United States – Policy Recommendations On Cell Phones, Wireless Radiation & Health

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Legislation has been introduced at the state and national level. Some Communities have issued proclamations, resolutions and and started initiatives to  inform the public of wireless health issues.

May 12, 2015 Berkeley Adopted the Cell Phone “Right to Know” Ordinance on a Unanimous Vote. Berkeley is the first city in the nation to require cell phone retailers to provide those who purchase a new phone an informational fact sheet which informs buyers to read the user manual to learn the cell phone’s minimum separation distance from the body. The text states:

“The City of Berkeley requires that you be provided the following notice: To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.”

2014 –  Wireless Router Labeling in all Suffolk, NY Public buildings: Legislation requires all county buildings to post notices that wireless routers are in use such as, “Notice: Wireless technology in use.” The resolution, sponsored by Legis. William Spencer (a physician), warns that every wireless device emits radio frequency radiation or microwave radiation. It notes that studies “that have looked at the effects of low-level RFR radiation on human cells and DNA have been inconclusive.”

2011 – A Passed Ordinance by the City of San Francisco required cell phone retailers to distribute an educational sheet: Educational sheet created by the San Francisco Department of Environment that explains radiofrequency emissions from cell phones and details how consumers can minimize their exposure. However implementation was blocked after a three year court battle. The CTIA sued the city and settled with the City to block implementation of  the Ordinance  in exchange for a waiver of attorney’s’ fees.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS

2017 – Maryland State Children’s Environmental Health And Protection Advisory Council Recommendations For Wired Internet In Schools and Minimizing RF Classrooms:

  • The Maryland State Children’s Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council (CEHPAC) issued a Report advising the Department of Education to recommend local school districts reduce classroom wireless radiation exposures by providing wired—rather than wireless—internet connections.
  • The Children’s Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council recommendations:
  • “The Maryland State Department of Education should recommend that local school systems consider using wired devices“ “WiFi can be turned off” and instead “a wired local area network (LAN) can provide a reliable and secure form of networking…without any microwave electromagnetic field exposure.”
  • “New school construction and renovations to include wired cabled connections: “If a new classroom is to be built, or electrical work is to be carried out in an existing classroom, network cables can be added at the same time, providing wired (not wireless) network access with minimal extra cost and time.”
  • “The Maryland State Department of Education should recommend that local school systems use strategies to minimize exposures: “Have children place devices on desks to serve as barrier between the device and children’s bodies; Locate laptops in the classroom in a way that keeps pupil heads as far away from the laptop screens (where the antennas are) as practicable; Consider using screens designed to reduce eyestrain; Consider using a switch to shut down the router when it is not in use.”
  • “The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene should provide suggestions to the public on ways to reduce exposure: Sit away from WiFi routers, especially when people are using it to access the internet. Turn off the wireless on your laptop when you are not using it. Turn off WiFi on smartphones and tablets when not surfing the web. Switch tablets to airplane mode to play games or watch videos stored on the device.”
  • “The General Assembly should consider funding education and research on electromagnetic radiation and health as schools add WiFi to classrooms.”
  • The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene should “ask the United States Department of Health and Human Services to formally petition the FCC to revisit the exposure limit to ensure it is protective of children’s health and that it relies on current science.”
  • “The Report should be shared with the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Federal Communications Commission, Maryland State Department of Education and Maryland General Assembly.”
  • CEHPAC’s health experts include Governor appointed pediatricians, Maryland State House/Senate appointees and representatives of the Department of Education and Department of Health.
  • Wifi Radiation in Schools in Maryland Final Report
  • Letters from Physicians CEHPAC’s Public Comments
  • Testimony to the Maryland State Children’s Environmental Health and Protection Advisory
  • Baltimore Sun article by Devra Davis on the Report Recommendations
  • Baltimore Sun response by Dr. Cindy Russell

2017 – Montgomery County Maryland Chromebook Policy states that laptops should stay on tables and not on laps.  

2016 – Petaluma Public Schools, California USA: Public school district adopts “Digital Device Practices”

2016 – Onteora School District in New York State Adopts “Best Practices with Wi-Fi

  • April 20, 2016 Meeting Minutes Page 2.
  • “Turn off the device when not in use and at the end of each day.  If device is to stay on, turn Wi-Fi off when not in use. Always place device on a solid surface. Viewing distance should be a minimum of 12 inches from the screen.  Staff was asked by the Principals to post this in areas that contain computers and devices. They are reminding staff to follow it.”

