Killer cell phones, Part 3: Enemy of the state

Proposed state legislation adds new spark to the debate on cell phones and cancer

Just when you thought it might be safe to go back to your cell phone, along comes more information to further fuel the fires of controversy over the possible health risks of the mobile devices.

Maine state Rep. Andrea Boland, a Democrat, recently put forth LD 1706 (HP 1207), “An Act to Create the Children’s Wireless Protection Act.” OK, before we get into the content of this, I have to ask — we need an act to create an act? If you can just go ahead and make the one act, why use it to make the second one? You could save a step and just make the second one. Yes, I know — legislation isn’t that simple, and the two uses of the word ‘act’ probably have different meanings. Just sayin’.


Related stories:

Is your cell phone trying to kill you?

Attack of the killer cell phones, Part 2


Anyway, this act, if enacted, will require a warning label to be put on all cell phones sold in Maine. The label will say, “WARNING, 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.”

The act has been in committee since January, and will come to a vote in the next week.

Now, putting aside the issue of whether they are correct in their stance that cell phones could cause all of that, will this warning label actually curtail cell phone use? I believe the answer to be, no way. Look at cigarettes. We in the United State have had some sort of warning label on cigarette packages since the mid-60’s, and yet millions of Americans still smoke. Only recently, when there have been crackdowns on targeted advertising, smoking bans in public areas, and the development of pharmaceutical aids to help people quit has the percentage of smokers begun to taper off.

So maybe what we need is for someone to develop a cell phone patch. Now there is a potential Nobel Prize if ever I saw one.

While I was looking around for other state-based cell phone legislation, I discovered that only six states plus the District of Columbia have laws against handheld cell phone use while driving. And Maine is not one of them. Maybe that’s what they should be legislating.

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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Reader comments

Wed, Mar 17, 2010 Tim O'Brien Buffalo, NY

Maybe they need to inact legislation banning cell phone TV/media ads why their at it. Or maybe tax the heck out its usage to make up for the loss of cigerette & alcohol taxes. That will sure make us want to use them less.

Tue, Mar 9, 2010 Indy

Maine state Rep. Andrea Boland may not be capable anything more significant Give her credit for making an effort to give the appearance of being worth her salary and benefits.

Tue, Mar 9, 2010 T VA

I'm sorry, I have to call BS on the cell phone causing a fire at a gast station. The greatest threat a cell phone has at a gas station is to drop it and create a spark at the ground. You can watch Mythbusters where they tested many ways and were unable to create a fire, and in another eposide they tried yet again, with no successs. Beyond that, I have a degree in computer electonrics and there is no logical way for a cell phone to create a sparek. The ringer isn't a true ringer, it's a noise from a speaker, just like any music or voice recordings, which gas stations play all day and night. The only possible way I can think of a spark being created is if a battery contact is bent and a spark jumps from the battery to the battery contact/terminal. The entire circuitry is self contained. The greatest threat of a fire at a gas station would be from a static discharge, which is very easy to do. Off the top of my head, I think you can't really even begin to feel a static discharge until you're around 12,000 volts. If you want to prevent fires at the gas station, make sure you touch something metal on the pump away from the gas fumes first to equalize your static charge so there is no differnce in electrical potential between you and the pump handle.

Tue, Mar 9, 2010

the nannie state we've become....

Tue, Mar 9, 2010 mylesmele San Diego

Give me a break, "There should be a warning because a local man was just killed due to use at gas station that caused an explosion." There has been no confirmed and/or documented case where the use of a mobile phone has caused a gas station explosion! Even the TV show, "Myth Busters," made every attempt to prove or disprove that using cell phones can cause gas station explosions. They could not make it happen. The only true and socumented cases where cell phones can cause an explosion is when they are used to set off an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). More people have been killed using a cell phone and/or texting while driving than the the cell phone use that caused a ficticious gas station explosion. Urban legends are just urband lengends, and are perpetuated by a misinformed and Information-Challenged generation!

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