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Cell Phone Safety Guidance from the California Department of Public Health Released By Court Order After Public information Request

Mar 5, 2017


May 2017: Cell Phone and Health documents were just released under California Superior Court Order by the California Department of Health by Court order containing clear advice to reduce exposure to cell phone radiation. 27 versions were drafted starting in 2009. Dr. Moskowitz who filed a PIR request for the release of these documents, states that  California State has never adopted this fact sheet nor released it to the public due to what he refers to as suppression by “political appointees”.

27 Versions of the CDPH Cell Phone Guidance Document Released Under Court Order

Update: January 2018: The Department released more documents to Environmental Health Trust under the Public Information Act. EHT asked for Drafts of the guidance after 2015. The Department only released drafts from part of 2017 but they are very informative and show more edits.

26 pages of Edits in 2017 to the California Department of Health Cell Phone Advice

  • The Recommendations Were Approved By Consensus of CDPH Division Staff:  The original 2009 document stated the recommendations reflected a consensus of the Division (Document 25, file date: 6/17/2009; pp.104-109).The state department reviewing the material, the Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control, wrote that following its own “unpublished meta-analysis,” it agreed with the conclusions of the studies.   The document has a section entitled “Background” which states “ 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.”
  • Recommendations to California State on Occupational Exposures Removed: The original document had recommendations to the California Department of General Services, the “business manager” for the State, regarding cell phone purchases. The fact sheet also  had a section called “Recommendations for Employees and the General Public” that included safety tips for state employees about how to to minimize exposure to wireless radiation. However the final version of the fact sheet omits recommendations to the Department of General Services (pp. 6-8) and these recommendations to state employees.
  • Warnings on Children Softened: The first 2009 version stated, “Do not allow children to use a cell phone, except for emergencies.” The final version said “parents may want to limit their child’s cell phone use to texting, important calls and emergencies.”
  • Information on Cordless Phones Removed in Final Drafts: The 2009 fact sheet summarized research on the health effects associated with exposure to cell phone and cordless phone radiation. The document stated “keep the cordless phone and cordless phone base station at an arm’s-length distance away from the body. These devices use electromagnetic admitting technology similar to that of a cell phone and are constantly admitting field during phone calls. The statements on cordless phones were removed in final drafts.
  • University of Pittsburgh Guidelines Referenced in First Draft in 2009: The 2009 CDPH Draft refers to the cell phone radiation guidelines from the University of Pittsburgh website that were drafted by Dr. Herberman and Dr. Devra Davis in 2007. Read the first of it’s kind UPCI Advisory here.
170512_Cell phone safety documents Moskowitz v CDPH 34-2016-80002358
California Department of Health Cell Phone Radiation Drafts 2017

Starting in 2008, health professionals in the Environmental Health Investigations Branch of California Department of Public Health began preparing a cell phone guidance document that summarized the science regarding the health risks from cell phone radiation and provided precautionary recommendations to the public for limiting personal exposure.

Dr. Joel Moskowitz submitted several formal requests for the document under the California Public Records Act (CPRA) starting in January 2014.  In 2015 CDPH denied this request based on the rationale: “In light of the updated guidance issued by the CDC [federal Centers for Disease Prevention and Control] in June of 2014, CDPH has chosen not to issue a guidance document on radio frequency EMF and cell phones.”

The environmental law clinic at the University of California, Berkeley Law School and the First Amendment Project represented Dr. Moskowitz pro bono. And filed a lawsuit in May 2016, with the Superior Court of the County of Sacramento.  In February 2017 Judge Shellyanne Chang issued a ruling which over-ruled eight of the nine objections submitted by the Attorney General  and directed CDPH to release the Cellular Phone Use Guidance documentation.

In May 2017, the documents were released. All in all, 27 versions of the  cell phone radiation safety fact sheet prepared by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) initially in 2009 and revised multiple times through January, 2015.

Verified Petition – Dr. Joel Moskowitz vs. California Department of Public Health 

Dr. Moskowitz website SAFEREMR on the CDPH guidelines


San Francisco Chronicle News Article – “Long-overdue release of information about cell phone risks“, March 3 2017

San Francisco Examiner News Article – “California Health Officials release report on cell phone radiation”, March 3 2017

NBC Bay Area News Article – “Cell Phone Cancer Debate Heats up With Document Release”, March 3, 2017

San Francisco Chronicle News Article – “New records show how state reworked secret cell phone warning” May 19, 2017