Bangor Daily News
By Meg Haskell
Augusta, Maine — Cell phones are virtually everywhere in our society, providing wireless, pocket-sized safety and convenience to great-grandparents, business professionals, soccer moms, teenagers and, increasingly, young children. But are they safe?
On Tuesday, the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee heard from national advocates claiming that cell phone use is linked to brain cancer and other disorders and calling for a prominent and graphic warning label on every unit sold in Maine.
Maine would become the first state with such a requirement.
Opponents, including Maine’s top public health official as well as representatives of the wireless industry, called the proposal misguided and inflammatory and said it would conflict with federal regulatory policies.
The bill, LD 1706, sponsored by Rep. Andrea Boland, D-Sanford, would require cell phone manufacturers to apply a permanent, nonremovable warning label to every unit sold in Maine. The label would cover at least 30 percent of the plain area of the phone and caution users to hold the unit several inches away from their heads or to use earphone-and-speaker technology.
Boland testified that a warning label is an easy way to alert people to the dangers cell phones can pose. “No one is suggesting we don’t use cell phones,” she said. “We’re only suggesting people use them safely.”
The label also would include a color graphic of the brain of a 5-year-old child showing the extent to which radiation from a cell phone is absorbed. The illustration would be drawn from the recent research of professor Om Gandhi of the University of Utah, who has studied the relative absorption and effect of cell phone radiation on the brains of children and adults. Gandhi was among a number of scientific experts who traveled to Augusta on Tuesday for the public hearing before the HHS committee.
Several individuals told the committee stories of personal tragedy, including Ellie and Alan Marks, who traveled to Augusta from their home in San Francisco. Realtor Alan Marks told lawmakers he was diagnosed two years ago with a malignant brain tumor on the right side of his brain — the same side as the ear he used most when on his cell phone. Continue reading