Two months ago we wrote
about a bill in the Oregon Legislature
that would require warning labels on all new cell phones
sold in the state.
For those worried their smart phone’s
shining newness might one day be sullied by an ugly warning label, fear not. That measure, Senate Bill 679, is dead.
The bill, which would have required
labels on cell phones and their packaging warning consumers of the potential
dangers of radio-frequency radiation, was introduced by state Sen. Chip
(D-Portland). But it didn't make it out of committee.
Shields introduced the measure on behalf of a constituent, David Morrison. A rare book
dealer and parent, Morrison says he became concerned about radio-frequency radiation six
years ago after he noticed a cell phone tower near his daughter’s school. In
his testimony to the committee, Morrison said, “Senate Bill 679 is not a bill
about brain cancer and cell phones. It is a bill about good policy and the
public’s right to know."
Radio-frequency radiation from cell
phones and their towers have been blamed for multiple problems—from brain cancer
to lower sperm counts. And cell phone industry officials have responded by rejecting
any links between their product and those problems.
Testifying against the Oregon labeling bill on behalf of the
wireless industry was Dr. Howard Ory, former deputy director for epidemiology
at the Centers for Disease Control, who also recently testified
against a similar bill introduced in Maine.
Ory called the Oregon bill “ill-conceived.”
“Studies to date,” Ory said, “do not show
a causal association between cell phones and cancer or other harms to humans.”
While there has been recent media
interest in the cell phone safety—most notably articles in Harpers, GQ
and the New
—for many, the question of cell phone safety remain
unresolved. Cell phone critics cite studies, including one
by the World Health Organization that stopped short of
saying there is a definitive link between heavy cell phone use and a particular
type of neurological cancer. A recent study
published by The Journal of the American Medical Association
shows an alteration
in the brain’s metabolism of glucose. What exactly this means for human health is
open for debate.
And debate was what Shields
wanted from the bill, says his spokeswoman MaryAlecia Briggs. She says Shields is willing to reintroduce the bill
in 2013 if Morrison remains interested.