Quoted: San Francisco loses fight over cell phone radiation warnings

“I think the legal reality is that if we don’t approve the settlement, we’re talking about having to pay $500,000 in legal fees.”

David Campos, San Francisco supervisor, on revoking a city ordinance that would have required retailers to warn consumers about cell phone radiation levels. San Francisco’s board of supervisors voted Tuesday night to settle a lawsuit the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, which included accepting a permanent injunction against the ordinance. The supervisors approved the first-of-its-kind ordinance in 2010, and it was supposed to go into effect the next year. However, most of the ordinance was blocked by a judge after the CTIA sued, claiming that mandating retailers to provide information on SAR (specific absorption rate) levels would have violated their First Amendment rights. Supporters of the ordinance includes a woman whose husband has a brain tumor they believe was caused by his cell phone use. “This is just a terrible blow to public health,” Ellen Marks said Tuesday, according to Reuters. Others who have pushed for radiation-level labeling have likened the fight over cell phones’ possible health risks to the battle to warn consumers about cigarettes causing cancer. In March, the FCC officially opened an inquiry into whether the United States needs to update radiation exposure limits, which have not been updated since 1996.


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  • Michael Murphy

    This is easily settled. Have retailers tell customers that they should hold the phone at least 3/4″ to 1″ from their head when talking, AS INSTRUCTED IN THEIR OWNER’S MANUAL.

  • Here are the facts that led San Francisco to pass the cell phone “right to know” law:

    1. The World Health Organization’s body of top international scientists reviewed all the science to date and has declared that cell phone use is associated with a higher risk of malignant brain cancer on the same side of the head as usage of a cell phones.

    2. The microwave emissions from a cell phone against the head are more than 10 times greater than when the phone is held less than 1 inch away. (Don’t people have the right to know this so they can choose how to use their phone?)

    3. Children’s brains absorb up to twice the microwave radiation from a cell phone as an adults’.

    4. All cell phone user manuals contain a warning hidden in the legal fine print to never wear or use a cell phone directly against the body or risk being overexposed to microwave radiation that exceeds the FCC standard.

    San Francisco simply wanted AT&T, Verizon, Apple, etc. to provide these FACTS to people buying cell phones. Not wanting any part of that “nonsense” – the cell phone industry hired 10 of the country’s most powerful attorneys who outgunned San Francisco’s inexperienced, overworked lone attorney.

    The telecom industry continues to get away with hiding these facts – they “spin” the truth in the media about the science and create doubt so people are confused and uninformed.

    Kudos to San Francisco for trying to do the right thing.