Cal­i­for­nia Takes a First Step on Cell­phone Health Hazard

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It is not a big step, but it is at least en­cour­ag­ing. On De­cem­ber 13, the Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Pub­lic Health (CDPH) is­sued for­mal guide­lines to get peo­ple to keep cell­phones away from their body. With the in­dus­try pay­ing bil­lions to fight these guide­lines, how­ever, it is un­likely that they will get much tougher un­til a lot more peo­ple be­gin dy­ing.

The warn­ing, is­sued as a for­mal press re­lease, stated, “Although the sci­ence is still evolv­ing, there are con­cerns among some pub­lic health pro­fes­sion­als and mem­bers of the pub­lic re­gard­ing long-term, high­use ex­po­sure to the en­ergy emit­ted by cell­phones.” In the press re­lease, Dr. Karen Smith, CDPH Direc­tor and State Pub­lic Health Of­fi­cer, went on to point out that chil­dren in par­tic­u­lar are a fo­cus of con­cern. “Chil­dren’s brains de­velop through the teenage years and may be more af­fected by cell­phone use,” she said. “Par­ents should con­sider re­duc­ing the time their chil­dren use cell­phones and en­cour­age them to turn the de­vices off at night.”

The state­ments made by the CDPH may be a pos­i­tive step for­ward, but the back­story that made it nec­es­sary for the or­ga­ni­za­tion to make its an­nounce­ment is far darker.

The story goes back to 2009, when, based on in­for­ma­tion gath­ered from mul­ti­ple sci­en­tific sources, it was be­com­ing clearer that cell­phones rep­re­sent a high health risk to peo­ple – a risk that has been get­ting even worse as the phone’s use and vir­tual ad­dic­tion to it has been in­creas­ing world­wide. At that time, the CDPH pre­pared an orig­i­nal set of guide­lines about the harm­ful ef­fects of cell­phone use. Un­for­tu­nately, the or­ga­ni­za­tion held the guide­lines back, un­der pres­sure from in­dus­try forces who urged the state of Cal­i­for­nia to keep the data out of the hands of the Amer­i­can pub­lic. The grounds the in­dus­try lob­by­ists used to push back against the ini­tial warn­ings, which were stronger than the cur­rent ones, were that they might up­set the pub­lic and pos­si­bly con­fuse them.

In 2016, Joel Moskowitz, Direc­tor of the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Berke­ley’s Cen­ter for Fam­ily and Com­mu­nity Health at the Univer­sity’s School of Pub­lic Health, who had learned about the pres­ence of the 2009 guide­lines, sued the CDPH to make those guide­lines pub­lic. The courts sided with Moskowitz, and the CDPH fi­nally re­leased its most up­dated ver­sion of the guide­lines.

That open but not-so-pub­lic re­lease was still not enough for some. In July, the Cal­i­for­nia Brain Tu­mor As­so­ci­a­tion an­chored a pub­lic demon­stra­tion out­side the CDPH build­ing in Sacra­mento, the state cap­i­tal. The demon­stra­tion fought for the pub­lic re­lease of the cell­phone-warn­ing doc­u­ment on a large scale.

That re­lease is the one that hap­pened on De­cem­ber 13. It was still much weaker than it should have been, but it fo­cused on many ma­jor steps nec­es­sary to min­i­mize the im­pact of cell­phone ra­di­a­tion on the brain and body. As the re­lease said in its guide­lines, users should:

• Keep the phone away from the body.

• Re­duce cell­phone use when the sig­nal is weak. Many do not re­al­ize that when cell tow­ers are far away, cell­phones are de­signed to boost their power, based on mon­i­tor­ing ping feed­back from the tow­ers, to have the best chance of get­ting con­nected. When re­ceiv­ing cell tow­ers are closer, the same ping feed­back al­lows phones to lower their out­put power and con­serve bat­tery life. So, when the sig­nal (mea­sured by the num­ber of bars vis­i­ble on the phone screen) is low, the best thing to do is to keep the phone even far­ther away from you, com­pared to nor­mal sit­u­a­tions. re­duce the use of cell­phones to stream au­dio or video or to down­load or up­load large files.