2015 – Ashland Public Schools, Massachusetts Institutes “Best Practices”

Los Angeles, California Public Schools Recommends Cautionary Exposure Levels

Note: Digital Device “Best Practices” that still allow Wi-Fi access points in classrooms still allow microwave exposures to the children and such practices are not adequately protective to children. These District actions seem to be acknowledgment that wireless device expose the body to radiation. However, such “Best Practices” still allow access points to be powered on and thus are always exposing the students and staff to continuous microwave radiation regardless of the devices being in use or not. In addition, devices are also continuously transmitting during student use of the internet and no procedure is in place to ensure that Best Practices are followed so that the transmissions are turned off when the internet is not needed.  Therefore these “Best Practices” do not mitigate the risk nor protect students from School District created wireless exposures.

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HEALTH ADVICE TO THE PUBLIC

2017 – California Department of Public Health releases Cell Phone and Health Document.

2016 – American Academy of Pediatrics Issues Recommendations to Reduce Exposure

  • Healthy Children Webpage on Cell Phones
  • The webpage reiterated children’s unique vulnerability to cell phone radiation stating, “Another problem is that the cell phone radiation test used by the FCC is based on the devices’ possible effect on large adults—not children. Children’s skulls are thinner and can absorb more radiation.”
  • The AAP issued the following cell phone safety tips specifically to reduce exposure to wireless radiation:
  • Use text messaging when possible, and use cell phones in speaker mode or with the use of hands-free kits.
  • When talking on the cell phone, try holding it an inch or more away from your head.
  • Make only short or essential calls on cell phones.
  • Avoid carrying your phone against the body like in a pocket, sock, or bra. Cell phone manufacturers can’t guarantee that the amount of radiation you’re absorbing will be at a safe level.
  • Do not talk on the phone or text while driving. This increases the risk of automobile crashes.
  • Exercise caution when using a phone or texting while walking or performing other activities. “Distracted walking” injuries are also on the rise.
  • If you plan to watch a movie on your device, download it first, then switch to airplane mode while you watch in order to avoid unnecessary radiation exposure.
  • Keep an eye on your signal strength (i.e. how many bars you have). The weaker your cell signal, the harder your phone has to work and the more radiation it gives off. It’s better to wait until you have a stronger signal before using your device.
  • Avoid making calls in cars, elevators, trains, and buses. The cell phone works harder to get a signal through metal, so the power level increases.
  • Remember that cell phones are not toys or teething items.
  • Press Release: The AAP responds to study showing link between cell phone radiation, tumors in rats May 27, 2016

2015 – AAP Healthy Child Web Page on Electromagnetic Fields: A Hazard to Your Health?

  • This webpage states: “Cell Phones: In recent years, concern has increased about exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic radiation emitted from cell phones and phone station antennae. An Egyptian study confirmed concerns that living nearby mobile phone base stations increased the risk for developing: Headaches, Memory problems, Dizziness, Depression, Sleep problems.”
  • “Short-term exposure to these fields in experimental studies have not always shown negative effects, but this does not rule out cumulative damage from these fields, so larger studies over longer periods are needed to help understand who is at risk. In large studies, an association has been observed between symptoms and exposure to these fields in the everyday environment.”

2013 AAP Letter to FCC

2012 AAP Letter to US Representative Dennis Kucinich in Support of the Cell Phone Right to Know Act

2012 – AAP published Pediatric Environmental Health, Textbook of Children’s Environmental Health

2001 AAP News Article – More study needed on risk of brain tumors from cell phone use

2014 – The California Medical Association Passed a Wireless Resolution

  • Full CMA Resolution
  • “Whereas scientists are increasingly identifying EMF from wireless devices as a new form of environmental pollution … Whereas peer reviewed research has demonstrated adverse biological effects of wireless EMF including single and double stranded DNA breaks, creation of reactive oxygen species, immune dysfunction, cognitive processing effects, stress protein synthesis in the brain, altered brain development, sleep and memory disturbances, ADHD, abnormal behavior, sperm dysfunction, and brain tumors; and…Resolved, That CMA support efforts to implement new safety exposure limits for wireless devices to levels that do not cause human or environmental harm based on scientific research.”
  • Santa Clara Medical Bulletin article that explains the CMA resolution and gives recommendations for schools.

2014 – The Connecticut Department of Public Health issued specific recommendations to reduce exposure to cellphone radiation.

