Cell phone radiation plan upgraded 

People purchasing cell phones in San Francisco come Nov. 1 could know much more about the radiation the devices emit.

Mayor Gavin Newsom submitted legislation that would eventually disclose radiation levels of a cell phone at the point of sale, along with penalize those who fail to follow the law.

Starting Nov. 1, if the legislation is approved, The City would begin phasing in requirements to provide  information about every cell phone sold at a retail outlet anywhere in San Francisco. The legislation would eventually require that sellers provide information about the radiation levels of the devices and update the information to retailers as new phone models hit the shelves.

The retailers themselves would have to display the radiation levels of the phones on sale and explain what they mean. They would display an “educational poster,” to be developed by the Department of the Environment, about safe cell phone use and radiation levels.

Newsom had introduced a version of the legislation in January that would have made all the requirements effective Dec. 17, and enforcement also would have started that day.

In the latest version, which Newsom introduced Tuesday to the Board of Supervisors, enforcement of the law and penalties for not displaying educational posters and disclosing radiation at the point of sale would be phased in through February 2012. Penalties would range from $100 to $500.

The changes are meant to make it easier for small businesses to comply and phase in the requirements, according to the Mayor’s Office.

There remains debate about whether cell phone use poses any health risks. They are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, which considers them safe.

“Telephone manufacturers currently disclose cell phone radiation levels to the federal government,” Newsom said in a January statement. “This same information should also be made easily accessible to the consumer.”

For the legislation to go into effect, it would require approval by the Board of Supervisors.


Clear reception of information

Mayor Gavin Newsom wants cell phone radiation levels disclosed to consumers beginning Nov. 1. On Tuesday, he introduced a new version of the legislation, which will undergo a hearing in the coming weeks by the Board of Supervisors City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee.

What the law would do

  • Beginning Nov. 1, retailers would have to display radiation emission levels of cell phones
  • Retailers would have to display an educational poster that would be developed by the Department of the Environment explaining cell phone radiation, recommended safe usage of devices, et al.
  • Enforcement of the law would begin February 2011 for cell phone retailer chains
  • Enforcement of the law would begin February 2012 for other cell phone retailers

Cell phone facts

  • Cell phone 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 sport just as many features

Source: Mayor’s Office

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