EWG Stands with San Francisco on Cell Phone Radiation Right-to-Know

OAKLAND, Calif. – The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is expected to accept a settlement with the cell phone trade association tomorrow (Tuesday, May 7) to bring to an end a long legal battle over the city's groundbreaking right-to-know ordinance on cell phone radiation.

Following a multi-year court fight between the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) and the city, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled on Sept. 10, 2012 in favor of the industry. The challenged ordinance required retailers to provide consumers with a one-page fact sheet about potential health risks from cell phone radiation and advice on safer cell phone use.

The negotiated settlement would free the city, as the losing party, from the obligation to pay $500,000 in legal fees for the industry.

Renee Sharp, Environmental Working Group’s director of research and head of its California offices, issued the following statement:

“EWG has been a strong supporter of this groundbreaking ordinance from day one and worked with the city on its implementation. We are disappointed that residents of San Francisco will not have access to important public health information about radiation emissions from wireless devices at the point of sale. We strongly believe consumers have the right to know about the potential health effects of cell phone radiation and how they can reduce their exposures. 

“The decision by 9th Circuit was deeply flawed. If the nation’s experience with tobacco taught us anything, it is that it is dangerous to wait until there is scientific consensus about a potential health threat before providing consumers with information on how they can protect themselves. Unfortunately, the court ruled that the city could not require retailers to provide consumers with balanced precautionary information.

“The city's hands are now tied in this case, but we are pleased to hear that city officials do not plan to back down on educating consumers about the potential health effects of cell phone radiation. We look forward to working with the city on future outreach efforts.  

“EWG commends the Mayor, the Board of Supervisors, the San Francisco Department of the Environment and former Mayor Gavin Newsom for taking a stand on this issue and for their hard work in passing and implementing the ordinance. We also commend City Attorney Dennis Herrera and his team for their valiant efforts to defend it.”

More on EWG’s involvement in the San Francisco case is available at:


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