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Cell Phone Cancer Warnings May Be Required by California City

As concerns about the link between cell phone radiation and cancer continue to increase worldwide, Berkeley, California may soon become the first city in the U.S. to require cell phone manufacturers to provide specific warnings about the potential risk. 

Berkeley City Council will consider passing a new city law later this month, which would require cell phone warnings to indicate that consumers may face an increased risk of brain cancer. If the law passes, the California city will be the first to require such warnings.

The possible city ordinance (PDF), proposed in July, would require cell phone retailers to place a sticker on cell phone boxes that warn the consumer about the increased risk of brain cancer if the cell phone is held within 10 mm distance of their bodies.

Advocates of the new law indicate that while there are warnings buried deep in cell phone manuals, they are often hidden deep in the phone settings or printed in instructions provided in a manner that makes them almost too small to read.

In addition the risk of brain cancer from cell phone radiation, some studies have linked cell phones to breast cancer and male infertility risks.

Most manufacturers recommend keeping cell phones at least 10 mm, or about half an inch, from the body. However, few, if any, consumers are actually aware of these recommendations. In addition, some researchers suggest that even carrying the cell phone in your front pocket is too close to the body, potentially increasing the risk of male infertility.

Researchers have also raised concerns about the risk of breast cancer among women who typically carry their cell phone in their bras, with at least two potential cases identified involving women as young as 21 years old.

San Francisco attempted similar legislation several years ago, but came under assault from CTIA – The Wireless Association, which claimed the law infringed on free speech. Under legal pressure, the city revoked the law.

In response to the potential cell phone cancer warnings proposed in Berkeley, CTIA sent a letter to the City Council urging them to reject the proposed ordinance, arguing that a number of health and safety organizations have determined that there is no known health risk linked to cell phone use.

The Federal Communication Commission is currently reviewing the risks of cell phone radiation exposure.

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