Monday, December 14, 2020

European Parliament Workshop on 5G Health Effects


December 14, 2020 (updated December 15)

The Panel for the Future of Science and Technology of the European Parliament held a workshop on the potential health impacts of 5G on December 7, 2020. 

The workshop included testimony from the chairman of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and from five experts.

The ICNIRP chairman claimed that ICNIRP's exposure guidelines for radio frequency (RF) radiation are adequate to protect against all health threats to humans, not just short-term or thermal effects, and that a wealth of research shows that 5G will not cause health problems.

In contrast, the five experts discussed potential impacts of 5G to humans, wildlife and the natural environment. Each of the experts raised concerns about the adequacy of ICNIRP's RF exposure guidelines to protect health. Both members of Parliament who chaired this meeting called for a moratorium on 5G deployment until these concerns are resolved.

Program

  • Michèle Rivasi, Member of Parliament (MEP) and STOA (Science and Technology Options Assessment) Panel member
  • Ivo Hristov, MEP and STOA Panel member
  • Moderator: David Gee, Institute of Environment, Health, and Societies, Brunel University, London, UK; former senior advisor to European Environmental Agency

Health Impact of 5G

  • Fiorella Belpoggi, Research Director, Ramazzini Institute, Bologna, Italy
  • Elisabeth Cardis, Head of Radiation Program, Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), Spain
  • Rodney Croft, Chairman, International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP); Professor of Health Psychology, University of Wollongong, Australia
  • Franz Karcher, DG Sante, European Commission

Environmental Impact of 5G

  • Arno Thielens, Professor of Engineering, Ghent University, imec, Ghent, Belgium
  • Gerard Ledoigt, Professor of Biology, Clermont Université, Clermont-Ferrand, France

 Q&A from Audience and Closing Remarks

  • Ivo Hristov, MEP and STOA Panel Member
  • Michèle Rivasi, MEP and STOA Panel Member
  • David Gee, Moderator

The video of the workshop (with simultaneous translation into six languages) can be viewed at: https://bit.ly/EUparliament5Gworkshop.

The Participants Booklet for this workshop can be downloaded at: https://bit.ly/5GEUparliamentbooklet.

5G Workshop Summary

Note: For the following summary I relied on the English translator so my notes may not accurately reflect the speakers' testimony. I apologize in advance if I misconstrued anyone's comments.

Ivo Hristov (MEP): The recent ICNIRP review of the literature and recommended radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines suffer from a conflict of interest as they were "co-written" by members of industry. 5G should not be deployed until there is a risk assessment and until we have the tools to minimize the risks.

David Gee (moderator, Brunel University): Posed three questions to the panel of experts:

1. Is the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection's (ICNIRP) 2020 risk assessment of the health and environmental effects of electromagnetic fields sufficiently robust and reliable to define protection policies?

2. Are the exposure limits recommended by the ICNIRP for electromagnetic fields, which are based primarily on short-term tissue warming effects, sufficiently protective to avoid damage from exposures at lower levels and over the long term that are below the ICNIRP limits?

3. Is there sufficient independent research on the health and environmental effects of 5G that would help to reassure the public and minimize future liability?

Rodney Croft (ICNIRP Chairman):

Denied any industry involvement in the ICNIRP review of the literature or the development of RF exposure guidelines. Careful consideration was given to all public input that ICNIRP received.

Science is imperfect and results of a study are not completely reliable. Need to look at the body of research as a whole. The National Toxicology Program rat study is a good example of this. That the study made more than 10,000 statistical comparisons rendered the statistically significant outcomes meaningless. Thus, another study must be conducted to confirm the results.

 ICNIRP recognizes some biologic effects but does not believe there is sufficient data to indicate harm to animals or the environment.

The ICNIRP RF exposure guidelines protect against all health threats to humans, not just short-term or thermal effects.

A wealth of independent research shows 5G will not cause health problems. 5G is a new transmission protocol using RF fields and knowledge about RF is substantial. The RF mechanisms are well known. Science does not find differential effects for different modulations. The effect of frequency is already understood so it doesn't matter that some 5G frequencies are different from 4G.

Elisabeth Cardis (Barcelona Institute for Global Health):

Some recent experimental animal studies and epidemiological studies find harmful effects from low-level RF exposure. ICNIRP dismisses NTP study and epidemiological case-control studies. These observations raise the possibility that the ICNIRP 2020 guidelines provide inadequate protection. However, the evidence is not conclusive.  The widespread use of wireless technology warrants use of an ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) policy.

There is insufficient research on 5G, especially millimeter wave (mmw) effects, and an absence of epidemiological research. Research is also needed on measurement protocols, especially for 5G's massive-MIMO and beam-forming technology; on exposure assessment and mechanisms.

Fiorella Belpoggi (Ramazzini Institute):

We need a risk assessment on 5G (700 - 3500 MHz; 26 GHz). There have been thousands of studies on the lower frequencies; some found biological effects. ICNIRP guidelines do not sufficiently protect us from these lower frequencies, but this is a low risk.

The Interphone study found an increase in brain tumors and tumors on the acoustic nerve.

It is difficult to quantify exposures. There is uncertainty about the long-term effect of mmw's.

5G constitutes a major experiment on the human population. New technologies are being deployed without safety information.

If everyone is exposed to 5G, we will not have an unexposed comparison group in future studies.

We need safer mobile phones, especially for children and women.  Up to 5 volts per meter may be safe at least from carcinogenic effects.

 We need research on the combined effects of mmw's with frequencies in current use.

 Franz Karcher (DG Sante, European Commission):

The European Commission (EC) is reassessing the situation following the ICNIRP new review and guidelines. EC provides guidance to EU countries but does not mandate policies. EC relies on a wide range of advice from more than 100 academies and 40 countries -- free of conflicts of interest.

The EC asked the committee on new emerging health risks to review the evidence. The last review 5 years ago concluded that 1999 exposure limits are still valid including a 50-fold safety factor for the general public and 5-fold for occupational workers. EC member states follow these guidelines or have adopted more rigorous limits (e.g., Italy).

We need more studies as existing studies are inconsistent. EC is funding more research.

EC is aware of public concerns re: 5G.

French study: 5G's massive MIMO is likely to cause a minor increase in RF exposure but much less than current ICNIRP guidelines.

David Gee summary:

1) Exposure guidelines are often too weak to be protective, e.g., with more research chemical exposure limits are usually strengthened over time.

2) The science is complex and uncertain.

3) Not much is known about 5G; we have substantial research on 2G-4G.

4) The Ramazzini Institute never found a cancer effect in animals that did not affect humans.

5) An ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) policy is wise.

6) We need more research. Use ALARA policy in the interim.

Arno Thielens (Ghent University):

The ICNIRP RF exposure guidelines do not consider the scientific literature regarding effects on non-human animals and plants that are unrelated to human health.

The effect of heating is the same in all organisms, but the amount of heating varies. The ICNIRP guidelines only address humans.

The main human exposures come from base station antennas and personal wireless devices. Normal wireless users may have much greater whole-body exposure to RF after 5G deployment. 

Non-user exposures (including other species) may decrease with deployment of 5G over time due to beam-forming. However, some novel wireless applications may increase non-human exposures (e.g., tracking devices). We need to quantify this.

Most of the animal/plant/fungi research is on frequencies less than or equal to 6 GHz.  Little research has been conducted on the effects of frequencies above 6 GHz.

Below 6 GHz, biological effects have been found on invertebrates, plants, especially low frequency fields, but not necessarily harmful.

Gerard Ledoigt (Clermont Université):

RF radiation has important effects on the environment. Bee behavior is affected after 35-45 minutes exposure to mobile phone radiation.

Serious effects on plants after 48 hours of exposure.

Various animals and plants are affected by 1 Volt per meter. Some plants were affected after 10 minutes of exposure including non-thermal effects on plants (900 MHz). The physiological effects in plants depended on modulation of the signal.

There is a risk from long-term exposure to health. Pregnant women and children are more vulnerable. Brain tumor risk increases with long-term exposure. The research is robust. There is a cause-effect relationship.

Increased stress on organisms. Effects on DNA, quality of sperm reduced. Organ damage, liver, affected in newborn. Not due to thermic exposure. Epigenetic responses related to types of RF signals. Cellular division is changed. DNA repair is also affected leading to cancers and neurodegenerative diseases.

5G causes stress proteins and affects cellular membranes. The immune system, the heart and brain will be affected.

Genotoxicity. Prenatal effects in mice and rats.

He advocated for a moratorium on 5G and conduct of research fully independent from any pressure groups.

David Gee (summary):

1) ICNIRP evaluation and guidelines mainly focus on health, not the environment.

2) All life forms are affected by RF and often below ICNIRP levels.

3) 5G may decrease RF exposure for non-users and increase it for users.

4) The evidence is not convincing, but certainly concerning.

5) How much evidence is needed before policy makers take action?

Q&A session

MEP: Asked panelists to compare safety of 5G to 4G.

Rodney Croft: There is very good science. There is no uncertainty re: safety of 5G. All ICNIRP commissioners are 100% independent and can say whatever they like.

David Gee: James Lin, a former ICNIRP commissioner, thinks animal evidence of carcinogenicity is clear and convincing.

Rodney Croft: Lin has not provided a good reason to believe this.

Elisabeth Cardis: Has questions about beamforming -- hotspots for users? Recommends periodic surveys of uses and exposures in different countries.

Professor Tom Butler: Asked panelists to compare the strength of evidence re: RF carcinogenicity in 2011 (IARC review) to now.

Elisabeth Cardis: Largest new evidence is experimental (NTP, Ramazzini). We need to wait on the next IARC review to determine the risk of carcinogenicity.

Rodney Croft: Fifteen years of research in "great detail" finds no evidence of different health outcomes from RF exposure as a function of age or in any sensitive population.

Elisabeth Cardis: Some time ago some countries recommended the use of cabled internet in kindergartens in primary schools. Not sure if this still applies.

Fiorella Belpoggi: The hazard is stronger when we expose pregnant women, embryos, fetuses, and children. Actually, in our study and in the NTP study on Sprague Dawley rats, where exposure started at the beginning of dams' gestation,  we both have shown a statistically significant increase in heart Schwannomas. This didn’t happen in the NTP study on mice or in other previous studies, where exposure started in adulthood. So I am convinced that the hazard is greater for the early life window of susceptibility. For risk assessment purposes we should take into account this finding.

Concluding Remarks

Ivo Hristov (MEP): 

This very interesting debate has shown that 5G is likely to have an adverse impact on humans and the environment. The lack of research on 5G is very important. A plan of action for 5G should take into account the recommendations of the research community.

Michèle Rivasi (MEP): 

ICNIRP says no there is no uncertainty about 5G, and that everyone is protected. But ICNIRP only deals with humans, not the environment. There are major gaps in the research on 5G, especially mmw's. Paris airports have banned 5G due to a technical incompatibility. The NTP and Ramazzini studies show robust evidence of carcinogenicity. It cannot be true that there is no uncertainty. We should set up a group of experts in Europe to conduct a robust evaluation by an independent committee. We need to do this to restore consumer confidence in 5G. We should impose a moratorium on 5G until this is accomplished.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

National Academy of Sciences Report on the "Havana Syndrome"

 In December 2020, the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) issued a consensus report, "An Assessment of Illness in U.S. Government Employees and Their Families at Overseas Embassies" to advise the U.S. State Department (DOS) about unexplained health effects experienced by government employees and their families at overseas embassies.

