Environmental Health Trust

As Goes Maine, So Goes the Nation: Maine Legislature Passes First in the Nation State-Wide Law Requiring Cellphone Makers to Tell the Public About Radio Frequency Radiation

 
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Teton Village, WY -- (SBWIRE) -- 03/17/2014 -- By a 2-1 majority, this week the Maine House of Representatives passed the Wireless Information Act sponsored by Representative Andrea Boland. Despite opposition from Maine Attorney General Janet Mills who sided with industry’s argument that the law was unconstitutional, this Act provides that manufacturers must make available to the public legible information regarding exposure to radiofrequency radiation from cell phones. Currently that information is seldom seen by consumers, although it is required in Israel, France, India and many other technologically sophisticated nations.

Supporting the constitutionality of the law, acclaimed Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, Roy L. Furman professor of Law and Leadership, and Director of Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, framed 0 opposition to the proposed law by the Maine Attorney General as an indication of the powerful role that money plays in politics today.

“To those who say it is unconstitutional,” Lessig said he would help the Legislature protect the right to know about wireless information. Further he noted that should the State decline to defend against any industry legal challenge, he is committed to do so pro bono, all the way to the Supreme Court. His offer was welcomed by Representative Boland who’s been working on this bill since 2010.

Ms. Boland added, “I am deeply grateful to Prof. Lessig and to all those who have worked to see that Mainers have the right to know what’s buried in fine print in phones today. I applaud my colleagues for voting to protect the rights of our citizens to make informed decisions about cell phone safety.”

The Wireless Information Act requires that any manufacturer's information relating to radio-frequency exposure must be plainly visible on the outside of the cell phone's product packaging or the packaging must contain a label with the following warning for all cell phones sold in the state that have manufacturer's safety warnings:

"RF EXPOSURE: To find information relating to radio-frequency exposure, refer to information supplied by the manufacturer" and language directing consumers to the page or pages of the owner's manual or other insert or location where the radio-frequency exposure guidelines or instructions or general information may be found."

Lessig, a constitutional law expert, concludes that the law is constitutionally protected and that arguments to the contrary amount to industry constitute strong-arming of government.

In Lessig’s words, “The State of Maine should have the right to exercise its sovereign authority to protect the citizens of Maine from a risk that the vast majority are completely unaware of -- without fear of bullying by multinational corporations.”

In a San Francisco case last year, the judge upheld the right of local officials to protect public health and safety and directed the City of San Francisco to reword its proposed cell phone fact sheet for retailers to distribute to consumers. In his decision, Judge Alsup said: “Nothing in the federal statutes or FCC regulations bars local disclosure requirements like those now required in San Francisco.”

Ellen K. Marks, with the California Brain Tumor Association and formerly with Environmental Health Trust, Lloyd Morgan and Devra Davis of Environmental Health Trust have worked with a number of groups to support this legislation for the past four years, including Dr. Joel Moskowitz, Director of the University of California, Berkeley Center for Family and Community Health, the American Association for Cell Phone Safety, the Bioiniative Report, Electromagnetic Health and others. The grassroots effort to urge precautionary policies on cell phones is a centerpiece of Davis’ award-winning Nautilus Silver medal winning book, Disconnect—the truth about cell phone radiation.

About Environmental Health Trust
Environmental Health Trust (EHT) educates individuals, health professionals and communities about controllable environmental health risks and policy changes needed to reduce those risks. A lead author of the Intergovernmental panel on climate change awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, EHT President and Founder, Dr. Devra Davis has authored a number of popular books, including National Book Award Finalist, When Smoke Ran Like Water, a National Book Award Finalist, The Secret History of the War on Cancer, and Disconnect - the truth about cell phone radiation, which was awarded the Nautilus silver medal award for investigative reporting. The foundation's website is the go-to place for clear, science-based information to prevent environmentally based disease and promote health, and will have portals for the general public, children and health professionals. For more information or to get involved in the numerous special projects spearheaded by EHT, please visit http://www.ehtrust.org and find EHT on Facebook.