Will San Francisco Cell Phone Ordinance Dial-Up Fear?

Posted by on July 29, 2011 in Business News, Business Technology, Medical Information, Phone Systems, Public Relations [ 0 Comments ]

One thing most businesses hate is being watered down with more rules and regulations. For cell phone retailers in San Francisco, they recently got a call from city officials.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors didn’t wait long to voice its opinion on the controversy regarding cell phone safety, recently becoming the first city to pass a new ordinance (10-1 vote in favor of) requiring cell phone retailers to display and pass out a state-produced fact sheet detailing radio frequency emissions from cell phones and how consumers can lessen their exposure. The latest ordinance needs the backing of San Francisco’s mayor, Edwin Lee, prior to becoming law.

The concern of San Francisco officials stems from a report this spring from the World Health Organization (WHO) that classified electromagnetic fields produced by mobile phones as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” after analyzing the body of scientific research.

In that announcement, WHO proclaimed:

“A large number of studies have been performed over the last two decades to assess whether mobile phones pose a potential health risk. To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use. … While an increased risk of brain tumors is not established, the increasing use of mobile phones and the lack of data for mobile phone use over time periods longer than 15 years warrant further research of mobile phone use and brain cancer risk. … WHO will conduct a formal risk assessment of all studied health outcomes from radio frequency fields’ exposure by 2012.”

The WHO study as reported by much of the media did not differentiate between talking and texting.

According to Dr. Jonathan Samet, the chairman of the WHO advisory panel, it may be much safer to text than talk.

“The highest exposures (of radiation) to the brain come with ‘on ear’ use,” Samet, a physician and epidemiologist, remarked following the report’s release. “Those (exposures) with texting or hands-free technology are lower.”

Going back to San Francisco’s ordinance, it amends the city’s controversial Cell Phone Right to Know Act, a similar however additionally cumbersome law passed in 2010 that mandated cell phone retailers post and distribute radiation information for every make and model of cell phone they sell. The original law was left disconnected after the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) hit the city with a lawsuit.

While the original ordinance would have required retailers to display each phone’s radiation level, the latest version only requires that stores educate customers with general information and tips on how to lessen radiation exposure.

According to most experts, exposure revolves around a number of factors, including distance from a cellphone tower, battery life and how close the phone is to an individual’s body.

Research from the U.S National Institutes of Health notes, “Although there remains some uncertainty, the trend in the accumulating evidence is increasingly against the hypothesis that mobile phone use can cause brain tumors in adults.”

While the evidence has not been pieced together to show a direct link between cell phones and cancer, San Francisco’s latest ordinance is a good thing.

With more education on the market for consumers, they can decide if they want to take the call regarding the possible dangers or hang up on it altogether.

Photo credit: nps.gov

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