2016 – Massachusetts Department of Health Issues Recommendation for Minimizing Exposure to RF

  • Full recommendations from the Department of Health.
  • “Below are common recommendations and include those for both cell phone and non-cell phone sources:
    • Use wired communication devices instead of wireless devices
    • Limit children’s use of cell phones except for emergencies
    • Keep cell phones and other sources at a distance
    • If using wireless devices like computers, laptops, tablets, and printers, place the wireless router away from where children and adults usually spend time.

2014 – Greenbelt, Maryland City Council voted unanimously for the following policy actions:

2011 – San Francisco, California; Cell Phone Radiation (How to Reduce Exposures) Webpages launched

  • Webpage – “Cellphones”
  • San Francisco developed the following public health information resources:

2012 – Jackson Hole, Wyoming issued a Proclamation of Cell Phone Awareness  

  • Original Proclamation
  • The proclamation cites concern over long term health effects as well as the increased risk that the radiation poses to children.

2012  – Pembroke Pines, Florida passed Resolution

  • Resolution 3362
  • Resolution expresses  the City’s “Urgent Concerns” about Wireless Radiation and Health and which encourages citizens to read their manuals and presents information on how to reduce exposure by using a headset or speakerphone. Jimmy Gonzalez, an attorney who had developed brain cancer after heavy cell use, initially petitioned the Commission.
  • Video of Jimmy Gonzalez’s powerful testimony

2010- California: Burlingame California City Council voted to include cell phone safety guidelines in  their Healthy Living in Burlingame initiative which gives recommendations on how to reduce exposure and states:

“The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandates that all cell phone manuals caution users to hold the phone a short distance (.6 inch to 1 inch) from the body. (See your manual’s fine print.)

While scientists continue to research and debate this matter, here are some simple things you can do to minimize your exposure to cell phone emissions” Red the Original Guidelines

2010  – Maine, Portland Mayor Mavodenes, Jr. declared October  “Cell Phone Awareness Month”

2009 –  Governor of Colorado issued a Proclamation on Electrical Hypersensitivity.

  • Original Proclamation
  • “Electromagnetic Sensitivity is a painful chronic illness of hypersensitive reactions to electromagnetic radiations.
  • WHEREAS, the symptoms of EMS include, dermal  changes, acute numbness and tingling, dermatitis, flashing, headaches, arrhythmia, muscular weakness, tinnitus, malaise, gastric problems, nausea, visual disturbances, severe neurological, respiratory, speech problems, and numerous other physiological symptoms.
  • WHEREAS, Electromagnetic Sensitivity is recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act, the US Access Board and numerous commissions;”

2009 – Governor of Connecticut issued a Proclamation on Electrical Hypersensitivity.

  • Original Proclamation
  • “WHEREAS, the health of the general population is at risk from electromagnetic exposures that can lead to illness indicted by electromagnetic radiations; and, WHEREAS, this illness may be preventable through the reduction or avoidance of electromagnetic radiations, in both outdoor and indoor environments and by conducting further scientific research…”

2009 – Broward County, Florida; The Mayor issued a Proclamation on Electrical Hypersensitivity.

  • Original Proclamation
  • “WHEREAS, as a result of global electromagnetic pollution, people of all ages in Broward County and throughout the world have developed an illness known as Electromagnetic Sensitivity…”

US Proposed Legislation

2012 The Cell Phone Right to Know Act H.R. 6358

  • The Act was introduced receiving strong support from many organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics.This legislation called for labels on mobile devices at point of sale, a comprehensive national research program to study whether exposure to wireless devices causes adverse biological effects directed by NIEHS and the EPA and exposure level regulation.
  • Congressional hearings in 2009 provided expert testimony to Congress.
  • CSPAN VIDEO.
  • Library of Congress Summary: Written by the Congressional Research Service
  • Cell Phone Right to Know Act – Requires the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to:
  1. conduct or support a comprehensive research program to determine whether exposure to electromagnetic fields from mobile communication devices causes adverse biological effects in humans, including vulnerable subpopulations such as children, pregnant women, those with compromised immune systems and hypersensitivity reactions, men and women of reproductive age, and the elderly;
  2. disseminate research results to the general public; and
  3. report findings and conclusions to Congress.

