FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Vanessa Brown
June 3, 2011
Cell phone warning labels needed to protect children from radiation
As legislators and concerned citizens, Rep. Dennis O’Brien (R-169) and I would like to thank you for publishing the May 31, 2011 Associated Press article “Cell phones a 'possible' carcinogen - like coffee.” The World Health Organization's (WHO) latest announcement that cell phones are possible cancer-causing agents is crucial to be heard in a world with billions of avid cell phone users.
We believe that some connotations of the article may be misleading, downplaying the potential harms of cell phone radiation. Specifically, the article does not give a fair amount of attention to the threats that cell phones pose to children. The danger of brain tumors from cell phone use may be highest for young children and teens.
This is why we have partnered to introduce “The Children's Wireless Protection Act” (HB 1408). This bi-partisan bill would require that all cell phone retailers prominently display a warning label on phones and their packaging detailing the potential harms of cell phone radiation, specifically to children and pregnant women. The purpose of the label is to raise awareness about these potential harms to lead to safer cell phone practices among Pennsylvania's families.
Children have smaller heads and brains and thinner skull bones, skin and ears than adults. The radiation that cell phones generate can therefore penetrate deeper into a child or young adult's brain than an adult's. Combined with the fact that a child's cells are dividing at a faster rate than those of adults, the impact of microwave radiation can be much larger. The United States is late in limiting cell phone use, with several other countries around the world―such as France, Israel, the U.K. and Turkey― already taking steps to limit children's exposure to cell phone radiation.
The “coffee” comparison was meant to minimize the public's anxiety over the WHO's announcement. This is entirely misleading; as I would point out seldom do we encourage children to drink coffee. Nor do we encourage them to hang out near exhaust from engines or to consume alcohol either. The same controls we place on our children around these other possible carcinogens should also be applied to cell phones as well, for their own safety.
Furthermore, the statement that “some experts said the ruling shouldn't change people's cell phone habits” may mislead readers into thinking that simple changes in behavior are not worth it just because findings are still too inconclusive to say that cell phones “automatically cause cancer.” However, if something as easy as using a headset or sending more text messages can mitigate these potential dangers, why not be safe?
Finally, the article makes no mention of the harm cell phones present for fetuses―a warning to pregnant women―or the research that has shown a decline in sperm count among men who use cell phones for four or more hours per day. Recognized public health experts tell us that inappropriate cell phone use presents a myriad of health risks beyond cancer.
We are not at all suggesting that cell phones should be abandoned. As the article states, it is simply too early to prove without doubt that cell phones are not harmful. Therefore, the choice is simple: be a more responsible cell phone user, especially around young children, or keep taking chances.
Representative O’Brien and I plan on using our headsets or speakerphones whenever we talk on our cell phones.
State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown (D-190)
State Rep. Dennis O’Brien (R-169)