Saturday, March 04, 2017

Court orders release of cell phone safety document



The document.

By Hannah Albarazi

After keeping it hidden for years, California’s Department of Public Health has released a draft document outlining health officials’ concerns about cellphone radiation exposure.

The previously unpublished document was released this week after a judge indicated she would order the documents be disclosed in the case Moskowitz v. CDPH.

Joel Moskowitz, Ph.D., who is the director of the Center for Family and Community Health at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, sued the state in 2016 under the California Public Records Act to get the document released.

The document is dated April 2014, but Moskowitz says the document was originally prepared seven years ago and updated several times, but never released to the public.

He previously told KPIX 5 why he decided to sue the state.

“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,” Moskowitz.

The two-page document, which the Department of Public Health first emailed to the San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday afternoon, looks like any other fact sheet released by the state, except that this one has, in big bold letters “Draft and Not for Public Release” stamped across the pages.

Among the information in the document, which is titled simply, Cell Phones and Health, are summaries of scientific studies that suggest long-term cellphone use may increase the risk of brain cancer, among other health problems.

The draft fact sheet states that radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs), a type of radiation, are emitted from cellphones and that because they are “used frequently and kept close to the head and body, cellphone EMFs can affect nearby cells and tissues.”

In the draft fact sheet, state health officials list their recommendations for members of the public who wish to reduce their exposure to the radiation emitted from cellphones, but state that as more studies are done the recommendations on the fact sheet may change.

Health officials’ overall recommendation is to “increase the distance between you and your phone” by using a headset, the speaker phone function and text messaging. Health officials recommend not sleeping near your phone and not carry it in your pocket or directly on your body, unless it is off.

The fact sheet also states that “EMFs can pass deeper into a child’s brain than and adult’s” so suggests parents limit their child’s cellphone use to texting, important call and emergencies.

But there are also some in Silicon Valley who say the science doesn’t support the fact sheet. David Witkowski leads Joint Venture Silicon Valley’s Wireless Communications Initiative and says “it’s very weak on details, references to existing peer-reviewed journals and studies…”

Moskowitz, however, is not yet satisfied.

He said with the release of the document, the CDPH has violated the Public Records Act, saying it “stamped new lettering in huge dark letters across the face of the document,” essentially creating a new document rather than producing the document as-is.

Moskowitz says, “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.”

More by Moskowitz with links to the decision and other filings.

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