Sen. Chip Shields, D-north/northeast Portland, is drafting legislation that will require cell phone retailers to include some sort of a label on their packaging that warns of the potential health effects of the technology.
According to Shield’s legislative aide MaryAlecia Briggs, the exact language of the bill, which will be introduced in the 2011 Oregon legislative session, is still being worked out. She did say that the legislation will require retailers to place a label on cell phones warning consumers that there could be health risks associated with the radiation-generating devices.
Cell phones have become increasingly common beginning in the 1990s, and as their use has grown a number of studies have piled up suggesting that they can cause cancer, with children being at particular risk.
According to the American Cancer Society’s website, there is no conclusive research that shows that cell phones cause cancer.
But that’s not stopping some elected officials from demanding that consumers be warned.
Last month the city of San Francisco passed an ordinance requiring labels on cell phones that display the amount of radiation the device emits, which provoked a lawsuit from a wireless trade group. Last year, Maine considered similar legislation that eventually went nowhere.
“The problem with the Maine legislation was that it had really specific language,” said Briggs.
According to Briggs, the Maine bill would have required cell phone warning labels to make certain claims that haven’t been conclusively proven, like cell phones cause cancer in children. Briggs said this was a stumbling block in getting the bill passed. Shields hopes to avoid taking a similar approach, she said.
Briggs said that Shields became interested in the issue from the advocacy of some of his constituents, including residents of the Beaumont-Wilshire neighborhood who have been concerned about a wireless antenna in a residential area.