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San Francisco Requires Cell Phone Radiation Warnings 258

Posted by Soulskill
from the apple-trademarks-i-rradiate dept.
Lord Ender writes "Poor phone reception may soon be a selling point in San Francisco. A city ordinance was just approved which requires those selling phones to indicate the 'specific absorption rate' (SAR) caused by the radio transmitters in the phones. Cell phone industry groups opposed the law. The FCC already requires phones sold in the US to have SAR levels below 1.6 W/kg, though adverse health effects from such levels of radio exposure have never been conclusively demonstrated."
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San Francisco Requires Cell Phone Radiation Warnings

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @12:19PM (#32591430) Journal
    Recently it was reported widely that “airport scanners, power lines, cell phones and microwaves” ain't got nothin' on medical scanning radiation [google.com]. Now people are asking for tracking systems [jsonline.com] and calling them a threat [newsinferno.com].

    I'm not really worried about cell phones as much as when I roll into my new dentist's, get 18+ x-rays of my entire mouth for their record. Find out I need two inlays on the lower left. Come back in two weeks and get two more xrays so they know where to drill. Come back in two weeks to get the inlays put in only to have them re x-ray the inlays after they were in to make sure they were in properly since they couldn't floss between them. What. the. hell? Can't you use regular light and your eyeballs to set those in there? I mean, I'm glad you did a good job, I just don't know what to do about this malignant jaw tumor now ...
    • Seriously - I didn't get anywhere near that many x-rays when I had my root canal/crown operation a couple of years ago.

      • by wsanders (114993) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @12:56PM (#32591830) Homepage

        ... not just a crown. They drill a screw down into your jaw or skull bone, then mount a tooth on it.

        I would *definitely* not want to have problems with that, they could take as many X-rays as they want. At 0.005 millisieverts (see parent's link) that's still 1/20th the amount of a chest Xray.

        Now off to brush my teeth compulsively for the next hour.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Have you had an implant? My dentist is telling me to get one (have a missing tooth) and the estimate is between $4000 and $5000. That seems a bit outrageous to me. Just wondering if you (or anybody else) has data to compare.

          I told my dentist I'll get an implant in Mexico and he just laughed at me.

          • Mexican Dentists (Score:3, Insightful)

            by wsanders (114993)

            Actually, you should check out Mexican dentists (and doctors.) Sailboat liveaboards and other adventurers who spend extended periods of time down there swear by them. A good many are reported to have US training, speak English, and your cash expense could be less than your insurance deductible.

      • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

        Really. My dentist can x-ray my entire mouth with about 2 or 3 shots. I don't remember the figure exactly because he only does it every other year, or right before drilling a cavity (hasn't happened in a few years either :). I'm not normally one to be afraid of a little radiation, but 20-some xrays for essentially a single trip to the dentist is probably cause for alarm. What happens when you go back in 6 months?

    • It's true - don't you think it's a little weird that your Doctor will tell you to go pose over there by the wall, while they hide behind a lead curtain?

      I mean, I get it. They do X-rays all the time so its better that they don't get exposed to it everytime a patient does. But I begin to wonder if there is a way that doesn't involve X-rays at all, that way we all can rest a little easier.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by JWSmythe (446288)

      I really hated that story. The news story that is. Your doctor story is sadly accurate.

      In the news story, they mix non-ionizing radiation (like RF) and ionizing radiation (like X-ray), and don't clearly differentiate them. Both can be bad. Ionizing radiation can be worse. They miss the fact that even if every source of man made radiation were to be neutralized, both still exist at background levels. Well, unless you are exposed to daylight, then you're getting a bit of bo

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dan Ost (415913)

        Beyond burns, what risks are associated with non-ionizing radiation?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Sir_Lewk (967686)

          They're scary. Seems as though some people have an RF phobia. Probably stems from them never taking a physics class in their life, I blame the public school system.

    • I wonder how the medical imaging radiation an average person receives compares to the daily, hourly, sometime nigh-continuous exposure to the lower levels of radiation from a cell phone.

      BTW, your dental x-rays sound excessive.

      • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @12:43PM (#32591684)

        I wonder how the medical imaging radiation an average person receives compares to the daily, hourly, sometime nigh-continuous exposure to the lower levels of radiation from a cell phone.

        It doesn't. Trying to compare the two would be like trying to compare getting hit with a ping pong ball once a minute all day every day to getting shot with a 9mm pistol once a year. Look up the difference between ionizing and non-ionizing radiation if this isn't making sense to you.

