San Francisco Backs Down From Mobile Phone Radiation Label Law

In a one-city crusade, San Francisco attempted to pass an ordinance requiring retailers to post warnings to consumers about the potentially dangerous levels of radiation coming from their cell phones. It didn’t get far, as a judge blocked the 2011 ordinance before it could take effect, and now, Reuters reports that the city has backed down from the measure. The city had already lost in court against the CTIA, and the permanent injunction against the ordinance was part of a settlement.

The CTIA had posited that such an ordinance would violate its free speech rights and would mislead consumers about an issue that currently doesn’t appear to have consensus among the scientific community.

Cell phone radiation
Credit: Reuters

For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) lists cell phone radiation as a known carcinogen--along with many other substances and products that most people aren’t exceptionally concerned about, including alcohol and wood dust. Scientific studies have found no link between cell phone use and brain tumors, but the issue is far from settled, and there’s more research to be done. The FCC is working on updating its guidelines regarding maximum radiation levels, which the agency hasn’t updated since 1996.

In other words, although San Francisco’s stunt failed in the sense that city leaders didn’t get their ordinance in place, it did get national and international groups agitated enough on the subject to take action and address the unknowns regarding cell phone radiation.