Cellphone radiation law to help, confuse San Francisco consumers

Oh San Francisco, you and your progressive ways. The city just passed a law -- a first in the US -- requiring retailers to post the Specific Absorption Rates (aka SAR, the rate at which at which energy is absorbed by the body) in no less than 11-point font right next to any cellphone being sold. Sounds good as far as consumer education goes, right? And a functioning democracy demands an educated and informed electorate. But here's the thing: the jury's still out (just pick your favorite dangerous / not dangerous study to fit your belief) on the effect of radiation at levels less than the 1.6 watts per kilogram threshold set by the FCC. As such, CTIA spokesman John Walls has a point when he says that highlighting the SAR levels might confuse consumers into thinking that some cellphones are safer than others. In other words, consumer education needs to go much further than any retail-shelf placard could possibly communicate. Well, at least the law will keep us safe long enough to walk out the door and trip over a hippie.

P.S. The image above is from the "Get a Safer Phone" (note the wording) rankings provided by the Environmental Working Group.