Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Cell Phone Safety Guidance from the California Public Health Department

California Department of Public Health finally published cell phone warnings for the public on December 13, 2017: http://bit.ly/CDPHguidance.

For links to related news coverage see:
California’s Cell Phone Safety Guidance: Media Coverage

Oct 1, 2019
"Other CDPH critics accuse the agency of siding with the very industries it is charged with regulating. Several who were interviewed for this story cited CDPH’s seven-year refusal to release a cellphone radiation study as an example of protecting industry concerns rather than public health. After three years of attempting to get the study released through public-records requests and personal appeals to CDPH officials (including the department’s director, Dr. Karen Smith), Joel Moskowitz, director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, finally forced CDPH to release it by filing a lawsuit. The study included guidance for consumers to reduce cellphone radiation. “The CDPH must become more proactive to ensure environmental and public health in California,” Moskowitz told Capital & Main.
In its battle to keep the agency’s cellphone study from being released, CDPH had argued in court documents that public disclosure would cause “unnecessary panic” and harm to cellphone companies, a sentiment echoed by CTIA, a wireless-industry trade group whose members include AT&T and Verizon. A Sacramento Superior Court judge, in ordering the study’s release, ruled that there is “significant public interest in DPH’s investigation into risks associated with cellular phone use.” The court battle cost California taxpayers $115,000 in legal fees and court costs imposed by the judge, plus an undetermined number of hours of staff time...."
“For the CDPH to accomplish its mission,” said Joel Moskowitz, “the governor and state Legislature must provide adequate resources and the political will to stand up to corporate interests.”

From: Rubin J. "Did California’s Health Dept. Help Lobbyists Fight Lead Bill? How an agency charged with protecting public health gave talking points to the lead-battery industry." Capital & Main, Oct 1, 2019. https://capitalandmain.com/did-californias-health-department-help-lobbyists-fight-lead-bill-1001

June 1, 2019

 California Department of Public Health Study of Cell Phone Radiation Exposure

Environmental Research

Wall S, Wang ZM, Kendig T, Dobraca D, Lipsett M. Real-world cell phone radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposures. Environmental Research. 2019 Apr;171:581-592. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2018.09.015.


• Factors decreasing cell phone RF EMF exposures were strong signal strength, greater distance from phones, and Bluetooth use.
• Cell phone RF EMF exposures were one to four orders of magnitude higher in weak vs strong signal reception environments.
• At a typical texting distance, RF EMF exposures from phones with weak signal strength decreased by 90% over near-ear distance.
• Exposures from Bluetooth headsets were 10 to 400 times lower than direct near-ear exposures from the attached cell phones.


In 2011 the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF EMF) from cell phones as possibly carcinogenic to humans. The National Toxicology Program and the Ramazzini Institute have both reported that RF EMF exposures significantly increase gliomas and Schwannomas of the heart in rodent studies. Recent studies indicate that RF EMF exposures from cell phones have negative impacts on animal cells and cognitive and/or behavioral development in children. Case-control epidemiological studies have found evidence for cell phone use and increased risk for glioma and localization of the glioma associated with the consistent exposure site of regular cell phone use. Understanding the exposure level, or power density, from RF EMF emitted by cell phones under real-world usage and signal reception conditions, as distinct from the published measurements of maximum Specific Absorption Rate values, may help cell phone users decide whether to take behavioral steps to reduce RF EMF exposure. 

Exposure measurements were conducted on phone models from four major mobile network operators (MNOs) in the USA for calls received under strong and weak reception signal conditions, near the phone face and at several distances up to 48 cm. 

RF EMF exposure from all phones was found to be greater under weak (1–2 display bars) than under strong (4–5 display bars) reception signal conditions by up to four orders of magnitude. Notably, RF EMF exposure levels under weak reception signal conditions at a distance of 48 cm from the phone were similar to or greater than those detected under strong reception signal conditions at a distance of 4 cm. Under weak reception signal conditions, power density reductions of up to 90% occurred at 16 cm typical for speaker phone or texting over the 4 cm near-ear exposure. 

The results of this investigation of second-generation (2G) technology suggest that reduced and precautionary use of cell phones under weak signal conditions could lower a user's RF EMF exposure by up to several orders of magnitude. Bluetooth headset power density exposures were 10–400 times lower than those of the cell phones to which they were connected and dependent on the headset rather than the connected phone. The results of this study informed the development of public health guidance regarding cell phone use.

