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Jewish World Review March 7, 2001 / 12 Adar, 5761

Jeff Smith

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Consumer Reports

Qwest recalls some cell phones over radiation fears -- A NEW $200 cellular phone used by 11,000 Qwest customers in 12 states is being recalled because some units might exceed federal radiation emission standards under certain conditions.

Qwest Communications International Inc. said Monday that Kyocera Wireless this week will be exchanging the new QCP-3035 model, which Qwest started selling in December. The phone has such features as voice-activated dialing, a built-in speaker phone, Internet browsing and an eight-line display for animation and graphics.

"Kyocera notified us (of the problem)," said Tyler Gronbach, Qwest spokesman. "They are initiating an exchange program, which we're helping support. It's the right thing to do. It's proactive and a voluntary exchange."

Rich Goetter, spokesman for Kyocera Wireless in San Diego, said the company found that the microwave emissions in some units could exceed Federal Communications Commission standards when the phone is in the analog roaming mode and is on certain channels. That could happen when a customer goes off the digital telephone network, such as in a rural area, elevator or tunnel.

Goetter characterized the exchange as a "replacement" rather than a recall and said Qwest is the first carrier to offer the QCP-3035 model. "We expect to roll it out with other carriers nationwide later this year," he said.

Cellphones generate electromagnetic radiation, or energy that travels in waves.

While there continues to be dispute over whether exposure over time can cause health problems such as cancer, the FCC has adopted standards for protecting against possible injury from radio frequency radiation. Acute exposure to microwaves, for example, can raise a person's body temperature.

More than 80 million Americans now use cellular phones, with about 25,000 new users daily. Many experts point out that this could mean a potentially significant public health problem should the prolonged use of these devices even slightly increase health risks.

Gronbach said Qwest customers will be notified of the exchange program through a data message to their phones. Kyocera will ship the new QCP-3035 units directly to customers this week.

"For their inconvenience, Qwest will automatically credit to customers a month of free service at their current price plan," Gronbach said. Kyocera is paying for that program, Goetter said.

About 1 percent of Qwest's wireless customers in 12 states have the advanced Kyocera model, which is manufactured in San Diego. Kyocera itself is based in Japan.

The QCP-3035, which weighs 4.37 ounces and measures slightly less than 5 inches long and two inches wide, also has a directory that can hold 1,000 phone numbers, a calculator, alarm clock, stopwatch and timer.

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© 2001, SHNS