According to the report (1): 

"In late 2016, U.S. Embassy personnel in Havana, Cuba, began to report the development of an unusual set of symptoms and clinical signs. For some of these patients, their case began with the sudden onset of a loud noise, perceived to have directional features, and accompanied by pain in one or both ears or across a broad region of the head, and in some cases, a sensation of head pressure or vibration, dizziness, followed in some cases by tinnitus, visual problems, vertigo, and cognitive difficulties. Other personnel attached to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China, reported similar symptoms and signs to varying degrees, beginning in the following year. As of June 2020, many of these personnel continue to suffer from these and/or other health problems. Multiple hypotheses and mechanisms have been proposed to explain these clinical cases, but evidence has been lacking, no hypothesis has been proven, and the circumstances remain unclear.

The Department of State asked the National Academies to review the cases, their clinical features and management, epidemiologic investigations, and scientific evidence in support of possible causes, and advise on approaches for the investigation of potential future cases. In An Assessment of Illness in U.S. Government Employees and Their Families at Overseas Embassies, the committee identifies distinctive clinical features, considers possible causes, evaluates plausible mechanisms and rehabilitation efforts, and offers recommendations for future planning and responses."

The report found that many of the patients' acute symptoms were likely caused by microwave hearing and chronic symptoms were also due to radio frequency (RF) radiation exposure:

"The committee finds that many of the acute, sudden-onset, early phase signs, symptoms and observations reported by DOS employees are consistent with RF effects. In addition, many of the chronic, nonspecific symptoms are also consistent with known RF effects, such as dizziness, headache, fatigue, nausea, anxiety, cognitive deficits, and memory loss. It is not necessary for RF energy sources to produce gross structural damage to cause symptoms. Rather, as with the Frey effect or potential thermoelastic pressure waves, RF sources may trigger symptoms by transiently inducing alterations in brain functioning. 

There are several types of data that would be helpful and could improve both the findings and their level of certainty. While there are several studies on the health effects of continuous wave and pulsed RF sources, there are insufficient data in the open literature on potential RF exposure/dosage characteristics and biological effects possible for DOS scenarios. Specific experiments would be needed with RF exposure and dosage characteristics (frequency, pulse repetition frequency, pulse width, incident angle between potential source and subject, duration of exposure, number of repeated exposures, etc.) to quantify the biological effects, but would be ethically difficult to justify. In the absence of such data, it is difficult to align specific biophysical effects within the potential RF exposure regime that could explain specific medical symptoms reported by DOS personnel and the variability in specific experiences and timelines of individuals. Patient clinical heterogeneity could be due to variability of exposure dosage conditions, differences in interpretation of non-physiological vestibular stimuli, and anatomical differences that could influence individual exposure and/or response."

The report concluded:

"... after considering the information available to it and a set of possible mechanisms, the committee felt that many of the distinctive and acute signs, symptoms, and observations reported by DOS employees are consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed radio frequency (RF) energy. Studies published in the open literature more than a half century ago and over the subsequent decades by Western and Soviet sources provide circumstantial support for this possible mechanism. Other mechanisms may play reinforcing or additive effects, producing some of the nonspecific, chronic signs and symptoms, such as persistent postural-perceptual dizziness, a functional vestibular disorder, and psychological conditions.

The committee is left with a number of concerns. First, even though it was not in a position to assess or comment on how these DOS cases arose, such as a possible source of directed, pulsed RF energy and the exact circumstances of the putative exposures, the mere consideration of such a scenario raises grave concerns about a world with disinhibited malevolent actors and new tools for causing harm to others...."

"The committee felt that these acute symptoms were more consistent with a directed radio frequency (RF) energy attack, and explored possible related mechanisms. At the same time, the chronic symptoms that were reported are often seen in patients after head trauma, as a result of chemical exposure, infectious diseases, or stress in a hostile environment. There did not appear to be any evidence for usual forms of traumatic injury, but the committee did evaluate possible chemical and infectious causes as well as psychosocial causes, for the chronic symptoms."

Microwave hearing has been called "the Frey effect," named after Allan Frey who originally reported this phenomenon in 1961-1962. (2)

Appendix C of the NAS report indicates that the average intensity of the RF exposures required to create the Frey effect was considerably less than that required to produce thermal RF effects (1): 

"The average power densities associated with some of these effects (e.g., Frey effect hearing) are so low that they would not disrupt nearby electronics in a fashion similar to high-power microwaves (HPM) (Hoad, 2007; Jinshi et al., 2008). The lack of perceptual heating would also rule out other non-lethal HPM systems that have been developed for crowd control (e.g., Department of Defense’s 95GHz Active Denial System that only penetrates the skin to 1/64 an inch but heats the skin to uncomfortable levels within seconds) (D’Andrea et al., 2008; DoD, 2020; Nelson et al., 2000)."

In my opinion, microwave hearing (aka the Frey effect) is the most likely explanation for the acute symptoms experienced by the affected individuals and electromagnetic hypersensitivity is the most likely explanation for their chronic conditions. Moreover, the chronic conditions may have been caused by long-term exposure to low-intensity, non-ionizing electromagnetic fields (EMF) after an initial exposure of moderate intensity. Although the NAS report cited a recently-published review paper on electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), the report did not discuss this syndrome.

In 2017 I told a reporter for the Daily Mail that I believed the acute symptoms were attributable to microwave hearing and the chronic conditions were due to EHS. Moreover, I hypothesized that the effects were likely caused by a surveillance system which employed moderate intensity RF radiation, rather than by a high-intensity weapon or "RF energy attack."

"The finding that the attacks led to perceptible changes in their brains is also one of several factors fueling growing skepticism that some kind of sonic weapon was involved. 

'This makes me think the victims may have developed electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) from exposure to electromagnetic fields in the embassy,' Joel Moskowitz, a community health professor at the University of California, Berkeley, told Daily Mail Online. 

'This happened during the Cold War to personnel stationed in the US embassy in Moscow when the Soviets were bombarding the embassy with microwaves to monitor oral communications in the ambassador's office.'"

In 2018, William Broad interviewed Beatrice Golomb and me for a story on this topic in the New York Times. He dismissed my hypotheses. He also did not refer to his interview with Dr. Golomb or the paper she shared with him, "Diplomats' Mystery Illness and Pulsed Radiofrequency/Microwave Radiation," which was published by MIT Press

Dr. Golomb's paper concluded (3):

"Reported facts appear consistent with pulsed RF/MW [radio frequency microwaves] as the source of injury in affected diplomats. Nondiplomats citing symptoms from RF/MW, often with an inciting pulsed-RF/MW exposure, report compatible health conditions. Under the RF/MW hypothesis, lessons learned for diplomats and for RF/MW-affected civilians may each aid the other."

Cellular and Wi-Fi technology rely on directed, pulsed RF energy. This environmental pollutant is responsible for many individuals worldwide who suffer from EHS in addition to EMF-related diseases. Self-report surveys estimate the prevalence of EHS to be 3 -13% in different countries. With the massive proliferation of RF-based devices and infrastructure and our increasing exposure to RF radiation, governments need to address this growing public health problem with effective regulatory strategies, comprehensive educational programs, efficient treatment regimens, and extensive research.

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(1) An Assessment of Illness in U.S. Government Employees and Their Families at Overseas Embassies

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences; Standing Committee to Advise the Department of State on Unexplained Health Effects on U.S. Government Employees and Their Families at Overseas Embassies; David A. Relman and Julie A. Pavlin, Editors.

Description

In late 2016, U.S. Embassy personnel in Havana, Cuba, began to report the development of an unusual set of symptoms and clinical signs. For some of these patients, their case began with the sudden onset of a loud noise, perceived to have directional features, and accompanied by pain in one or both ears or across a broad region of the head, and in some cases, a sensation of head pressure or vibration, dizziness, followed in some cases by tinnitus, visual problems, vertigo, and cognitive difficulties. Other personnel attached to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China, reported similar symptoms and signs to varying degrees, beginning in the following year. As of June 2020, many of these personnel continue to suffer from these and/or other health problems. Multiple hypotheses and mechanisms have been proposed to explain these clinical cases, but evidence has been lacking, no hypothesis has been proven, and the circumstances remain unclear.

The Department of State asked the National Academies to review the cases, their clinical features and management, epidemiologic investigations, and scientific evidence in support of possible causes, and advise on approaches for the investigation of potential future cases. In An Assessment of Illness in U.S. Government Employees and Their Families at Overseas Embassies, the committee identifies distinctive clinical features, considers possible causes, evaluates plausible mechanisms and rehabilitation efforts, and offers recommendations for future planning and responses.

Suggested Citation

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. An Assessment of Illness in U.S. Government Employees and Their Families at Overseas Embassies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25889.

Open access paper: 




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Appendix C: Additional Comments on Directed Radio Frequency Energy 

"In order to create the Frey effect hearing and sensation of pressure within the head, there are four distinct steps involving the energy conversion from radio frequency (RF) to acoustic modalities. First, the RF energy penetrates the skull and couples to the neural tissue as a function of impedance matching and absorption in the tissue, with penetrations of 2-4 cm for frequencies of 915 MHz to 2.45 GHz (Brace, 2010). This coupling, in turn, creates a rapid oscillation of temperature changes that leads to a rapid, volumetric thermal expansion and contraction of local tissues (i.e., the increase in thermal energy causes an increase in kinetic energy of atoms, pushing against neighboring atoms to create an expansion or swelling in all directions). The oscillating tissue expansion and contraction launches a thermoelastic pressure wave (Lin and Wang, 2007; Yitzhak et al., 2009). If operated at the right pulse repetition frequency, the thermoelastic pressure wave can propagate to and excite the cochlea and vestibular organs at the resonance frequency of the cranium (Lenhardt, 2003; Yitzhak et al., 2014). Intracranial focusing is possible depending on the incident angle of the incoming RF radiation. Localization and intensity effects within a room can be achieved through nonlinear beat wave effects with careful design of the RF source and antenna. The absence, however, of electromagnetic disruption of other electronics within the immediate home/office environment suggests an upper bound to the RF energy, with implications for a potential RF system design. The average power densities associated with some of these effects (e.g., Frey effect hearing) are so low that they would not disrupt nearby electronics in a fashion similar to high-power microwaves (HPM) (Hoad, 2007; Jinshi et al., 2008). The lack of perceptual heating would also rule out other non-lethal HPM systems that have been developed for crowd control (e.g., Department of Defense’s 95GHz Active Denial System that only penetrates the skin to 1/64 an inch but heats the skin to uncomfortable levels within seconds) (D’Andrea et al., 2008; DoD, 2020; Nelson et al., 2000). 

