Saturday, March 25, 2017

Cell Phone Safety Guidance from the California Public Health Department

This page will be updated periodically with further developments 
and links to media coverage.

March 15, 2017

Court orders California Public Health Dept. to Release 
Cellphone Radiation Safety Document

The Sacramento Superior Court has ordered the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to release the Department's cell phone use guidance document without superimposed markings.

This cell phone radiation safety document, originally prepared in 2010 by health professionals in the CDPH Environmental Health Investigations Branch, has been suppressed by political appointees over the years.

On March 13, Judge Shelleyanne Chang re-issued the tentative ruling she made prior to the hearing:

And she appended the following section to the Court's final ruling:

On March 2, prior to the judge's ruling, CDPH emailed a version of the cell phone use guidance document, entitled "Cell Phones and Health," to a San Francisco Chronicle reporter who attended the court hearing. CDPH had defaced this version with large markings indicating "Draft and Not for Public Release."

The judge did not consider the document a "preliminary draft" because the document was maintained by CDPH staff since 2010, and the substance of the document changed little over time despite multiple updates by staff.

The court order, dated March 13, 2017, is labeled "Ruling on Submitted Matter and Order: Petition for Writ of Mandate and Complaint for Declarative Relief." 

The ruling can be downloaded from

The unaltered cell phone use guidance document will be available here when the CDPH complies with the Court order.

March 4, 2017

"Warnings on Cell Phone Use"
aka "State kept secret guidelines on cell phone use"

Photos from the San Francisco Chronicle front page and the Editorial appear below along with links to news coverage of this story.

March 2, 2017 (Updated 10:10 PM)

Last May we sued the California Department of Public Health for a cell phone safety guidance document under the California Public Records Act. The document was originally prepared in 2010 and has been updated several times but never released to the public.

Late this afternoon, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) emailed a cell phone guidance document, entitled "Cell Phones and Health," to Melody Gutierrez, a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle who attended our court hearing. 

This "fact sheet" summarizes research on cell phone radiation health risks and provides safety tips on how to reduce cell phone radiation exposure. The document highlights a potentially greater risk to "pregnant women, children, and teens." The safety recommendations are similar to those issued by the Connecticut Department of Public Health in May, 2015.

We are grateful to see CDPH’s cell phone guidance document after a long battle for it. 

The CDPH document is marked "released pursuant to Moskowitz v. CDPH, Sac. Super. Ct. No. 34-2016-8000-2358" and "Draft and Not for Public Release."

Apparently, CDPH does not intend to appeal the merits of the court's ruling that the document must be disclosed. However, the manner of release is troubling. CDPH has not waited for the court to finalize its ruling and determine whether CDPH may indicate that the document does not (as it argued at the hearing) represent its current, official position.  Rather, the agency has "jumped the gun" and stamped new lettering in huge dark letters across the face of the document so as to make it virtually illegible. Further, that lettering states that the document is “draft and not for public release” when the judge's tentative ruling stated exactly the opposite --   that the document was not a draft, and must be publicly released. 

CDPH has essentially created a new document rather than produced the document as-is, in violation of the Public Records Act. To the extent that CDPH wanted merely to indicate that the document does not represent its official position in early 2017, the fact that the document is dated “April 2014” should make that plain.

An account of our attempts to obtain the document and the lawsuit filed by the UC Berkeley Environmental Law Clinic and the First Amendment Project on my behalf appears below. The judge's tentative ruling on our lawsuit is available (see link below). 

Excerpt from the tentative ruling.

Why has the California Department of Public Health 
suppressed a cell phone radiation safety document since 2010?

In 2010, health professionals in the Environmental Health Investigations Branch of CDPH prepared a cell phone guidance document that summarized the science regarding the health risks from cell phone radiation and provided precautionary recommendations to the public for limiting personal exposure. 

Why was this document never officially released to the public?

I learned about the existence of the document in late 2013. In January, 2014, I submitted a formal request for the document to the CDPH under the California Public Records Act (CPRA).

