Senator Mark Leno: “I am Senator Mark Leno and I appreciate you joining us as we introduce this bill. It is on a new subject to be discussed here in the capital so I hope you bear with me as we walk you through the thought process that led us to the introduction of this bill. It has to do with cell phones which we know are ubiquitous. They are in our lives to stay, they have enriched our lives, they have bettered our lives in ways that we are only beginning to understand. Over 4 billion people on the planet now are using cell phones regularly and that includes over 270 million Americans. Cell phones emit radio frequency radiation which does have human health effects.
FCC SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) Standard
In 1992 the Federal Communications Commission adopted the industry designed standards of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the IEEE, and the standard is that the maximum level of radiation emitted from a cell phone and absorbed by the human brain and body would be the Specific Absorption Rate. This is a term you will get to know. The SAR was set to be 1.6 watts per kilogram. So that is the federal standard that the FCC set. So clearly if there is a standard, there was a concern that if it is above the 1.6 there is very serious or more serious health concerns. This 1992 decision by the FCC was based on animal studies conducted in the late 1970′s and 1980′s. So we are using tests that were done many decades ago, a standard that was set almost 2 decades ago. So this standard was adopted decades before the concept of smart phones and devices so convenient that we carry them on our bodies continually and use them for hours on end and this standard has not been revisited since then.
Recent Studies On Cell Phone Radiation Dangers
Many recent studies in Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and England have shown serious concerns and health risks in both extended use and especially for children. I think we can say definitively that there are no industry studies that can prove that there are no health concerns for use extended over 10 years. So when you hear the industry say that, “no this is safe we have looked at it and all of these federal agencies have.” None of them have worked with studies that go beyond 10 years and that is the concern because we know, especially with younger people who are starting to use them at 10 or 15 years of age, they are going to be using them for 3, 4, 5 decades and clearly even people my age approaching 60 have considerably been using them a couple of decades.
The San Francisco Ordinance
As a result of all this new information there were congregational hearings held in September of 2008. Subsequent to those congressional hearings, the San Francisco department of Environment, which is represented here today, passed a resolution at the local level urging the mayor and the board of supervisors, which the mayor has now done and I want to recognize Mayor Garvin’s leadership on this issue, having introduced a local ordinance which does that which the bill we are going to discuss today will do. It will require that this SAR be disclosed to consumers at the point of purchase, both on their website and at the retail location; that this SAR will also be disclosed on the packaging, not on the cell phone itself, but on the packaging of the cell and also on all instructional materials. This is the point I want to make, if there is reason enough for the FCC to have set an SAR standard 18 years ago and require in that SAR law that manufactures must notify the FCC what that SAR is, why shouldn’t we not require also that be disclosed to the consumer? Let consumers make informed choices and if there is no health concern whatsoever the question has to be asked why 18 years ago did the FCC set a standard?
Cell Phone Legislation In Other Countries
So I want to share with you what some of these other nations have done. Nation after nation have taken steps. The Scandinavian nations, Israel, Great Britain, Germany, France, and Canada have all taken steps to inform their consumers at the Federal level in all of these countries that parents should limit cell phone use for their children. They are also have recommendations for safe cell phone use. In France there is pending legislation which would outlaw marketing of cell phones to children. So, many of our trading partners have also already taken very significant steps forward, I think what we are proposing here today is very modest.
United States National Cancer Institute Statements
And then I just want to share with you a couple of statements made by the United States National Cancer institute and this was updated in September 2009. So this is the statement of the United States National Cancer Institute: “There is concern that the radio frequency energy produced by cellular phones may affect the brain and nervous system tissue in the head because the hand held cellular telephones are usually held close to the head.” The United States National Cancer Institute also said: “cellular telephone use is increasing rapidly in children and adolescences and they are likely to accumulate many years of exposure during their lives. In addition, children maybe at a greater risk because their nervous system are still developing at the time of exposure…..”
Given the power of the cell phone lobby there is every chance that the Bill will be scuppered.
But whether it is this Bill or another one I have high hopes that legislation along the lines of SB932 to make users aware of the dangers of cell phone radiation before they buy will find its way on to the statute books.
El Salvador, San Salvador
Gold Coast, Queensland
Daftah, United Arab Emirates, Daftah, UAE
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