Your editorial questions the need for the Berkeley “right to know” ordinance arguing that all phones have been tested consistent with FDA safety recommendations and that no evidence exists of harm according to U.S. government websites.
In fact every single one of the world’s more than five billion phones has been tested consistent with guidelines that were established 18 years ago. Would you want to fly in an airplane that met 18-year-old safety standards?
The Berkeley ordinance is straightforward: If manufacturers provide information about the minimum “as-tested” distance from the body at which their product’s microwave radiation was evaluated, retailers must make this information available at the point of sale. If devices are kept in the shirt or pants pocket, they, in fact, exceed these test standards.
Studies done at the Cleveland clinic show that men who keep cellphones in their pockets have poor sperm quality and quantity — information that was testified to by Stanton Glantz, a professor at UCSF, to the Berkeley city council and that is documented in his textbook, Biostatistics in Medicine. Experimental studies sponsored by the governments of India and Australia detail damage to sperm DNA from cellphone radiation.
Although the US government websites are out of date, they do in fact advise people to take simple precautions to reduce exposure by using a headset and speakerphone — advice recently echoed by Consumer Reports.
In their story on this topic, Consumer Reports relates that in May 2015, a group of 190 independent scientists from 39 countries who have published 2,000 papers on the topic, called for stricter limits on cellphone radiation. They based this recommendation on actions by governments in Israel, India, Taiwan, Russia, Zambia and France, pointing to growing research. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified cellphone radiation as a possible carcinogen in 2011. More recent studies led me, WHO Senior Adviser Anthony B. Miller, M.D. and others to classify this radiation as a probable carcinogen in 2013 — a position explained in a lecture by myself and R.S. Sharma at George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health this year.
My book Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation documents the “war-games” played by industry to discredit science and scientists who have raised concerns about this issue in the United States and some European countries. The book was selected by Project Censored as an example of a suppressed news story. It also received the Silver Medal from Nautilus books for courageous investigation.
A recent issue of the California Magazine of the Cal Alumni Association for UC Berkeley included this passage that should give us all pause:
Those who are certain that cell phone radiation has no biological effects might want to consider an experiment conducted in 2012 at Yale Medical School. Dr. Hugh Taylor placed pregnant mice in cages, half with commercial cell phones transmitting (but silenced), and half with identical phones turned off. While the number of baby mice was the same, and they grew up to be perfectly fertile, the behaviors of the cell-phone-exposed progeny were strikingly different. Using a battery of well-established tests, Taylor found that the mice exposed in utero were hyperactive, had impaired memory, and less anxiety — traits that in humans are associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The results were dose dependent: The longer the exposure, the more striking the traits. Taylor, who is chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale-New Haven Hospital, set up the behavior experiment after a Danish study in 2008 found an association between prenatal and postnatal cell phone use and behavior problems in children.
In Taylor’s study, tests of brain tissue from young mice in the exposed group showed evidence of impaired transmission of the chemical glutamate among nerve cells in the prefrontal cortex, a region controlling cognition and emotion—suggesting changes in neuronal circuitry may have occurred.
Detailed information about the Berkeley ordinance can be found on the excellent website of Joel Moskowitz, director of the center for family and community health at UC Berkeley.
Devra Davis is the president of the Environmental Health Trust and a visiting professor from Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School and Ondokuz Mayis University Medical School.