San Francisco voted on Tuesday to require that its retailers post how much radiation is emitted from each cell phone sold in their stores. This legislation, considered the first of its kind in the U.S., will require that a phone’s Specific Absorption Rate be printed on materials near the device in 11-point type print (similar to regulations that require calorie counts be listed on food menus).
Mayor Gavin Newsom is expected to sign the legislation into law after a mandatory 10-day comment period.
“Telephone manufacturers currently disclose cell phone radiation levels to the federal government,” Newsom said in a January press release that announced his intention to pursue this legislation. “This same information should also be made easily accessible to the consumer.”
All cell phones emit a certain amount of radiofrequency energy, a form of electromagnetic radiation that is absorbed through users’ bodies when they use their phones. The Federal Communications Commission mandates that no phone sold in the U.S. have an SAR greater than 1.6 watts per kilogram.
Newsom is hoping that his city’s new legislation will persuade cell phone developers to manufacture phones that have lower SARs.
“This is similar to Prop 65, which dramatically reduced public exposure to toxic materials because chemical companies removed toxic ingredients from their products in order to avoid product warnings,” Newsom said in the press release.
However, cell phone manufacturers and retailers maintain that there is no conclusive evidence linking SAR to actual health risks.
“We believe there is an overwhelming consensus of scientific belief that there is no adverse health effect by using wireless devices,” John Walls, a spokesperson for CTIA –The Wireless Association, told The New York Times. “And this kind of labeling gets away from what the F.C.C.’s standard actually represents.”