dials into new SF law 

New legislation passed in San Francisco regarding cell phone radiation emissions has led Burlingame Councilman Michael Brownrigg to propose a similar law for his city.

The San Francisco law, which is the first of its kind in the nation, requires all retailers to list information on the specific absorption rate, or SAR, for cell phones sold within The City.

While the link between cell phone use and health concerns is still being debated, manufacturers recommend users hold phones 1 inch away from their bodies — a detail most consumers are not aware of because it’s buried deep within the seldom-read manual.

With multiple cell phone retailers in Burlingame, Brownrigg wants to help people become aware of the usage protocol.

“We want to allow people to have access to this relevant, undisclosed information so they can make informed purchase decisions,” Brownrigg said.

Now that landlines are no longer a primary mode of telecommunication, it’s important to look at the potential harmful effects of increased cell phone use, according to Brownrigg, who’s had three close friends diagnosed with brain tumors in the past year.

“It’s just common sense,” Brownrigg said. “We should examine an environmental issue that could be exacerbating these serious health concerns.”

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, however, the majority of research performed on the connection between cell phone radiation and health problems has failed to provide consistent evidence for concern.

Despite contradictory findings, officials in San Francisco and Burlingame believe all consumers have the right to know about the potential dangers of cell phone use.

“Manufacturers should list this information,” Brownrigg said. “With more and more communities demanding information, this could have a national impact. We don’t want a revolution, but this is likely to become a new request for the industry nationwide.”

In a June 22 press release, John Walls, vice president of public affairs for CTIA-The Wireless Association — a Washington, D.C., nonprofit representing the wireless industry — openly denounced the new law in San Francisco, saying all cell phones sold in the United States already must meet safety standards set by the Federal Communications Commission. CTIA worries the law will mislead consumers into thinking certain phones are safer than others.

Brownrigg, on the other hand, believes that posting SAR data will be a trivial change for cell phone manufacturers in the long run. What’s most important, he said, is to keep consumers in the know so they have the ability to make informed decisions for themselves and their families.


Cell phone facts

  • Radiation is regulated by both the FDA and the FCC, with a legal limit of 1.6 watts per kilogram of SAR (specific absorption rate).
  • Cell phone radiation varies widely depending on the model, with SARs between 0.19 and 1.6 watts.
  • There’s no technological reason why a cell phone needs to emit the maximum allowed level of radiation.
  • Phones that emit lower amounts of radiation work just as well and include just as many features.

Source: San Francisco Mayor’s Office

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