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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cellphone Companies Already Warn Customers of Radiation Risks

Posted By on Wed, May 4, 2011 at 12:36 PM

click to enlarge Try speaker phone ...
  • Try speaker phone ...

Never one to shy away from fringe crusades, San Francisco Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) is pushing legislation to make San Francisco's law that requires retailers to inform consumers of possible risks of cellphone use, mandatory statewide.

And it turns out that cellphone companies don't think this idea is so crazy. 

CNet's Kent German recently took the extraordinary step of reading the owners' manuals supplied with several cellphones. And guess what? Many companies already sternly advise users to be cautious of where and how to carry their phones to avoid exposure to excessive radiation.

From German:

Though each manufacturer varies the wording, all advise that your phone could exceed the FCC's 1.6-watt-per-kilogram SAR limit (the measure by which the FCC considers phones safe) if you don't hold it at a short distance from your body while it is transmitting. You'll find such a warning for almost every phone sold in the United States.

BlackBerry, for example, warns that carrying the device incorrectly and thus exposing yourself to excessive radio waves might actually void the product's warranty. Here's what German found in the BlackBerry manual:

"To maintain compliance with FCC RF exposure guidelines when you carry the BlackBerry device on your body, use only accessories equipped with an integrated belt clip that are supplied or approved by Research in Motion. Use of accessories that are not expressly approved by RIM may violate FCC exposure guidelines and might void any warranty applicable to the BlackBerry device. If you do not use a body-worn accessory equipped with an integrated belt clip supplied or approved by RIM when you carry your BlackBerry device, keep the BlackBerry device at least 0.98 inches (25mm) from your body when the BlackBerry device is transmitting. When using any data feature of the BlackBerry device, with or without a USB cable, hold the BlackBerry device at least 0.98 inches away from your body." 

BlackBerry is no more of an alarmist than other companies. Casio also warns that its phone should be kept two centimeters from the body -- which is about a finger's width. Sony says to keep its devices 1.5 centimeters away from the body, and HTC recommends one centimeter.

By merely requiring companies to move fine-print radiation warnings onto packaging and point-of-sale advertising, Leno has produced legislation that has a good chance of sailing through the Senate's Environmental Quality Committee hearing scheduled for later this month.

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