It is well-known that the vestibular end organs and regions of the brain involved in processing of space and motion information may be excited by energy sources other than rotational or linear accelerations. External sonic, galvanic, and magnetic stimuli are used for diagnostic, experimental, and therapeutic purposes in neuro-otology and vestibular research such as generating vestibular evoked myogenic potentials (sonic), investigating vestibular response thresholds (galvanic), and as emerging therapies for chronic dizziness (transcranial magnetic and electrical stimulation) (Cha et al., 2013). Clinical observations also suggest that certain patients with vestibular disorders (e.g., Ménière’s disease) may be susceptible to exacerbations of their symptoms in response to rapid changes in atmospheric pressure as occur with quickly moving weather fronts or changes in elevation during air or land travel (Gürkov et al., 2016). However, the potential for RF sources to stimulate the vestibular end organs via thermoelastic pressure waves or to excite central nervous system pathways via transduction akin to the Frey effect are not known. If these effects exist, then a few observations may be made about their potential manifestations. A thermoelastic pressure wave would be omnidirectional thereby stimulating the vestibular end organs in a non-physiological manner. This unusual form of vestibular stimulation could lead to very confusing percepts as central vestibular pathways do their best to resolve the non-physiological pattern of end organ stimulation resulting in sensations of physically impossible motions, unexpected reflexive postural responses to them, and faulty inferences about external forces causing them. Affected individuals could report different sensations in response to the same external stimulus; thus, immediate reports of affected individuals may not be veridical and sensations may vary from one individual to another. If a Frey-like effect can be induced on central nervous system tissue responsible for space and motion information processing, it likely would induce similarly idiosyncratic responses."

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(2) Allan H. Frey. Human auditory system response to modulated electromagnetic energy. Journal of Applied Psychology. 01 Jul 1962. https://doi.org/10.1152/jappl.1962.17.4.689.

Abstract

The intent of this paper is to bring a new phenomenon to the attention of physiologists. Using extremely low average power densities of electromagnetic energy, the perception of sounds was induced in normal and deaf humans. The effect was induced several hundred feet from the antenna the instant the transmitter was turned on, and is a function of carrier frequency and modulation. Attempts were made to match the sounds induced by electromagnetic energy and acoustic energy. The closest match occurred when the acoustic amplifier was driven by the RF transmitter's modulator. Peak power density is a critical factor and, with acoustic noise of approximately 80 db, a peak power density of approximately 275 mw/ cm2 is needed to induce the perception at carrier frequencies of 425 mc and 1,310 mc. The average power density can be at least as low as 400 μw/cm2. The evidence for the various possible sites of the electromagnetic energy sensor are discussed and locations peripheral to the cochlea are ruled out.

https://journals.physiology.org/doi/abs/10.1152/jappl.1962.17.4.689

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(3) Beatrice Alexandra Golomb. Diplomats' Mystery Illness and Pulsed Radiofrequency/ Microwave Radiation. Neural Comput. 2018 Nov;30(11):2882-2985. doi: 10.1162/neco_a_01133. Epub 2018 Sep 5. 

Abstract

Importance: A mystery illness striking U.S. and Canadian diplomats to Cuba (and now China) "has confounded the FBI, the State Department and US intelligence agencies" (Lederman, Weissenstein, & Lee, 2017). Sonic explanations for the so-called health attacks have long dominated media reports, propelled by peculiar sounds heard and auditory symptoms experienced. Sonic mediation was justly rejected by experts. We assessed whether pulsed radiofrequency/microwave radiation (RF/MW) exposure can accommodate reported facts in diplomats, including unusual ones. 

Observations: 

(1) Noises: Many diplomats heard chirping, ringing or grinding noises at night during episodes reportedly triggering health problems. Some reported that noises were localized with laser-like precision or said the sounds seemed to follow them (within the territory in which they were perceived). Pulsed RF/MW engenders just these apparent "sounds" via the Frey effect. Perceived "sounds" differ by head dimensions and pulse characteristics and can be perceived as located behind in or above the head. Ability to hear the "sounds" depends on high-frequency hearing and low ambient noise. 

(2) Signs/symptoms: Hearing loss and tinnitus are prominent in affected diplomats and in RF/MW-affected individuals. Each of the protean symptoms that diplomats report also affect persons reporting symptoms from RF/MW: sleep problems, headaches, and cognitive problems dominate in both groups. Sensations of pressure or vibration figure in each. Both encompass vision, balance, and speech problems and nosebleeds. Brain injury and brain swelling are reported in both. 

(3) Mechanisms: Oxidative stress provides a documented mechanism of RF/MW injury compatible with reported signs and symptoms; sequelae of endothelial dysfunction (yielding blood flow compromise), membrane damage, blood-brain barrier disruption, mitochondrial injury, apoptosis, and autoimmune triggering afford downstream mechanisms, of varying persistence, that merit investigation. 

(4) Of note, microwaving of the U.S. embassy in Moscow is historically documented.

Conclusions and relevance: Reported facts appear consistent with pulsed RF/MW as the source of injury in affected diplomats. Nondiplomats citing symptoms from RF/MW, often with an inciting pulsed-RF/MW exposure, report compatible health conditions. Under the RF/MW hypothesis, lessons learned for diplomats and for RF/MW-affected civilians may each aid the other.


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News stories (updated 12/10/2020)



https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/05/business/economy/havana-syndrome-microwave-attack.html





Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Berkeley Cell Phone "Right to Know" Ordinance

To see media coverage about the Berkeley cell phone "right to know" ordinance 
and the CTIA's lawsuit: http://bit.ly/berkeleymedia 


In a ruling on September 17, 2020, Judge Chen ruled that the City of Berkeley could no longer require cell phone retailers to notify customers about cell phone safety warnings.

The judge sided with the Federal Communication’s (FCC) recent submission of a “statement of interest” to the federal court. 

The judge stated that “The FCC is tasked with balancing the competing objectives of ensuring public health and safety and promoting the development and growth of the telecommunications network and related services." According to the FCC, Berkeley was interfering with federal oversight of the telecom industry because the Berkeley ordinance “over warns” consumers. The FCC claimed that the Commission was doing an adequate job of educating consumers about safe cell phone use.

Although Berkeley could have appealed the ruling, the city decided to settle the case with the CTIA by agreeing not to enforce the cell phone “right to know” ordinance which had been in effect since 2016. In return, the CTIA agreed not to seek attorneys’ fees.

According to Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, the lead attorney for the city in this case, the ordinance “remains on the books awaiting a better FCC…We should get through this crisis, and then see what makes the most sense.”

My comments:

In my opinion, the recent ruling against the City by Judge Chen would have been overturned by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. I believe the appeals court would have found the preemption claim that the FCC made in its statement of interest in this case, CTIA v City of Berkeley, to be over-stepping its authority. The Berkeley "right to know" law simply drew attention to safety information available from the FCC and cell phone manufacturers but difficult to access by the public..

In its statement to the court, the FCC claimed that it was doing an adequate job of providing consumers with cell phone safety guidance and accused Berkeley of "over warning" its residents about the risks of cell phone use. However, according to a 2015 survey of Berkeley adults, fewer than one in six (15%) had seen the recommendations by cell phone manufacturers about how best to protect against overexposure to cell phone radiation. Moreover, eighty-two percent (82%) reported that they want to be informed when they purchase a cell phone about the manufacturer’s recommended minimum distance that the phone should be kept from the user’s body (see April 30, 2015 press release, https://www.saferemr.com/2014/11/berkeley-cell-phone-right-to-know.html). 

Other key survey findings:

·    Fully, 70% of Berkeley adults were unaware that the government’s radiation tests to assure the safety of cell phones assume that the phone would not be carried against the user’s body, but instead would be held at least 1 to 15 millimeters from the user’s body.

·  Two out of three (66%) were unaware that cell phone manufacturers recommend that their cell phones be carried away from the body, or used with hands-free devices.

·  Almost three out of four (74%) reported that they or their children carry a cell phone against their body—tucked in a shirt or pants pocket while the phone is switched on.

If the CTIA were to sue the State of California over the cell phone safety guidance published by the California Department of Public Health ("How to Reduce Exposure to Radiofrequency Energy from Cell Phones"), would the FCC claim in a court filing that this information is pre-empted because it "over warns" the public about cell phone safety? 

"Cell Phone Emissionsgate"

The FCC has allowed cell phones to be tested and certified for sale in a manner that is not compliant with FCC rules. Moreover, the FCC has been complicit in permitting these actions.

Cell phones are supposed to be tested at the highest output of radio frequency radiation (RFR) so why does the FCC allow a cell phone manufacturer to use specialized software and cables that trigger a proximity sensor to reduce the phone's RFR output during the certification test? At the very least why aren't these special procedures documented in the official report submitted to the FCC when the cell phone is certified for sale? Why doesn't the FCC require more than one prototype phone to be tested? Why doesn't the FCC require the manufacturer to retest a cell phone model when components used in manufacturing the phone are changed? Why hasn't another FCC-certified lab been able to obtain the same results as the original testing lab when phones are purchased over the counter instead of provided by the manufacturer?

For more information see:

Sam Roe. We tested popular cellphones for radiofrequency radiation. Now the FCC is investigating. Chicago Tribune, Aug 21, 2019.

Sam Roe. Testing cellphones for radiofrequency radiation: How we did it. Chicago Tribune, Aug 21, 2019. 



January 22, 2020

The original cell phone "right to know" ordinance adopted by the City of Berkeley on May 12, 2015 can be downloaded at: http://bit.ly/BerkeleyOrdinanceOriginal.

The F
ederal district court judge took issue with the final sentence in the notice found in the original ordinance so the Berkeley City Council adopted the following amendment to the original ordinance on October 27, 2015: http://bit.ly/BerkeleyOrdinanceAmended.


December 9, 2019

Berkeley’s "Cell Phone Right to Know" law survives Supreme Court challenge

In a major victory for consumer rights and public health, the U.S. Supreme Court today rejected a free speech challenge filed by the CTIA--The Wireless Association against the City of Berkeley's"cell phone right to know law."

Thus, the ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that the law is constitutional enables the city to continue to enforce its ordinance which requires cell phone retailers to notify prospective customers about cell phone manufacturers' safety guidelines to ensure consumer safety (see July 1, 2019 below). The ordinance was adopted by a unanimous vote of the city council in May, 2015.

In refusing to review the case, the Supreme Court ignored the pleas of six pro-business organizations that submitted amicus briefs in support of the CTIA's position.

July 1, 2019

Ninth Circuit Court Upholds Berkeley's "Cell Phone Right to Know" Law

Today a Federal appeals court upheld the "cell phone right to know" law adopted by the City of Berkeley in May, 2015.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Berkeley's right to require cell phone retailers in the city to notify prospective customers about cell phone manufacturers' safety guidelines to ensure consumer safety. 

The mandatory notification states:
"The City of Berkeley requires that you be provided the following notice: 
“To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radiofrequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.”
The CTIA--The Wireless Association filed a lawsuit in June, 2015, a month after the law was adopted, to block the ordinance claiming that it violated the Telecom industry's First Amendment rights and that the notification was preempted by Federal law. After the city adopted a minor change in the safety notice, the Federal district court ruled against the industry's request for a preliminary injunction. The law has been in effect in the city since March 21, 2016.

