Measures to Reduce the Possible Health Risks of Electromagnetic Fields from Cell Phones and Cordless Phones to State Employees and the Public
2009 Consensus Guidance by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control on Measures to Reduce Exposure
In 2009, the California Department of Health (CDPH), Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control staff drafted clear recommendations to reduce electromagnetic radiation exposures to state employees and to the public. Evidence of these state recommendations was unearthed when Dr. Moskowitz was granted 27 versions of the cell phone guidance documents in 2017 by Court Order after California state refused to release them.
CDPH recommended that cell phone manufacturers provide radiation (SAR) ratings for all available phones and headsets to reduce exposure to cell phone radiation. The CDPH also drafted recommendations to the Department of General Services to “distribute to employees purchasing phones: the SAR ratings for all available phones; the available low-emission ear pieces and headsets for newly purchased phones; and a copy of the recommendations below on reducing potential cordless and cell phones risks.”
California Public Health staff made these recommendations to minimize staff exposure to cell phone radiation because, “given the seriousness of the potential health impacts and the ubiquity of exposure, it is prudent for the Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control to develop advice describing simple, but important, measures to reduce potential exposures”.
These recommendations are stated as being the “consensus” of the CDPH Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control.
See below information is from page 105 -108 of the 27 versions of the CDPH cell phone guidance documents released through a PIA
6/17/2009 Consensus by California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control on Measures to Reduce Exposure
Measures to Reduce the Possible Health Risks of Electromagnetic Fields from Cell Phones and Cordless Phones
This guidance document represents Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control’s (DEODC) present consensus on measures to reduce exposure and thereby reduce the possible health risks of electromagnetic fields from cell phones and cordless phones. It does not create or confer any rights for or on any person and does not operate to bind CDPH or the public. The evidence that electromagnetic radiation from cell phones and cordless phones causes serious health effects in people is not conclusive. Therefore, considerable uncertainty remains about the impact of measures to reduce exposures, precluding the issuance of definitive guidance. However, given the seriousness of the potential health impacts and the ubiquity of exposure, it is prudent for DEODC to develop advice describing simple, but important, measures to reduce potential exposures.
- The following terms are defined for the purposes of this document.
- Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) are forms of radiation created whenever electricity is generated or used. EMFs are produced by power lines, electric wiring, and electric equipment and appliances.
Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) is a measurement of the rate at which energy is absorbed by the body, units are Watts per kilogram.
Several recent news reports on cell phones use and brain cancer have focused public attention on health effects of cell phones and cordless phones (Ref 1,2,3). A committee was assembled in the Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control at the California Department of Public Health to assess cell phone and cordless phone risks and to develop recommendations for DGS and other large purchasers, as well as for employees and the general public to consider when purchasing or using these devices.Cell phones and other wireless devices emit electromagnetic fields that can penetrate the skin and brain (Ref 4). While there is no conclusive data on the human risk of electromagnetic fields generated by cell phones and cordless phones (Ref 5). The studies do not indicate that cell phones are safe, nor do they show definitely that they are dangerous. However, growing evidence indicates that people should reduce exposures while research continues on this important questions. Several recently published pooled analyses of multiple studies suggest that long-term (10 years or more) use of these devices is associated with increasing risk of malignant brain cancer (Ref 6,7) especially after taking into consideration the same-sided use to the phone and location of the tumor (Ref 7,8). These epidemiologic studies suggest statistically significant relative risks of 1.25 to 2.0 for malignant brain cancer in individuals with ten or more years of cell phone use (Ref 6,7,8). An increased risk among long-term use is also associated with acoustic neuroma, a benign tumor of the auditory nerve that is responsible for one’s hearing (Ref 7,9), especially after taking into consideration the same-sided use of the phone and location of the tumor (Ref 7).Cellular telephone use is increasing rapidly in children and adolescents, and they are likely to accumulate many