Will You Do the Same this Independence Day?
On the eve of this nation’s Independence Day celebrations, local legislators from coast to coast are taking the lead to ensure that in addition to the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, Americans also have the right to know about cell phone radiation—and that they can easily learn safer ways to use these ubiquitous devices in their homes and workplaces. With the World Health Organization declaring microwave radiation from cell phones a potential cause of cancer—much like engine exhausts and some pesticides—a number of officials are moving to place warnings directly on phones.
“Democracy rests on the fundamental principle that citizens have a right to know about potential dangers of products that they choose to use, and that they also have a right to live free from intrusions into their homes and families,” says Devra Davis, Ph.D., MPH, founder of the Environmental Health Trust and author of Disconnect–The Truth about Cell Phone Radiation, What Industry Has Done to Hide It and How to Protect Your Family. “Democratic principles also require that industry and government have a duty to inform citizens about hazards that may constitute a clear and present danger to public welfare. Whether from pesticides or cell phones, we should take serious steps to curtail exposures to suspected hazards.”
As the nation’s fifth largest city and the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence, Philadelphia is on the forefront of the cell phone radiation issue. The eyes of the country will be on Pennsylvania later this summer (August 31st), because passage of a new bill would require that retailers prominently display a warning label on cell phones and their packaging detailing potential harm of cell phone radiation, specifically to children and pregnant women.
Advanced by former-speaker of the House Pennsylvania State Rep. Dennis O’Brien (R-169, and State Rep. Vanessa Brown (D-190), the Pennsylvania cell phone safety bill (HB-1408) would provide the first state action in the US reflecting growing scientific consensus from the WHO and from EHT’s Doctors’ Pamphlet on Safer Cellphone Use, written by some of the world’s top neurosurgeons. Pennsylvania State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown believes that cell phones should be treated like cigarettes. “It is simply too early to prove without doubt that cell phones are not harmful,” she has said. “Therefore, the choice is simple: be a more responsible cell phone user, especially around young children, or keep taking chances. Just as children can’t smoke, they shouldn’t hold cell phones next to their brains. The purpose of the label is to prevent damage and promote safer cell phone practices among Pennsylvania’s families,” she adds.
Rob Stuart, a Senior Advisor to Environmental Health Trust, and a leader of the Pennsylvania effort is confident about the need for legislative action and its prospects for passage. “This is a non-partisan matter that is bringing together all parties in the State to stand up for liberty and truth in labeling about cell phone radiation. We have to protect our children now, rather than wait for damaging health consequences from radiation to emerge.”
Founding Fathers of Cell Phone Issue: More Work Needed (Again) In the US over the past two decades, three congressional hearings have addressed the cell phone health risk issue: Congressman Edward Markey (D-MA) in 1993; Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) in 2008; Senators Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Thomas Harkin (D-IA in 2009). Ellen Marks, Director of Government and Public Affairs at EHT, believes it’s time to move beyond talk about the problem to real action. “Calls for warnings and public education about cell phone safety are sweeping the nation as Pennsylvania, Maine, California (San Francisco, Berkeley, Burlingame), New Mexico, Jackson, Wyoming, and perhaps New York City are now proposing serious legislative changes in labeling and public education.”
The State Senates in California and Pennsylvania will soon be reviewing proposals for major public education campaigns so that consumers have the right to know how to use phones safely. In a recent speech highlighting the fine print warnings found in packaging to keep cell phones away from the body, cell phone legislative sponsor California State Senator, Mark Leno concluded, “They (the cell phone industry) know and the more they resist, it only makes me wonder how much more they are not telling us.”
Israeli legislators recently announced a new bill with several striking demands for cell phone companies, including sending an SMS every day at 12 noon to cell phone users, which warns that the WHO has determined that mobile phone radiation is a possible cause of cancer and that cellphones should be used with care. A similar warning would appear on the screen when the phone is turned on. The bill includes a stipulation that purchaser of a cell phone will have to sign a statement indicating that they understand the risks of its use, especially in children.
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CBS’s Dr. Jennifer Ashton: Cell Phone Precautions
National Cancer Institute: Dr. Martha Linet on Cell Phones and Cancer Risk
GhanaWeb: Mobile Phones: Blessing or Curse?
Council of Europe Proposes WiFi & Cell Phone Ban in Schools