Berkeley, California is the first city in the United States to pass an ordinance requiring cell phone retailers to warn about potential radiation exposure. According to The Daily Beast, at least six other cities have tried unsuccessfully to pass this “right to know ordinance”. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has guidelines about how far away your phone should be in order to be protected against radiofreqency energy; the recommendation is at least 15 mm for iPhones). The Berkeley legislation was inspired by these guidelines.
According to The Daily Beast, the language of the warning will be similar to the following: “If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is on and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF [radio frequency] radiation. This potential risk is greater for children. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.”
There have been concerns about the cancer risk associated with cell phones for a number of years. Research has been inconclusive so far, and many experts are advocating for more studies and protective regulations. The Daily Beast reports that 190 scientists around the globe recently sent an appeal to the United Nations over the formation of protective guidelines that would inform of the risk of non-ionizing radiation that comes from cell phones, Wi-Fi, broadcast antennas and even baby monitors. These scientists are concerned that the non-ionizing electromagnetic fields of cell phones may lead to some types of brain tumors. Mobile phone use was classified as a potential “carcinogenic hazard” in 2011.
A multi-center study showed last year that heavy cell phone use and highest life-long cumulative duration and number of calls was associated with an increased risk of glioma and meningioma, two types of brain tumors. The study did not, however, find a brain tumor risk with regular cell phone users compared to non-users. Another Swedish study found an increased risk of glioma among participants who began using cell phones as children or adolescents.
The neuroscientist who wrote the Daily Beast article notes that research on the link between cell phone use and cancer has been conflicting, and states that more studies should be conducted to analyze the risks. He also notes that studies in the past have mostly focused on adults. As cell phones have become increasingly ubiquitous in the modern world, there are growing concerns about whether children will be at increased risk due to their thinner skill bone and developing brain.