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
"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/
June 1, 2019
Dec 13, 2017 (Updated Dec 14, 2017)
June 19, 2017
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
"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."
"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."
"The statement from the California Department of Public Health said there are no plans to post the guidelines on its website."
Cellphone Radiation Safety Document
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:
The ruling can be downloaded from http://bit.ly/MvCDPHfinal.
"Warnings on Cell Phone Use"
March 2, 2017 (Updated 10:10 PM)
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.
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.
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.
|Editorial, San Francisco Chronicle, March 3, 2017