Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cell Phone Cases Can Increase Radiation Exposure

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) issued a press release and a report on a study that has important implications. Not only are the FCC's cell phone certification testing procedures inadequate to protect consumer safety, the cell phone manufacturer's safety instructions fail to warn the consumer that some cell phone cases may significantly increase the user's exposure to microwave radiation.

Legislation may be needed to ban the sale of cases that increases a cell phone's Specific Absorption Rate (SAR). At the very least, warning labels should be required on these cases. 
Some cell phones may exceed the SAR legal limit of 1.6 watts per kilogram when used with certain cases.

The White House must end the diffusion of responsibility among government agencies and between government and the Telecom industry as public health and safety are at risk. 
The Federal Communications Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Federal Trade Commission should immediately address all of the health and safety risks associated with cell phone use.

In 1996 when the Federal government adopted the legal limit for cell phone radiation exposure, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health lobbied for 1.0 watts per kilogram. However, industry and military lobbyists prevailed in getting Congress to adopt the more permissive limit of 1.6 watts per kilogram.

The EWG report examines only one smart phone, the iPhone 4, that was tested alone and with several cell phone cases. The iPhone 4, unlike most other cell phones, has antennas on the exterior of the case. The results of the current study may have limited generalizability. The study should be replicated with other cell phones and other cases. 

The EWG report was based on a study commissioned by Pong Research Corporation, a cell phone case manufacturer that may have a vested interest in the outcome; however, the tests were conducted by CETECOM, an independent testing and certification laboratory used by many cell phone manufacturers for FCC certification of their handsets.


Cell Phone Cases Can Increase Radiation Exposure 
Up To 70 Percent

Press Release, Environmental Working Group, Mar 3, 2015

WASHINGTON – Most cell phone cases are so badly designed that they partially block the antenna, making the phone work harder to transmit a signal and intensifying the radiation that strikes the user’s head and body, a new Environmental Working Group analysis shows.

The analysis released today, based on data submitted to the Federal Communications Commission by case-maker Pong Research Corp., reveals that some cell phone cases on the market are so poorly engineered that the Specific Absorption Rate – a measure of the amount of radiation absorbed by the body – increased by 20 to 70 percent. While the jury is still out as to whether exposure to cell phone radiation can cause adverse health effects, a growing body of evidence points to this possibility.


Environmental Working Group Press Release
"Does Your Cell Phone Case Raise 
Your Radiation Exposure?"
Excerpts from the Environmental Working Group Report
Table 1: Cell phone cases can significantly increase radiation exposure
*SAR values are from tests conducted by Pong Research Corp on March 29, 2012 and submitted to the FCC on May 31, 2012. Because the SAR values were submitted to the FCC in graph form, EWG estimated numerical SAR values based on the chart available in WT Docket 11-186. Pong’s filing to the FCC did not indicate whether SAR measurements were done at the head or in a body-worn configuration. In a personal communication, Pong informed EWG that the SAR measurements were done in a body-worn configuration, with the same distance from the test mannequin used by the phone manufacturer. Tests in the body-worn configuration were done at a 10 millimeter separation distance.
** Percent SAR increase rounded to the nearest decile.

Table 2: Cell phone cases diminish signal strength, measured as Total Radiating Power

Monday, March 23, 2015

Wireless Technology Health Risks --The New York Times Fuels the Debate

We are increasingly surrounded at home, in the office, and in public by wireless devices that emit microwave radiation. These include Wi-Fi routers, laptops, and tablets, cell phones, cordless phones, wireless TV cable systems, smart meters, and baby monitors. Now corporations would like us to add wireless wearable technology to this mix. 

The biologic and the epidemiologic research increasingly suggests that many types of non-ionizing, electromagnetic fields (EMF) are producing harmful effects on us as well as animal and plant species. The weight of the scientific evidence produced in the last decade strongly supports the need for precautionary policy measures to be adopted immediately.

Exposure to EMF has been increasing exponentially.  If we continue to allow powerful corporations to manufacture doubt by co-opting journalists, scientists, and policy makers, we will all suffer the consequences of this global experiment.

On March 18, 2015, the New York Times published a column on their web site, "Could Wearable Computers be as Harmful as Cigarettes?" by Nick Bilton. The article has attracted more than 150 comments so far -- both pro and con -- on the New York Times web site, and more than two dozen web-based news sites have published critiques of this column (see below).

