Sanity Prevails in Maine: No Cell Phone Radiation Warning Labels

I’m actually a bit surprised the proposal was defeated, as it does have all the kind of appeal that politicians love, especially given that it’s for “The children,” but it seems that the warning label bill for cell phones in Maine, which had previously been reported,  has been defeated.   The bill would have required all cell phones sold in the state to come with a warning label stating “Warning, this device emits electromagnetic radiation, exposure to which may cause brain cancer. Users, especially children and pregnant women, should keep this device away from the head and body,”  along with a ridiculous graphic showing a young child’s brain and cell phone sending dangerous radiation into it. This despite the fact that all credible research indicates they do not.

If they are going to put that kind of message on a phone, I’d insist they also put a message saying that it may reduce the risk of brain cancer and children and pregnant women should place the device as close as they can to their head and body to increase the protection it provides.   There is, after all, at least as much evidence that that statement is true.

Via PC Magazine:

A Maine lawmaker’s bid to label cell phones with cancer warnings has failed.

Back in December, Rep. Andrea Boland, a Democrat, announced that she was prepping a bill that would require cell phones makers to label their phones as potential brain cancer risks.

The bill, L.D. 1706, was introduced in January and called the “Children’s Wireless Protection Act.”

It called on any retailers who sold cell phones in the state of Maine to affix a label to the phones that would have read: “Warning, this device emits electromagnetic radiation, exposure to which may cause brain cancer. Users, especially children and pregnant women, should keep this device away from the head and body.”

The warning would also have included a color graphic depicting the brain of a 5-year-old, with red arrows pointing to a “cell phone” and “radiation area.”
It earned co-sponsorship from 13 members of the House and five senators, but the bill failed in both houses of the Maine legislature and is considered dead.

The debate over whether cell phone radiation causes cancer has been raging for years, but most experts agree that there is simply not enough data to determine whether the mobile devices pose a health risk.

“We are glad to see that the state legislature in Maine has taken a stand by recognizing that the body of scientific evidence as a whole does not indicate a public health risk caused by mobile phones. Requiring unnecessary labels on wireless devices sold there would have only misled consumers by implying that the federal safety standards are insufficient,” according to a statement from industry group TechAmerica.

I just love how they always say it’s “too soon to put warnings on phones” or that it’s “premature.” It seems to imply that we have to wait to put them on, because, presumably, we’ll eventually have the data to prove how dangerous they are.

Next time a bill like this is introduced, perhaps the legislator should be advised to make it even more inflammatory and hit on more of those hot-button phrases. Sure, it has “children” and “pregnant women” in it, and it also has “cancer,” but it lacks the phrases “Or the terrorists win,” “Do it for Jesus,” and “Or else you’re a racist.”

As it has been menti0ned here before, there is a fairly large amount of data available, some of it going back more than 40 years.  It includes studies on animal subjects, in-vitro cell culture studies, human population studies and surveys of early adopters of cell phones and related technologies.   No well controlled studies by a respectable research body have indicated any hint of increased cancer risk, and this is no surprise, since the physics of radio waves does not indicate there is any mechanism by which this kind of radiation could possibly have the kind of chemical effects that might cause cancer.

While cellular phones have only been around for thirty years, if they did have this effect, it’s almost unimaginable that we would not have begun to see at least the beginning of this trend by now.   Even if the average period before cancer shows up were many years, there should be some increase by now.  There isn’t.

Even before cell phones, other devices were blamed for causing cancer, despite lack of any evidence.  In 1992, two State Troopers in Connecticut brought suit claiming that the use of radar guns, devices which have been in use since the late 1940’s caused testicular cancer.  Police unions demanded an investigation of the dangers, and they got their investigation.  After exhaustive investigation of the devices, no increased risk of any cancer was ever found in police officers who had spent decades using the devices. Similar studies have looked at radar, microwave relay communications and UHF radios, all of which have also been around for decades.

The jury is not on the question of microwave radiation and cancer.  There is no association.  We’ve looked really really damn hard for one, and it’s not there.

No, the graphic above and to the right is not real.  It’s a satirical dramatic overstatement, but does show the spirit of the argument.