The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) was accused of keeping cell phone safety guidelines a secret for several years.
A draft of the guidelines, labeled “not for public release,” was released Thursday following a tentative ruling by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Shellyanne Chang.
In part, the guidelines detail the effects electromagnetic fields (EMFs) could have on your body.
1) Studies show link between phone use and brain cancer
“Several studies have found that people with certain kinds of brain cancer were more likely to have used cell phones for 10 years or more. Most of the cancers were on the same side of the head that people usually held their phones,” health officials said.
2) Keep your phone away from your body
Experts warn the public to keep your phone at a distance from you.
“Keep your phone away from your body… Do not sleep with your cell phone near you or carry it in a pocket or directly on your body,” the statement said.
3) Children’s brains are more susceptible to EMF exposures
“EMFs can pass deeper into a child’s brain than an adult’s. Also, the brain is still developing through the teen years, which may make children and teens more sensitive to EMF exposures.”
MAGNITUDE EARTHQUAKE 6.0 AND GREATER SINCE 1900
READ: 4 ways to reduce your EMF exposure from cell phones
The California Department of Public Health released a list of prevention tips to reduce radio frequency electromagnetic fields when using cell phones.
Here’s how to protect yourself:
1) KEEP THE SPACE
Health officials warn the public to keep the space between you and your phone by using the speaker phone, sending text messages, using a headset and carrying the phone away from your body.
2) IF THE SIGNAL IS WEAK, KEEP IT AWAY
The health department said cellphones emit stronger EMFs when only one or two bars are showing compared to when there are more signal bars.
3) KEEP CALLS SHORT, CONCISE AND TO THE POINT
If you have to call someone, keep it short and away from your body. Health officials said even corded phones can produce weak EMFs.
4) IF NOT IN USE, KEEP IT AWAY FROM BODY
Wireless and wired headsets can emit EMFs even when you are not using your cellphone, the statement said.
State scientists began drafting the guidelines seven years ago, but never made them public until Thursday, in response to a story from KCRA’s partner, the San Francisco Chronicle.
“These guidelines were created in 2010 and updated continuously,” the Chronicle reporter Melody Gutierrez said.
CDPH declined an interview Friday; but in a statement, officials said it discontinued the release of the guidelines “when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued national guidance on the same subject.”
Gutierrez sued the state to release the safety guidelines after UC Berkeley professor Joel Moskowitz initiated the lawsuit.
“You ought to be concerned, if not worried, but you should at least be concerned that these are these potential risks, and there are very easy measures you can take to reduce those risks,” Moskowitz said.
On Feb. 24, Chang tentatively ruled in favor of Moskowitz.
“What struck me was her quote saying that (Chang) was astonished that the California Department of Public Health thought that guidelines for the public should be withheld,” Gutierrez recalled. “It very much poses this question– why hasn’t this been released? And that’s not been answered.”
Certain cell phone companies — like Apple — do recommend users “to carry your iPhone at least 5 millimetres away from your body, to ensure exposure levels remain at — or below — the as tested levels.”
However, the recommendation was deeply embedded in the phone’s settings app, making it difficult to know it exists or find.
SACRAMENTO — For years, state health officials kept secret a set of guidelines meant to inform the public about the risks associated with cell phone use and the best practices to avoid potential harm.
On Thursday, the California Department of Public Health released the guidelines, which advise cell phone users to keep the devices away from their bodies, keep calls short and to use the speaker phone on lengthy calls. The guidelines were released only after a Sacramento Superior Court judge indicated she would order them to be disclosed, and after The Chronicle told the state it was publishing a news story about the case.
The health department’s lawyers had argued in court that the guidelines were never formally approved by the agency and that releasing them to the public would cause unnecessary panic.
The two-page suggestions, which have been written and revised over the past seven years, are based on studies “that suggest that long-term cell phone use may increase the risk of brain cancer and other health problems,” according to the document, which includes a stamp saying it is a “draft and not for public release.”
Tower on fire
Apparently all of the action was happening in Ohio this week. Over in Grandview Heights, a cell tower/light pole caught on fire. The fire started when a Sprint crew was upgrading equipment atop a light pole. The area was immediately evacuated, including houses in the surrounding area. Thankfully no injuries were reported, and everyone’s homes seem to be OK thanks to quick action. The area will remain closed until it can be confirmed that the tower is functioning safely or the tower is decommissioned.
Collapsed tower top
Have you ever seen a tower where the top part of the structure collapsed onto itself? It’s quite a site to behold, and one Reddit user in Australia managed to photograph it:
cell tower collapse
Apparently the tower is older and collapsed onto itself due to weather conditions, with Australia’s winter prone to strong winds and cold temperatures. Structurally speaking, this is exactly what it is supposed to do – collapse onto itself to prevent any potential injury to anything in its immediate area. Despite this perfectly logical explanation, it is still a somewhat bizarre sight and prompted many phallic impotence jokes in the thread where the image was originally posted.
Ethical question of tower rescue
Tower industry blogger “Wade” wrote a great post this week that posed an interesting question: if your fellow climber gets into trouble/danger on a site, should you try to rescue the person yourself, or should you wait for the fire department to rescue him? On one hand there’s the impulse to help people, but on the other there’s risk of liability for your actions, as well as the risk of your own life. What would you do?