Jan 4, 2018

A side-by-side comparison of the cell phone safety guidance published by CDPH in December, 2017 with the original draft prepared in June, 2009 can be viewed at http://bit.ly/CDPH2017vs2009.

Dec 13, 2017 (Updated Dec 14, 2017)

California Issues Cell Phone Radiation Warnings 

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a press release to announce their long-awaited cell phone warning document on December 13, 2017. The long-awaited document forewarns the public about health risks from exposure to cell phone radiation and provides tips on how to reduce exposure.
This document originally prepared in 2009 by health professionals within the CDPH Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control underwent numerous revisions but was never published by CDPH until now.
In March of this year, the Sacramento Superior Court ordered the CDPH to release the draft documents to Dr. Joel Moskowitz, the plaintiff in a law suit filed under the California Public Records Act by the Environmental Law Clinic at UC Berkeley Law and the First Amendment Project.
To comply with the court order, CDPH released 27 versions of the document and reimbursed legal expenses. The most recent draft, dated January, 2015, contained a bold watermark, "Draft and Not for Public Release" and a footnote, "Document released pursuant to Moskowitz v. CDPH, Sac. Super. Ct. No. 34-2016-80002358."
In July, the California Brain Tumor Association held a demonstration in Sacramento outside of CDPH to call for the public release of the cell phone warning document.
The safety recommendations in the document released today by CDPH are similar to those issued by the Connecticut Department of Public Health in May, 2015.
The document that CDPH published today understates the health risks from long-term exposure to cell phone radiation because the preponderance of the research finds that cell phone radiation poses a major risk to human health. In February of this year, the agency argued in a court hearing (Moskowitz v. CDPH) that it was afraid of creating panic among the public if the Department were to disclose the health risks from cell phone radiation exposure.

The Federal Communications Commission, the agency responsible for regulating cell phones, relies on industry-generated guidance that is two decades old. More than 230 scientists who have published peer-reviewed research on electromagnetic fields and health have signed a petition calling on all nations to adopt stronger regulations and disclosure to the public about the health risks of electromagnetic fields.

Excerpt from cell phone warning document issued
by California Dept of Public Health on 12/13/2017.

July 24, 2017

Exposing California's Cell Phone Risk Cover-Up

Ecological Options Network, Jul 21, 2017      (10 minute video)

Opposing telecom totalitarianism in Sacramento, cell phone safety advocates Ellie Marks, Cindy Franklin, and Toni Stein denounce the California Department of Public Health's refusal to release to the public its own cell phone safety advisory.

They also explain how the bill, SB 649, now moving through the legislature--and similar bills being pushed in states around the country--would eliminate any local authority over cell tower placement and result in toxic antennas lining every block leaving the public with no legal recourse.

June 19, 2017

What prevents CDPH from adopting the cell phone guidance document?

Following my successful public records lawsuit against the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), reporters have posed two key questions:

(1) “Why did the State of California suppress the CDPH cell phone radiation safety guidance document (aka "fact sheet") from 2009 to 2015?”

(2) “Why won’t the State adopt the fact sheet now since the evidence is much stronger for cell phone radiation health risks?”

Unfortunately, the documents that the Department released due to the Court ruling do not answer these questions.

My interviews with key informants suggest that it was due to suppression by “political appointees.” Opposition to releasing the document came from within the Department and from at least one other agency within the state government.

In October, 2009, the CDPH conducted a webinar on electromagnetic field (EMF) exposures and health effects which may shed some light on the motivation for suppressing the fact sheet. A presentation was made by the former chief of the CDPH Division of Occupational and Environmental Health, the division that prepared the cell phone guidance document earlier that year.

Although Raymond Neutra, MD, MPH, DrPH, had retired from CDPH two years earlier, as the former chief of the CDPH EMF Program, he was asked to present the reasons for precaution regarding cell phone use.  He served on scientific advisory boards for the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization and was considered an international expert in electromagnetic fields and health.

Dr. Neutra posed the following question, “How certain must we be of how much ill-health from cell phones, cordless phones and base stations before we would opt for cheap or expensive protection?”

Speaking as a private citizen, he argued we shouldn’t need certainty to lower our exposure 100-fold. 

He presented the following precautionary recommendations:

• Keep cell phone off most of the time
• Use ear piece or speaker function
• Place on table 3 feet away before turning on
• Write down phone messages
• Return calls, then turn off
• Keep it off in bus when others might be exposed

Next, he addressed the reasons why government requires more certainty before recommending precaution:

• Industry lawyers and lobbyists afraid that precautionary government recommendations
will support tort law suits
• Industry afraid that “alarmed” citizens will push for more
• Lobbyists pressure government not to issue them

I would argue that although we now have substantially more evidence that cell phone radiation is harmful, the telecommunications and wireless industries have much greater political and economic power at the state and Federal level. Moreover, industry motivation to suppress precautionary policies is likely as strong as ever. 

