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Hawaii May Require Warning Labels On All Cell Phones

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Do you love the sleek, simplistic design of your phone? If so, you might want to shop for your next upgrade somewhere other than the Aloha state, where a bill is threatening to require a relatively large warning label be displayed on all cell phones.

If Senate Bill 2571 SD1 is passed, all new and refurbished cell phones sold for profit in Hawaii would require a non-removable label on their backsides, covering at least 30 percent of the phones' surfaces. In bold letters, the label would read, "To reduce exposure to radiation that may be hazardous to your health, please follow the enclosed safety guidelines."

State Senator Josh Green, chair of the Hawaii Senate Health Committee, hopes that the conspicuous label will help people think more about electromagnetic radiation and change their cell phone habits, according to a report from KITV.

The original measure called for even more detailed language on the label -- "This device emits electromagnetic radiation, exposure to which may cause brain cancer. Users, especially children and pregnant women, should keep this device away from the head and body" -- but it has since been amended.

"This is the first generation to have kids from age ten up to adulthood with cell phones right next to their heads and brains," Green told KITV. "Brains are developing up to age 22 to 25, so I think we have to be safe."

The label would direct users to a warning that most cell phone manufacturers already provide. Both the iPhone and Android user manuals contain health and safety sections that provide information on radiofrequency (RF) energy and recommendations to reduce exposure.

But Green worries that manuals alone will go unread. "If you don't have a sticker that this is a potential health hazard then no one will ever know," he said.

While cell phones do emit RF energy that can be absorbed by tissues closest to where the phone is held, current studies have not shown a consistent link between cell phone use and cancers of the brain, nerves, or other tissues of the head or neck.

Health risks aside, Communities Digital News recently pointed out why this legislation is aesthetically and economically "problematic":

"For phones that do not have removable backs, Hawaii users will either cover them with fashion cases or resort to ordering their cell phones from out-of-state. ... Economically, the mandate of non-removable, giant labels on cell phones means manufacturers and distributers will have a higher compliance cost for Hawaii phones. As if shipping phones to the islands wasn’t already a cost factor, now there is the production complexity of adding labels to the phones. The end result? Hawaii phones will be more expensive."

Read the full CDN story here.

The bill, which was recently passed with amendments by the Hawaii Senate committees on Health and Technology and the Arts, has to be cleared by one more committee before advancing to the House.

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