Today on a 2-1 decision, a panel of judges from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued the following opinion:
"The panel affirmed the district court’s denial of CTIA’s request for a preliminary injunction that sought to stay enforcement of a City of Berkeley ordinance requiring cell phone retailers to inform prospective cell phone purchasers that carrying a cell phone in certain ways may cause them to exceed Federal Communications Commission guidelines for exposure to radio-frequency radiation."
" ... the panel held that the text of the compelled disclosure was literally true, Berkeley’s required disclosure was uncontroversial within the meaning of NIFLA, and the compelled disclosure was not unduly burdensome.The panel concluded that CTIA had little likelihood of success on its First Amendment claim that the disclosure compelled by the Berkeley ordinance was unconstitutional."
"Turning to the issue of federal preemption of Berkeley’s ordinance, the panel held that far from conflicting with federal law and policy, the Berkeley ordinance complemented and enforced it. The panel held that Berkeley’s compelled disclosure did no more than alert consumers to the safety disclosures that the Federal Communications Commission required, and directed consumers to federally compelled instructions in their user manuals providing specific information about how to avoid excessive exposure. The panel concluded that CTIA had little likelihood of success based on conflict preemption."
"The panel held that there was no showing of irreparable harm based on CTIA’s First Amendment claim, or based on the preemption claim. The panel concluded that the balance of the equities favored Berkeley. The panel further held that the ordinance was in the public interest and that an injunction would harm that interest. The panel concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying preliminary injunctive relief to CTIA."
The CTIA can appeal today's ruling by once again requesting an en banc hearing involving 11 judges before the Appeals Court and/or requesting the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. Moreover, the issue that has been litigated the past four years is the CTIA's request for a preliminary injunction to temporarily block the ordinance until the Federal courts hear the case and issue a final decision. That the CTIA will employ the same legal arguments in litigating the case portends well in the long run for the City of Berkeley.

See below for a detailed chronology of the ordinance adoption by the City of Berkeley and the ensuing lawsuit filed by the CTIA (CTIA--The Wireless Ass'n. v. City of Berkeley, et al; case number 16-15141).

The appeals court opinion is available at http://bit.ly/CTIAvBerkeley7-2-19.

Sep 22, 2018

Berkeley City Council Re-Affirms City's Commitment to Defend its 
Landmark "Cell Phone Right to Know" Law against CTIA's Lawsuit

The Berkeley City Council held a closed session meeting on September 20 to discuss with their lawyers the status of ongoing litigation pertaining to the cell phone "right to know" law (CTIA v Berkeley) and another legal case.

Prior to the closed session, the council heard public comments from about eight speakers in support of the cell phone ordinance. The speakers included Max Anderson, a former council member who sponsored the ordinance in 2015, and Ellen Marks, founder of the California Brain Tumor Association.

The speakers made the following points:
  • This landmark ordinance is sound from a policy and legal perspective.
  • The law has received substantial local and national media coverage which has helped spread an important public health message throughout the country.
  • The city has prevailed at every level in the federal judicial system in defending the ordinance against the CTIA's lawsuit.
At the conclusion of the public hearing, the council discussed the case with the City Attorney and Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, the lead attorney who is working on this case pro bono.

When the council re-convened in open session, they re-affirmed the city's commitment to defend the law against the CTIA's lawsuit.

News coverage of this meeting: Daily Californian and CBS San Francisco.


June 28, 2018  (Updated July 2)





Supreme Court Issues Ruling on Berkeley Cell Phone "Right to Know" Ordinance

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in CTIA  v. Berkeley today. The CTIA had petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling made by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeals court had ruled against the CTIA's request for a preliminary injunction that would block the city's cell phone "right to know" ordinance pending resolution of the case. The ordinance was adopted in May, 2015 and has been in effect since March, 2016.

Instead of hearing the case, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the appeals court for further consideration. The Supreme Court wants the appeals court to review CTIA v. Berkeley in light of a new ruling in another case. 

In NIFLA v. Becerra, the Supreme Court invalidated a California law that requires "pregnancy crisis centers" to provide information to patients about the availability of abortion services. Since these centers try to stop women from having abortions, they are opposed to providing their patients with such information.

The Supreme Court clarified the limits of their ruling in NIFLA v. Becerra. This limitation should help Berkeley defend its ordinance in subsequent legal proceedings:

"... we do not question the legality of health and safety warnings long considered permissible, or purely factual and uncontroversial disclosures about commercial products." (National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, Opinion of the Court, pp. 16-17) https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/16-1140_5368.pdf

Berkeley provided the lower court with empirical evidence that most residents are unaware of the safety information that cell phone manufacturers provide. Yet, the Federal Communications Commission requires manufacturers to disclose the cell phone's minimum body separation distance and recommend to consumers the use of an approved holder that complies with this separation distance.

The city's cell phone "right to know" ordinance requires cell phone retailers either to post a notice or provide consumers with the following safety information:

“To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radiofrequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.”

The city requires cell phone retailers to display the above factual notice. The notice does not make any claims about health risks from cell phone use. Since the ordinance has been in effect for more than two years without creating any controversy among consumers or disruption to cell phone retail businesses in the city, it is uncontroversial.

The Berkeley cell phone "right to know" ordinance requires cell phone retailers to provide consumers with "purely factual and uncontroversial disclosures about commercial products." Hence, the ordinance will likely withstand legal challenges from the CTIA and its corporate allies.

SCOTUSblog has a summary of the issues, chronology of the filings, and links to all briefs submitted to the Supreme Court.


June 15, 2018

The CTIA and the City of Berkeley filed a joint brief today with the federal district court in northern California to place a hold on their case until the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether to hear the CTIA's case against the city's cell phone "right to know" ordinance.

Although the Supreme Court held a meeting about the case on May 10, 2018 to consider the CTIA's petition, the court has yet to issue a decision.


January 13, 2018


The CTIA -The Wireless Association has petitioned the United States Supreme Court to hear their case against the City of Berkeley’s cell phone “right to know” ordinance.

The CTIA argues that the ordinance forces cell-phone retailers to deliver a misleading and controversial message to customers. The city asserts that the message is “literally true”; moreover, the city has a legitimate interest in protecting the health of its residents.

Berkeley’s ordinance which was adopted in May, 2015, has been in effect since March, 2016. The law requires cellphone retailers to provide consumers with the following notification:
“To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radiofrequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.”
The appeals court ruled that government may compel commercial speech, absent any alleged false or deceptive communication, as long as the mandated message is “reasonably related to” any “more than trivial” governmental interest and is “literally true.” 

The city prevailed in the federal district court and in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In October of last year, the appeal courts denied the CTIA’s request for a hearing before the full court.

The case, “CTIA - The Wireless Association, Petitioner v. City of Berkeley, California, et al.,” was filed on the Supreme Court docket on January 9, 2018 as No. 17-976.

The CTIA is represented by Theodore Olson, a former U.S. Solicitor General, from the law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP.  

The city is represented by Harvard constitutional law professor Lawrence Lessig, Amanda Shanor, a Ph.D. candidate at Yale Law School, and Farimah Brown and Savith Iyengar of the Berkeley city attorney’s office.


The CTIA’s petition and appendix can be downloaded from the Supreme Court’s web site.


October 18, 2017

Yesterday the CTIA submitted a statement to the federal district court regarding future management of the case. The CTIA indicated that it may petition the Supreme Court for a hearing even though the appeals court denied an en banc hearing.

According to the statement, both parties to the case have agreed that discovery and a trial is unnecessary, and neither party is willing to settle the case. The CTIA has until January 9, 2018 to petition the Supreme Court for a hearing.


October 11, 2017 (updated Oct 12, 2017)

The city of Berkeley won a decision in the federal appeals court today. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reconsider its April decision to uphold a Berkeley ordinance that requires cell phone retailers to warn customers about possible radiation exposure. 

The court rejected arguments made by the CTIA--The Wireless Association which argued for an en banc hearing of the case by a panel of eleven appeals court judges.

The majority opinion stated that upholding the court’s prior decision is consistent with four other circuit courts that have held government's right to compel “purely factual” commercial speech to serve a compelling government interest, 
even in the absence of consumer deception.

The minority opinion argued that because the Federal Communications Commission already requires radiation disclosures in new cellphone user manuals, Berkeley’s “misleading” disclosure is “completely unnecessary.”

“The decision of the district court was correct — twice. The decision of the court of appeals was correct — now twice,” Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig, who argued for the city in the case, said in an email to The Recorder. “We are hopeful that this will bring an end to this case, and the City of Berkeley will again be free to govern its citizens as its citizens demand.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council submitted a brief to support the City of Berkeley. The Association of National Advertisers, the American Beverage Association, and the Chamber of Commerce submitted briefs in support of the CTIA.

The court's ruling can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/9thCircuitRuling.


April 24, 2017

Today Reuters summarized the federal appeals court ruling on the Berkeley cell phone radiation case in an article entitled, "When the government can make businesses talk." 

For other news accounts, see http://bit.ly/berkeleymedia.


April 21, 2017

Today the city of Berkeley won a major decision in a federal appeals court. The court denied a request by the CTIA--The Wireless Association to block Berkeley’s landmark cell phone “right to know” ordinance.

Berkeley’s ordinance which has been in effect since March 21 of last year requires cellphone retailers in the city to provide consumers with the following notification:

“To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radiofrequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.”

The three judges who heard the case on September 13, 2016 for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s denial of the industry association’s request for a preliminary injunction. The panel determined that “there was no irreparable harm based on the First Amendment or preemption, that the balance of equities tipped in Berkeley’s favor, that the ordinance was in the public interest, and that an injunction would harm that interest.”

Although the federal appeals court hearing only addresses the industry's request for a preliminary injunction, the ruling bodes well for the City because the industry’s argument in the overall case for killing the ordinance is based upon the First Amendment and federal preemption. The court rejected those arguments stating that that the ordinance is in the public interest as it complements and reinforces existing Federal law and policy.

More information about the ordinance and the lawsuit appears below. For links to media coverage see: Berkeley Cell Phone "Right to Know" Ordinance: Media Coverage.

The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit can be downloaded from http://bit.ly/CTIABkly042117.

A summary of the ruling follows:

“The panel affirmed the district court’s order denying a request for a preliminary injunction seeking to stay enforcement of a City of Berkeley ordinance requiring cell phone retailers to inform prospective cell phone purchasers that carrying a cell phone in certain ways may cause them to exceed Federal Communications Commission guidelines for exposure to radio-frequency radiation ….

… the panel held that the City’s compelled disclosure of commercial speech complied with the First Amendment because the information in the disclosure was reasonably related to a substantial governmental interest and was purely factual. Accordingly, the panel concluded that plaintiff had little likelihood of success on its First Amendment claim that the disclosure compelled by the Berkeley ordinance was unconstitutional.

The panel determined that there was little likelihood of success on plaintiff’s contention that the Berkeley ordinance was preempted. The panel held that Berkeley’s compelled disclosure did no more than alert consumers to the safety disclosures that the Federal Communication Commission requires, and to direct consumers to federally compelled instructions in their user manuals providing specific information about how to avoid excessive exposure. The panel held that far from conflicting with federal law and policy, the Berkeley ordinance complements and reinforces it.

In affirming the denial of a preliminary injunction, the panel further determined that there was no irreparable harm based on the First Amendment or preemption, that the balance of equities tipped in Berkeley’s favor, that the ordinance was in the public interest, and that an injunction would harm that interest.

Dissenting in part, Judge Friedland stated that Berkeley’s ordinance likely violates the First Amendment and therefore should have been preliminarily enjoined. She stated that taken as a whole, the most natural reading of the Berkeley disclosure warns that carrying a cell phone in one’s pocket is unsafe. Yet Berkeley had not attempted to argue, let alone to prove, that message was true.”