Directives:

  • Directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to promulgate regulations to allow a subscriber to access personally or to give consent to allow researchers with institutional review board approval to access specific usage data required to investigate the link between electromagnetic radiation exposure and potential adverse biological effects in humans.
  • Directs the EPA to promulgate regulations establishing maximum exposure level goals and maximum exposure levels for exposure to electromagnetic fields generated by mobile communication devices.
  • Directs the Commissioner of Food and Drugs (FDA) to promulgate regulations to provide for labeling (including exposure ratings and the maximum allowable exposure levels and goals) on mobile communication devices, packaging, instruction manuals, and at points of sale in stores and on websites.
  • Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to increase: (1) the number and size of grants to institutions for training scientists in the field of examining the relationship between electromagnetic fields and human health; and (2) the number of career development awards for such training for health professionals pursuing careers in pediatric basic and clinical research, including pediatric pharmacological research.
  • Amends the Public Health Service Act to establish a graduate educational loan repayment program and authorize national awards for researchers in such fields.
  • Amends the Communications Act of 1934 with respect to the prohibition on state or local government zoning regulation of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radiofrequency emissions.
  • Excludes from such prohibition state or local regulation based on the adverse human health effects of emissions of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields.

Oregon

  • 2017 Legislation about to be introduced.
  • 2015 Oregon HB 3350: This proposed legislation directs the Department of Education to prepare statement that discloses potential health risks of wireless technology and requires public and private schools to distribute statement to employees and parents of students. It declares an emergency effective July 1, 2015.
  • 2015 Oregon HB 3351: This proposed legislation states that cell phones must have a visible written label that advises consumers of possible risks and steps that consumers can take to reduce the risk of radiofrequency radiation exposure from cellular telephone use. Read it here.

Massachusetts

  • 2017: Three Massachusetts Senators and one Representative introduced bills to examine wireless radiation and protect the public. Click here for details.
    • S.1268 Resolve creating a special commission to examine the health impacts of electromagnetic fields (Senator Karen E. Spilka).
    • S.1864 An Act relative to utilities, smart meters, and ratepayers’ rights (gives people the no-fee choice of keeping their non-radiation-emitting water, gas and electrical meters instead of “smart” utility meters; Senator Michael O. Moore).
    • S.107 An Act relative to disclosure of radiofrequency notifications (requires warning labels on radiation-emitting products; Senator Julian Cyr).
    • S.108 An Act relative to the safe use of hand-held devices by children (requires specific language on packaging as modeled by an ordinance unanimously passed in Berkeley, California; Senator Julian Cyr).
    • H.2030 An Act relative to best management practices for wireless in schools and public institutions of higher education (asks the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to set wi-fi standards for all schools; Representative Carolyn Dykema).

2015 – Nassau County Proposed a Wireless Router Labeling Act

2014 – The Maine LD 1013 “The Wireless Information Act”

2011 – San Francisco Cell Phone Right to Know Ordinance

  • Ordinance requires cell phone retailers to distribute an educational sheet created by the San Francisco Department of Environment that explains radiofrequency emissions from cell phones and how consumers can minimize their exposure. The CTIA sued the city and settled with the City to block implementation of  the Ordinance  in exchange for a waiver of attorney’s’ fees.
  • The City Cell Phone Radiation Webpage.

2014 – Hawaii  Senate Bill SB 2571

  • Senate bill was introduced calling for a warning label encouraging  consumers to follow the enclosed product safety guidelines to reduce exposure to radiation that may be hazardous to their health.

2011 – California Legislation SB 932

  • This 2011 legislation would have required retailers to include notices on product packaging that cell phones emit radio frequency (RF) energy. A second notice would be posted at the point of sale when purchasing online or in a physical store.

2011 – New Mexico Proposed Law HM 32

  • This 2011 proposed law request the Department of Health and the Department of Environment to study and review all available literature and reports on the effects of cell phone radiation on human health.

2011 – Pennsylvania Proposed Law HB 1408

  • This 2011 proposed law would require warning labels on cell phones “to inform all citizens about possible health dangers that have been linked to microwave radiation that is emitted by cellular telephones and the steps that can be taken to mitigate those dangers, especially as they relate to children and pregnant women.”
  • Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, former director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) and the UPMC Cancer Center offered testimony at a PA House Democratic Policy Committee hearing.
  • CBS Local coverage of hearing
  • Philadelphia Tribune News coverage

2011- Oregon Proposed Law SB 679 Oregon

  • This 2011 proposed law would require warning labels for all new cell phones and cell phone packaging.
  • News video about the law

1999 – Proposed Law H.R. 2835

  • In 1999 Congressman Bernie Sanders sponsored H.R. 2835 (106th): To require an assessment of research on effects of radio frequency emissions on human health.

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