      • Radiation used in medicine is the largest source of man-made radiation to which people in the United States are exposed. Most of our exposure is from diagnostic x-rays. Physicians use x-rays in more than half of all medical diagnoses to determine the extent of disease or physical injury. Radiation is also used in cancer treatments, where precisely targeted radiation destroys diseased cells without killing nearby healthy cells. Radiopharmaceuticals, another medical treatment, are used to locate tumors in a patient's body and to treat cancer. One-third of all successful cancer treatments involve radiation.

        The U.S. national annual background dose for humans is approximately 360 mrem. A mrem, or millirem, is a standard measure of radiation dose. Examples of radiation doses from common medical procedures are:

        • Chest x-ray (14 x 17 inch area) - 15 mrem
        • Dental x-ray (3 inch diameter area) - 300 mrem
        • Spinal x-ray (14 x 17 inch area) - 300 mrem
        • Thyroid uptake study – 28,000 mrem to the thyroid
        • Thyroid oblation - 18,000,000 mrem to the thyroid

        http://www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/rp/factsheets/factsheets-htm/fs10bkvsman.htm [wa.gov]

    • by somaTh (1154199)
      Out of curiosity, was it the old film x-ray or the newer digital ones? It's my understanding that the newer ones use significantly less power and are "safer" for multiple uses. Even if it was, I agree with you. That kind of usage sounds excessive.
    • by theNAM666 (179776) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @12:48PM (#32591742)

      What are you complaining about? I went the dentist and then the urologist a few years ago, and then attempted to drive over the Williamsburg bridge. Six ATF guys pulled me over because their radiation detector went off... I don't want to remember the rest of it.

    • From the article:

      "A chest or abdominal CT scan involves 10 to 20 millisieverts, versus 0.01 to 0.1 for an ordinary chest X-ray, less than 1 for a mammogram, and as little as 0.005 for a dental X-ray. Natural radiation from the sun and soil accounts for about 2 millisieverts a year."

      So your 30 x-rays add up to 0.15 mSv--if they were using the latest and greatest instrument and knew how to use it. That is a little more than an ordinary chest x-ray.

      But I think that assumes that the person taking the x-ray kno

    • First, go to a dentist who can do a panoramic x-ray, if only for speed/comfort.

      Second, a dental x-ray is 1-3 mrem. Some studies have shown humans tolerate about 3 rem per year well, so you'll be fine.

      Third, I'll take a bit of radiation over exploratory surgery any day. When the Star Trek biobed arrives, that'll be good too.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by geekoid (135745)

      A man can handle 100 X-Rays a year, and should have to.

    • You could just say "no". When my dentist asks why I just say, "Costs too much"

    • by Anonymous Coward

      As soon as you hear the xray machine go on, yell "Owww!"

      They love jokes like that!

  • poor reception (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Trisha-Beth (9231) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @12:23PM (#32591468)

    Poor reception means that the phone has to transmit at higher power to reach the cell base station.

    • Re:poor reception (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JWSmythe (446288) <(moc.ehtymswj) (ta) (ehtymswj)> on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @12:35PM (#32591594) Homepage Journal

          I went to Europe once (years ago), with my Nextel phone. I left it on quite a bit, so I could retrieve phone numbers, and call them from my local cell phone. The Nextel phone usually lasted for days if it was just turned on but I wasn't making calls. I had to charge it every night while I was there, because it was constantly seeking towers that didn't exist. After I got home, everything was back to normal. It could find towers, so it worked at lower power.

      • I had to charge it every night while I was there, because it was constantly seeking towers that didn't exist.

        Yep. I'm in awe of the power budget engineers who designed my LG nV2. It can regularly run 4-5 days between charges, in an area with only mediocre coverage.

        But if I spend the data in a data center (faraday cage), the battery is down to 20% after an 8-hour job. Nice mini-USB car charger to the rescue. And the darn thing charges up in just a couple hours with its tiny battery. Such a good phone (w

        • by JWSmythe (446288)

          Datacenters are always funny for cell phone coverage. One in particular was mostly underground. If you were standing on one side, you were about 20' down. If you walked across the datacenter, it was at street level, but there was a thick steel reinforced concrete wall. If someone managed to make my phone ring, which did happen occasionally, I'd have to ignore it, go upstairs (to ground level) and out through the security checkpoint before I could call them back. :) But I've only had a fe

        • by sznupi (719324)