Thus, we should not be surprised that governments fail to provide the public with precautionary recommendations about cell phone use. Nor should we surprised that wireless radiation regulations have not been updated since 1996.

The slides for Dr. Neutra’s 2009 presentation can be downloaded from http://bit.ly/neutra2009.

In January, 2010, Dr. Neutra appeared in a one-minute public service announcement, "Cell Phones: Teens in the driver's seat," in which he provides precautionary health advice to adolescents about how to use cellphones more safely. He stated in the film:
"We're starting to get some evidence that the electric and magnetic fields from cell phones can cause brain cancer, affect sperm count and cause other health problems."

June 1, 2017

Melody Gutierrez."New records show how state reworked secret cell phone warnings," 
San Francisco Chronicle, May 19, 2017 (published online first) http://bit.ly/CDPHsfchron

In March, the San Francisco Chronicle was the first newspaper to report on a lawsuit we filed against the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to obtain a cell phone safety guidance document that was never released to the public (Moskowitz v CDPH)

The Chronicle also published an editorial in March encouraging the state to release this cell phone safety information to the public,

In May, the Chronicle reported the outcome of our case. CDPH released 27 versions of a cell phone safety "fact sheet" originally created in 2009 and updated through 2014. The documents were released to us in compliance with a court order.
"Newly released public records show that California public health officials worked for five years on a set of guidelines to warn the public about the potential dangers of cell phones, revising their work 27 times with updated research before abandoning the efforts without ever making their concerns public until ordered by a judge."
CDPH refused the Chronicle's public record request just as it previously denied our public record requests:
"The Chronicle submitted a public records request to the health department in March, asking for emails or documents related to why the cell phone guidelines were never approved to be made public — and to see whether there was any outside influence. The department refused to release records, saying those that existed were protected by attorney-client privilege."
In response to a request for an interview, CDPH issued a written statement to the Chronicle which indicated that the Department still does not intend to adopt and distribute to the public its cell phone safety guidelines:
"The statement from the California Department of Public Health said there are no plans to post the guidelines on its website."

May 22, 2017

California Department of Public Health Releases
Secret Cell Phone Safety Guidance

The San Francisco Chronicle published this news story online May 19, 2017.

The California Attorney General’s Office released 27 versions of a cell phone radiation safety fact sheet prepared by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) initially in 2009 and revised multiple times through January, 2015.

The State has never adopted this fact sheet nor released it to the public due to suppression by “political appointees” according to my sources.

The recommendations in the final version of the fact sheet are sound. CDPH should adopt and disseminate the fact sheet now. The public has a right to know the information that the Department’s health professionals have been trying to share with them since 2009. I further recommend that the fact sheet be updated annually consistent with the latest research.

The fact sheet is based upon reviews of the research conducted by the CDPH Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control between 2009 and 2014.

The original document reflected a consensus of the Division (Document 25, file date: 6/17/2009; pp.104-109). The fact sheet summarized research on the health effects associated with exposure to cell phone and cordless phone radiation. It provided recommendations to the California Department of General Services, the “business manager” for the State, regarding cell phone purchases. The fact sheet also included safety tips for state employees and the general public, especially children, about safe use of phones to minimize exposure to wireless radiation.

The final version of the fact sheet omits recommendations to the Department of General Services and does not discuss cordless phones (Document 1, file date 1/26/2015; pp. 6-8).

In 2014, I submitted three requests to the CDPH under the California Public Records Act for this information. All three requests were denied.

In 2016, the UC Berkeley School of Law Environmental Law Clinic and the First Amendment Project filed a lawsuit on my behalf in the Sacramento Superior Court. 

On May 12 of this year, the Attorney General’s office mailed us 27 documents to comply with the March 13 court ruling.

The case is Dr. Joel Moskowitz v. California Department of Public Health (#34-2016-80002358).

Supplemental materials

Substantive changes to fact sheet: http://bit.ly/CDPHchanges

Table of contents for 27 versions of fact sheet: http://bit.ly/CDPHToC

Contents of 27 versions of fact sheet (8 MB file): http://bit.ly/AGCDPHdocs

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 http://bit.ly/MvCDPHfinal.

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.