SAN FRANCISCO (TheStreet) -- San Francisco earlier this month passed a law that requires local cell-phone retailers to post information on the amount of radiation each device emits.
In response, the wireless industry's biggest lobbying and trade-show group decided that it won't be holding its popular fall trade show in San Francisco next year, as it has five of the seven years between 2003 and 2010, arguing that the new law is a slap in the industry's face.
"The Board of Supervisors' decision is an extremely clear message about what the city thinks of our industry and our technology," says John Walls, vice president of public affairs at CTIA -- The Wireless Association. "It makes sense to consider other cities where we're wanted."
All handsets sold in the U.S. must pass radiation regulations with the Federal Communications Commission, which sets the legal limit at a specific absorption rate (SAR) of 1.6 watts per kilogram."Telephone manufacturers currently disclose cell-phone radiation levels to the federal government," San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said when he introduced the legislation in January. "This same information should also be made easily accessible to the consumer." The implication is that some phones are safer than others. Consequently, consumers may decide, say, to choose a Samsung Gravity 2, which sports a SAR level of 0.547 watts per kilogram, over a RIM (RIMM) BlackBerry Curve, with a SAR level of 1.54. CTIA argues that this isn't fair, and that all devices with SAR levels below the legal limit are equally safe. Walls equates it to a maximum height warning on a bridge. "If it says clearance is 12 feet, it doesn't matter if your vehicle is 5 feet tall or 7 feet tall or 10 feet tall -- you can pass through that tunnel," Walls says. "Science tells us that SAR levels are the same [idea.]" The problem is that multiple scientific studies have cited evidence connecting cell-phone radiation with brain tumors, and more studies are in the works. The World Health Organization last month issued the results of a 10-year, worldwide study on the subject of whether cell phones cause brain tumors, and the results were inconclusive.
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