Pennsylvania lawmakers are mulling over whether to require cell phones sold in the Commonwealth to carry warning labels.
A proposed law calls for a permanent label on the back of cell phones stating that electromagnetic radiation may cause brain cancer, and advising users to keep the phone away from the head and body.
Speaking in favor of the legislation at a committee hearing in Philadelphia Thursday, Dr. Ronald Herberman, founding director emeritus of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, said “better safe than sorry.”
“I can’t tell this committee that cell phones are definitely dangerous,” Herberman said, “but I certainly cannot tell you that they’re safe, and that’s really the heart of my concern.”
Herberman said it will take decades to prove whether cell phones increase cancer risk, but consumers should be aware of the possibility now.
Gerard Keegan from CTIA, a wireless trade group, argued all cell phones approved by the Federal Communications Commission for sale in the U.S. are safe, and products should have a proven risk before warning labels are required.
“When you start putting warning labels on products because there may be, or we think they may,” Keegan said, “The public gets turned off, and the warning labels on products that require (them) would be ignored by the general public.”
A similar bill was rejected by the Maine legislature last year.
Some cell phone manuals already advise users to wear a holster instead of putting phones in pockets, and to keep phones about a half inch from the face.
Phones must meet FCC standards for radiation emitted to be sold in the U.S.