Maine Considers Cancer Warnings for Cell Phones


maine considers cancer warnings for cell phones bolandmug2colorRepresentative Andrea Boland (D) of Maine is proposing that all cell phones for sale in the state of Maine come with labels warning users about a potential risk of brain cancer caused by electromagnetic radiation—just the kind of thing emitted by cell phones. The proposal is set to come up for discussion during Maine’s 2010 legislative session that gets underway in January; the session is supposed to be reserved for emergency measures and legislation proposed by the governor.

At this time, there is no scientific consensus that even heavy use of cell phones can increase the risk of cancers in the brain and head; some studies have reported a possible link, but others have failed to turn up any correlation. Some studies have focused on potential impacts of cell phone use among children—whose brains are still developing—and among long-term heavy cell phone users.

The Federal Communications Commission has set standards for specific absorption rates of electromagnetic radiation that can be emitted by cell phones and other devices, and devices have to be below that threshold to be approved for sale in the United States. However, the FTC does not mandate the manufacturers publish the radiation levels emitted by their devices.

A similar requirement has been proposed in San Francisco; if enacted, it would require cell phone manufacturers display the radiation absorption rate of their devices on the packaging in print at least as big as pricing information. The proposal is supported by San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom. Some countries mandate radiation warnings on cell phones.

Boland’s proposal would not require manufacturers publish absorption levels, but mandate a non-removable warning along with a color graphic of a child’s brain.

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