Citizens of San Francisco won an important victory on July 11 when the Community Operations and Neighbourhood Services Committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved legislation requiring businesses to provide safety information about cell phone radiation to people before they purchase their phones.
“This is a real victory for people all over the world, and an end to the insulting treatment of cell phone users as too dumb to understand,” said Ellen Marks, Director of Governmental Affairs and Public Policy of Environmental Health Trust, and one of the leaders of the effort to save the city’s Right to Know. “We have a right to know how to be smart and safe with phones.”
The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association was out in full force at the small municipal meeting, arguing that scientific information did not justify such warnings. “These devices are safe and there’s no proof of any harm,” the CTIA’s Jerry Keegan assured the committee.
Keegan rejected the conclusions of the World Health Organization (WHO), which recently declared that cell phone radiation, like engine exhausts and some pesticides, should be considered a possible human carcinogen. Keegan pointed to industry-sponsored work that reaches different conclusions.
Supervisor Eric Mar asked how the CTIA could assert that there was no risk of harm when he had numerous published studies in hand that had been reviewed by the WHO showing that cell phone radiation increased the risks of malignant brain tumors and tumors of the hearing nerve.
City supervisor John Alvalos, the author of the legislation, said that people deserve the right to know up front the safety warnings about cell phones that the FCC requires and that manufacturers are hiding in tiny print that nobody sees.
“How can cell phone companies warn people not to keep phones in their pockets and keep them a safe distance from their bodies and run ads that feature people using phones in precisely this manner? We have a duty to ourselves and our children,” he said.
Lloyd Morgan, senior scientist with EHT, told the committee that cities and states across the nation that are taking precautionary steps and much stronger advisories are now provided by governments in Israel, France, and India.
Commenting on the San Francisco developments, Devra Davis, PhD, MPH, president of EHT, pointed out: “The original legislation simply required posting radiation levels. This improved bill will give people important information on how to reduce radiation exposures—a matter of grave importance for pregnant women and young men wanting to become fathers.”
Research presented to the EHT’s Istanbul Conference from the Gazi Biophysics Department in Turkey has found that prenatal exposure to cell phone radiation causes brain, liver and eye damage to baby rabbits and rats and impairs sperm count and health.
The bill goes to the full Board of Supervisors on July 19, where unanimous approval is expected, according to Alvalos.