State kept secret guidelines on safe cell phone use – SFGate


SACRAMENTO — For years, state health officials kept secret a set of guidelines meant to inform the public about the risks associated with cell phone use and the best practices to avoid potential harm. On Thursday, the California Department of Public Health released the guidelines, which advise cell phone users to keep the devices away from their bodies, keep calls short and to use the speaker phone on lengthy calls. The health department’s lawyers had argued in court that the guidelines were never formally approved by the agency and that releasing them to the public would cause unnecessary panic. The two-page suggestions, which have been written and revised over the past seven years, are based on studies “that suggest that long-term cell phone use may increase the risk of brain cancer and other health problems,” according to the document, which includes a stamp saying it is a “draft and not for public release.” The California public health department said in a statement Thursday that it stopped working on the guidelines because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued national guidance on the same subject in 2014. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says “more research is needed before we know if using cell phones cause health effects.” Attorney Lisa Tillman, a deputy attorney general at the state Department of Justice who represented the public health department in the case, said the state agency is not required to warn the public of health risks that have not been proven. Environmental health experts like Dr. Devra Davis, a Wyoming epidemiologist and toxicologist, have argued for years that there needs to be more public awareness about the potential dangers of cell phone radiation. […] the iPhone has a legal disclaimer regarding radio frequency exposure that says the device should be carried “at least 5 mm away from your body to ensure exposure levels remain at or below the as-tested levels.” Davis’ group, Environmental Health Trust, has a website called showthefineprint.org that helps users find the warnings on their cell phones and urges manufacturers to put the information where users can find it. After Berkeley adopted a city ordinance in 2015 requiring cell phone retailers to warn customers about potential health impacts, an industry group, CTIA-The Wireless Association, sought a court order barring the disclosure. A CTIA spokesman said the guidelines released Thursday by the public health department “appear to be contradicted by the consensus of the scientific community.” The World Health Organization says the electromagnetic fields produced by cell phones are possibly cancer-causing, but notes that “to date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.” Claudia Polsky, director of the Environmental Law Clinic at UC Berkeley, who is representing Moskowitz in the case, said the public health department’s arguments for not releasing the document were irresponsible given the health impacts of sitting on such critical information.

Source: State kept secret guidelines on safe cell phone use – SFGate

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