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San Francisco Mayor Expected to Sign Cell Phone Radiation Law

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors has approved an ordinance, which will require retailers to post signs that show how much radiation is emitted from cell phones, reports The Bellingham Herald. There are conflicting studies that indicate in some cases that cell phones do not cause health problems, while others show a link to brain cancer.

The stores will have to provide the specific absorption rate (SAR), a measurement of radiation absorbed by a phone user’s body tissue, which each manufacturer is required to register with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

If Mayor Gavin Newsom, who proposed the ordinance, signs it into law after a 10-day comment period and final vote by the board it would become the first law in the U.S. to require the posting of radiation emitted from cell phones, according to the newspaper.

The deadline for posting SAR rates by retailers will be Feb. 1, 2011, although penalties for not posting them won’t be issued until May 1, 2011, while independent retailers will have an extended deadline to February 2012 to post SAR rates with penalties starting in August 2012, reports eWeek.

Retailers will be forgiven for their first failure, but will pay a $100 fine for a second failure,  followed by a $250 fine if caught again, and then $500 for each violation afterward, according to eWeek.

Cell phone industry advocates, such as CTIA-The Wireless Association, say it could mislead consumers into believing that some cell phones are safer than others. A spokesman for the trade group told the newspaper that a consumer is likely to infer which phones are safe or unsafe based on a phone’s SAR rate if posted in a store.

All phones in the U.S. must have a SAR rate of no more than 1.6 watts per kilogram, according to the FCC. It’s listed in the user manual of each phone sold and on manufacturer Websites, according to CTIA.

Earlier this month, the state Senate killed a similar bill for the state, and in March, Maine defeated a bill that proposed putting warning labels on cell phone packaging, reports eWeek.

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