For many of us, our smartphones are a constant companion. They’re in our pockets, in our purses, or just generally kept close to us. But according to the California Department of Public Health, that could be a problem.
The CDPH issued a warning last week cautioning against keeping smartphones close to your body. That’s due to the electromagnetic radiation that smartphones and cell phones put off. For its recommendation, the CDPH suggests that people keep their distance from their smartphones and limit their usage of said devices.
Of course, that’s no easy feat in the age of the smartphone. But it might be smart to heed the CDPH’s warnings. While the science is far from settled, there are studies that suggest a slightly increased risk of brain cancer or tumors of the salivary gland and acoustic nerve. Other issues include adverse effects on learning, memory and sleep, as well as headaches.
The California Health Department has released these guidelines in part due to a lawsuit levied at it. A researcher at the University of California, Joel Moskowitz, sued the department for not making the guidelines public. Earlier this year, a judge ruled in his favor, which led to the drafted CDPH guidelines released this week.
Phone manufacturers have generally recommended that people use hands-free devices or a device’s built-in speakerphone when making calls. But those suggestions are usually buried pretty deeply within a user manual. (Which, let’s admit it, most of us don’t read through entirely.) There’s also the issue that there isn’t currently a national standard for safety limits. The FCC does state that it requires phonemakers to ensure that devices comply with “objective limits for safe exposure.”
The CDPH recommends users refrain from keeping their devices in a pocket or bra, using a smartphone next to their ear for a prolonged period, and or sleeping with it near them at night, among other things.
But despite the guidelines, Moskowitz says that most health agencies haven’t kept up with the research — which he says suggests that smartphones pose a “major risk to health.”