Newspaper editors typically write headlines for articles they publish. Perhaps, the original headline was too provocative as the editor changed the headline for the web version of this article the next day to "The Health Concerns in Wearable Tech."  A version of the article also appears in the March 19th print edition of the New York Times on page D2 with the headline, "New Gadgets, New Health Worries."

The New York Times should be commended for publishing the original column even though both sides of the debate about the health risks of wireless radiation can find fault. I hope that the controversy this article has stimulated does not discourage the Times from future coverage of this complex topic.

In my opinion, the backlash on web-based news sites has been disproportionate and bypasses the significant issues that  Bilton's column raised. Read the column and the ensuing media coverage (links below) and decide for yourself. 

Instead, the Times went into "damage control" mode and tried to distance itself from the original opinion piece. 

On March 19, Margaret Sullivan, the Public Editor for the Times, published the following piece, "A Tech Column on Wearable Gadgets Draws Fire as ‘Pseudoscience’."

And on March 21, 2015, the Editor for the Styles section of the Times appended the following statement to the opinion piece:
Editors’ Note: March 21, 2015
Editors’ Note
The Disruptions column in the Styles section on Thursday, discussing possible health concerns related to wearable technology, gave an inadequate account of the status of research about cellphone radiation and cancer risk.
Neither epidemiological nor laboratory studies have found reliable evidence of such risks, and there is no widely accepted theory as to how they might arise. According to the World Health Organization, “To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.” The American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have all said there is no convincing evidence for a causal relationship. While researchers are continuing to study possible risks, the column should have included more of this background for balance.
In addition, one source quoted in the article, Dr. Joseph Mercola, has been widely criticized by experts for his claims about disease risks and treatments. More of that background should have been included, or he should not have been cited as a source.
An early version of the headline for the article online — “Could Wearable Computers Be as Harmful as Cigarettes?” — also went too far in suggesting any such comparison.
These arguments are similar to those employed by the CTIA--The Wireless Association: 
“The FCC, the FDA, the National Cancer Institute, and the World Health Organization have each evaluated the scientific research on wireless phones and each has found that the weight of the scientific research has not shown that wireless phone use causes any adverse health effects.” (CTIA, May 27, 2012).

In sum, the public deserves better from the New York Times -- namely a full, unbiased discussion of the research on the health risks of exposure to electromagnetic fields from wireless devices.

Other media coverage and critiques

Support for original column

Ignorance drowns out precaution: NY Times tech columnist has hands slapped
Microwave News
The Conversation (Australia) (India)

Daniel Engber, Slate Magazine

Phil Plait, Slate Magazine (blog) 

James Cook, Business Insider 

Leah Finnegan, Gawker 

James Cook, Businessinsider India

Russell Brandom, The Verge

Dan Verel, MedCity News

Alexandra Ossola, Popular Science

Andrew Maynard, Risk Science Center
Tanya Campbell, Maine News Online

Friday, March 20, 2015

Maine's "Cellular Telephone Labeling Act"

The Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology of the 127th Maine State Legislature will hold a public hearing on the "Cellular Telephone Labeling Act" (LD 883) on Tuesday, March 31 at 10:00 AM in Room 211 of the Cross Building.

The bill requires cell phone manufacturers that include safety notifications in their owner's manuals to ensure that the phone's packaging includes these safety notifications or a label indicating where the safety notifications may be found in the owner's manual. 

The bill prohibits retailers from selling phones without the appropriate labels. It requires manufacturers to provide the safety notifications to retailers at no cost to the retailers. It prohibits retailers from selling phones that do not bear the following label warning that the device emits radiofrequency electromagnetic fields:
"This device emits radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. Avoid direct contact."
Finally, the bill  requires retailers to provide an information bulletin to the purchaser informing the purchaser of potential health risks associated with cell phone use. A violation of these provisions is considered a violation of the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act.

In March, 2014, a similar bill sponsored by Rep. Andrea Boland passed both houses of the Maine Legislature but was killed by cell phone lobbyists who co-opted the Democratic House leadership to switch their votes when it was returned to the originating body for enactment -- normally a routine vote. For more information on Rep. Boland's bill, see my Mar 21, 2014 press release.