          Aye, some manufacturers do care; this [nokia.com] is one of the most striking (almost to the point of being funny) example of that :)
          Surely in some optimal scenario, of course; but from what I can tell after contact with few Nokia phones meant as long lasting ones (even if only to the half time of the above one), it can be definatelly felt in daily usage. And it seems it can be done even with [nokia.com] some smartphones... [nokia.com]

      • Re:poor reception (Score:4, Informative)

        by MozeeToby (1163751) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @01:07PM (#32591972)

        Similar problem when I go to visit the folks up in rural Wisconsin, the solution I've found is to put the phone into airplane mode (both of my most recent phones have had it so I assume it's becoming standard). That allows you to use the phone as a PDA (pull contact information, view/edit saved data, play games, etc) without it running down your battery in a matter of hours.

      • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        Next time, put your phone in Airplane Mode. It cuts off all wireless transmissions from your phone. It will last a week like that, if you are only occasionally checking it.

    • On that note, isn't this ordinance stepping on the toes of the FCC anyway?
      • > On that note, isn't this ordinance stepping on the toes of the FCC anyway?

        No. It does not impinge upon the design or operation of the phones.

      • Not really. States can add to Federal regulations, they just can't take away from them. (I.e., CA's clean air laws are much stricter than the EPA's.)

    • by conureman (748753)

      I try to remember to switch off my phone when I'm in dead areas as it seems to drain the battery in a few hours, trying to reach the network. I avoid adding to my personal dosage of radiation as far as practicable, Layers of fabric for sun protection and backing away from "harmless" emitters like CRTs and microwave ovens. Hoping to find my death somewhere other than an Oncology center. YMMV.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @12:24PM (#32591474)

    WARNING: The Sun is radioactive! Avoid using it to make phone calls. -- San Francisco.

    • by Black Parrot (19622) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @12:38PM (#32591648)

      WARNING: The Sun is radioactive! Avoid using it to make phone calls.

      Or at least avoid holding it against your ear for prolonged periods.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Caledfwlch (1434813)
      I don't think they have Sun in San Francisco (Fog City)
    • by Itninja (937614)
      Warning: bullets exit from gun barrel very, very fast. Do not point at face.
    • To play ridiculous devil's advocate, you know when you are in sunlight and how bright it is. You don't know what your cell phone is spitting out, though since they don't appear to do anything to you, that information is trivial.

      As far as warning about the sun, well that would at least be consistent for California. Warnings on everything about how they could cause cancer and birth defects. LAX has to warn you not to jump out on the tarmac and drink the jet fuel, because it can cause cancer. That the city

      • "Sun is dangerous. Do not wear this bikini unless trying to attract a mate with your firm stomach and big breasts. Otherwise cover up." - California General Surgeon

    • You have to realize SF's Board of Supes is way into touchy feeley useless laws, it's easier than fixing their broken water mains, potholes, clogged storm drains, unreliable transit system, intractable homeless problem, and enormous budget deficit.

      This law just requires sellers to post SAR levels where they can be easily evaluated. Verizon already posts SARs on the little price cards next to the phone. Whatever, SAR is a completely meaningless figure anyway.

      It isn't nearly as nutty as the City of Sebastopol

      • It sounds like diversion to me. Argue over this silly cellphone law instead of water pipes or clogged roadways. What an incredible waste of resources (money, time).

  • Hey Gavin (Score:5, Informative)

    by Low Ranked Craig (1327799) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @12:26PM (#32591498)

    Please [wikipedia.org] educate [wikipedia.org] yourself [medpagetoday.com].

  • OMG! (Score:5, Funny)

    by another joe (1132353) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @12:26PM (#32591502)
    What about second hand radiation? Maybe they should only call in their own homes!
    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      Quick! We need a government mandated Cell Phone Industry funded add campaign warning about the horrors of first and second hand cell phone radiation exposure!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    -Fire
    -Stove
    -Television
    -The sky

    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      -The sky

      The sky doesn't emit radiation, it actually blocks a lot of it. Solar radiation would be a hundred times worse without the sky. However, it does transmit a small amount highly energetic radiation, so it isn't blameless. It just doesn't emit anything.

      Fire is far and away the deadliest emitter of harmful radiation.

      What is San Fransisco doing about the radiation danger of matches and lighters?

  • I acknowledge we don't know the long term effects of any mobile phone usage because we haven't been using them long enough, but at the same time I feel uneasy. Phone companies would stand to lose so much money and have their industries labeled alongside big tobacco, so I can't help but think they're pouring as much research into studies that "prove" phone radiation is harmless. Even if they couldn't convince people, at least they'd make the water murkier.