years of exposure during their lives. A recent analysis found increased risks of malignant brain cancer among cell phones and cordless phone users who were younger than 20 years old when they first used a cell phone (Ref 10). This observation is consistent with modeling studies suggesting that there may be additional differences in susceptibility to EMFs emitted by phones between young children and adults (Ref 4) and that children may be a greater risk because their nervous systems are still developing at the time of exposure (Ref 5)The lifetime risk of acquiring malignant brain cancer and the rate of brain cancer in the population is low (Ref 11); however, cell phone and cordless phone EMF exposure is widespread. A small increase in risk of cancer from EMF exposure would represent a significant cost to society.The actual exposure of the phone user to EMFs depends on a number of factors, such as phone characteristics. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) provides consumers with information about human exposure to EMFs from cellular telephones and other devices at http://www.fcc.gov/oet/rfsafety. The web page includes information about the specific absorption rate (SAR) of cellular telephones produced and marketed. The SAR corresponds to the relative amount of EMF energy absorbed by the head of a cellular telephone user (Ref 5). Consumers can access this information using the phone’s FCC ID number, which is usually located on the case of the phone. Using and/or buying devices with lower SAR ratings would reduce exposure to EMFs and employers can provide employees with the SAR ratings of phones available through work contracts.Other factors that affect the actual exposure of the phone’s user include the distance to the phone, duration of the calls, and the power level of the phone. Proximity to the cell phone increases exposure. EMF absorption is at the maximum on the side of the head to which the phone is held, closer to the antenna, and decreases to less than one-tenth on the opposite side of the head (Ref 12). Behaviors that can increase distance from the antenna include using speakerphone or a headset when on a call, text messaging or emailing instead of calling, and placing the phone away from the body when not on the phone.The length of time spent on the phone increases exposure. Habits that can be adopted include: using the phone only for short conversations; checking voicemail and then returning the call on a non- or lower-EMF emitting device (ex: corded landlines or using a headset); or turning the phone off when not using it.The power output of a phone is proportional to the EMF the phone emits. Factors that increase the power output include longer distance from the base station (e.g., areas of weak signal) and when the user is moving (e.g., in a car) (Ref 13). Power output and EMF levels also increase when the phone connects to the cell tower while dialing and answering calls. Behaviors can be adopted to reduce exposure, such as not using the phone when in roaming or low service areas, or when traveling at high speeds. Again, keeping the cell phone off or in “flight” mode reduces the power output of the phone.
- Recommendations for Department of General Services and other large purchases
- The Department of General Services should create contract language to require manufacturers to provide SAR ratings for all available phones, including Blackberries and other PDA-phone devices, and to offer low-emission ear pieces or headsets, as well as other appropriate field-reducing devices for newly purchased cell phones and cordless phones.
- The Department of General Services should distribute to employees purchasing phones: the SAR ratings for all available phones; the available low-emission ear pieces and headsets for newly purchased phones; and a copy of the recommendations below on reducing potential cordless and cell phones risks.
- Recommendations for Employees and General Public
Electromagnetic fields penetrate deeper into tissues of children and young adults (Ref 4). Exposure can be minimized by reducing use and adopting the baits listed below.
- When on a call, to reduce electromagnetic field exposure:
- Keep the cell phone at least an arm’s length distance away from the body; distance reduces electromagnetic field exposure to the body (Ref 12).Keep the cordless phone and cordless phone base station at an arm’s length distance away from the body. These devices use electromagnetic emitting technology similar to that of a cell phone and are constantly emitting fields during phone calls (Ref 13).
- Hold the cell phone or cordless phone at least an arm’s length away when turning on the phone and when waiting for the person you called to pick up.
- Use speaker phone mode and speak at a distance of at least an arm’s length.
- Use an earpiece attachment of a wireless headset device (ex: Bluetooth).
- Communicate via text messaging or email rather then making a call.
- Limit length of time the body is exposed.
- Use the cell phone or cordless phone only for short conversations.
- For longer conversations: use a landline with a corded phone; use an earpiece attachment or a wireless headset device; switch sides regularly while communicating.