The current bill is sponsored by Rep. Harlow of Portland. Co-sponsors include Rep. Beavers (South  Berwick), Chapman (Brooksville), Chipman (Portland), Dunphy (Embden), and Rykerson (Kittery).

Full text of the "Cellular Telephone Labeling Act":

Status of the bill:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS)

This West Virginia Town Has Gone Radio Silent: Greetings from the Quiet Zone

Steve Featherstone, Popular Science, Mar 16, 2015


"According to the World Health Organization (WHO), EHS is not a medical diagnosis, but rather a vague set of symptoms with no apparent physiological basis. Even so, the condition--whatever its cause--appears to be widespread. Olle Johansson, an associate professor of neuroscience at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, says the number of people who claim to have EHS varies by country, from 8 percent of the population in Germany to 3.5 percent, or about 11 million people, in the U.S." 
“There are few epidemic diseases this large,” Johansson says. “Nowadays, wherever you live, whatever you do, you’re whole-body exposed, 24/7.”"
"As palpable as Jane’s symptoms are to her--and as certain as she is that they’re caused by EMR--scientific consensus disagrees. Almost universally, scientists hold that most EMR has no adverse health effects at the levels people typically encounter. And no study has ever definitively linked EHS symptoms to RF radiation, a type of electromagnetic radiation that originates from wireless devices, such as Wi-Fi routers, cellphones, base stations, or Bluetooth antennas. “Health agencies have repeatedly waded through the scientific literature,” says Kenneth Foster, professor of bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania, “and they don’t see any clear evidence that there’s a problem other than if you put a rat in a microwave oven, it’s bad for the rat.”
"The only recognized health risk from RF radiation is the heating of tissue (as in the rat in the microwave). In 1996, the Federal Communications Commission adopted a safety standard for RF-emitting devices based on thermal heating. That’s why even though the standard is set far below levels recognized to cause harm, wireless companies still recommend not carrying your phone around in your pocket or sleeping with one too close to your head."

"According to Joel Moskowitz, the director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California at Berkeley, the test for the thermal standard is outdated if not irrelevant. “It’s not at all reflective of what the average user looks like today and not really of any user anywhere,” he says. “It’s not even the right measurement.” Moskowitz believes that science hasn’t caught up with the rapid proliferation of RF-emitting devices--from smartphones to smart meters--that have been spilling radiation into our homes, schools, and workplaces over the past two decades. Electrosensitives may be the proverbial canaries in the coal mine, he says. He cites a growing body of research that suggests RF exposure has many nonthermal biological effects, including damage to sperm cells and changes in brain chemistry. “There are a lot of unanswered questions, obviously, but we clearly have evidence for precautionary health warnings,” Moskowitz says."

"Without an official medical diagnosis, it’s difficult for EHS sufferers to claim benefits from insurance companies and government health agencies. Only Sweden recognizes EHS as a functional impairment, equivalent to a disability. But activists are beginning to have an impact on attitudes toward EHS and EMR-related issues, such as the use of wireless networks in public schools. Some day they hope that the medical establishment will treat EHS like other mysterious syndromes, such as fibromyalgia. They won a moral victory in 2011, when the WHO classified RF radiation as “possibly carcinogenic” in response to its Interphone study, which found a 40 percent greater risk for certain brain tumors at the highest exposure levels. (Scientists, however, did not find an increased incidence in cellphone users overall.) Then, in February of this year, France restricted the use of RF devices in daycare centers, citing a precautionary approach to exposure. Those gains aside, few if any studies are taking seriously the issue of EHS, and the inexorable expansion of wireless technologies does not appear to be slowing. Barring a breakdown in relations between electrosensitives and townsfolk or defunding of the GBT, Green Bank will continue to attract technological refugees searching for a safe haven from the electrosmog they feel is smothering the rest of the world." 

“That’s why I call [EHS] technological leprosy,” Diane {Schou } said. “We can’t be with other people in society. We have to live like lepers. Technology is wonderful stuff--if we aren’t harmed by it.”
This article was originally published in the April 2015 issue of Popular Science, under the title "Greetings From The Quiet Zone.”

To read the entire article:


My comments

The American neuroscientist, Allan H. Frey, published the first scientific paper that documented the microwave hearing effect in 1962.  He published the first paper that documented leakage in the blood-brain barrier from exposure to microwave radiation in 1975. In the following letter from 1990, he discussed why the toxicology model is inappropriate for biologic research on electromagnetic fields.

