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Cell phone health concerns addressed by California Department of Public Health

16 December 2017

As smartphone use continues to increase in the US, especially among children, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) today issued guidance for individuals and families who want to decrease their exposure to the radio frequency energy emitted from cell phones.

The guidelines are cautious.

Smith noted that part of the delay in making the guidelines public was that in 2014 the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control had issued its own cell phone safety guidance.

The report highlights that children could be at greater risk as their body is still developing and over their lifetime they will have a lot more exposure. Based on human epidemiological studies demonstrating increased risk of brain tumors, the World Health Organization has declared cell phone radiation a possible carcinogen.

The agency admitted that the science is not definite, but lowering exposure to radiation seems to be a good thing.

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"We know that simple steps, such as not keeping your phone in your pocket and moving it away from your bed at night, can help reduce exposure for both children and adults", Smith said.

The release follows a legal battle initiated by UC Berkeley researcher Joel Moskowitz past year after he discovered draft documents on the issue had existed since 2010 without being made available to the public.

According to the FCC however, there is now no national standard developed for safety limits, even though the agency requires cell phone manufacturers to ensure all phones comply with "objective limits for safe exposure".

It is not the first time the department drafts guidelines on phone use.

At the time, authorities argued that the release of the document would lead to "unnecessary panic".

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This year's guidelines are more detailed than the draft version, but the department said that the court ruling had nothing to do with the decision to release them this year.

Moskowitz said the move is long overdue. But it is the first time the state agency issues them.

Following the state's announcement Wednesday, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, the wireless industry's trade group, issued a statement saying "Americans' health is important to CTIA and the wireless industry, and we encourage consumers to consult the experts". "That's why the FCC has determined that all wireless phones legally sold in the United States are 'safe'". A person can also put their cellular device on airplane mode when they aren't connected to Wi-Fi so the phone isn't drawing a signal from a cell tower.

Sammy Caiola is Healthcare Reporter at Capital Public Radio in Sacramento.

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Cell phone health concerns addressed by California Department of Public Health