Feb 19, 2017

Although it has been five months since the federal appeals court hearing, the three-judge panel has yet to rule on the request by the CTIA to block enforcement of the Berkeley cell phone "right to know" ordinance until the CTIA's lawsuit against the city is adjudicated. In the meantime the law is in effect.

Judge Edward M. Chen has scheduled a case management conference in federal district court on March 23rd.
3:15-cv-02529-EMC - CTIA - The Wireless Association v. City of Berkeley et al Case Mgmt Conference (10:30 AM, March 23, 2017)
http://www.cand.uscourts.gov/CEO/cfd.aspx?7144#Notes

Sep 14, 2016

Video: Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals hearing: CTIA v. Berkeley

9/13/2016 (41 minutes)

CTIA - The Wireless Association appeals from the order dissolving a preliminary injunction in its suit challenging a Berkeley ordinance that requires cell phone retailers to provide a certain notice regarding radiofrequency energy emissions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NU2IqWFM5KY


Sep 13, 2016

Audio: Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals hearing: CTIA v. Berkeley (case no.16-15141) 

9/13/2016 (41 minutes; 28 MB file)

http://bit.ly/ctiaberkeley091216


Sep 12, 2016

To listen to the live audio feed from the courtroom tomorrow go to http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov and click on the link listed at "Live Streaming Oral Arguments CR1."  Due to media interest in this case, the hearing has been scheduled for 9:30 A.M. Pacific time.


Sep 1, 2016

On September 13, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hold a hearing to consider whether to overturn the district court's decision that denied the CTIA's request for a preliminary injunction to block implementation of Berkeley’s cellphone ordinance until the case was decided. 

Berkeley's law has been in effect since March after the Circuit Court decided to uphold the federal district court's decision to deny the CTIA's request for a preliminary injunction.

This landmark cellphone "right to know" law requires cellphone retailers in Berkeley to post a cellphone safety notification or provide a copy to customers. The notification reminds the consumer to read the manufacturer’s safety information in the cellphone’s user manual.

The case before the federal Court of Appeals is CTIA-The Wireless Association v. City of Berkeley et al., case number 16-15141. The CTIA is represented by former Solicitor General Theodore Olson, and the City is represented by Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig. The hearing will be held in the U.S. Courthouse in San Francisco at 9:30 A.M. (95 Seventh Street, Courtroom 1, 3rd Floor, Rm 338).


Following is a recap of key legal developments since March.

In March, the CTIA appealed the Court's ruling that denied the CTIA's motion for a preliminary injunction and allowed the City of Berkeley to implement its cellphone “right to know” ordinance.

In April, the City submitted a brief to the Court which argued that the CTIA’s misinterpretation of the First Amendment would severely limit government’s regulatory powers, and if the Court were to support the CTIA’s arguments, numerous federal, state, and municipal laws would be ruled unconstitutional (“Berkeley Defends Cellphone Warning Ordinance At 9th Circ.,” Law 360, Apr 5, 2016; https://www.law360.com/articles/780474).

California Attorney General Kamala Harris and the Natural Resources Defense Council submitted amicus briefs in support of Berkeley’s position. Both the Attorney General and the NRDC warned the Court against holding governments to a higher level of First Amendment free speech protection scrutiny when they are simply mandating disclosures. The Attorney General argued, “If the approach advocated by CTIA were adopted by this Court, an array of consumer protection laws, long recognized as a constitutional exercise of the state’s police powers under the authority cited above, could be called into question.” (“Calif. AG Tells 9th Circ. Phone Warning Rule Merits Leeway,” Law360, Apr 26, 2016; https://www.law360.com/articles/788952).

In May, the CTIA submitted a brief to the Appeals Court which argued that the FCC does not require radio frequency disclosures. The City pointed out in its response that the CTIA had previously agreed that the FCC required these disclosures, and that the Appeals Court should not consider new arguments. Moreover, the City claimed that the CTIA’s current assertion was false (“Berkeley Rips Group's FCC Radiation Rule Claims At 9th Circ.,” Law360, May 13, 2016; https://www.law360.com/articles/796300).

In August, the Appeals Court ruled that it would consider the CTIA’s new argument and asked the City to submit its rebuttal (“City Can't Block FCC Radiation Rule Arguments, 9th Circ. Says,” Law360, Aug 12, 2016; http://www.law360.com/telecom/articles/8277850).

On August 25, the City of Berkeley submitted to the Court a rebuttal to the CTIA’s new claim. The CTIA argues that it is not mandatory for cellphone manufacturers to report SAR values and the minimum separation distance in user manuals. Their argument is based on two Knowledge Database (KDB) publications that the FCC issued in October, 2015: KDB 212821 and KDB 447498.

KDB documents, however, are issued by FCC staff to clarify existing FCC rules, not to alter them. Such documents are not subject to public review and do not have the force of law. Hence, the Court is unlikely to consider the CTIA’s new argument to be valid. (“Berkeley Slams CTIA's Flip-Flop In Cellphone Warning Row,” Law360, Aug 29, 2016; http://www.law360.com/telecom/articles/833616).

The FCC’s website indicates that provisions made in KDB documents do not “constitute rules”:

“the KDB is intended to assist the public in following Commission requirements and does not constitute rules. Accordingly, the guidance is not binding on the Commission and will not prevent the Commission from making a different decision in any matter that comes to its attention for resolution.”

According to the City’s latest brief:

“The FCC’s stated policy is that manufacturers ‘must’ provide manual disclosures. And CTIA cannot reasonably assert that its members could ignore the FCC’s disclosure regime as ‘merely suggestive’.”

Mar 23, 2016

Today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request by the CTIA--The Wireless Association to halt enforcement of Berkeley's cell phone "right to know" ordinance according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The CTIA appealed to the Circuit Court because Judge Edward Chen of the Federal District Court allowed the ordinance to take effect while the case is being litigated. Judge Chen rejected the industry's arguments that the city was violating retailers’ free speech rights by requiring them to communicate a message they opposed.

The Circuit Court vote was 2-1 with Judges Milan Smith and Morgan Christen voting to keep the ordinance in effect during CTIA’s appeal whereas Judge Carlos Bea dissented.

Mar 21, 2016

Since the Berkeley cell phone ordinance took effect today, I conducted a small observational study around 4:30 PM to see which downtown cell phone stores were in compliance.

The ordinance allows retailers to choose between posting the official Berkeley cell phone notice or providing customers with a handout containing the same information.

I visited six cellphone stores in downtown Berkeley. At each store I asked to see the  posted notice or the handout. Four of the six stores were in compliance. 

The four major cell phone retailers, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon, were all in compliance. All four posted the official notice on the counter or on a wall (Sprint). None opted to provide handouts to consumers.  

The two authorized cellphone resellers were not in compliance. The sales clerks were unaware of the new law. In one store after I described the ordinance, the clerk volunteered that the law was a good idea and asked me how to get a copy of the official notice.

Max Anderson, the Council member who sponsored this ordinance stated to NBC News, "The people selling these products are not selling them for your good, They're selling them for profit. They play fast and loose with regulations."  The goal is to get people thinking about keeping phones away from their body.


Mar 8, 2016

The Association of National Advertisers filed a brief in support of the CTIA which sued the city of Berkeley over its cell phone "right to know" ordinance (Tom Lochner. "Advertisers group weighs in against Berkeley cellphone hazards disclosure requirement."  Contra Costa Times, Mar 8, 2016).  

The advertisers association argues, "While the city is entitled to hold or express its own opinions about cellphone safety, it may not require others to mouth its words or be its microphone."  The advertisers recommend that the City buy advertising if it wishes to inform consumers to read the cellphone manufacturers' safety instructions.

Last year the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC),nonprofit environmental and public health advocacy organization with more than 2 million members including 1,244 members who reside in Berkeley filed a brief in support of the City,

Last September, Consumer Reports published an article entitled, "Does Cell-Phone Radiation Cause Cancer?" The article highlights the importance of the Berkeley cell phone ordinance and calls on manufacturers to prominently display advice on steps that cell-phone users can take to reduce exposure to cell-phone radiation. 


Mar 2, 2016

Because the Federal Court refused to block implementation of Berkeley's landmark cell phone "right to know" ordinance, the CTIA has asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to issue a preliminary injunction to stop the law from going into effect.

The CTIA claims that cell phone retailers would be harmed by delivering a message they don't believe, and that the ordinance is likely to be eventually overturned by the courts. (Patrick Boyle. "CTIA urges 9th Circ. to halt Berkeley's cellphone warning law." Law 360. March 2, 2016. http://bit.ly/1TSD8i2).

According to the Berkeley City Attorney's office, the law will go into effect on March 21.


Feb 1, 2016

On January 27, the Federal Court (Judge Chen) lifted the ban on the Berkeley cell phone ordinance. The city is now allowed to enforce the amended cell phone law which requires cell phone retailers to notify their customers about the safety warnings in their cell phone or cell phone manual. 

The judge affirmed Berkeley's right to warn its citizens about potential health risks based on federal safety standards.  In his ruling, the judge rejected the CTIA's argument that the city's mandated disclosure is controversial and therefore bound by a stricter constitutional analysis.  

According to the ruling, "CTIA's beef should be with the FCC ... If CTIA believes that the safety margin is too generous because there is no real safety concern at that level, it should take that matter up with the FCC administratively."

See Courthouse News Service for a summary of the January 21 hearing and the subsequent ruling.


Dec 23, 2015

A hearing on the CTIA's motion to sustain the court's preliminary injunction is scheduled for January 21, 2016 in Courtroom 5 in the federal district court in San Francisco. Judge Chen will hear the motion. 


Oct 29, 2015

On October 27, the second reading of the amended cell phone ordinance which appeared on the consent calendar was unanimously adopted by the Council.

Next the city will submit a motion to the court to dissolve the injunction. This would enable the revised law to take effect.


Oct 7, 2015

Last night the Berkeley City Council adopted a minor amendment to the city's cell phone ordinance. The Council deleted from the 82-word official notification the 7-word sentence regarding children's risk of exposure due to Judge Chen ruling that because the FCC failed to recognize that children's exposure to cell phone radiation is greater than adults, this sentence was "controversial." The peer-reviewed research which demonstrates that this is factual apparently is irrelevant to the court.

Since there were no objections to the modified language, the item was moved to the consent calendar.  A second reading of the ordinance will occur on October 27. 





Sep 25, 2015 (updated Oct 2, 2015)

On October 6 the Berkeley City Council will consider a minor amendment to the city's cell phone "right to know" ordinance at its regular meeting.  

The amendment will make the ordinance consistent with the order issued by the U.S. District Court in CTIA v City of Berkeley (USDC ND CA C-14-2529). Seven words pertaining to children's safety will be deleted from the city's consumer safety notification: "This potential risk is greater for children."

The revised ordinance will retain the remainder of the 82-word official consumer safety notification:

“The City of Berkeley requires that you be provided the following notice:

To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.”

Assuming the revised ordinance is adopted by the Council, the City will ask the court to dissolve the injunction.

