California’s guidelines on how to avoid phone radiation are at best, misleading; at worst, scaremongering and dangerous

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has released guidelines to help spare you from “cell phone radiation.”

California’s guidelines on how to avoid phone radiation are at best, misleading; at worst, scaremongering and dangerous

After the state department was sued by Dr Joel Moskowitz of the University of California, Berkeley in 2014 for refusing to provide the  guidelines to him when he requested to see the document, the CDPH has now backtracked, choosing to release the guidelines to the public. The guidance lays out numerous ways in which people can avoid cell phone radiation. 

At the time, the state’s department had explained to the San Francisco Chronicle that the guidance was an incomplete draft, and could needlessly raise alarm. However, after being seemingly pressured by Dr. Moskowitz, it seems the department now stands behind these guidelines and its controversial stance on phones’ links to radiation.

According to the guidelines, in order to reduce the effects of phone radiation, you are advised to keep your phone at arm’s length at all times. 

The guidelines offer up extremely impractical nuggets of advice such as “don’t sleep with your phone in your bed or near your head, keep it at least a few feet away from your bed”, “send text messages instead of talking on the phone”, and if you’re streaming, downloading or sending large files, “keep the phone away from your head and body.”

 Now if you thought that was bad, it gets worse. The CDPH recommends that instead of putting your phone in your pocket, belt, upholster or bra, “carry your phone in a backpack, briefcase, or purse” instead. Along with that, the state department advises you avoid using your phone if “you are in a fast-moving car, bus or train”.

So basically, there are very few instances when you can actually use your phone without falling prey to the, supposedly dangerous, radiofrequency (RF) radiation being emitted from phones. The CDPH is in essence recommending adults and children a) say goodbye to bedtime Netflix, b) forget about verbal communication, c) carry a phone in its own little baggy and, d) don’t use their phone during their commute. 

Using laboratory experiments and human health studies to predicate their guidelines, the department warns that phone radiation from long-term use could cause “brain cancer and tumours of the acoustic nerve”, “lower sperm counts and inactive or less mobile sperm” and “headaches, and effects on learning and memory, hearing, behaviour and sleep”.

While the document acknowledges that the link is not definite, and that scientists disagree about whether phones cause health problems, the CDPH’s decision to release the potentially scaremongering document seems irresponsible. In fact, there’s been similar evidence that proves the opposite is true.

In an enormous epidemiological study, conducted in 2007 across 13 different countries and with thousands of phone users, researchers were able to find no link between radiofrequency (RF) in phones and cancer. Another study, conducted in Denmark, also failed to find a link between phone use and brain tumours, salivary gland leukaemia or other cancers. A further study in 2013 again, found no link between mobile phone use and cancer. And on top of other numerous studies conducted, you begin to realise these guidelines are inaccurate and misleading. 

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