California Tries to Cover Up Cellphone Hazards

cell phone dangers

Story at-a-glance -

  • Cellphones are used by 91 percent of adults in the U.S., contributing to an overwhelming exposure to electromagnetic radiation as demonstrated in a new study
  • It required a lawsuit to release California’s Environmental Health Investigations' recommendations for safe cellphone use, containing study summaries suggesting long-term use increases risk of brain cancer
  • Children are at greater risk of health damage since results of exposure to electromagnetic radiation may take upward of 15 years to appear, and children’s neurological systems are immature at time of exposure

By Dr. Mercola

Cellphones have become commonplace. Users are able to call, text and use the Internet, all from the convenience of a piece of equipment that fits in a pocket. According to Pew Research Center, 91 percent of adults in the U.S. have one.1

Pew found the number of people embracing the use of cellphones have made this device the most quickly accepted consumer technology in history. The latest survey found those over 65, living in rural areas and women, are less likely to own a cellphone, although this pattern has not been evident in previous surveys.

Pew attributes the quick rise in popularity of the device to the development of smartphones. Unfortunately, this connection to technology places you in danger of disconnecting from what's real and really important. Use and overuse may lead to addiction. The New York Times observes:2

"The near-universal access to digital technology, starting at ever younger ages, is transforming modern society in ways that can have negative effects on physical and mental health, neurological development and personal relationships, not to mention safety on our roads and sidewalks.

As your usage increases, so does your exposure to electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation and, with it, your risk for developing cancer.

Although proponents claim the power emitted from cellphones is weak, the most plausible explanation for the health and biological impact is related to the erratic nature of the signal and its ability to interfere with DNA repair.

Study Links Cellphone Use to Increased Risk of Cancer

Previous studies have linked EMF radiation emitted from cellphones with triggering abnormal cell growth and cancer,3,4 but it is a recent study and a California lawsuit that has increased attention to this link. In the video above, Devra Davis, Ph.D., shares what is known about absorption of radiation by the brain from cellphone use.

The new research exposed rats to radiofrequency radiation from cellphones for approximately nine hours each day, after which the rats were more likely to develop tumors of glial cells in the brain and tumors in the heart.5

Opponents believe there may be some difficulty generalizing the results to human cellphone use for several reasons.

Some research using animal models are poorly designed and opponents have difficulty believing animal experiments may be extrapolated to human results.6 However, without purposefully exposing humans to toxins and radiation, animals are the first models used.

In May 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), declared cell phones a Group 2B "possible carcinogen" based on the available research.7 According to IARC director Christopher Wild, Ph.D.:8

"Given the potential consequences for public health of this classification and findings, it is important that additional research be conducted into the long ‐ term, heavy use of mobile phones.

Pending the availability of such information, it is important to take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure such as hands ‐ free devices or texting.'"

While some studies have drawn links between cellphone usage and cancer, others have not been so definitive.

However, in a paper published by the Policy Studies Organization, the authors determined there appears to be a relationship between funding, or the author's affiliation with industry during a study, and whether a correlation was found between cancer and cellphone use.9

Such research bias holds dangerous public health repercussions, and it's certainly not the first time bias has been found to influence research results.10,11,12

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Judge Orders Papers Released

To protect public health from the risks of cellphone radiation, California's Environmental Health Investigations branch developed a set of recommendations and warnings.

However, no formal copy was ever publicly released. Joel Moskowitz, Ph.D., director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California (UC) Berkeley, requested access to this information.13

When his request was denied, he sued the state under the California Public Records Act and won. Moskowitz explained his actions to local CBS station in San Francisco:14

"I would like this document to see the light of day because it will inform the public that there is concern within the California Department of Public Health that cellphone radiation is a risk and it will provide them with some information about how to reduce those risks."

However, while the document was released, it was stamped "Draft and Not for Public Release," which essentially negates the ruling from the Supreme Court Judge. Moskowitz, not yet satisfied with the actions of the state of California, explained that the Public Records Act was violated, since:15

"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."