    I dunno, my opinions on the ethics of big b

    • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @12:36PM (#32591618)

      There are populations that have been using cell phones for almost 30 years, and before them there were groups that used hand held radios of similar power levels for another few decades. Granted, the levels of use are probably going up, but in many cases the power output is also going down so you're talking about minimum 30 and up to 60 years of use, it shouldn't be too hard to get a group of long term radio and cell phone users together and have them take a health survey. In fact, you probably wouldn't even have to, all you'd really have to do is look at the rate of brain cancers compaired to the rate of cell phone adoption and if there's a strong correlation you can investigate further (here's a hint, there isn't one).

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *

        shouldn't be too hard to get a group of long term radio and cell phone users together

        Be careful about stopping by the local HAM club and doing a health survey. Long-term radio use seems to cause geekery, pudginess, beer cravings, and a tendency to use linux.

      • I remember another form of this from when I was a kid. My mom was worried because she heard about claims that kids who lived near power lines got cancer. Our house when I was a young child (until around age 6) was very near some high voltage distribution lines (they very large long haul kind). This was based on next to no evidence, just an "OMG radiation is evil!!!" mentality. Never mind the waves coming from the power lines were bigger than me (60Hz EM waves are like 5 million meters long).

        Well there have

    • Phone companies would stand to lose so much money and have their industries labeled alongside big tobacco, so I can't help but think they're pouring as much research into studies that "prove" phone radiation is harmless. Even if they couldn't convince people, at least they'd make the water murkier.

      Surely you're not suggesting that the pursuit of money would cause someone to put other people at risk.

      • Surely you're not suggesting that the pursuit of money would cause someone to put other people at risk.

        Does the Pope shit in the woods?

    • by LingNoi (1066278)

      I acknowledge we don't know the long term effects of any mobile phone usage because we haven't been using them long enough,

      riiight... because no one studied the effects of radiation on humans before phones came along....

    • by geekoid (135745)

      There is too much empirical data to even come up with a correlation, much less causation.
      Too many studies from out side the industry continue to find nothing.

      There really isn't any evidence to support this. While tobacco lied, you will note the studies and empirical evidence did come out.

  • They are at greater risk driving while on the phone of dieing. Perhaps that should be on the warning.

    "DO NOT USE WHILE OPERATING HEAVY MACHINERY" or something like that.

  • The iPhone has written in its manual that, in order to safely use the phone, you should keep it at 1 inch distance from your head. Now, I think that phone manufacturers should be required to change the form-factor of the device so that you can only use it in a safe way.

  • by JumpDrive (1437895) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @12:52PM (#32591786)
    Just like a bunch of Californian wussies to get all worried about a little bit of cell phone radiation, when we have FREAKING UFO's flying around everywhere.
    Did anybody tell them that when the wind blows East to West that dust from the Trinity site settles in the fog?
  • ...has been conclusively demonstrated. Cellphones are known (even to the state of California) not to cause cancer.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      No. No test has ever shown any indication they have never caused cancer. Based on the sensitivity, and extremely low power emitted by the phones, it isn't likely ever to be shown to cause cancer.

      We also don't know of any form of cancer increasing over the last 20 years that could be linked to cell phones.

      It's tough to prove a negative.

      • > No test has ever shown any indication they have never caused cancer.

        It takes only one counterexample to disprove a theory. In this case the theory is that cellphones cause cancer and it predicted that the referenced study would find a positive correlation between cellphone use and cancer. The study results constitute a counterexample.

        > It's tough to prove a negative.

        A negative: "The sky is not always blue". Proof: go outside at midnight and look up.

  • by geekoid (135745)

    more ignorant public setting science policies.
    Fucking nitwits.

    • by DaveV1.0 (203135)

      Better be careful.

      Someone might call you elitists for believing that scientists and other experts might know better than the mouth-breathing, TV-watching, failed-at-critical-thinking random man on the street or basic B-list celebrity.

  • So if they need to keep the SAR number low, but want to maintain reception, they should just make the phones heavier. Simply by keeping the wattage the same, and doubling the weight, you cut the SAR coefficient in half!
  • by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @01:21PM (#32592132) Journal

    So, San Francisco passed a law that required a sticker on a common product showing a rating of something most people do not understand or even know about, that has not been shown to have any health consequences, and offers no guidance or explanation. And, it is all to placate some paranoid idiots and will result in ignorant hypochondriacs going bonkers.