Twenty-five years later, we have yet to fully comprehend this important message.

International guidelines and national regulatory standards assume a dose-response relationship exists between the power of an EMF exposure and the likelihood of a harmful health effect. However, biologic studies are finding harmful effects from sub-thermal exposures to microwave radiation at power levels that are a fraction of the regulatory limits.

Is a toxicology model appropriate as a guide for biological research with electromagnetic fields?

Allan H. Frey. Letter to Editor: Is a toxicology model appropriate as a guide for biological research with electromagnetic fields? Journal of Bioelectricity. 9(2):233-234. 1990.

"... most people use a toxicology model as their frame of reference in the selection, funding, design and analysis of experiments. Data and theory show, however, that this is the wrong model (2-4). Thus much of the research has been inappropriate or irrelevant. This is one reason why hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on EMF biological research with so little return for investment."

" ... living beings are electrochemical systems that use very low frequency EMFs in everything from protein folding through cellular communication to nervous system function."

" ... if we impose a very weak EMF signal on a living being, it has the possibility of interfering with normal function if it is properly tuned. This is the model that much biological data and theory tell us to use, not a toxicology model."

The letter can be viewed at:


My comments

The electromagnetically sensitive (ES) participants selected for the following study were based upon individuals' responses to a self-reported measure. Most ES participants did not experience severe symptoms so it may be inappropriate to consider them to have electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS). 

Like other sham provocation studies, this study assumed that someone with ES knows when they are exposed to an electromagnetic field (EMF) and when they are not. The study protocol assumed that there is no lag between the exposure and the ability to detect the exposure (or the non-exposure). 

The study also assumed that all ES participants would be affected by exposure to a 50 Hz magnetic fieldHowever, it is likely that some people who experience ES may be sensitive to certain radio frequency fields, but not ELF magnetic fields. 

Despite the questionable assumptions upon which this study was based, the ES participants were significantly (p = .038)  more likely to detect an MF exposure than chance would dictate. This result replicated the finding of an earlier study.

Is There a Connection Between Electrosensitivity and Electrosensibility? A Replication Study

Szemerszky R, Gubányi M, Árvai D, Dömötör Z, Köteles F. Is There a Connection Between Electrosensitivity and Electrosensibility? A Replication Study. Int J Behav Med. 2015 Mar 17. [Epub ahead of print]


BACKGROUND: Among people with idiopathic environmental intolerance attributed to electromagnetic fields (IEI-EMF), a better than random detection ability for a 50-Hz 0.5-mT magnetic field (MF) and a propensity to experience more symptoms than controls was reported in a previous study.

PURPOSE: The current study aimed to replicate and clarify these results using a modified experimental design.

METHOD: Participants of the provocation experiment were 49 individuals with self-reported IEI-EMF and 57 controls. They completed the questionnaires (symptom expectations, Somatosensory Amplification Scale-SSAS, radiation subscale of the Modern Health Worries Scale-MHWS Radiation) and attempted to detect the presence of the MF directed to their right arm in 20 subsequent 1-min sessions. Symptom reports were registered after each session.

RESULTS: Individuals with IEI-EMF as opposed to the control group showed a higher than random detection performance (d' index of signal detection theory), while no difference in their bias (β index) toward the presence of the MF was found. Predictors of reported symptoms were self-reported IEI-EMF and believed as opposed to actual presence of the MF. People with IEI-EMF reported significantly more symptoms particularly in the believed presence of the MF. IEI-EMF was closely related to MHWS Radiation and SSAS scores.

CONCLUSION: People with IEI-EMF might be able to detect the presence of the MF to a small extent; however, their symptom reports are connected to perceived exposure.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"Wireless Radiation: What Scientists Know and You Don’t with Dr. Joel Moskowitz"

"I just listened to your radio interview. It is excellent." -- one of the world's leading scientists on electromagnetic radiation and health
"It was GREAT! I heard it last night." -- electromagnetic radiation safety advocate in U.S.