The director of the Environmental Law Clinic at UC Berkeley, Claudia Polsky, representing Moskowitz, also believes the arguments for not releasing the document are irresponsible since the public health impact may be critical. She was also dissatisfied with the stamped disclaimer on the guidelines.16

The document contained summaries of studies suggesting long-term use of cellphones may increase your risk of brain cancer and that EMFs emitted from cellphones are frequently kept close to the head and body, potentially affecting nearby tissue.

The sheet also listed recommendations to reduce exposure to EMF radiation. Moskowitz notes:17 "This could have perhaps saved some lives if it had been published by the department seven years ago."

WiFi Illness and Sensitivities

The health department's lawyer argued releasing the document would unnecessarily alarm the public.18 However, many of these studies have been published for nearly 10 years, having had little to no impact on the sale of smartphones that now reside in 9 out of 10 adult hands in the U.S.

Although the sheer volume of WiFi and Bluetooth products is a relatively new phenomenon, the effects of these radiofrequency waves have been studied for decades.

John Moulder, Ph.D., professor emeritus of radiation oncology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, co-authored a review of existing research going back to the 1950s. His review found few health effects at low doses of EMF.

However, Moskowitz counters this argument, saying: "We have animal studies suggesting even low-level exposures to the kind of radio wave radiation associated with WiFi could have a variety of negative health effects." Moskowitz gathered study summaries and published them in one place.19

There is reason for concern, not only from an outpouring of research painting a very different picture about cellphone safety than the telecommunications industry would have you believe, but also from a growing population of electrically sensitive individuals who may be the proverbial canaries in the coal mine.

Dr. Thomas Rau, medical director of the world-renowned Paracelsus Clinic in Switzerland, shared during an interview he did with me that an estimated 3 to 8 percent of populations in developed countries experience serious electro-hypersensitivity symptoms, while 35 percent experience mild symptoms.

Rau also believes that electromagnetic loads can lead to cancer, concentration problems, ADD, tinnitus, migraines, insomnia, arrhythmia, Parkinson's and even back pain. In a systematic review and meta-analysis of EMF radiation on sperm quality, researchers found an 8 percent reduction in motility and 9 percent reduction in sperm viability.20,21 Researchers in one study wrote:22

"RF-EMR in both the power density and frequency range of mobile phones enhances mitochondrial reactive oxygen species generation by human spermatozoa, decreasing the motility and vitality of these cells while stimulating DNA base adduct formation and, ultimately DNA fragmentation. These findings have clear implications for the safety of extensive mobile phone use by males of reproductive age, potentially affecting both their fertility and the health and wellbeing of their offspring."

Is This a First Amendment Battle?

The first amendment of the U.S. Constitution says:23

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Berkeley, California, is the first in the nation to have a city ordinance requiring retailers to give consumers federal guidelines for safe cellphone use. While the notice hasn't drawn much attention from consumers, it did draw the attention of the trade organization representing some of the largest cellphone manufacturers and carriers in the nation.

The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), took great offense and went to court arguing the sign infringes on the cellphone manufacturers and carriers First Amendment rights.24 They argue the ordinance is forcing retailers to "distribute its one-sided, innuendo-laden, highly misleading and scientifically unsupported opinion on a matter of public controversy."

Berkeley denies the allegations, saying the signs are "nothing but an arrow that points to the very manuals written by manufacturers." The cellphone warning was cleared by U.S. District Judge Edward Chen of San Francisco who, in a hearing in 2015, read from an iPhone manual which cautioned the user that if the device was carried closer than five-eighths of an inch from your body, it could surpass the federal radiation exposure guidelines.25 Chen wrote:26

"The mandated disclosure truthfully states that federal guidelines may be exceeded where spacing is not observed, just as the FDA accurately warns that 'tobacco smoke can harm your children.'"

