CTIA again tries to block San Francisco cell phone radiation ordinance

The CTIA sued to block a San Francisco ordinance from taking effect that would require retailers to display a poster warning of the potential health risks from cell phone radiation. The wireless industry trade group also sued last year to block the law, known as the "Cell Phone Right-to-Know" ordinance.

The ordinance would have required retailers selling cell phones to prominently display a poster stating, in bold, that "studies continue to assess potential health effects of mobile phone use." Retailers have until Oct. 25 to comply with the ordinance, which would also require them to distribute fact sheets to customers about the potential health risks of cell phone radiation.

In its filing with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, CTIA said that the ordinance violates the First Amendment rights of its members, and "that private parties have the right not to speak contrary to their beliefs and, in particular, not to have the government force them to endorse a controversial or false message." The trade group said the law will cause "direct and irreparable harm" and that San Francisco does not have the right to pass a law which conflicts with federal regulations.

"The materials the city would require be posted and handed out at retail stores are both alarmist and false," John Walls, CTIA's vice president of public affairs, said in a statement. "The FCC and FDA have repeatedly found that cell phone use does not pose a danger to human health. The ordinance recommends such things as turning the phone off when not in use, a suggestion that would render critical emergency communications unavailable to San Francisco residents."

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said cities need to keep their citizens informed about public health issues. "I'm disappointed that the wireless industry is so bent on quashing the debate about the health effects of cell phone radiation," he said in a statement.

In May the World Health Organization said electromagnetic radiation from cell phones is "possibly carcinogenic to humans, based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use."

The report was issued by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which conducts cancer research for the WHO, a United Nations organization. The IARC classified radiation from mobile phones in the category 2b, meaning that it is possibly carcinogenic to humans. Other substances in the same category include the pesticide DDT, lead and gasoline exhaust. Importantly, the IARC working group, which included 31 scientists from 14 countries, did not conduct new research but reviewed available scientific literature on the topic.

For more:
- see this release
- see this Reuters article
- see this LA Times article

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