The Interim City Manager's memo to Council members which includes the U.S. District Court ruling is available at http://bit.ly/1KHAF2F.
Amending Berkeley Municipal Code Chapter 9.96 Regarding Point of Sale Cell Phone Warnings in Response to District Court Order 
From: City Manager
Recommendation: Adopt first reading of an Ordinance amending Section 9.96.030.A consistent with the order issued by the U.S. District Court in CTIA v. City of Berkeley (USDC ND CA C-15-2529 EMC).
Financial Implications: None
Contact: Zach Cowan, City Attorney, 981-6950

Sep 21, 2015

On September 21, Federal District Court Judge Edward Chen gave the City of Berkeley a green light to implement the City’s landmark cell phone “right to know” law after deleting one sentence from the safety notification. Cell phone vendors in the City will soon be required to provide customers with a safety warning either by giving the customer a handout or or by posting the following notice in the store:

“The City of Berkeley requires that you be provided the following notice:

To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.”

Judge Chen denied the CTIA's request for a preliminary injunction that would have completely blocked enforcement of the ordinance until the case was fully resolved.

The Court required the City to strike the following seven words from the 82-word safety warning: “This potential risk is greater for children.”  The judge ruled that although this sentence may be factual, it can be argued that it is controversial because the FCC does not acknowledge that children's exposure to cell phone radiation is greater than adults. For the facts supporting this assertion, see "Children are more exposed to cell phone radio-frequency radiation than adults."

Kriss Worthington, the Berkeley City Council Member who co-sponsored the ordinance,  issued the following statement today via email:
"I am pleased to report that in spite of massive attacks by the corporations they were unable to persuade the judge from taking away the consumer’s right to know in a drastic injunction. Instead the judge requested one simple sentence to be modified. The City is moving rapidly to vote on October 6th on that one sentence modification. Thank you all for your incredible efforts on behalf of the consumer’s right to know."
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates declared victory in an interview with SFGate. He called the warning about children, a “relatively small problem” that the City Council will remedy:
“Judge Chen’s order upholding the main part of our cell phone ordinance confirms that the cell phone industry’s claims were ill founded,” Bates said.
Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, the attorney representing the City of Berkeley on this case, told Ars Technica he was pleased with the ruling: 
"The rest of the ordinance survived First Amendment review, which was a very important victory and I couldn't find a single sentence in Judge Chen's opinion that I disagreed with, so I'm quite happy," he said. 
Lessig posted the following comment in his blog about the case:
"Judge Chen has issued a very careful and well crafted opinion upholding almost every part of the Berkeley “right to know” ordinance. (The one part he found preempted was the part that said that the risk of overexposure was greater for children.) Importantly, the Court rejected the First Amendment claims made by CTIA. Really happy to have had a chance to participate in getting this corner of the law right."
The Court's ruling on the injunction stipulates:
“ … the Court grants in part and denies in part CTIA’s motion for a preliminary injunction. The motion is granted to the extent the Court finds a likely successful preemption claim with respect to the sentence in the City notice regarding children’s safety. The motion is denied to the extent the Court finds that a First Amendment claim and preemption claim are not likely to succeed on the remainder of the City notice language.”
“’A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest.’” 
“ … the thrust of CTIA’s complaint is twofold: (1) the Berkeley ordinance is preempted by federal law and (2) the ordinance violates the First Amendment.” 
“This disclosure, for the most part, simply refers consumers to the fact that there are FCC standards on RF energy exposure – standards which assume a minimum spacing of the cell phone away from the body – and advises consumers to refer to their manuals regarding maintenance of such spacing. The disclosure mandated by the Berkeley ordinance is consistent with the FCC’s statements and testing procedures regarding spacing … the ordinance does not ban something the FCC authorizes or mandates. And CTIA has failed to point to any FCC pronouncement suggesting that the agency has any objection to warning consumers about maintaining spacing between the body and a cell phone. Moreover, the City ordinance, because it is consistent with FCC pronouncements and directives, does not threaten national uniformity.” 
“There is, however, one portion of the notice required by the City ordinance that is subject to obstacle preemption – namely, the sentence ’This potential risk is greater for children.’ Notably, this sentence does not say that the potential risk may be greater for children; rather, the sentence states that the potential risk is greater. But whether the potential risk is, in fact, greater for children is a matter of scientific debate … the FCC has never made any pronouncement that there is a greater potential risk for children, and, certainly, the FCC has not imposed different RF energy exposure limits that are applicable to children specifically … Thus, the content of the sentence – that the potential risk is indeed greater for children compared to adults – threatens to upset the balance struck by the FCC between encouraging commercial development of all phones and public safety, because the Berkeley warning as worded could materially deter sales on an assumption about safety risks which the FCC has refused to adopt or endorse.” 
“ … CTIA completely ignores the fact that the speech rights at issue here are its members’ commercial speech rights …. CTIA’s members are being compelled to communicate a message, but the message being communicated is clearly the City’s message, and not that of the cell phone retailers… (providing that the notice shall state 'The City of Berkeley requires that you be provided the following notice” and that “the notice shall include the City’s logo'). In other words, while CTIA’s members are being compelled to provide a mandated disclosure of Berkeley’s speech, no one could reasonably mistake that speech as emanating from a cell phone retailer itself. Where a law requires a commercial entity engaged in commercial speech merely to permit a disclosure by the government, rather than compelling speech out of the mouth of the speaker, the First Amendment interests are less obvious. Notably, at the hearing, CTIA conceded that there would be no First Amendment violation if the City handed out flyers or had a poster board immediately outside a cell phone retailer’s store."
“While CTIA has argued that being forced to engage in counter-speech (i.e., speech in response to the City notice) is, in and of itself, a First Amendment burden … that is not necessarily true where commercial speech is at issue.”

A case management conference has been scheduled for October 1 in the Federal District Court.

Federal District Court ruling on CTIA request for a preliminary injunction (9/21/2015): http://bit.ly/CTIABerkeleyruling09212015


August 21, 2015

On August 20, the U.S. District Court in San Francisco held a hearing on the CTIA's motion for a preliminary injunction to block implementation of the Berkeley cell phone "right to know" ordinance. The CTIA was represented by former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson, and the City of Berkeley was represented by Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig. 

The presiding judge is Edward M. Chen.  Of the 240-plus federal district judges appointed in the U.S. in the past five years, Judge Chen is considered one of the "rising stars," because he is the fourth most-cited judge. Judge Chen is likely to issue a decision about the CTIA's injunction within the next few weeks.

I took six pages of notes at the hearing. In my opinion the following news stories provide the most accurate summary of the hearing:

Bob Egelko, SF Gate, Aug 20, 2015  (This article appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Aug 21, 2015.)
Jessica Aguirre, NBC Bay Area, Aug 20, 2015 
Lance Knobel, Berkeleyside, Aug 21, 2015 

For links to other media coverage about the hearing and the ordinance see http://bit.ly/berkeleymedia.


August 18, 2015

Should the City of Berkeley have the right to require 
cell phone retailers to provide the following safety notice to their customers? 
Why is the CTIA trying to suppress this 82-word notice?





July 21, 2015

On July 20, the CTIA filed with the Court its reply to the City of Berkeley. The CTIA wants the Court to issue a preliminary injunction that would block implementation of the cell phone “right to know” ordinance until the lawsuit is resolved. 

The CTIA claims that the ordinance should be subjected to “heightened scrutiny” and does not achieve “any substantial or even legitimate government interest.” Other CTIA claims include the ordinance is “misleading, not purely factual,” and that it is “controversial, “unduly burdensome,” and unlike other consumer disclosures. The CTIA argues that the ordinance is preempted by Federal regulation, and that members of the CTIA will be “irreparably injured if the ordinance is enforced.” Finally, the CTIA claims that the“injunction will not harm the City,” and would serve the public interest.


July 16, 2015

A hearing on the CTIA's motion for a preliminary injunction to block implementation of the Berkeley cell phone "right to know" ordinance is scheduled for August 20 in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco. The hearing will be held in Courtroom 5 at 1:30 PM.  The Honorable Edward M. Chen is the presiding judge. 

The case number is 3:15-cv-02529. Legal filings are available from the U.S. Court ArchivePlainSiteand Law360.


On July 13, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) petitioned the Court for the right to file a "friend of the court" brief in opposition to the CTIA's motion for a preliminary injunction.


The NRDC is a nonprofit environmental and public health advocacy organization with more than 2 million members including 1,244 members who reside in Berkeley. The NRDC is "One of the nation's most powerful environmental groups" according to the New York Times.

The proposed brief makes the following arguments:
"Part of NRDC’s mission is to protect public health by minimizing human exposure to harmful substances. Regulations like Berkeley’s radiofrequency exposure right-to-know ordinance are important to advancing that goal: after all, an individual cannot choose whether to minimize her exposure if she does not know that it is occurring.
The logic of Plaintiff’s First Amendment claim, if accepted, would undermine not just the Berkeley right-to-know ordinance, but legions of risk-disclosure rules that apprise the public of exposures that they might not otherwise discover. Many rules that NRDC, on behalf of its members, has long supported and advanced could be swept away."   (1)

The NRDC further argues that the Court should not be put in the position of answering questions like "How safe is safe enough? and "How risky is too risky? This task falls within the institutional expertise of legislatures and regulators. Finally, the NRDC argues that "Mandatory disclosure of environmental and health risks is crucial to protecting the public's safety and individuals' autonomy."  (1)

Reference

(1) Natural Resources Defense Council. CTIA v City of Berkeley. "[Proposed] brief of amicus curiae Natural Resources Defense Council in opposition to plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction." US District Court for Northern District of California. Case No. C15-02529 EMC. July 13, 2015. 



July 6, 2015

The City of Berkeley filed its response to the CTIA's challenge of the City's cell phone "right to know" consumer disclosure ordinance. 

The City makes the following arguments why the Court should not grant the CTIA's request for an injunction that would block enforcement of the ordinance: 
  • the City has a substantial interest in providing the consumer disclosure to inform its residents about proper cell phone use; 
  • the mandated disclosure is accurate, factual and noncontroversial; 
  • the ordinance does not violate the First Amendment and is not preempted by Federal law;
  • the disclosure is not burdensome for cell phone retailers;
  • the CTIA's members will not be harmed if the ordinance is enforced; 
  • and interfering with the ordinance is not in the public interest.
The response was submitted by Berkeley City Attorney Zach Cowan, Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, Yale Law Professor and Dean Robert Post, and Yale Law Ph.D. candidate Amanda Shanor.  Declarations of support for the ordinance were filed by Anthony Miller, Om Gandhi, Tom Jensen, and Sandra Cortesi.

The introduction to the brief summarizes the City's position:
CTIA has launched a war based on a mistake. It labors hard to paint Berkeley’s “right to know” Ordinance as an attack on settled science. It objects with vigor to being “compelled,” as it puts it, to spread a view about cell phone safety that it claims is “scientifically baseless and alarmist,” And it links Berkeley’s motives, as it describes them, to the “unsupported proposition that cell phones are unsafe.”

 But Berkeley has no purpose to engage a scientific debate through political means. Its Ordinance simply reinforces a message that the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) itself already requires manufacturers to disseminate.
The FCC has since 2001 encouraged—and now requires—manufacturers to “include information in device manuals to make consumers aware of the need to maintain the body-worn distance —by using appropriate accessories if they want to ensure that their actual exposure does not exceed the [Specific Absorption Rate (“SAR”)] measurement obtained during testing.”
The Ordinance is a response to data demonstrating that Berkeley residents are unaware of the information that the FCC desires them to have. Berkeley residents do not understand that cell phones are tested at a “body-worn distance” and are not aware that carrying a phone against one’s body “might result” in “exposure in excess of [FCC] limits” … The Ordinance also responds to data that a significant proportion of Berkeley residents want this information (82%) and said that it would affect their behavior (80%). The Ordinance thus answers a desire of Berkeley residents to have the information about RF exposure limits that the FCC wants them to have.

