San Francisco mandates mobile phone warnings despite no evidence of harm
Friday June 18th 2010, 5:17 am

Phones running hot after radiation warnings

June 18, 2010 LOS ANGELES:

San Francisco is set to require mobile phone makers to warn customers that the gadgets are bathing them in radiation.

The city’s Board of Supervisors has approved the unprecedented law in a 10-to-1 vote, and it is expected to be signed by the mayor, Gavin Newsom, who has endorsed the measure.

The law requires makers of mobile phones to display in stores details of the levels of radiation emitted by different handsets in the same way that restaurants show the number of calories in food and drinks.

Failure to comply will incur a $US300 ($347) fine.

In particular, shoppers must be shown estimates of how much of the radio wave radiation from each mobile phone model is absorbed into the body of the person using it.

No credible study- not one– of has ever shown a link between non-ionising radiation and any health effect, positive or negative- ever. The only effect non-ionising radiation can have on living tissues is thermal, which is what you get from standing in front of a heater.

Mobile phones have a maximum output on the order of 600mW (0.6 watts), which cannot even be demonstrated to warm a mass the size of a human head in any significant amount. Makes one wonder why mobile phones have SAR figures at all.

Sure, a mobile phone might get warm during extended use, through power dissipation in the phone’s power amplifier or through the phone’s battery itself warming due to discharging through its own internal resistance, but all this will accomplish is warming the outer ear. Earmuffs will do the same thing. Should we issue dire warnings about the health effects of earmuffs?

Proper science never says something is fully possible or impossible. Good science classifies risk in terms of probability. Given the billions of mobile phones in service around the world and the utter lack of increases in brain cancers commensurate with those numbers, the probability of harm from a 600mW radio signal is similar to the risk of being attacked by a leopard in the average public toilet. Will San Francisco next mandate warnings of the possibility of leopard attack on every public toilet stall door? After all, one of these days, someone just might be mauled by a toilet leopard.

It seems to me that the magic buzzword ‘radiation’ is what gets people’s attention, despite the fact that not all ‘radiation’ is gamma rays, the real bad stuff that comes from radionuclear materials. Any ‘radiation’ which is below the frequency of UV light, that is, non-ionising radiation, is on balance of probability, harmless.

Dear Mayor Newsom and San Francisco Board of Supervisors, you’re all aflutter over nothing at all. There’s lots of real hazards in this world for people to be genuinely concerned about, why freak out over the imaginary ones?


3 Comments so far
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Could it be that the sponsor of this law has a financial interest in a particular company that has a slightly lower radiation emission than others? Hard to believe the Board would trouble itself over something so trifling unless there was something in it for them.

Comment by Sandy 06.18.10 @ 10:30 am

What I find about Sophie Maxwell is that she was an electrician turned community activist, whose son has had cancer. Maxwell also has an interest in environmental issues, such as the cleanup of former Navy and power generation facilities in San Francisco’s District 10.

What I suspect is that Maxwell, rather than having a financial interest in low-SAR producing mobile telephone makers (which would be pretty stupid, considering that to have the lowest SAR figure, a phone would necessarily have the lowest RF power output and thus wouldn’t function all that well as a phone, no doubt limiting repeat sales), is, rather, a reactionary who believes the pseudoscience and rumours floating around the internet regarding the supposed harms associated with mobiles.

Maxwell insists that the SAR disclosure law is about ‘helping consumers make informed choices.’ If there’s any informed choice to make, it’s whether or not to believe the pseudoscience propagated by electromagnetic radiation fearmongering nutfucks like Arthur Firstenberg or Lyn McLean.

There remains to be a single case of any cancer which has been proven to be causatively related to any form of non-ionising electromagnetic radiation, let alone that from the flea-power levels emitted from mobile handsets.

I would double-dog-dare Sophenia Maxwell, or any other elected official for that matter, to propose a ban on or affixment of warning labels to microwave ovens. Microwave ovens are >1000 watt radio transmitters which operate at 2.45GHz, just above the 1.8GHz mobile phone band. The acceptable leakage from a properly operating microwave oven, measured at 1 metre is very significantly more than the amount of RF energy emitted from a mobile phone. Want to see an electorate dump a politician faster than you can say boo? Just let one get in between a voter and their beloved microwave oven.

Comment by weez 06.18.10 @ 11:17 am

I agree with Sandy. Also, I am very doubtful that there are many people who’ll pay attention to these warnings — a minority, sure, but everyone I know cares about the features and cost of mobile phones, and I don’t think they’re going to add this as another consideration to their list. Especially considering there’s so little evidence it causes brain cancer (i.e. none/spurious evidence).

Comment by Jessica 06.18.10 @ 11:29 am

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