New York Times writer Nick Bilton has had enough of the FAA’s vague explanations of why personal electronic devices aren’t allowed during certain parts of a flight. After frequently questioning the rationale for such rules, he recently commissioned his own tests on devices like the Kindle. The results seemed to support Bilton’s position that the FAA being a little disingenuous.
A San Francisco judge on Thursday ruled that a city-wide ordinance mandating that cell phone vendors warn customers about radiation are a little too strict, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The judge took issue with both the specific warning messages and how they have to be posted, and then ordered the city to change both.
The impact of long term exposure to cellphone radiation is still largely unknown, but all the evidence up until now lends credence to the fact that you probably have better things to worry about. San Francisco lawmakers disagree however, and a controversial new law that forced retailers to display radiation levels of different handsets has the CTIA pulling them into court. “The CTIA's objection to the ordinance is that displaying a phone's SAR value at the point-of-sale suggests to the consumer that there is a meaningful safety distinction between FCC-compliant devices with different SAR levels," it said in a statement.
According to CTIA officials the new law supersedes the FCC’s authority to regulate radio emissions, and is misleading for consumers who ultimately haven’t been properly educated as to what the SAR ratings actually mean. Some have been tempted to lump cellphone manufacturers in with the tobacco industry who lied to customers for years about the dangers of smoking, but this is a bit misleading as well. Independent labs have backed up the fact that cellphone radiation levels as they are mandated today are considered safe and in some cases might even be beneficial.
Only time will tell if the law will hold up in court, but at the end of the day perhaps it will encourage manufactures to voluntarily lower radiation levels. Studies show it probably won’t help, but it certainly can’t hurt.
San Francisco is well known for being a progressive city, often leading the way in environmental and humanist issues, and historically unafraid of making waves. However, in the instance of the recently signed cell phone radiation law, the SF Board of Supervisors are being reminded that sometimes it’s best to not rock the boat – especially when you’re the one sitting in it.
Late last month the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to pass a bill, proposed by Mayor Gavin Newsom, which would require cell phone retailers to post the radiation absorption levels emitted by cell phone handsets. While cell phone manufacturers such as Apple and Verizon, and telecom giants AT&T, TechAmerica and CTIA, have successfully lobbied against similar bills in both California and Maine earlier this year, they were apparently unable to sway the city by the bay. Their response was to promptly pack up their toys (i.e. the annual CTIA convention) and go home, saying “We felt they sent us a message about how they felt about the industry and the technology. And if that’s how the city feels, then we have to look at other viable options.” They’re also encouraging other companies (Apple and Cisco have both been name-dropped) to join them in a boycott. As the CTIA convention has brought “more than 68,000 exhibitors and attendees and $80 million” to the city’s coffers, this may prove to be a not only a costly reminder to San Francisco law-makers –but also an unfortunate blowback to the tech-savvy residents of the city.
Much ado has been made about the long-term health effects of frequent cell phone usage, and studies have come to mixed conclusions. Some studies fail to show any kind of link between jamming a cell phone against your noggin for extended periods of time, while others warn that within the next decade or so, you'll be able to identify frequent chatters by the tails they've grown.
Regardless of which side is right, San Francisco's Board of Supervisors voted in favor of a law that would require retailers to display exactly how much radiation is emitted by cell phones. Following the vote, this will likely become a law after a 10-day waiting period, in which citizens and politicians have a chance to comment on the bill.
"In addition to protecting the consumers’ right to know, this legislation will encourage telephone manufacturers to redesign their devices to function at lower radiation levels," said Mayor Gavin Newsom, announcing the legislation. "This is similar to Prop 65, which dramatically reduced public exposure to toxic materials because chemical companies removed toxic ingredients from their products in order to avoid product warnings."
Should this go into law, San Francisco cell phone shoppers will be able to see the specific absorption rate (SPR) of any cell phone being sold. This number represents the amount of radiation produced that's absorbed into the body, and retailers who neglect to disclose this info would be hit with a $300 fine.
Most people seem determined to prove that cell phones are out to fry our brains, but could a call or two a day actually join red wine in the united federation of healthy vices? Okay, perhaps that’s a bit of a stretch, but a new study has found that lab mice that were genetically altered to develop Alzheimer’s disease performed better on thinking and skill tests after exposure to cell phone style electromagnetic waves. “Electromagnetic waves prevent the aggregation of that bad protein of the brain” said Gary Arendash of the University of South Florida.
The study looked at the effects of cell phone use for two hours per day over a seven to nine month period, and the results were actually the opposite of what researchers were expecting. “We had expected cell phone exposure to increase the effects of dementia” claims Arendash. After decades of research there is still no cure, and few effective treatments for Alzheimer’s which is the most common form of late life dementia with over 35 million people suffering from the disease.
The evidence that cell phone radiation is safe continues to mount, but I suppose only time will tell.
Even if you're not the type who typically sports a tin foil hat, you've probably spent a bit of time wondering if all that cell phone radiation we subject our brains to is safe. Could cell phones be the cigarettes of the modern age in disguise? Apparently not if you heed the results of a new Scandinavian study which has carefully reviewed the effects of wireless phone radiation on the brain over a 30 year period, and claims cell phones are completely harmless.
The study was performed by the Danish Cancer society and was documented in the National Cancer Institute Journal which looks at brain cancer trends in Scandinavian countries. Of course some people will never be convinced cell phones are truly safe regardless of how much evidence comes to light, but for those of you still on the fence, this is a bit positive news that should put your mind at ease.
Even though they claim its safe for the brain, I would still suggest holding onto your solid lead underwear if you're going to keep carrying around a cell phone in your pants. I haven't seen any studies on the effects of radiation on the wedding tackle, but I'm not taking any chances.