City of Berkeley to require cellphone sellers to warn of possible radiation risks
Lawmakers vote to highlight the potential dangers of keeping devices close to the body as scientists raise raft of concerns, especially for children
Berkeley lawmakers voted this week to require cellphone retailers to provide customers with a notice on the potential health hazards of carrying their device too close to their bodies, making the progressive California city the first in the nation to have wireless warnings if the law is allowed to go into effect in July.
“It’s an important right-to-know issue,” said Berkeley mayor Tom Bates, who voted in favor of the measure. “It’s really just a note of caution.”
Currently, most wireless-capable devices such as smart phones carry FCC-mandated safety recommendations on how close to the skin the devices should be kept. It’s suggested that users keep most models at a distance of 5 to 25mm to limit radiation exposure to safe levels.
But those notices are often buried deep inside manuals and online instructions, leaving most consumers unaware they even exist.
A poll of Berkeley residents conducted in April found that while 74% of respondents carried their phones in a pocket – considered close contact – 66% were unaware that cell phone manufacturers recommend the products be carried away from the body or used in conjunction with hands-free devices.
The Berkeley ordinance would require sellers to post the safety information in public view and hand out a separate flyer to buyers who purchase or lease a phone.
“To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines,” it reads. “If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. This potential risk is greater for children. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.”