Couple on cell phone radiation safety crusade


They are used to meeting with dignitaries. The wife has testified before Congress and they speak all over the nation. They are trying to raise public awareness about what they see are the health risks with cell phones. Keep in mind, scientific studies are still open to debate and the industry says all cell phones are safe.

Two years ago, Alan Marks was diagnosed with brain cancer.

He and his wife believe it was caused by two decades of heavy-duty cell phone use. Marks says a new San Francisco law, sponsored by the mayor, would have made a difference back then.

"I would have used it in a different way. I wouldn't have held it to my head," he says. "I would have used the speaker phone. I would have used the headset, Blue Tooth in the car, and I would not have had the problems I had."

The San Francisco law will require cell phone stores in the city to display the amount of radiation emitted by every make and model, but the cell phone industry has sued, saying there are government safety standards and that the "standard that applies to cell phones is designed to be sufficiently protective of human health and safety."

There are guidelines inside the phone packaging but some say it is so tiny you cannot even read it. The small print for one phone says it should be held 5/8ths of an inch away from the body to meet those government standards.

Ellen Marks says consumers have a right to know up front.

"It's like buying a loaf of bread," she says. "Should the ingredients be on the inside of the bag, and you get home and then you open it up and you find out that there's things in it you can't eat? No."

The Marks family held a private meeting with Mayor Gavin Newsom to talk about his first in the nation law which he says is not anti-cell phone and is not claiming a direct link to health problems, though he does have concerns.

"I'm not a doctor so I won't pretend to know it. In the industry, of course, it has a lot of fancy folks that they hire and do studies that they sponsor, that say this is all a bunch ado about nothing. Maybe that's true, but in Europe, there's a lot of contradictory evidence," he says.

One environmental activist has this advice.

Lloyd Morgan with Environmental Health Trust says, "If you just hold a cell phone say six inches from your head, that's 100 times further away than holding it against your ear."

Everyone ABC7 talked to during this story uses cell phones including cancer survivor Alan Marks. No one suggested that what has become a modern necessity be banned, but they all said it is time for the federal government to conduct new studies. The last one was in 1997.

Copyright © 2024 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.