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?
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