Wireless Industry Challenges Radiation Law

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – San Francisco is trying to “second-guess” federal safety standards with an ordinance regulating the amount of radiation that cell phones can emit, a wireless association claims in Federal Court. CTIA-The Wireless Association wants to block the enforcement of a city ordinance requiring cell phone retailers to display radiation emission levels next to each phone.

     The industry association says the ordinance “represents an attempt by the City to second-guess the (Federal Communications Commission) and to supplant the exclusive federal regulation of RF (radio frequency) emissions safety.”
     In 1996, the FCC worked with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration to adopt standards controlling the radio frequency emissions from all cell phones sold or distributed in the United States. Retailers could only sell phones with a specific absorption rate (SAR) at or below 1.6 watts per kilogram of body tissue.
     The San Francisco ordinance, proposed by Mayor Gavin Newsom and adopted last month by the city’s Board of Supervisors, requires retailers to include a fact sheet with all cell phones explaining what the SAR values mean for consumers.
     “By enacting the ordinance,” the association claims, “the city is, in its own words, seeking to ‘take a lead role’ in ‘the next frontier of consumer safety’ and expects that the ordinance will ‘encourage telephone manufacturers to redesign their devices to function at lower radiation levels’ despite the fact that devices functioning at existing RF levels already fully comply with the FCC established safety standard for RF emissions.”
     The CTIA demands a declaration that the ordinance violates the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution and an order barring the city from enforcing it.
     It is represented by Robert Mittelstaedt with Jones Day.

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