Following a judgment in the Californian District Court, the City of Berkeley will become the first in the US to successfully in introduce labelling for mobile phones.

On 21 September, Judge Edward Chen pronounced his decision in a legal battle between Berkeley, whose councillors voted for the labels in May, and the CTIA Wireless Association, which claimed that the labels violated the First Amendment.

The Berkeley ordinance required that the specific information should be provided to every person who either purchases or leases a mobile phone or should be prominently displayed at the point of sale or lease. The text was to read: ‘If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. This potential risk is greater for children.’

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Council for Berkeley argued that manufacturers advise against holding mobile phones directly against the body, yet consumers are generally unaware of these recommenda- tions. ‘It is much more common for cell phones to be carried in pockets or other locations rather than holsters or belt clips, resulting in much smaller separation distances than the safety recommendations specify,’ the City’s municipal code states.

Before introducing the ordinance, Berkeley City Council conducted a telephone survey about mobile phones. It found that 70 percent of respondents were not aware that Federal radiation testing protects only when phones are held one to 15 millimetres from the body and not when held directly against the body.

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Judge Chen found that the reference to greater risk for children was scientifically contro- versial and ruled that it should be omitted from the ordinance. However, he did not grant the CTIA’s injunction against the phone labels themselves.

(CTIA – The Wireless Association ®, v The City of Berkeley, Northern District of California Court, Case3:15-cv-02529-EMC Document53,Filed09/21/15)


About The Author – Lyn McLean is a consumer advocate, author and educator and has been monitoring and writing on the subject of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) for over 20 years. She is the director of EMR Australia.


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