WBAI-FM (New York City), 8:00-9:00 PM EDT, Mar 10, 2015

Hosts: Doug and Patti Wood, Green Street Radio
Guest: Joel Moskowitz, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley

Cell phones, tablets, cordless phones, laptop computers, baby monitors and wireless routers have become so ubiquitous in our modern world we don’t even think about the fact that they all emit radio-frequency radiation, also called wireless radiation. If we could actually see wireless radiation in the air in the same way we see visible light, we’d see an increasingly dense web of electromagnetic smog that envelops us pretty much everywhere we go.

Dr. Joel Moskowitz is the Director and Principal Investigator of the Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California, Berkeley.  Visit his web site at

To listen to this 37 minute radio program:
Doug and Patti Wood, Green Street Radio

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Berkeley Cell Phone "Right to Know" Ordinance

March 27, 2015

NBC Bay Area aired a four minute news story on the 11:00 news, "Documentary 'Mobilize' Examines Cell Phone Dangers," about the Berkeley cell phone ordinance and the feature-length documentary, "Mobilize: A Film about Cell Phone Radiation."

March 10, 2015

The cell phone "right to know" ordinance will be on the agenda of the Berkeley City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 12. 

November 21, 2014

On November 18, the Berkeley City Council adopted a referral to the City Manager on a 7-2 vote. The referral asks the City Manager to draft a cell phone “right to know” ordinance. 

Once this ordinance is enacted, Berkeley will become the first city in the nation to require cell phone retailers to provide those who purchase a new phone an informational fact sheet. Retailers will be required to provide the fact sheet to those who purchase a cell phone which informs them to read the user manual to learn the cell phone’s minimum separation distance from the body.

The FCC requires manufacturers to provide this information to ensure that the consumers’ cell phone radiation exposure does not exceed the amount when the cell phone was tested. Few consumers are currently aware of this safety information because it is buried in their user manual or within their smart phone. Knowledge of this information is an important step in increasing awareness that cell phones should not be used next to the body.

Councilman Max Anderson who sponsored the referral grilled the CTIA representative, Gerard Keegan, about why the industry does not want consumers to see the safety information that the FCC mandates. The CTIA position is that this is between the FCC and the industry, and the FCC is in the process of deciding whether this information is necessary so the City should not act on this issue.

The referral directs the City Manager to ask City Attorney Zach Cowan and Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig to draft the ordinance.

A video of the meeting is now available for streaming (see 01:44:50 - 03:36:25).

Summaries of the meeting have been published by The Daily Californian and the Contra Costa Times.


November 10, 2014

The Berkeley City Council postponed discussion of the cell phone "right to know" ordinance until Tuesday, November 18, 2014.
City Manager Referral: Cell Phone Ordinance Referral to City Manager (Continued from October 28, 2014)
From: Councilmember Anderson
Recommendation: Refer to City Manager for the creation of an ordinance to have cell phone retailers give to consumers who purchase a phone, a factual, informational handout referring the user to their cell phone manufacturers' disclosure regarding the recommended separation distance for use against the body.
Financial Implications: See report
Contact: Max Anderson, Councilmember, District 3, 981-7130


October 15, 2014

Press Release: Berkeley's Proposed Cell Phone "Right to Know" Ordinance


October 10, 2014

This cell phone "right to know" ordinance is on the consent calendar for the Berkeley City Council meeting to be held on Tuesday, October 28, 2014. The referral and briefing document are available at

City Manager Referral: Cell Phone Ordinance Referral to City Manager
From: Councilmember Anderson; Councilmember Worthington
Recommendation: Refer to City Manager for the creation of an ordinance to have cell phone retailers give to consumers who purchase a phone, a factual, informational handout referring the user to their cell phone manufacturers' disclosure regarding the recommended separation distance for use against the body.
Financial Implications: See report
Contact: Max Anderson, Councilmember, District 3, 981-7130
The advisory will be in the form of an informational handout to be handed to consumers by the retailer at the time of purchasing a cell phone. The proposed wording is as follows:  
"The Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines. Don't carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is turned ON and connected to a wireless network. This will prevent exposure to RF levels that may exceed the federal guidelines."
"Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for the recommended separation distance."


Precaution or Paranoia? Berkeley May Require Cancer Warning Stickers for Cell Phones

Sabin Russell, California Magazine, August 19, 2014

[An indepth article about the science and  politics underlying the proposed Berkeley cell phone ordinance--research on cancer risk and fetal effects on neurological development is discussed.]

