San Francisco will become the first US city to require mobile phone retailers to display details of the radiation levels emitted by individual devices by law.
The city’s Board of Supervisors has passed the legislation by a majority vote, and it will be written into law following a final approval vote this week, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
It will compel all phone retailers to display information about a handset’s Specific Absorption Rate (SAR), the measure of how much electromagnetic radiation absorbed by body tissue while using mobile devices that phone manufacturers must register details of with the FCC.
Phone industry representatives have expressed concern that the legislation could mislead customers.
The CTIA said the practice could confuse users into thinking that some phones are 'safer' than others, or that there is no legal limit on SAR levels.
In fact, both the FCC in the US and The Council of the European Union in Europe have set mandatory maximum SAR levels for all consumer devices including mobile phones.
In 2001, a group of phone makers including Nokia, Ericsson and Motorola agreed to start printing details of SAR levels in the user manuals of phones sold in Europe, after being pressured by the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CELENEC).
The move comes the same week the Environmental Health Trust warned there may be a larger risk of brain cancer from using phones than expected.
It estimates the recent Interphone study, which was meant to put the issue to rest, could have understated the risk by up to 25%.
An attempt to pass a bill similar to the San Francisco law on a state-wide level failed earlier this year, while a bill in Maine to have warning labels similar to those used in cigarettes placed on phones also failed.