Technology A California public health report suggests that cellphone exposure is bad for us — but the scientific community isn't so sure

03:30  01 january  2018
03:30  01 january  2018 Source:   PRI

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Although the larger scientific community has not produced any strong evidence to suggest that continual exposure to cellphones is harmful, the California Department of Public Health recently issued guidelines for how to reduce exposure to radio frequency energy emitted from the handheld

In a surprising move this week, however, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) weighed in on the debate, warning people, especially kids, to Then again, there’s also no harm in using your cellphone less, and given that we ’re starting to find that too much screen time can be bad for our

  A California public health report suggests that cellphone exposure is bad for us — but the scientific community isn't so sure © Mad Fish Digital/CC BY 2.0 (image cropped) Many of us have our cellphones within an arm’s reach at all times. It’s either in a pocket or a purse or maybe just a few inches from our face on a daily basis. Given how tethered we are to these devices, scientists have been studying any possible health maladies that could result from cellphone exposure — radiation amounts, in particular.

Although the larger scientific community has not produced any strong evidence to suggest that continual exposure to cellphones is harmful, the California Department of Public Health recently issued guidelines for how to reduce exposure to radio frequency energy emitted from the handheld devices.

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There's no harm in following California 's new cellphone guidelines detailing how to reduce exposure to a phone 's radio-frequency (RF) energy, but know this: There's no The guidelines, released by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on Friday (Dec. 13), advise the following

While the science is still out on just how bad our cell phones can be for some aspects of our health , we have discovered some pretty scary stuff. Technology with screens is still relatively new enough that we 're not quite sure just what kind of long-term damage spending most of our day looking at

According to the CDPH report, about 95 percent of Americans own cellphones, with 12 percent relying on them for everyday internet access. The report also states that the average age at which a person first gets a cellphone is 10 years old.

To minimize any negative effects, the public health report suggests keeping the phone away from one’s body, reducing cellphone use when there is a weak signal, limiting the amount of downloaded or uploaded audio or video files, storing the phone away from the bed at night, removing headsets when not on a call and avoiding products that claim to block radio frequency energy. The CDPH says that these products may actually increase one’s exposure to the potentially harmful emissions.

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) suggests cell phone users to keep a minimum distance of 20 centimeters from their handset to significantly reduce radiation exposure . " We do not have enough information nor do we have enough time to be sure that cell phones are safe, and

"I've been telling friends and family members to seriously consider switching to CDMA [ cellphones ] if they're using GSM cellphones ," said Joel Moskowitz, the director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California , Berkeley.

“The fact that they issued guidelines saying, 'Here’s how to reduce your cellphone exposure,' seems to indicate that cellphone exposure is a problem,” says Sophie Bushwick, senior editor for Popular Science. “Whereas in reality, I think the scientific consensus right now is they haven’t found a strong connection between exposure to cellphone radiation and brain cancer or other health problems, but they have said that we need to keep studying this issue in the long term.”

“I think that for that reason, the guidelines are a little misguided because it’s creating a lot of fear around an issue that we’re not sure people actually need to be afraid of,” Bushwick says.

Instead of worrying about radiation, Bushwick suggests that the public centers its collective attention on the biggest known health hazard surrounding cellphones: texting and driving.

“Texting and driving has killed and will kill far more people than brain cancer caused by cellphone radiation,” she says, “so I think that if people are trying to find an issue to worry about then that's what they should be focusing on.”

This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI’s Science Friday with Ira Flatow. 

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