California Warns People to Limit Exposure to Cellphones
Since the earliest days of mobile phones, a small but steady contingent of environmental activists, conspiracy-inclined folks, and some scientists have warned about the hidden damage they could be causing to our bodies, due to the radio frequency energy cellphones use to communicate with cell towers. They fear that this non-ionizing radiation could penetrate our cells and cause damage, increasing our risk of brain and head cancer. But scientists elsewhere have dismissed this potential link as, at best, unproven and, at worst, utterly implausible. In a surprising move this week, however, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) weighed in on the debate, warning people, especially kids, to stay away from cellphones whenever possible. The agency also issued guidelines on how to reduce exposure to radio frequency energy.
“Although the science is still evolving, there are concerns among some public health professionals and members of the public regarding long-term, high use exposure to the energy emitted by cellphones,” Dr. Karen Smith, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer, said in a statement. Aside from brain and head cancer, the guidelines note, radio frequency energy has been suspected of causing infertility, headaches, and memory or learning problems.
The release of the guidelines hasn’t come without its share of drama. In 2014, KCRA reported, Joel Moskowitz, the director of University of California Berkeley’s Center for Family and Community Health at the University’s School of Public Health, sued the CDPH after they refused to make public a draft of the guidelines they had first developed in 2009 but chosen to hold back. In legal briefs, the agency argued that the guidelines might have confused and alarmed the public since it then resembled guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The courts ruled in Moskowitz’s favor, and earlier this March, the CDPH released a draft, updated as of 2015, to the San Francisco Chronicle.