Your Cell Phone Isn't Going to Kill You, Expert Says

San Francisco ordinance mandates retailers post cell phone radiation levels

By Charlie Wojciechowski
|  Thursday, Jul 15, 2010  |  Updated 2:18 PM CDT
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In this city known for producing laws both path-breaking and contentious, legislators have forcefully stepped into another debate — this time over the potential danger of cell phone use.

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Your cell phone isn't going to kill you, says the former Chief technology officer for Schaumburg-based Motorola.

"The growth in the usage of cell phones has been phenomenal, but we haven’t seen the incidence of cancers related to the brain or any part of the head go up in any way," said Dennis Roberson, who currently serves as the Vice-Provost at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

His opinion is based on his research for the past 35 years, which found no evidence that cell phones have any impact on health, and comes after the passage of a new ordinance in San Francisco.

The City by the Bay now mandates that retailers post radiation levels next to the devices they sell.

"I think much of the American public is naïve about the harmful effects, especially long term, of using their cell phones," said Joel Moskowitz, a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley.

He disagrees with Roberson and suggests there is growing evidence of a link between cell-phone use and brain cancer.

Manufacturers already report radiation information to the Federal Communications Commission. It is measured by what is called the Specific Absorption Rate -- or SAR number -- which reflects how much of a transmitter’s electromagnetic energy is absorbed by human tissue.

By law, handheld phones can emit no more than 1.6 watts per kilogram.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) said he will introduce a bill for federal research into the health effects of cell phone radiation that will require warning labels for mobile phones.

Many researchers say posting SAR numbers near phones for sale will only make the already confusing process of selecting a wireless device even more difficult. Others say consumers have nothing to worry about when they use cell phones.

"They should not be concerned in the least," said Roberson.

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