Dr. Richard Kreutzer, the Division Chief for Environmental and Occupational Disease Control in CDPH, contacted me three days later. He informed me that the document was recently revised and was under review by the State. He asked me to withdraw my request since the final approved version should be available within three weeks. When I asked how long the document had been under review, he responded that the review was "freshly re-started this year," and that the current draft is similar to a previous version "that stalled three years ago" while under review by the State. I opted not to withdraw my request.

In April, 2014, I spoke to the Deputy Director for Legislative and Governmental Affairs at CDPH. She informed me that the document was under review by a "state agency outside" of CDPH. She implied that the document had cleared CDPH's approval process and promised to provide me with periodic updates regarding its status.

In June, 2014, since no one contacted me and the document had not been released, I submitted a second request under the CPRA. The CDPH denied this request arguing that they are exempt from disclosing “preliminary drafts,” and that the public interest in nondisclosure exceeded the public interest in disclosure of this document. 

In September, 2014, based upon my information an investigative reporter from the New York Times requested the document, but his request was also denied.  

My final CPRA request was submitted in January, 2015. CDPH denied this request and provided a new rationale: “In light of the updated guidance issued by the CDC [federal Centers for Disease Prevention and Control] in June of 2014, CDPH has chosen not to issue a guidance document on radio frequency EMF and cell phones.”

After my final rejection, I interviewed several CDPH health professionals who were familiar with the cell phone guidance document. All thought the document should have been published by the Department. None could explain why the State suppressed the document or why the Department refused to release it to me.

Based upon this information, I decided to sue the CDPH for the cell phone guidance document.  The environmental law clinic at the University of California, Berkeley Law School and the First Amendment Project are representing me pro bono. In May, 2016, we filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of the County of Sacramento. 
The case was assigned to Judge Shellyanne Chang.

CDPH asserted that “[t]he public’s health may be harmed” simply by release of the Document (Starr Decl., ¶ 19(a)) ... that the memo “will needlessly confuse, and possibly alarm, cell phone users” (id., ¶ 24; same); and even speculates that release of the Document will cause both those with and without cancer to flood physicians’ offices to ventilate hysterical fear of cell phones (Id. at ¶ 27). 

In its opposition brief, CDPH confuses the public and private interests in withholding the document, suggesting that the public interest in receiving advice about safe cell phone use must be discounted “[because] a portion of the public, namely the wireless industry and cell phone manufacturers . . . likely have no interest in the dissemination of the cell phone guidance document" (p. 15). 

Judge Chang held a hearing on February 24, 2017. Prior to the hearing, she issued a seven-page tentative ruling in which she over-ruled eight of the nine objections submitted by the Attorney General on behalf of the CDPH. The tentative ruling granted our petition and directed CDPH to release the Cellular Phone Use Guidance documentation.

The court documents are available online (case number: 2016 80002358) at

We are waiting for the judge's final ruling on the case.

News Coverage in the U.S. (Updated March 23, 2017)

Long-overdue release of information about cell phone risks
Editorial, San Francisco Chronicle, Mar 3, 2017

California Health Officials release report on cell phone radiation
Nuala Sawyer, San Francisco Examiner, Mar 3, 2017

Scott Budman, NBC Bay Area, Mar 3, 2017
Scott Budman, NBC Southern California, Mar 3, 2017

Vicki Gonzalez, KCRA (NBC Sacramento), Mar 3, 2017

Jeff Gillan, KSNV (NBC Las Vegas), Mar 3, 2017

Lyanne Melendez, KGO-TV (ABC Bay Area), Mar 3, 2017

Inland News Today (Riverside, CA) , Mar 3, 2017

Is California Hiding the Risks of Cell Phone Use?
KABC Radio (Culver City, CA), Mar 3, 2017

Study Suggests Your Cell Phone is Actually Quite Dangerous
Scott Hendren, Newstalk 1290 (Wichita Falls, TX), Mar 3, 2017

State kept secret guidelines on cell phone use
"Warnings on cell phone use" (title of print version published on front page, Mar 3, 2017)
Melody Guttierrez, San Francisco Chronicle, Mar 2, 2017

Cellphone Radiation Exposure Fact Sheet Draft Released By California Health Officials
Hannah Albarazi, CBS San Francisco, Mar 2, 2017

