updated 05:55 pm EDT, Mon July 18, 2011
New law only requires hand outs if requested
San Francisco has passed a new ordinance that requires retailers to provide consumers, if they request it, with a boilerplate warning about the potential dangers of radiation emissions from cell phones. The law replaces much stronger legislation that was passed in June 2010. That ordinance met very strong opposition and legal actions from wireless carrier lobbyists and was never enacted.
San Francisco originally mandated that retail stores be required to post SAR (Specific Absorbtion Rate) levels next to each phone being sold. The law ran into a fight almost immediately when the CTIA, a strong interest group for the wireless carriers, sued to block the legislation. The CTIA argued that only the FCC had the authority to mandate any radiation notices, and that all phones currently met the existing FCC standards.
The law was ultimately shelved in May, when implementation was put on hold without any new enforcement date. The SF Board of Supervisors decided to try a new tact, and amended the law to simply require that retailers make available to consumers a generic document outlining the potential risks associated with exposure to radiation from cell phones.
Radiation from cell phones continues to stir up controversy. In May, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a new warning that cell phone usage could potentially increase the risk of certain types of cancer. WHO then reclassified radio frequency electromagnetic fields as a possible human carcinogen. More recently, however, this finding was contradicted by research published in the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives argued that proof was "increasingly against" a link between frequent cellphone use and brain tumors as intimated in the WHO report. [via CNET]