Sabin Russell Science Writer


What’s in a Label: Berkeley and the Science of Cell Phone Safety

Source: CTIA A Parents' Guide to Mobile Phones

On September 9, the City of Berkeley may decide whether to require health warnings on cell phones, drawing attention to the decades-old question of whether or not they can cause brain cancer and other health problems. Cell phone makers say that the science is settled and that they have the studies to prove it. The opposition argues that those same studies show an emerging public health threat. Is Berkeley about to side with crackpots, like those who deny the scientific consensus about climate change? Or are we looking at a replay of  the early stages of the discovery that tobacco use is a leading cause of lung cancer and heart disease?

As I wrote in my story, the stakes in this issue are extraordinarily high: "Cell phones are not only ubiquitous, they are close at hand: We press them against our ears. We store them in our pants pockets. Women slip them into their bras. Teens sleep with them under their pillows. With the adult market nearly saturated, the big growth opportunity for mobile devices is children."

When making policy, we like to make decisions based on proof. But often, we have to weigh different degrees of uncertainty. You can read the whole story here.

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Posted by Sabin Russell

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