City Of Berkley, CA Has Adopted An Ordinance Requiring All Wireless Retailers To Post Warning On Radiation
Last Tuesday, the Berkeley City Council unanimously adopted an ordinance to require cellphone retailers in Berkeley, California to provide consumers with information regarding the dangers associated with the wireless industry and more specifically, on cell phone radiation.
This ordinance is a big step forwards by creating awareness about this topic, which is clearly something we need more of. It specifically requires all cellphone retailers in the area to provide consumers with a notice on radio frequency (RF) radiation exposure and the proper guidelines to help users avoid this type of exposure. Warnings may include the dangers associated with carrying a phone in a shirt, pants, tucked into a bra or anywhere else on a person that may exceed federal safety guidelines.
The ordinance was created with the help of Lawrence Lessig, a Law Professor at Harvard University, and Robert Post, the Dean of Yale Law School, as well as the California Brain Tumor Association, who believes, along with hundreds of other scientists, that the research is sound.
In retaliation, the wireless industry has filed an appeal against the ordinance. Notifying consumers of the harms associated with cell phone use at the point of sale would clearly hurt their profits. Some companies already have warnings in their packaging, but it’s only found in the fine print and isn’t mentioned at the point of sale.
For example, here’s a statement from Apple about the issue, who already has existing safety recommendations for cellphone use; however, most people don’t know about them:
“To reduce exposure to RF energy, use a hands-free option, such as the built-in speakerphone, the supplied headphones, or other similar accessories. Carry iPhone at least 10mm away from your body to ensure exposure levels remain at or below the as-tested levels. Cases with metal parts may change the RF performance of the device, including its compliance with RF exposure guidelines, in a manner that has not been tested or certified.”
A similar statement from Blackberry reads as follows:
“Use hands-free operation if it is available and keep the BlackBerry device at least 0.59 in (15mm) from your body (including the abdomen of pregnant women)…
The issue here is that Berkeley citizens and most other cell-phone users are completely unaware of these guidelines and the dangers surrounding cell phone usage, which has obviously been downplayed by the industry.
For example, a poll conducted by Lessig and his colleague before the ordinance was finalized found that:
- 74% of Berkeley residents carry their cell phones against their bodies
- 70% said they didn’t know that cell phones were tested assuming they would not be carried against the body
- 80 % said they might change their behavior if they knew knowing that “radiation tests to assure the safety of cell phones assume a cell phone would be carried away from your body”
- 85 % said they had never known or read any of the manufacturer’s recommendations
- 82% said they would want this information made available to them at the time they purchased their cell phone.
The underlying purpose of this poll, and the ordinance in general, is to shed light on the apparent disconnect that exists between the current safety recommendations and customer knowledge and understanding of those recommendations.