Just as the world supply of mobile phones is reaching one unit for every human being on Earth, here comes Berkeley, with a warning: These things could be hazardous to your health ...
Stakes in this argument are extraordinarily high. Cell phones are radio transmitters that are not only ubiquitous, they are close at hand: We press them against our ears. We store them in our pants pockets. Women slip them into their bras. Teens sleep with them under their pillows. With the adult market nearly saturated, the big growth opportunity for mobile devices is children.
“In our so­ci­ety, the pre­cau­tion­ary prin­ciple does not res­on­ate well. We want to see a body count first.” 
The CTIA statement builds a case that the “scientific consensus” is firmly in their camp. In fact, the two-word term appears 28 times in their filing. They quote numerous federal agencies asserting a lack of evidence that cell phone radiation can cause harm. Among them is the FCC itself, the FDA, and most notably, the National Cancer Institute, which states on its web site that “there is no evidence from studies of cells, animals, or humans that radiofrequency energy can cause cancer.
Moskowitz dismisses the endorsements. “Industry and government agencies seem to be in denial, and have been in that frame of mind for decades,’’ he says.
... Cell-phone makers in their fine print do advise keeping these devices about a half-inch away from your body, although there is no mention of it in an industry-written parents’ guide to cell phone safety.
And meanwhile, let’s face it: We just love these little appliances. They are changing the way we live. If they are changing the way we die, we’ll find out, eventually.

Also see:
Eric Schultz. Killer App: A Berkeley researcher weighs in on cell phones and cancer. California Magazine. Winter 2010.


Berkeley pushes for cancer warning stickers on cell phones

Carolyn Jones, SFGate, Jul 15, 2014 (updated)

Print version: "CELL PHONE ORDINANCE: Berkeley will fight for cancer warnings," San Francisco Chronicle, Jul 15, 2014, pg. A - 1

Berkeley, undaunted by abandoned efforts in San Francisco, is attempting to become the first city in the nation to require retailers to put stickers on cell phone packaging warning people that the devices may emit cancer-causing radiation ...
Joel Moskowitz, head of UC Berkeley's Center for Family and Community Health, has no such indecision. He's been studying the issue since 2009, and has concluded that cell phones are "one of the top emerging public health risks." 
Studies cited by the cell phone industry are outdated, he said. Newer and more complex wireless technology, coupled with people spending increasing amounts of time on their phones, is almost certain to lead to an uptick in brain cancer, he said.
"It's just a matter of time," he said. "The evidence is a lot more compelling than it has been."
Radiation from cell phones penetrates the skin and skull and absorbs into the brain tissue, having an adverse affect on cells, he said. Phone radiation can also affect sperm count among men who carry phones in their pockets, he said.
Consumers should wear headsets, use the speaker feature and otherwise keep phones away from their bodies, he said.
"With cell phones, distance is your friend," he said.
Pregnant women and children are particularly vulnerable, he said.
A warning sticker should advise consumers that some studies link cell phones to rare but serious cancers, and they should take precautions, he said ...

Media coverage about the ordinance (in Mandarin) (July 14, 2014)
Berkeley High Jacket (Dec 20, 2014)
Berkeleyside  Op-Ed  (Oct 17, 2014)
Berkeleyside (Nov 18, 2014)
Berkeleyside (Nov 26, 2014)
Bloomberg News Radio (mp3: 0:06:55 - 0:08:35) (Jul 15, 2014)
Bloomberg Politics (Nov 26, 2014)
Breitbart News (Jul 15, 2014)
Business Insider (Jul 15, 2014)
Business Insider Australia (Jul 16, 2014)
Business Insider India (Jul 15, 2014)
California City News (Dec 1, 2014)
California Healthline (Jul 16, 2014)
California Magazine (Aug 19, 2014)
CBS SF Bay Area TV News (Aug 22, 2014)
CBS SF Bay Area TV News (Jul 16, 2014)
Chico Enterprise-Record (Nov 21, 2014)
Contra Costa Times (Nov 21, 2014) (Oakland Tribune, Nov 24, 2014)
The Daily Californian  (Jul 16, 2014)
The Daily Californian (Nov 19, 2014)
The Davis Enterprise  (Jul 22, 2014)
East Bay Express (Jul 15, 2014)
ecosalon (Jul 18, 2014)
GSMA (Nov 24, 2014)
Headlines and Global News (Jul 17, 2014)
Healthcare Global (Dec 1, 2014)
KALW  Crosscurrents   (audio - Sep 24, 2014)
KGO ABC 7 TV News (San Francisco) (Jul 15, 2014)
KGO 810  Radio News (San Francisco) (Jul 15, 2014)
The Kirk Show
KKSF AM Talk 919 (San Francisco) (audio) (Jul 15, 2014)
KQED Forum (Lawrence Lessig interview: 48:00 - 50:00) (Jan 8, 2015)
WCVB News (ABC5 Boston)  (Jul 15, 2014)
Yahoo! Screen (CBS) (Jul 16, 2014)  (Jul 17, 2014)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Has the Smart Phone Replaced the Cigarette?

