Posted on Jul 15, 2014

Berkeley Is attempting to become the first city in the United Sates to demand that retailers put stickers on cell phone packaging warning people that the devices possibly emit cancer causing radiation.

Berkeley, home to a population of 35,000 students, an apple store, and a dozen wireless shops, sees more phone transactions than most Bay Area cities.

San Francisco made a similar attempt in 2010, which was abandoned 2 years later. The abandonment came quickly after a defeat in federal court. The wireless industry successfully defeated San Francisco’s attempt to have warning labels by claiming their First Amendment rights were violated.  

The Berkeley City Councilman Max Anderson is co-sponsoring the ordinance. He believes that cell phones are a risk and that the public has a right to information that is credible, readable, and understandable.

In an effort to escape the same fate as San Francisco, Berkeley plans to consult a Harvard University law professor to draft the sticker language. The hope is that the law professor will use language that meets legal First Amendment guidelines.

The ordinance will require retailers to place stickers on cell phone boxes that warn the public that radiation from the devices may cause brain cancer.

The cell phone industry has already responded to Berkeley’s proposal with a four-page letter to the City Council. The letter states that the proposed ordinance violates federal regulations and the matter has already been settled by the courts.

According to the industry, the radiation from cell phones is well below federal safety limits. In addition, the industry claims that no study has found evidence definitively linking cell phone use to cancer.

The National Brain Tumor Society is more cautious, although no studies have found a direct link, the possibility cannot be ruled out altogether.


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Gerry Oginski
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