The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released a set of guidelines Wednesday for consumers to follow if they wish to lower their exposure to radio frequency (RF) energy from smartphones.
The new guidelines are based on an earlier set of recommendations compiled in 2010 and include advice on where to store cell phones and information on when they use the most RF energy.
The CDPH first began working on the guidelines in 2010, but they remained an internal document and were not released to the public. In 2014, Dr. Joel Moskowitz of UC Berkeley’s Center for Family and Community Health heard about the document’s existence and tried to obtain a copy by filing a Freedom of Information Request.
When Moskowitz was unable to procure a copy, he filed a lawsuit against the CDPH. In March 2017, a judge in the Sacramento Superior Court ordered the department to release a copy of the recommendations. The department’s Environmental and Occupational Disease Control Division finally published the guidelines on December 13.
The new guidelines advise caution when using smartphones close to the body. Instead, headsets are recommended, as they release a lower level of RF energy. The guidelines also encourage using airplane mode as much as possible in quickly moving vehicles.
Health Department’s Recommendations
According to the document, cell phones increase their RF output when downloading and streaming large files. To reduce RF energy emission, audio and video files should be completely downloaded first and then enjoyed while the phone is on airplane mode.
The report also cautions against using products like Faraday bags to block electromagnetic waves, as this could cause smartphones to emit even more RF energy in their attempt to find a signal.
The document also lists some health issues that could be connected with excessive smartphone use. RF energy from phones may be related to brain cancer and salivary gland tumors. Sperm count and sperm motility could also be affected by exposure to cell phones.
Additionally, the report notes that phones could cause headaches, memory problems and disruption of sleep patterns. Despite listing these possible side effects, the CDPH emphasizes in their guidelines that scientific views differ on whether cell phones are harmful to human health.
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