• Keep the phone away from the bed at night. Many use cell­phones as alarms or, worse, to check mes­sages or even stream mu­sic to put them­selves to sleep. All such sit­u­a­tions should be avoided. Ide­ally, users should turn off their phone at night. Life will go on with­out it. re­move head­sets when you’re not on a call.

• Avoid prod­ucts that fraud­u­lently claim to block ra­dio fre­quency en­ergy. Some of these prod­ucts may ac­tu­ally in­crease your ex­po­sure. Head­sets should use a hol­low tube, not a wire.

With proof now in place that, at the very least, high glu­cose pro­duc­tion lev­els in the brain have been ob­served near where a cell­phone is nor­mally held by the ear, plus nu­mer­ous stud­ies else­where link­ing the use of cell­phones to mul­ti­ple kinds of brain tu­mors, the ev­i­dence is pil­ing up that these de­vices are ex­tremely dan­ger­ous to adults.

The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) also came out with a strong warn­ing – but with a much stronger mes­sage. It named ra­dio fre­quency en­ergy (such as is present in cell­phones) as a Class 2B car­cino­genic agent. That trans­lates to say­ing that de­vices that emit large amounts of such ra­di­a­tion might pos­si­bly be car­cino­genic to hu­mans.the In­ter­na­tional Agency for Re­search on Cancer has also clas­si­fied ra­dio waves as pos­si­ble car­cino­gens based on its own anal­y­sis of cur­rent ev­i­dence on the mat­ter. Even more im­por­tant, as Dr. Smith of the CDPH her­self noted in the press re­lease, are the guide­lines Moskowitz fought to make pub­lic about the fo­cus on con­cerns about chil­dren. Nu­mer­ous stud­ies clearly show that chil­dren should not use cell­phones at all. And with 10 be­ing the av­er­age age when chil­dren get their first phones, this means that grade school chil­dren will have suf­fered se­ri­ous brain dam­age by the time they are adults.

Like the to­bacco in­dus­try, the cell­phone in­dus­try is en­sur­ing that the very clear sci­ence that shows that mi­crowave ra­di­a­tion dam­ages DNA and dis­rupts cell func­tion is clouded by fake sci­ence, bla­tant lies and dis­tor­tions. In re­sponse to the WHO warn­ing, for ex­am­ple, the in­dus­try pointed out that cof­fee, power lines and talc pow­der are sim­i­larly la­beled as Class 2B car­cino­genic agents.

For those with only a cur­sory knowl­edge of the sit­u­a­tion, this sort of slime treat­ment back at the WHO might seem to prove that the WHO is just over­re­act­ing. How­ever, it has turned out that the or­ga­ni­za­tion was ex­actly right about the three above-men­tioned items, with law­suits cur­rently go­ing for­ward, some of which have al­ready been set­tled in fa­vor of those who came down with cancer. In the case of the WHO’S state­ment against talc, for ex­am­ple, many laughed at the po­si­tion it had taken – un­til the first cases started rolling out against the mak­ers of talc, some of which have al­ready been set­tled against the talc man­u­fac­tur­ers.

As to where this all may lead, one can ex­pect more in­dus­try smears against the CDPH’S po­si­tion and other sim­i­lar pro­nounce­ments by in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tions. Chil­dren will be brain dam­aged and de­velop tu­mors at younger ages than ever be­fore, with few im­me­di­ately able to prove their high use of cell­phones and close prox­im­ity to cell­phone ra­di­a­tion be­ing the root causes.

With gov­ern­ments un­will­ing to fund the stud­ies nec­es­sary to prove the case, one bright spot has emerged that peo­ple may want to mon­i­tor. There is a pro­gram known as the COS­MOS project, launched back in 2007, which is track­ing long-term cell­phone use and its re­lated health ef­fects on more than a half a mil­lion peo­ple. The pro­gram plans to track this group for the next 20 to 30 years. With the large num­bers of peo­ple in­volved and the high like­li­hood of dis­cov­er­ing for the first time an ex­tremely-well-doc­u­mented set of proof, this may be what it takes to con­vince peo­ple – and gov­ern­ments – to get us all away from the cell­phones that are cur­rently maim­ing our chil­dren and slowly killing us all.

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