Reynard Loki, Alternet, Feb 28, 2017

Consumer Watch: State Continues To Refuse To Release Records On Cell Phone Radiation
Julie Watts, CBS San Francisco, Feb 26, 2017 

Judge Orders California To Release Papers Discussing Risk Of Cell Phone Use 
Julie Watts, CBS San Francisco, Feb 24, 2017

FAP Files Public Records Act Case with U.C. Berkeley School of Law
First Amendment Project, Jun 16, 2016

The following radio stations reported news about this story: KABC (Culver City), KATD (Sacramento), KCBS (San Francisco), KIQI (San Francisco), KPFA (Berkeley), and KWFS (Wichita Falls, TX).

News Coverage in 16 Other Countries



Canary Islands


Ivory Coast



Friday, March 24, 2017

Berkeley Cell Phone "Right to Know" Ordinance: Media Coverage

Updates on the 
Berkeley cell phone "right to know" ordinance:  

Since July, 2014, more than 200 news stories have been published regarding the cell phone “right to know” ordinance that the Berkeley City Council unanimously adopted on May 12, 2015.

An Associated Press (AP) story published on June 11, 2015 appeared on more than 100 web sites throughout the U.S. including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and ABC News. An AP story published on September 22, 2015 appeared on more than 155 new sites in the U.S. and Canada.

News stories about the ordinance have appeared in thirteen other countries: Australia, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Lithuania, New Zealand, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and Vietnam.

For regular updates about the status of the ordinance and the lawsuit filed by the CTIA--The Wireless Association in the industry's effort to kill this landmark consumer disclosure law see

Following are links to the news media coverage to date (Updated 3/23/2017)

