Berkeley, CA wants to be the first city in America to put cancer warning labels on cell phones. City Councilman Max Anderson, one of the sponsors of the ordinance, asserted: “Cell phones are a risk, and I believe the public has a right to information that’s credible, readable, and understandable about the device they are using.”
In 2010, San Francisco failed in a similar effort to warn users of cell phones’ potential risks. Therefore, Berkeley employed the expertise of a Harvard University law professor to ensure that the sticker language is compatible with first amendment guidelines. The wireless industry was able to convince the courts in the San Francisco case that the dangers of cell phones is disputable. Consequently, obligatory warning labels infringe on their first amendment rights.
According to SFGate, the new ordinance would require retailers to attach stickers on the cell phone boxes that would warn that radiation emitted by cell phones could cause brain cancer. Gerald Keegan, a senior director at CTIA – The Wireless Association, a wireless phone trade group, insists that “Any attempt to place labels on cell phones or their packaging contradicts the clear message of federal regulatory agencies that have carefully considered this issue, which is that devices compliant with the federal standards are safe for consumer use.”
However, Joel Moskowitz, head of UC Berkeley’s Center for Family and Community Health, is adamant that cell phone usage is detrimental. He believes that with more complex electronics and consumers spending more time on their phones, brain cancer will be on the increase. “It’s just a matter of time,” he said. “The evidence is a lot more compelling than it has been.”
According to a recent French study, the heaviest users of cell phones run the greatest risk of brain tumors. However, the study also points out that brain tumors are extremely rare. Less than eight in 100,000 people in the U.S. each year are diagnosed with meningiomas, and 85 percent of those tumors are benign, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Cleveland Clinic.
The National Brain Tumor Society spokesman Tom Halkin asserts that no studies have found a direct link between cell phones and brain cancer but admits that the possibility “has not been ruled out, either.” He explains that, “Without conclusive results, the National Brain Tumor Society cannot say that cell phones cause brain tumors, and can only encourage continued further research into this topic.”