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California Health Department Issues Mobile Phone Safety Guidelines

California Health Department Issues Mobile Phone Safety Guidelines

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has recently released guidelines on mobile phone safety, and while the agency does not explicitly say that the use of cell phones is risky, it did advise caution for all handset owners in the Golden State. In the guidelines, the CDPH notes that several studies have already suggested that radio frequency signals from mobile devices may have links to some types of cancer, reduced sperm count, memory and cognitive issues, and even sleep disorders. But the agency also took the time to remind everyone that the link has never been fully proven by science.

The debate is familiar to just about everybody -- well maybe except for some first time smartphone owners -- do mobile phones cause harm to human beings? And while the arguments from the both sides have been numerous and even compelling, what has been lacking is definite proof. In May of last year, the United States government had released the results of a study conducted over several years in order to establish a link between cases of cancer and smartphone usage. Published in the US National Toxicology Program, the results indicate a potential link, but not conclusive enough to prove anything

It is quite possible that the CDPH is just wanting Californians to play it safe. In its guidelines sheet, the agency included a section about reducing smartphone usage among very young kids. Small children happen to have developing brains and less rigid skull structures. Research conducted over the years suggest that radio frequency may cause headaches or affected hearing among babies or toddlers. 

Although the official guidelines are being released this week, they were issued in draft about nine months ago. The draft came to be after Dr Joel Moskowitz, the director of the Center for Family and Community Health at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, filed a lawsuit against the state of California last year. According to Dr Moskowitz, the CDPH had started preparing those guidelines since 2009, but has yet to make them available to the public. He basically sued the government in order to get them to publish the guidelines.

It goes without saying that the wireless industry is not too happy with guidelines like these being issued to the public. For the industry, the guidelines essentially are asking people not to use cell phones as regularly as they were, which means it could affect business (and bottom line figures). For California, it certainly felt there is a need to warn its citizens, at least. The bigger question now is -- will people heed the call?