Healthcare Technology Featured Article

March 10, 2014

RF Safe Pushes for Safer Cell Phones with Anti-Radiation Bill

When the cell phone first started coming out, concerns over the radiation generated by these devices plagued a lot of owners' buying decisions. Was that little phone, kept so near the head so often, really more likely to give a user cancer than anything else? The debate raged on for years, new accessories emerged to help protect against such concerns, and organizations like RF Safe emerged in a bid to help protect users against the forces generated by cell phones. RF Safe's fight isn't over, as the group recently launched a petition in support of Senate Bill 2571 SD1.

Senate Bill 2571 SD1, introduced by Democrat Sen. Josh Green, would require cell phones that are sold in Hawaii to come with a warning label, in much the same way that packs of cigarettes do. The warning label in question, under the original version of the bill, would reportedly read: “This device emits electromagnetic radiation, exposure to which may cause brain cancer. Users, especially children and pregnant women, should keep this device way from the head and body.” The warning label would be substantial in size, requiring phone makers to take up almost a third of the back cover of the device in question, though there is at last report some room for compromise on the label's size.

This is actually similar to a law posed in San Francisco, requiring such notification under the terms of the so-called “right to know” law, but a legal settlement with the wireless industry—who understandably opposed said law—left the measure abandoned. Indeed, there's quite a bit of opposition to such a bill, mainly from the wireless industry, which notes things like increased costs involved in manufacture that will need to be passed on to consumers, as well as the overall unattractiveness of a huge warning label on the back of the device.

Those in favor of the bill, like RF Safe's founder John Coates, don't accept such arguments, instead noting that the burden for treating cancers related to cell phone radiation will be substantial in its own right, and that, essentially, a brain tumor or breast cancer is even less attractive than a big label on a smartphone. The RF Safe petition comes out in support of the bill, and offers not only a petition to sign via its website, but also offers an open letter to Hawaiian Senator Rosalyn Baker on the subject that can be forwarded as the user desires. The petition, which has been open since yesterday, stands at two signatures as of the time of this writing.

Of course, some here would question the need for such legislation in the first place, given that research into the subject might take decades to adequately pan out. Others may note that RF Safe has something of an interest in keeping such discussion alive and going as the group offers a line of products designed at reducing the radiation emitted by such devices, including a set of “Peel n Shield adhesive foam RF shielding sheets”—selling for $49.99—as well as the “RF Safe Cell Phone Package” for $59.99. Though some may find it prudent to use a smartphone less often, or take other measures including the use of hands-free devices like those offered by RF Safe, the exact nature of cell phone radiation is still very much in dispute, and likely will be for some time to come, petition or no.

Edited by Alisen Downey
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