ABA Journal (Sep 22, 2015)
ABC 7 News (San Francisco) (Jul 15, 2014)
ABC 7 News (San Francisco) (Aug 20, 2015)
ABC 7 News (San Francisco) (Sep 13, 2016)
Apple Daily (Taiwan) (Mar 23, 2016
Apple Daily (Taiwan) (Mar 23, 2016)
Ars Technica (Jun 9, 2015)
Ars Technica (Aug 20, 2015)
Ars Technica (Sep 21, 2015)
Ars Technica (Jan 28, 2016)
Ars Technica (Sep 13, 2016)
Associated Press (Jun 11, 2015) - published on more than 100 news sites
Associated Press (Sep 22, 2015) - published on more than 155 news sites in US & Canada
Associated Press (Jan 28, 2016)
Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (Nov 13, 2014) (in Mandarin) (July 15, 2014)
Bay City News (Sep 22, 2015) (in Mandarin) (July 14, 2014)
Berkeley Daily Planet (Sep 21, 2015)
Berkeley Daily Planet (Sep 13, 2016)
Berkeley High Jacket (Dec 20, 2014)
Berkeley Patch (Bay City News) (Sep 13, 2016)
Berkeleyside  Op-Ed  (Oct 17, 2014)
Berkeleyside (Nov 18, 2014)
Berkeleyside (Nov 26, 2014)
Berkeleyside Op-Ed (May 5, 2015)
Berkeleyside (May 13, 2015)
Berkeleyside (Jun 8, 2015)
Berkeleyside (Aug 21, 2015)
Berkeleyside (Sep 22, 2015)
Berkeleyside (Jan 29, 2016)
Bloomberg News Radio (mp3: 0:06:55 - 0:08:35) (Jul 15, 2014)
Bloomberg Politics (Nov 26, 2014)
Bloomberg BNA (Sep 22, 2015)
Bloomberg BNA (Oct 20, 2016)
Breitbart News (Jul 15, 2014)
Breitbart News (Jun 10, 2015)
Business Insider (Jul 15, 2014)
Business Insider India (Jul 15, 2014)
California City News (Dec 1, 2014)
California Healthline (Jul 16, 2014)
California Healthline (Sep 23, 2015)
California Magazine (Aug 19, 2014)
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)--The National (Mar 23, 2017)
CBC Marketplace (Mar 24, 2017) (22 minute video)
CBS News (May 12, 2015)
CBS News (May 13, 2015)
CBS News (Jun 8, 2015)
CBS Sacramento (Jan 28, 2016)
CBS SF Bay Area (Aug 22, 2014)
CBS SF Bay Area (Jul 16, 2014)
CBS SF Bay Area (May 13, 2015)
CBS SF Bay Area (May 20, 2015)
CBS SF Bay Area (Jun 8, 2015)
CBS SF Bay Area (Jul 27, 2015)
CBS This Morning (Jul 27, 2015)
CBS SF Bay Area (Sep 13, 2016)
Chico Enterprise-Record (Nov 21, 2014)
CNN (Jul 28, 2015)
CIO India (Jun 9, 2015)
Computerworld (Jun 8, 2015)
Computerworld Australia (Jun 8, 2015)
Computerworld New Zealand (Jun 8, 2015)
Consumer Reports (Sep 24, 2015)
Contra Costa Times (Nov 21, 2014) (Oakland Tribune, Nov 24, 2014)
Contra Costa Times (Oct 7, 2015)
Contra Costa Times (Jan 28, 2016)
Contra Costa Times (Mar 8, 2016)
Courthouse News Service (Jun 9, 2015)
Courthouse News Service (Aug 20, 2015)
Courthouse News Service (Sep 22, 2015)
Courthouse News Service (Jan 22, 2016)
Courthouse News Service (Jan 28, 2016)
Courthouse News Service (Sep 13, 2016)
CTV News video (Canada) (May 17, 2015)
CTV News story (Canada) May 17, 2015)
Daily Beast (May 13, 2015)
Daily Californian  (Jul 16, 2014)
Daily Californian (Nov 19, 2014)
Daily Californian (Jun 9, 2015)
Daily Californian (Sep 22, 2015)
Daily Californian (Feb 1, 2016)
Daily Californian (Sep 14, 2016)
Davis Enterprise  (Jul 22, 2014)
Delfi Sveikata (Lithuania) (May 21, 2015)
Digital Trends (Aug 1, 2015)
Discovery News (May 20, 2015)
East Bay Express (Jul 15, 2014)
ECN Magazine (Jun 10, 2015)
Ecosalon (Jul 18, 2014)
Epoch Times (May 12, 2015)
Fierce Wireless (Jun 9, 2015)
Fierce Wireless (Sep 22, 2015)
First World News Channel (Sep 13, 2016)
Forbes (Oct 13, 2015)
Fox Business (Sep 22, 2015)
Fusion (May 3, 2016)
GSMA (wireless industry assn.) (Nov 24, 2014)
GSMA (May 25, 2015)
GSMA (Jul 13, 2015)
