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PRESS RELEASE: EHT Calls for U.S. to put warning labels on cell phones

Apr 18, 2012


March 14, 2012 — The Environmental Health Trust (EHT) lauds Israeli Knesset overwhelming passage of a proposed law requiring health-hazard warning labels on cell phones and calls on the U.S. to follow suit.

The Israeli labels will read, “Warning – the Health Ministry cautions that heavy use and carrying the device next to the body may increase the risk of cancer, especially among children.” Passed on February 29, the proposal will undergo further legislative review and makes it a criminal offense to advertise cell phones for children. A similar rule was issued in Turkey, following the EHT conference in Istanbul in May 2011.

Israeli Member of Parliament Dov Khenin said, “The bill that passed today is a breakthrough in expanding public awareness of the possible risks in using cellular phones.”

Back in the United States, the EHT has long been urging the government to take similar steps. In 2008 EHT’s Chairman, Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, testified before Congress, urging warning labels, as did EHT President, Dr. Devra Davis in 2010. “America needs to recognize the science underlying the Israeli law and update its own policies accordingly. Microwave connected cell phones are not toys. Parents need to be aware of the growing body of scientific evidence. Many nations are acting to reduce long term risks from the unprecedented sea of cell phone and other radiation to which our children are now exposed.”

A decade earlier in 1998, UK campaigners tried to take legal action to put warning labels on mobile phones: Dr Christopher Busby, Visiting Professor in the Department of Bio-Molecular Sciences in the University of Ulster and expert witness in that case said today: “The proposed labelling of these devices by Israel’s government is a welcome development and I hope our government will follow suit.”
In recent years, the evidence of health risks has grown substantially. U.K. MobileWise’s Founder Vicky Fobel said “There are now hundreds of peer-reviewed studies suggesting that phone use may carry serious health risks, especially for children. Risks identified in research include cancer, damage to fertility and genetic damage. Children are known to absorb double the radiation that an adult does.”

In Israel and around the world, EHT has provided scientific and policy advice to a number of initiatives to promote safer cell phone practices:

  • San Francisco’s city government passed regulations requiring retailers to give customers a leaflet containing safety advice prior to purchase but the phone industry has mounted a legal challenge: ..
  • EHT recently filed an amicus brief in the San Francisco court, arguing that people have a right to know about safer ways to use phones prior to purchase. ( James Turner, lead attorney on the amicus brief said, “There is enough evidence of health problems with cell phones that the public should be put on alert. Everyone, including the courts, should support San Francisco’s disclosure rules for cell phones. The First Amendment demands no less. A democracy depends on the free flow of information.”
  • In France, mobile phones are banned from primary schools, all phones must be supplied with a headset and advertising targeted at children is banned. The government has initiated a safety information programme through its National Institute for Prevention and Health
  • In Canada, the country’s public health service has issued new guidelines over children’s mobile phone use which include practical advice for under-18s on how to reduce exposure to radiation, including using a headset, texting and not carrying a phone on the body
  • Authorities in many other nations are taking a variety actions to promote awareness of potential cell phone risks. (EHT International Advisories)