Yet on the basis of a single paragraph in a single FCC Notice of Inquiry cited by Plaintiff more than a dozen times, CTIA insists that no government can have any legitimate purpose in making consumers aware of long established RF guidelines—the very instructions and mandates that CTIA’s members must meet and must disclose—because, in CTIA’s view, these precautions are too cautious.

Regardless of how cell phones are used, in CTIA’s view, cell phones must be deemed safe. And any effort to draw the public’s attention to the actual manner in which cell phones were tested to be safe in effect, Plaintiff maintains, slanders CTIA’s members. But a single paragraph in a single FCC Notice of Inquiry cannot establish such an extraordinary proposition. Neither was it meant to. The whole purpose of the FCC Notice  is to initiate an inquiry into whether the FCC should alter its limits for RF radiation, by either strengthening or weakening them. The FCC does not begin an inquiry by announcing its results. FCC mandates about cell phone RF limits and the disclosure of information about those limits are the law. So long as that is true, nothing in the First Amendment blocks Berkeley from requiring retailers to inform customers about those mandates as well. The Ordinance requires the disclosure only of uncontested statements of fact that refer to existing federal requirements ....
Important filings in the case are available on Scribd at http://bit.ly/CTIABerkeleyfile.


June 9, 2015


On June 8, 2015, CTIA—The Wireless Association filed a lawsuit and a motion for an injunction in the Federal District Court in Northern California against the City of Berkeley to block the city’s cell phone “right to know” ordinance. This model law which was drafted by two of nation's leading legal scholars was designed to withstand legal challenges from industry.

The CTIA’s lawsuit claims that the ordinance violates the First Amendment rights of cell phone retailers in the City of Berkeley:

“The Ordinance compels retailers of cell phones to issue to their customers a misleading, controversial, and government-crafted statement about the “safety” of cell phones. The statement conveys, by its terms and design, the City’s view that using cell phones in a certain way poses a risk to human health, particularly to children. That compelled speech is not only scientifically baseless and alarmist, but it also contradicts the federal government’s determination that cell phones approved for sale in the United States, however worn, are safe for everyone.”
“…the FCC—consulting with expert federal health and safety agencies and drawing from international standards-setting bodies—has carefully reviewed the scientific studies that have examined cell phones for possible adverse health effects, including health effects from the radio waves—a type of radiofrequency energy (“RF energy”)—that cell phones emit in order to function. The FCC has determined, consistent with the overwhelming consensus of scientific authority, that “[t]here is no scientific evidence that proves that wireless phone usage can lead to cancer or a variety of other problems, including headaches, dizziness or memory loss.” FCC, FAQs –Wireless Phones, available at https://goo.gl/ZrKBly.
“…The FCC’s guidelines are highly conservative: they are set 50 times below the threshold level of RF energy that has been shown to cause potential adverse health effects in laboratory animals, and assume that a cell phone is operating at its maximum certified power setting (even though cell phones rarely use the full extent of their power) … As the FCC recently put it, ‘[t]his ‘safety’ factor can well accommodate a variety of variables such as different physical characteristics and individual sensitivities—and even the potential for exposures to occur in excess of our limits without posing a health hazard to humans.’ …
“Thus, according to the FCC, ‘exposure well above the specified [FCC’s] limit should not create an unsafe condition.’”
“By using words and phrases such as ‘assure safety,’ ‘radiation,’’potential risk,’ ‘children,’ and ‘how to use your phone safely,’ the City’s unsubstantiated compelled disclosure is designed to convey a particular message that will stoke fear in consumers about the dangers of cell phones: ‘Do not carry your cell phone in your pants or shirt pocket, or in your bra, when powered ON and connected to the wireless network, because by doing so, you may absorb more RF radiation than is safe, as determined by the Federal Government. The risk of exposure to unsafe levels of RF energy is greater for children.’”
“But CTIA’s members do not wish to convey that message, because it is not true. As explained above, the FCC has stated that even where the RF emissions limit is exceeded, there is ‘no evidence that this poses any significant health risk.’ It has also concluded that RF energy from FCC-approved cell phones poses no heightened risk to children. Berkeley’s compelled disclosure is misleading because it fails to explain that the FCC guidelines already take account of the fact that consumers may use cell phones in different ways, and that cell phones are used by people of different ages and different sizes. In short, when a cell phone is certified as compliant with the FCC’s guidelines, that phone is safe, however it is worn, even if a particular usage results in exposure ‘well above’ the limit.”
“The City, which concededly lacks any evidence that exposure to RF emissions from FCC-approved cell phones at levels in excess of the FCC’s guidelines presents a safety issue, cannot meet its heavy burden under the First Amendment to justify compelling CTIA’s members’ speech, under any applicable standard of review.”
“Moreover, if the Ordinance is allowed to stand, other local governments will soon follow the City’s lead, resulting in a crazy-quilt of tens of thousands of inconsistent ‘disclosure’ obligations across the country. The result will be more compelled speech (and very likely self-contradictory speech), as well as widespread and unwarranted consumer confusion and anxiety about the safety of cell phones.”
“For these reasons, and as more fully described below, Berkeley’s Ordinance violates the First Amendment because it will require CTIA’s members to convey a message to which they object, and which is factually inaccurate, misleading, and controversial.”
“Berkeley’s Ordinance is also preempted by federal law because it would stand as an obstacle to the careful balance that the FCC has devised between protecting consumer safety and supporting the growth of mobile wireless service.”
The CTIA also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to petition the Court to block implementation of the cell phone "right to know" law:
"... CTIA respectfully requests that this Court preliminarily enjoin all Defendants from enforcing or causing to be enforced Berkeley Municipal Code Chapter 9.96 before the Ordinance goes into effect on June 25, 2015, pending final judgment."
The lead attorney for the CTIA is Theodore Olson, a former United States Solicitor General who is best known for representing presidential candidate George W. Bush in the Supreme Court case Bush v. Gore, which ended the recount of the contested 2000 Presidential election. He is currently working for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

Lawrence Lessig, director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University and professor of law at Harvard Law School, drafted the cell phone “right to know” ordinance along with Robert Post, dean and professor of law at Yale Law School.  Professor Lessig presented the ordinance to the Berkeley City Council on May 11 and offered to defend it pro bono against any legal challenges. 

The CTIA lawsuit is available at http://bit.ly/CTIAfiling6-8-2015.

The Berkeley Cell Phone "Right to Know" ordinance is available at: 

The court filings for the lawsuit, "CTIA - The Wireless Association v. City of Berkeley et al." (Case Number 3:150-cv-02529), are available at Law 360.


June 4, 2015

The Berkeley cell phone "right to know" ordinance takes effect on June 25th, 30 days after its second reading.

May 26, 2015

The Berkeley City Council adopted the Cell Phone "Right to Know" Ordinance after a second reading this evening.
Requiring Notice Concerning Carrying of Cell Phones; Adding BMC Chapter 9.96
From: City Manager
Recommendation: Adopt second reading of Ordinance No. 7,404-N.S. requiring cell phone retailers to provide a notice with each sale or lease concerning the carrying of cell phones, and adding Berkeley Municipal Code Chapter 9.96.
First Reading Vote: All Ayes.
Financial Implications: Staff time
Contact: Zach Cowan, City Attorney, 981-6950
Action: Adopted second reading of Ordinance No. 7,404-N.S.
Excerpt from the Ordinance:
A Cell phone retailer shall provide to each customer who buys or leases a Cell
phone a notice containing the following language:
"The City of Berkeley requires that you be provided the following notice:
To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet
radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone
in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and
connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines
for exposure to RF radiation. This potential risk is greater for children.

Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information
about how to use your phone safely."

The entire text of the Ordinance is available at: http://bit.ly/Bklyordinance.

--

May 18, 2015

Berkeley's Cell Phone "Right to Know" Ordinance (video)

Kevin Kunze, director and writer of the award-winning film, "Mobilize: a Film about Cell Phone Radiation," prepared a a 6 minute video about the adoption of the nation's only cell phone "right to know" ordinance by the City of Berkeley on May 12, 2015.

http://bit.ly/1Hf23Tq

--

May 16, 2015

City of Berkeley to require cellphone sellers to warn of possible radiation risks

Lawmakers vote to highlight the potential dangers of keeping devices close to the body as scientists raise raft of concerns, especially for children 


Anita Chabria, The Guardian (UK), May 16, 2015


Note:

The article in The Guardian refers to EMFscientist.orgOn Monday, May 11th, 190 scientists from 39 nations submitted an appeal to the United Nations, the UN member states, and the World Health Organization (WHO) requesting they adopt more protective exposure guidelines for electromagnetic fields (EMF) and wireless technology in the face of increasing evidence of risk.*  

These exposures are a rapidly growing form of environmental pollution worldwide. 

 As of today the petition has been signed by 200 EMF scientists from 40 nations. Seventy non-governmental organizations (i.e. non-profits) have endorsed the Appeal.


*(e.g., power lines, cell phones, cordless phones, Wi-Fi, wireless devices, cell towers, wireless utility meters).

--

May 12, 2015 

Berkeley Adopts Cell Phone "Right to Know" Ordinance on Unanimous Vote


This evening the Berkeley City Council adopted the cell phone "right to know" ordinance on a unanimous vote of 9-0.  Berkeley is the first city in the nation to pass a cell phone radiation ordinance since San Francisco disbanded its ordinance after a two-year court battle with the CTIA

Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig helped draft the ordinance and presented it to the Council on behalf of city staff.

The only opposition to the ordinance came from the CTIA--The Wireless Association. The CTIA claims that consumers would be scared if they were directed to read the information that the FCC requires they provide to consumers.  



May 5, 2015

Berkeley residents want, deserve cellphone ‘right to know’

Ellen Marks, Berkeleyside, 

Ellen Marks is Executive Director of the California Brain Tumor Association.

<snip>


---

May 1, 2015


Berkeley City Council: May 12, 2015 Meeting Agenda Item on Cell Phones

Action Calendar -- New Business

From: City Manager
Recommendation: Adopt first reading of an Ordinance requiring cell phone retailers to provide a notice with each sale or lease concerning the carrying of cell phones, and adding Berkeley Municipal Code Chapter 9.96.
Financial Implications: Staff time

--

Excerpt from Proposed Cell Phone Ordinance

CHAPTER 9.96
REQUIRING NOTICE CONCERNING RADIO FREQUENCY EXPOSURE OF CELL PHONES

<snip>

Section 9.96.030 Required notice

A. A Cell phone retailer shall provide to each customer who buys or leases a Cell phone a notice containing the following language:

The City of Berkeley requires that you be provided the following notice: To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. This potential risk is greater for children. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.

B. The notice required by this Section shall either be provided to each customer who buys or leases a Cell phone or shall be prominently displayed at any point of sale where Cell phones are purchased or leased. If provided to the customer, the notice shall include the City’s logo, shall be printed on paper that is no less than 5 inches by 8 inches in size, and shall be printed in no smaller than a 18-point font. The paper on which the notice is printed may contain other information in the discretion of the Cell phone retailer, as long as that information is distinct from the notice language required by subdivision (A) of this Section. If prominently displayed at a point of sale, the notice shall include the City’s logo, be printed on a poster no less than 8 ½ by 11 inches in size, and shall be printed in no small than a 28-point font. The City shall make its logo available to be incorporated in such notices.