GSMA (Oct 29, 2015)
The Guardian (London, UK) May 15, 2015)
Headlines and Global News (Jul 17, 2014)
Healthcare Global (Dec 1, 2014)
The Hill (Jun 5, 2015)
The Hill (Sep 22, 2015)
Huffington Post (Paul Brodeur), (Jul 27, 2015)
Inside Towers (Sep 30, 2016)
Kachwanya (Kenya) (Aug 6, 2015)
KALW  Crosscurrents   (audio - Sep 24, 2014)
KALW (audio) (Oct 8, 2015)
KFMB (CBS8, San Diego), Sep 27, 2016
KGO 810  Radio News (San Francisco) (Jul 15, 2014)
KIMT (Iowa, Minnesota) (May 18, 2015)
KKSF AM Talk 919 (San Francisco) (audio) (Jul 15, 2014)
KPAX (Missoula, MT, CBS News8) (May 12, 2015)
KPFA Radio (May 13, 2015)
KPFA Pacifica Evening News (42:13 - 44:30)(Sep 30, 2016)
KQED Forum (Lawrence Lessig interview: 48:00 - 50:00) (Jan 8, 2015)
KQED Forum (Joel Moskowitz & Allan Balmain, 9:30 - 10 AM) (May 18, 2015)
KRON4 (Sep 22, 2015)
KRON4 (Sep 13, 2016)
KTVU (Fox News) (May 13, 2015)
KTVU (Fox News) Sep 13, 2016)
Law 360 (Jun 9, 2015)
Law 360 (Sep 22, 2016)
Law 360 (Jan 28, 2016)
Law 360 (Mar 2, 2016)
Law 360 (Apr 5, 2016)
Law 360 (May 13, 2016)
Law 360 (Aug 12, 2016)
Law 360 (Aug 29, 2016)
Law 360 (Sep 13, 2016)
Legal Reader (Sep 24, 2015)
Los Angeles Times (Jun 9, 2015)
Mobile Commerce News (Aug 7, 2015)
Mobile Today (Iran) (Sep 13, 2016)
Mother Jones (May 11, 2015)
Mother Jones (May 13, 2015)
NBC Bay Area (Mar 28, 2015)
NBC Bay Area (May 12, 2015)
NBC Bay Area (Jun 8, 2015)
NBC Bay Area (Aug 20, 2015)
NBC Bay Area (Mar 21, 2016)
NBC Bay Area (Sep 13, 2016)
Newser (Jun 10, 2015)
News Inferno (Jul 16, 2014)
Newsweek (Nov 3, 2016)
Newsweek en Espanol (Nov 4, 2016)
New York Magazine (Jul 24, 2015)
New York Times (Jun 11, 2015) - AP article
New York Times (Jul 21, 2015) (my comments on NYT article)
PC Advisor (UK) (Jun 8, 2015)
PC World (Jun 8, 2015)
PC World (Jul 10, 2015)
Public Health Watchdog (Jul 17, 2014)
Public Knowledge (May 25, 2016)
Public News Service (Aug 20, 2015)
Public News Service (Sep 29, 2016)
RCR Wireless News (Jun 9, 2015)
RCR Wireless News (Jun 11, 2015)
The Recorder (Jun 8, 2015)
The Recorder (Aug 20, 2015)
The Recorder (Aug 21, 2015)
The Recorder (Sep 21, 2015)
The Recorder (Sep 13, 2016)
RT (May 12, 2015)
RT (Jul 31, 2015)
RYOT News (May 14, 2015)
San Francisco Appeal (Sep 21, 2015)
San Francisco Chronicle  (Jul 15, 2014)
San Francisco Chronicle (Sep 25, 2015)
San Francisco Chronicle (Mar 2, 2017)
San Jose Mercury News (May 13, 2015)
San Jose Mercury News (Jun 9, 2015)
San Jose Mercury News (Sep 22, 2015)
San Jose Mercury News (Oct 7, 2015)
Science Times (May 13, 2015)
Seattle Times (Jul 14, 2014)
SF Gate / SF Chronicle (Jun 8, 2015)
SF Gate (Aug 20, 2015)
SF Gate (Sep 21, 2015)
SF Gate (Jan 28, 2016)
SF Gate (Mar 23, 2016)
SF Gate (Sep 13, 2016)
Sputnik International (Jul 31, 2015)
Sputnik News (May 17, 2015)
ThinkProgress (Jul 22, 2015)
TIME Magazine (May 12, 2015)
TreeAngle (Indonesia) (Sep 23, 2015)
Tuoi Tre (Vietnam) (Mar 23, 2016)
UK Progressive Magazine (May 19, 2015)
Voice of America (Jun 5, 2015)
Wall Street Journal (Sep 22, 2015)
WCTV News (CBS2, Tallahassee, FL) (May 12, 2015)
WCVB News (ABC5, Boston)  (Jul 15, 2014)
WDTV News (CBS5, West Virginia) (May 12, 2015)
WFMY News (CBS2, Greensboro, NC) (May 12, 2015)
WIVB News (CBS4, Buffalo, NY) (May 13, 2015)
WKBN News (Youngstown, OH) (May 12, 2015)
WREQ News (CBS3 Memphis,TN) (May 12, 2015)
WTSP News (CBS10, Tampa Bay, FL) (May 12, 2015)
Yahoo! Finance (Sep 27, 2016)
Yahoo! News (CBS) (Jul 16, 2014)
Yahoo! News (CBS) (May 12, 2015)  (Jul 17, 2014)