The UK could follow the US in introducing legislation requiring mobile phone manufacturers to provide more explicit information on handset radiation emissions, according to legal experts.
San Francisco looks likely to be the first city in the US to pass a law requiring companies to display a specific absorption rate (SAR) at which energy is absorbed by the body when exposed to a radio frequency.
The Board of Supervisors in San Francisco voted 10-1 in support of the measure on Tuesday, and a final approval from the mayor is expected next week.
Robin Fry, a partner at law firm Beachcroft LLP, explained that the UK could follow if there's increased consumer demand for the information, given the government's pledge to put the interests of consumers at the heart of new legislation.
"Mobile manufacturers already publish SAR figures in user manuals. It is just a small step to have this more prominent on the packaging and in point-of-sale material," he said.
"But what we are likely to see first is a breakaway by one manufacturer, such as Samsung, voluntarily promoting the benefits of its low-SAR models. And once they do, everyone else will have to follow."
Public opinion in the UK could be swayed as research continues to fuel the debate over mobile phone safety.
The findings of a 10-year research project (PDF) by the Interphone Study Group released last month stated that mobile phone use does not increase the risk of developing glioma or meningioma brain tumours.
"There were suggestions of an increased risk of glioma at the highest exposure levels, but biases and error prevent a causal interpretation. The possible effects of long-term heavy use of mobile phones requires further inves tigation," the report concluded.
However, the International Electromagnetic Field Collaborative published a counterview (PDF) on the same day, in which it criticised the Interphone Study Group results.
The organisation stated that major design flaws in the Interphone study had caused all results to be underestimated, and that the long delay in publishing only partial results, combined with industry funding, had damaged its credibility.
Imperial College London also launched a 20-30 year study in April to look into the possible link between cancer and mobile phone use.
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