A lawmaker in Maine is attempting to require all mobile phones sold in the state to carry warning labels that alert consumers about the potential risk of brain cancer.
State representative Andrea Boland has said she will propose legislation in January that would require all cell phones in the state to carry a warning in red and black that indicates that the devices may cause brain cancer, according to a report by the Associated Press. A similar effort to require cell phone brain cancer warnings is also underway in San Francisco.
While several other countries require mobile phone cancer warnings, they are not currently required in the United States by any state or federal agency. Boland argues that there are studies showing that there is a risk of brain cancer from cell phones, but the National Cancer Institute (NCI) says that scientific evidence about the risk or safety of cell phones is conflicting and inconsistent, and that no conclusion can be made as of yet. The industry maintains that cell phones are safe.
According to NCI, cellular telephones emit radiofrequency (RF) energy. RF energy is a form of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation. Ionizing electromagnetic radiation, such as that emitted by x-ray machines, is known to cause cancer at high levels, but it is unknown whether non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation like RF energy has the same effect. The NCI says that studies so far seem to indicate that the amount of RF emitted by cell phones is too low to product tissue heating or raise body temperature, but there is not enough evidence to declare it completely harmless either.
Boland’s proposal, if passed, would make Maine the first state in the United States to require cell phone warning labels about brain cancer. The warning would be a nonremovable advisory in black type, with the word “warning” in red letters and a graphic of a child’s brain. The warning would recommend keeping cell phones away from the head and body, especially for pregnant women and children.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is pushing for requirements that cell phone sellers display the absorption rate levels next to every cell phone sold in the city in type at least as large as the selling price. The Federal Communications Commission requires all cell phones in the United States to meet specific absorption rate standards for RF radiation, however the companies are not required to release what the absorption rate of specific cell phones are to the public, as long as they meet the federal standard.
The European Parliament has also recently passed a resolution requiring European Union governments to take some form of action to address grown health concerns over cell phone use.