C. A Cell phone retailer that believes the notice language required by subdivision (A) of this Section is not factually applicable to a Cell phone model that retailer offers for sale or lease may request permission to not provide the notice required by this Section in connection with sales or leases of that model of Cell phone. Such permission shall not be unreasonably withheld.

http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Clerk/City_Council/2015/05_May/Documents/2015-05-12_Item_29_Requiring_Notice.aspx

---

April 30, 2015

PRESS RELEASE

​​Survey of Berkeley Residents Affirms Need for City to Adopt Cell Phone “Right to Know” Ordinance on May 12

Berkeley, Calif. April 30, 2015. Eighty-two percent (82%) of adults in Berkeley, California reported in a recent survey that they want to be informed when they purchase a cell phone about the manufacturer’s recommended minimum distance that the phone should be kept from the user’s body.

On May 12, the survey results will be officially presented to the Berkeley City Council when the Council votes on a Cell Phone “Right to Know” ordinance.

The proposed Cell Phone Right to Know legislation requires cell phone retailers to provide a city-prepared handout to each consumer at the point of sale that advises them of their phone’s manufacturers’ own directive to never wear or use a cell phone against their body when on (as in a shirt or pants pocket or tucked into a bra). This manufacturer’s separation distance use advisory which is required by the Federal Communications Commission is currently located in the legal fine print of user manuals or on the phone in text menus which are difficult to find. 

 
If the Council adopts the ordinance, Berkeley will become the only city in the U.S. to require retailers to provide consumers with this important safety information.

Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig who helped draft the ordinance will present it to the Council on behalf of City staff. Professor Lessig has offered to defend the ordinance
pro bono should the CTIA—The Wireless Association file a lawsuit against the City.

Other key survey findings:

  • Fully, 70% of Berkeley adults were unaware that the government’s radiation tests to assure the safety of cell phones assume that the phone would not be carried against the user’s body, but instead would be held at least 1 to 15 millimeters from the user’s body.
  • Two out of three (66%) were unaware that cell phone manufacturers recommend that their cell phones be carried away from the body, or used with hands-free devices.
  • Fewer than one in six (15%) have seen the recommendations by cell phone manufacturers about how to best protect against overexposure to cell phone radiation.
  • Almost three out of four (74%) reported that they or their children carry a cell phone against their body—tucked in a shirt or pants pocket while the phone is switched on.

Lisa Bailey, M.D., past president of the California Division of the American Cancer Society and a breast cancer surgeon at Alta Bates Medical Center, strongly supports the ordinance:

“We have had some anecdotal cases in which the woman’s breast cancer develops directly below the area where her cell phone was carried. I believe that the public has the right to know that there may be potential risks and to use their phone in a way to reduce potential harm. I urge the Berkeley City Council to provide such information to their constituents.”

Recent peer-reviewed research has found that cell phone radiation causes sperm damage. The authors of a systematic review and meta-analysis of ten studies on the effects of mobile phone radiation on human sperm quality concluded that, "Our analyses indicate negative associations between mobile phone exposure on sperm viability and motility.” (Adams et al., 2014).

Several peer-reviewed papers have recommended that cell phones should not be carried or used directly against the body as in a pants pocket. For example:
  • “Keeping the cell phone in a trouser pocket in talk mode may negatively affect spermatozoa and impair male fertility” (Agarwal et al. 2009).
  • “Overall, these findings raise a number of related health policy and patient management issues that deserve our immediate attention. Specifically, we recommend that men of reproductive age who engage in high levels of mobile phone use do not keep their phones in receiving mode below waist level” (De Iuliis et al., 2009).

The City Council meeting will be held 7:00 PM on May 12 in the City Council Chambers at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley. Supporters of the ordinance will hold a rally in front of the building at 6:00 PM.

The survey of Berkeley residents was conducted by Public Policy Polling of Raleigh, North Carolina from March 6-8, 2015. The survey was funded by the ​California Brain Tumor Association.

Contact: Ellen Marks, Executive Director, California Brain Tumor Association

--

April 28, 2015

On Tuesday, May 12, the Berkeley City Council will vote on becoming the first city in the nation to enact legislation to give consumers information at the point of sale as to the recommended distance information which is currently hidden in the cell phone or in the manual. Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig helped draft the ordinance and will be at the meeting to present it to the Council.


Advocates for the ordinance will hold a rally in front of City Hall at 6 PM.

For more information see Berkeleyside Events Calendar.

--

March 27, 2015

NBC Bay Area aired a four minute news story on the 11:00 news, "Documentary 'Mobilize' Examines Cell Phone Dangers," about the Berkeley cell phone ordinance and the feature-length documentary, "Mobilize: A Film about Cell Phone Radiation."

--

March 10, 2015

The cell phone "right to know" ordinance will be on the agenda of the Berkeley City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 12. 

--

November 21, 2014

On November 18, the Berkeley City Council adopted a referral to the City Manager on a 7-2 vote. The referral asks the City Manager to draft a cell phone “right to know” ordinance. 

Once this ordinance is enacted, Berkeley will become the first city in the nation to require cell phone retailers to provide those who purchase a new phone an informational fact sheet. Retailers will be required to provide the fact sheet to those who purchase a cell phone which informs them to read the user manual to learn the cell phone’s minimum separation distance from the body.

The FCC requires manufacturers to provide this information to ensure that the consumers’ cell phone radiation exposure does not exceed the amount when the cell phone was tested. Few consumers are currently aware of this safety information because it is buried in their user manual or within their smart phone. Knowledge of this information is an important step in increasing awareness that cell phones should not be used next to the body.

Councilman Max Anderson who sponsored the referral grilled the CTIA representative, Gerard Keegan, about why the industry does not want consumers to see the safety information that the FCC mandates. The CTIA position is that this is between the FCC and the industry, and the FCC is in the process of deciding whether this information is necessary so the City should not act on this issue.

The referral directs the City Manager to ask City Attorney Zach Cowan and Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig to draft the ordinance.

A video of the meeting is now available for streaming (see 01:44:50 - 03:36:25).

Summaries of the meeting have been published by The Daily Californian and the Contra Costa Times.

--

November 10, 2014

The Berkeley City Council postponed discussion of the cell phone "right to know" ordinance until Tuesday, November 18, 2014.
City Manager Referral: Cell Phone Ordinance Referral to City Manager (Continued from October 28, 2014)
From: Councilmember Anderson
Recommendation: Refer to City Manager for the creation of an ordinance to have cell phone retailers give to consumers who purchase a phone, a factual, informational handout referring the user to their cell phone manufacturers' disclosure regarding the recommended separation distance for use against the body.
Financial Implications: See report
Contact: Max Anderson, Councilmember, District 3, 981-7130
http://bit.ly/1EvJvPz

--

October 15, 2014

Press Release: Berkeley's Proposed Cell Phone "Right to Know" Ordinance

http://www.prlog.org/12383163

--

October 10, 2014

This cell phone "right to know" ordinance is on the consent calendar for the Berkeley City Council meeting to be held on Tuesday, October 28, 2014. The referral and briefing document are available at http://bit.ly/BerkeleyReferral.

City Manager Referral: Cell Phone Ordinance Referral to City Manager
From: Councilmember Anderson; Councilmember Worthington
Recommendation: Refer to City Manager for the creation of an ordinance to have cell phone retailers give to consumers who purchase a phone, a factual, informational handout referring the user to their cell phone manufacturers' disclosure regarding the recommended separation distance for use against the body.
Financial Implications: See report
Contact: Max Anderson, Councilmember, District 3, 981-7130
The advisory will be in the form of an informational handout to be handed to consumers by the retailer at the time of purchasing a cell phone. The proposed wording is as follows:  
"The Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines. Don't carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is turned ON and connected to a wireless network. This will prevent exposure to RF levels that may exceed the federal guidelines."
"Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for the recommended separation distance."

--

Precaution or Paranoia? Berkeley May Require Cancer Warning Stickers for Cell Phones

Sabin Russell, California Magazine, August 19, 2014

[An indepth article about the science and  politics underlying the proposed Berkeley cell phone ordinance--research on cancer risk and fetal effects on neurological development is discussed.]

Just as the world supply of mobile phones is reaching one unit for every human being on Earth, here comes Berkeley, with a warning: These things could be hazardous to your health ...
Stakes in this argument are extraordinarily high. Cell phones are radio transmitters that are not only ubiquitous, they are close at hand: We press them against our ears. We store them in our pants pockets. Women slip them into their bras. Teens sleep with them under their pillows. With the adult market nearly saturated, the big growth opportunity for mobile devices is children.
“In our so­ci­ety, the pre­cau­tion­ary prin­ciple does not res­on­ate well. We want to see a body count first.” 
The CTIA statement builds a case that the “scientific consensus” is firmly in their camp. In fact, the two-word term appears 28 times in their filing. They quote numerous federal agencies asserting a lack of evidence that cell phone radiation can cause harm. Among them is the FCC itself, the FDA, and most notably, the National Cancer Institute, which states on its web site that “there is no evidence from studies of cells, animals, or humans that radiofrequency energy can cause cancer.
Moskowitz dismisses the endorsements. “Industry and government agencies seem to be in denial, and have been in that frame of mind for decades,’’ he says.
... Cell-phone makers in their fine print do advise keeping these devices about a half-inch away from your body, although there is no mention of it in an industry-written parents’ guide to cell phone safety.
And meanwhile, let’s face it: We just love these little appliances. They are changing the way we live. If they are changing the way we die, we’ll find out, eventually.
http://bit.ly/1p7158O

Also see:
Eric Schultz. Killer App: A Berkeley researcher weighs in on cell phones and cancer. California Magazine. Winter 2010.  http://bit.ly/1kSu5z5

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Berkeley pushes for cancer warning stickers on cell phones

Carolyn Jones, SFGate, Jul 15, 2014 (updated)

Print version: "CELL PHONE ORDINANCE: Berkeley will fight for cancer warnings," San Francisco Chronicle, Jul 15, 2014, pg. A - 1

Berkeley, undaunted by abandoned efforts in San Francisco, is attempting to become the first city in the nation to require retailers to put stickers on cell phone packaging warning people that the devices may emit cancer-causing radiation ...
Joel Moskowitz, head of UC Berkeley's Center for Family and Community Health, has no such indecision. He's been studying the issue since 2009, and has concluded that cell phones are "one of the top emerging public health risks." 
Studies cited by the cell phone industry are outdated, he said. Newer and more complex wireless technology, coupled with people spending increasing amounts of time on their phones, is almost certain to lead to an uptick in brain cancer, he said.
"It's just a matter of time," he said. "The evidence is a lot more compelling than it has been."
Radiation from cell phones penetrates the skin and skull and absorbs into the brain tissue, having an adverse affect on cells, he said. Phone radiation can also affect sperm count among men who carry phones in their pockets, he said.
Consumers should wear headsets, use the speaker feature and otherwise keep phones away from their bodies, he said.
"With cell phones, distance is your friend," he said.
Pregnant women and children are particularly vulnerable, he said.
A warning sticker should advise consumers that some studies link cell phones to rare but serious cancers, and they should take precautions, he said ...