San Francisco, CA may lead the nation in requiring retailers to disclose Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) values for cell phones after the city’s Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 in favor of the new law on Tuesday.
The law is expected to be signed by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom as early as next week.
According to United States Federal Communication Commission (FCC) guidelines, exposure from cell phones should not exceed a SAR level of 1.6 watts per kilogram. SAR is a value placed on the amount of radiation absorbed by the human body.
Supporters of the ordinance propose disclosure of SAR levels not be used to ban certain makes and models, but rather help the consumer make an informed decision when buying a wireless hand held device. Retailers would also be required to provide consumers with information on where to obtain educational materials about radiation.
Met with opposition by the cell phone industry, in a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle, Vice President of Public Affairs for Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association John Walls said, “Rather than inform, the ordinance will potentially mislead consumers with point-of sale requirements suggesting that some phones are ‘safer’ than others, based on radio frequency emissions.”
Manufacturers must already disclose SAR rating to the FCC before offering the public any cell phone for sale.
There has not been a scientific consensus reached as to the long-term health effects from the use of cell phones.
Although the dangers of cell phones is still uncertain, the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect public health and the environment, encourages cell phone users to text instead of talk on their devices, to keep the phone away from the head by using a speaker or headset, and to turn off when not in use.