The Northern California town of Berkeley is known for being proactive on improving the health of its residents – just last month the city passed a landmark penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened drinks in order to combat obesity.
The city’s latest push, however, is placing an emphasis on awareness. Berkeley’s city council has voted a new ordinance that would require cell phone vendors to distribute information sheets warning of the devices’ potential health risks.
In a council meeting earlier this month, ten public members voiced their concerns about the perceived dangers of close cell phone use. One of those who spoke was UC Berkeley School of Public Health Professor Joel Moskowitz.
Mosowitz said the “right to know” ordinance is a natural step for Berkeley given the city’s long history as a strong advocate for public health, Berkeleyside reported. He described the new law as a “simple factsheet” for consumers.
Similar to a user manual, the “factsheet” would relay safety considerations related to the distance between one’s body and their devices.
Exactly what the information sheet might say remains to be seen, but the city plans to work with political activist and Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig to come up with an “ordinance and disclosure language that is the most defensible” and as “effective as possible,” according to the motion approved by council last week.
According to the FDA website, “There is no scientific evidence that proves that wireless phone usage can lead to cancer or a variety of other problems, including headaches, dizziness or memory loss. However, organizations in the United States and overseas are sponsoring research and investigating the claims of possible health effects related to the use of wireless telephones.”
Councilwoman Susan Wengraf said the push for transparency is something she could easily support: “Regardless of whether there’s science to prove it, I do favor the consumer’s right to know,” she said.
The Berkeley City Council has not yet set a date as to when it will vote on the wording of the new law.