During the past year, I've done several reviews of papers submitted to journals that examined smartphone addiction among young adults. The studies were conducted in different countries. The wireless industry claims to have sold more than one billion smartphones last year. Thus smartphone addiction is quickly becoming a global public health issue.  

Now for some anecdotal observations ...  Yesterday, I observed student cell phone-related behavior while walking across the UC Berkeley campus to do a lecture on the health risks of cell phones. More than half of the students I passed were carrying or connected to a smart phone. Eighteen students carried the smart phone in their hand while they walked and were not using it. Eighteen students were wearing a wired headset connected to a device in their pants pocket. I could not tell whether or how they were using this device (which was likely a smart phone) as I kept walking. Finally, seven students were on a phone call holding their smart phone next to their ear.

While waiting outside a lecture hall for the prior class to leave, I observed many undergraduates browsing their smartphones to fill the time before their next class. As the lecture hall emptied out, many students pulled out their smartphones as soon as they exited the hall. 

If we rolled the clock back to 1960, what would I have observed walking across campus?  Would many of the students I described above been smoking cigarettes?  Have we substituted one addiction for an another? Has the smart phone replaced the cigarette?

BTW, I am proud to say that the UC Berkeley campus, along with the other UC campuses, has a tobacco-free policy. I did not observe any tobacco use on my trek across campus.

Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D., School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, March 5, 2015


Smartphones are addictive and should carry health warning, say academics

University of Derby finds smartphone users in study spent average 3.6 hours a day on devices, often causing severe distraction from relationships and ‘real life’

Using smartphones makes people narcissistic, a university study has found. 

Haroon Siddique, T


Zaheer Hussain. Smartphone Use, Addiction, Narcissism, and Personality: A Mixed Methods Investigation.International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning. 5(1):17-32. 2015.


There are increasing numbers of people who are now using smartphones. Consequently, there is a risk of addiction to certain web applications such as social networking sites (SNSs) which are easily accessible via smartphones. There is also the risk of an increase in narcissism amongst users of SNSs. 

The present study set out to investigate the relationship between smartphone use, narcissistic tendencies and personality as predictors of smartphone addiction. The study also aimed to investigate the distinction between addiction specificity and co-occurrence in smartphone addiction via qualitative data and discover why people continue to use smartphones in banned areas. A self-selected sample of 256 smartphone users (Mean age = 29.2, SD = 9.49) completed an online survey. 

The results revealed that 13.3% of the sample was classified as addicted to smartphones. Higher narcissism scores and neuroticism levels were linked to addiction. Three themes of; social relations, smartphone dependence and self-serving personalities emerged from the qualitative data. Interpretation of qualitative data supports addiction specificity of the smartphone. It is suggested smartphones encourage narcissism, even in non-narcissistic users. In turn, this increased use in banned areas. Future research needs to gather more in-depth qualitative data, addiction scale comparisons and comparison of use with and without SNS access. 

It is advised that prospective buyers of smartphones be pre-warned of the potential addictive properties of new technology.

Note: I don't have access to this journal, and this was not one of the papers I reviewed so I cannot attest to its methodology.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Welcome to EMR Safety

EMR Safety discusses scientific and policy developments regarding the health risks from exposure to electromagnetic radiation (EMR) produced by cell phones and cordless phones, cell towers, Wi-Fi, Smart Meters, baby monitors and other wireless devices. 

Supplemental information
  • Current news stories: Facebook
  • Twitter updates: @berkeleyprc
  •  News releases:  PRLog