On Oct. 28, 2014 the Berkeley City Council will consider legislation that could make it the first U.S. city to require retailers to warn consumers that radiation from cell phones may be hazardous to their health.
Mounting evidence suggests that cell phone use could increase the risk of brain tumors, breast cancer, and male infertility.
Cell phone user manuals advise a range of precautions. The iPhone 5 manual, for example, recommends talking hands-free and carrying the phone at least 10 millimeters – nearly half an inch – away from your body.
If your cell phone’s in your pocket, it’s too close, according to Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
“There’s a fairly consistent picture that cell phone exposure damages sperm,” Glantz says.
He details evidence of reproductive harm from cell phones in his textbook, Primer of Biostatistics.
“When I’m teaching, I tell my students a cell phone isn’t good enough to use as contraception, but if you want to have kids, I wouldn’t leave it turned on in my pocket,” he says.
Women should think about where they carry their phones too, according to Bay Area breast surgeon Dr. Lisa Bailey.
Speaking at an Environmental Health Trust program in San Francisco in April, Bailey said she had seen “some very unusual breast cancers,” in women who carried their cell phones in their bras, including two breast cancer cases in 21-year-old women, which she called “a highly unusual age for women to develop breast cancer.”
Concerns about the possible health dangers of cell phones prompted Berkeley City Council members to call for warning labels on cell phones. Councilman Kriss Worthington says the proposal is quite simple.
“This is consumer information that people can get if they work hard to find it,” he said. “So why not make it easy for them to find it?”
The cell phone industry claims there is no need for warning labels, and an industry group is poised to file a lawsuit.
When San Francisco passed cell phone warning legislation a few years ago, CTIA – The Wireless Association sued. The group alleged that the ordinance violated its free-speech rights. The city lost a round in court, and fearing a prolonged legal battle, revoked the law.
Berkeley Not Backing Down From Legal Treats From Wireless Industry
Members of the Berkeley City Council say that consumers aren’t getting enough advance warning about the possible risk of brain cancer from exposure to cell phone radiation.
Councilmembers Kriss Worthington and Maxwell Anderson have called for a city ordinance that would require every mobile phone sold within the city to carry a sticker “warning consumers of the risk of brain cancer.”
“The warnings of the danger of cell phone use within the recommended 10 mm radius are already present; however, the ease of access does not accurately reflect the threat of damage. This warning is either hidden within cell phones themselves in folders within folders, or deep in the pages of manuals – both of which are areas few consumers inspect. Having a sticker would combat this flaw by bringing direct attention to the fact,” reads the full ordinance proposal.
Officials said the ordinance’s language will be drafted by a Harvard University law professor in a way that complies with the First Amendment, after a similar effort in San Francisco was defeated in federal court after a long battle with the wireless industry on the grounds that it violated cellphone manufacturers’ constitutional rights.
The World Health Organization listed the radiation from phones as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” for three years and most consumers are clueless about the risk involved when using a cell phone.
In this must share Audio clip, Berkeley City Councilman Max Anderson talks about very compelling evidence suggesting the need to protect yourself from cell phone radiation and the city’s plan to put warning labels on cell phones.