- Avoid using your cell phone when it is in roaming, there are no or few bars of signal, or when moving at thigh speed, such as in a car or train; in these situations, the phone automatically increases power to a maximum as it repeatedly attempts to connect to a new relay antenna (Ref 13). Pull over to a safe place to make calls or wait till you reach your destination.
- When not on a call, reduce electromagnetic field exposure.
- Even when not on a call, keep the cell phones, cordless phone, and electromagnetic field emitting accessories (ex: wireless headset devices) at least an arm’s length distance away from the body. These devices are constantly emitting electromagnetic fields (Ref 14). These fields are lower than those emitted during a call, but potential risks can be reduced by increasing the distance between the device and the body.
- Keep the cell phone and cordless phone at least an arm’s length distance away from the body (ex: at night do not place the phone under or next to your pillow).
- Remove wireless headset devices (ex: Bluetooth( when not on a call.
- Potential risks can be reduced by limiting length of time the body is exposed.
- Keep cell phone off or in “flight” or “off-line” mode whenever possible.
- Turn the phone off in “no Service” areas where cell phone output will be at a maximum
- When buying a phone, consider low electromagnetic field emitting devices.
- Choose a device with the lowest SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) possible.
- Replace old analog cordless phones with digital cordless phones or corded phones. Corded phones do not generate electromagnetic fields and digital cordless phones emit lower fields than analog cordless phones (Ref 13).
- Pagers or beepers are receivers only and thus do not generate electromagnetic fields. To reduce electromagnetic field exposure, these may be used instead of the cell phone by people who are on constant “call”.
Adopting these habits and following these no and low cost measures will substantially reduce exposure to electromagnetic radiation from cell phones and cordless phones, in turn potentially lowering risks of brain tumors, acoustic neuromas, and other serious illness.
The first draft had a section entitled “What State Governments and It’s Employees Can Do To Lower Potential Risks From Cordless Phones and Cell Phones” with four recommendations to the Department of General Services on purchasing as well as recommendations on how to reduce exposure when employees are on call.
First Draft of California Cell Phone Guidance 2008
2009 Presentation to the California Department of Public Health by former Chief of the California Department of Public Health EMF Program
2009 CDPH Slide Presentation
In 2009 Raymond Neutra, MD, MPH, DrPH, who had retired from CDPH two years earlier, as the former chief of the CDPH EMF Program, was asked to present to the Department the reasons for precaution regarding cell phone use. He has served on scientific advisory boards for the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization.
Dr. Moskowitz obtained the slides of the presentation which were made public on June 19, 2019. Dr. Neutra posed the following question, “How certain must we be of how much ill-health from cell phones, cordless phones and base stations before we would opt for cheap or expensive protection?”
Dr. Neutra presented precautionary recommendations such as “Keep cell phone off most of the time” and “Place on table 3 feet away before turning on” and “Keep it off in bus when others might be exposed.”
Dr. Neutra addressed the reasons “why government require more certainty before recommending precaution”:
- Industry lawyers and lobbyists afraid that precautionary government recommendations will support tort law suits
- Industry afraid that “alarmed” citizens will push for more
- Lobbyists pressure government not to issue them
Dr. Neutra asked these questions:
“If transmission lines, base stations or side stream cell phone exposure are closest to the poor and people of color do we have special duties toward them?”
“How much protection does the majority owe the minority living near these sources?”
“Should we increase utility bills a fraction of percent to protect the few even if “not cost beneficial?”
“How many of you think cell phone companies should pay to lower EMFs from cell towers?”
Note: Raymond Neutra previously testified alongside Daniel Wartenberg and David Carpenter in support of prudent avoidance at a public hearing convened by the Connecticut Siting Council on January 9, 2007.
Slides of the 2009 Presentation to the California Department of Public Health by former Chief of the California Department of Public Health EMF Program made public by Dr. Moskowitz
CDPH Neutra EMF_Webinar_10_26_09