At this time, the iPhone manuals do not carry the RF recommendations. Instead, they're buried in the settings on the phone.27 Attorney for Berkeley, Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard law professor, pointed out the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) announced three years ago it would reassess cellphone radiation safety standards28 which have not changed since 1996, but has not taken further action. According to Lessig:29

"The FCC would not be asking for comments about whether there was a health hazard if it had concluded that there was no possible way that a cellphone held against the body could constitute any health hazard."

Court Determines Tumor Is From a Phone

According to the Italian Supreme Court, a man's cellphone was responsible for a tumor growth in his trigeminal nerve, the fifth cranial nerve supplying sensation to your face and other structures in the head. The tumor grew very close to where the phone came in contact with Mr. Marcolini's face, paralyzing half his face. Following the ruling, Marcolini commented:30

"This is significant for very many people. I wanted this problem to become public because many people still do not know the risks. I was on the phone, usually the mobile, for at least five or six hours every day at work. I wanted it recognized that there was a link between my illness and the use of mobile and cordless phones. Parents need to know their children are at risk of this illness."

Dr. Angelo Gino Levis, a respected oncologist and professor of environmental mutagenesis, and Dr. Giuseppe Grasso, a neurosurgeon, testified for Marcolini, affirming the EMF radiation from mobile and cordless phones damages cells, making tumor growth more likely. Levis said:31

"The court decision is extremely important. It finally officially recognizes the link. It'll open not a road but a motorway to legal actions by victims. We're considering a class action. Tumors due to radiation may not appear for 15 years, so three to five-year studies don't find them. We'll only realize in years to come the damage phones can cause children."

Children May Be at Grave Risk

Health risks are even greater for children than adults, for a couple reasons. Children are now exposed to EMF radiation at a very early age, whereas older people can still recall the days when every phone was hardwired to the wall.

Hence the opportunity for harm to develop over time is exponentially greater for children than adults. The exposure is also pervasive. Most homes have WiFi routers, cellphones and tablets, and many public areas also provide WiFi these days. Children spend hours on their parent's smartphone and tablets, playing games and staying occupied.

Digital equipment has become an addiction for children and adults. Whether it's a smartphone, tablet or WiFi enabled screen, children are spending between six and seven hour a day in front of a screen,32 a far cry from the two-hour max the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends.33

Holding a cellphone up to your ear allows 80 percent of the EMF radiation produced to penetrate your brain tissue up to two inches.34 Ronald Melnick, scientific adviser for the Environmental Health Trust, commented on the use of cellphones in the pediatric population:35

"The penetration of the cellphone radiation into the brain of a child is deeper and greater. Also, the developing nervous system of a child is potentially more susceptible to a damaging agent."

The California's Environmental Health Investigations guidelines concur, saying:36

"EMFs can pass deeper into a child's brain than an adult's. The brain is still developing through the teen years, which may make children and teens more sensitive to EMF exposure."

Take Precautions to Protect Your Children and Yourself From EMF

Cellphones were first invented in 1973.37 Since the first mobile phone that was the size of a small box, cellphones have evolved into devices more easily carried in your pocket. However, while 40 years may seem like a long time, the cellphone did not become mainstream until the late 1990s, and many of the long-term side effects from overexposure to EMF radiation take years if not decades to develop.

This means there is no good way of predicting the long-term effects on a generation of children who are exposed to chronic radiation throughout their lives. Today, many children are even exposed before birth.

One study38 that evaluated the health of children in mothers who used cellphones during their pregnancy found a 25 percent increase in emotional problems, 34 percent increase in peer problems, 35 percent increase in hyperactivity and 49 percent increase in conduct problems than in mothers who did not use cellphones during their pregnancy. Another study found an increase in spontaneous abortions in mothers who used cellphones during their pregnancy.39

For your child's and your own sake, I urge you to minimize these kinds of risks by taking some common-sense precautions. For a list of recommendations for lowering your EMF exposure, please see my previous article, "EMF Controversy Exposed."

+ Sources and References