    This isn't FUD. It is blatant fear mongering and deliberate risk miscommunication.

  • by Rooked_One (591287) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @01:36PM (#32592352) Journal
    its better safe than sorry. Take the oil rig disaster. Had *PROPER* precautions been taken, it wouldn't have happened. Same with that brain cancer you are hoping not to get. It might hit your testicles as well - think about where that iPhone that never stops transmitting data is right now.

    Count me in with the "nut jobs" who would rather think in FUTURE tense and could be wrong than thinking only in present tense and thinking the outcome is always going to be "on my side."

    Ignorance may be bliss, but its no way to live your life. Hey, I just came up with that - I would say that's a pretty good notable quotable, eh?
    • by John Hasler (414242) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @01:57PM (#32592610) Homepage

      > its better safe than sorry.

      Right. What if living in houses causes cancer? It's never been proven that it doesn't. Better live outside.

      > Count me in with the "nut jobs"...

      Ok.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by DaveV1.0 (203135)

        What if living in houses causes cancer?

        In some parts of the country it does. Have you forgotten about radon gas?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ImABanker (1439821)
        Studies have shown that nearly all of people who contracted cancer had lived in a house within the past 5 years. I'm surprised there isnt more of an uproar.
    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      its better safe than sorry. Take the oil rig disaster. Had *PROPER* precautions been taken, it wouldn't have happened.

      To be fair though, the government signed off on every step BP took leading up to the spill, so turning these things over to the government to manage obviously doesn't help a damn thing.

      There also happens to be zero evidence to support the idea that cell phone radiation is harmful, which stem from radio technology which has been around for 70 years. In all that time, we have only identified a few applications of radiation that are potentially harmful to humans. Microwaves are about the minimum, and are muc

  • by NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @01:45PM (#32592468)
    Light bulbs and sun light? I mean the photos in both of those have large numbers of photons in the visible range. Those are quite a bit more energetic than microwaves so logically you'd think they'd be more dangerous. (Oh I'm sorry, logic doesn't come into it.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bzipitidoo (647217)

      Apparently, logic doesn't come into discussions about cell phone radiation either. They do have warnings against sunlight, which has its dangers, as I'm sure you know. Even light bulbs are suspect. It's thought that light bulbs enable too much nighttime activity, which combined with the light itself throws off our circadian rhythms.

      We ought to find out just what cell phones do to us. It may not be all bad news either. One study showed it actually helps rats with Alzheimer's. Still bad in a way, beca

  • I weight 81 kg. So my maximum safe absorption absorption is 130 watts. What kind of cell phone can pump out 130 watts of RF? Can somebody send me a new keyboard, I just shot coffee all over mine.
  • by bickerdyke (670000) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @01:50PM (#32592520)

    Over here, the SAR has to be noted with the technical details for at least 10 years now. Not a cellphone less was sold.

    • by DaveV1.0 (203135)

      But, do you have as many vocal, paranoid, hypochondriac idiots over there?

      • > But, do you have as many vocal, paranoid, hypochondriac idiots over there?

        They have many, many more. Consider the "frankenfoods" crap, for example.

  • by joeyblades (785896) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @01:56PM (#32592588)

    I always marvel at those people who are concerned about cell phones and cancer...

    These are the same people who insit on driving and carrying on a conference call at the same time. I got news for you. There is a high probability that your cell phone will be a direct cause of your death... but it has nothing to do with radiation.

    And you pedestrians, don't act so smug. A few weeks ago I saw a walkin' talkin' fool step out in front of a bus without looking (lucky for him, a conscious observer yanked him back from the clutches of death).

    Believe me, radiation is the least of your worries...

  • by daten (575013) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @03:46PM (#32594010) Homepage

    I'm curious what the measure of cell phone radiation exposure is in bananas?

    From wikipedia:

    """
    Many foods are naturally radioactive, and bananas are particularly so, due to the radioactive potassium-40 they contain. The banana equivalent dose is the radiation exposure received by eating a single banana. Radiation leaks from nuclear plants are often measured in extraordinarily small units (the picocurie, a millionth of a millionth of a curie, is typical). By comparing the exposure from these events to a banana equivalent dose, a more realistic assessment of the actual risk can sometimes be obtained.

    The average radiologic profile of bananas is 3520 picocuries per kg, or roughly 520 picocuries per 150g banana. The equivalent dose for 365 bananas (one per day for a year) is 3.6 millirems.
    """

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana_equivalent_dose

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