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Keep cell phones away from your body, warns the California Department of Public Health

Published Dec 20th, 2017 11:32PM EST
Are cell phones bad
Image: Wilfredo Lee/AP/REX/Shutterstock

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How far away is your cell phone from you right now as you read this? Is it sitting right next to you on your desk or your bedside table? Is it in your pocket? Either way, no matter how badly you think you need your smartphone within arm’s length at all times, you could be doing significant long-term damage to your body.

The scientific community has yet to reach a consensus on the severity of exposure to radio frequency energy emitted from cell phones, but a new set of guidelines from the California Department of Public Health suggests that high use could impact human health. If you use your cell phone constantly, you should decrease your exposure.

“Although the science is still evolving, there are concerns among some public health professionals and members of the public regarding long-term, high use exposure to the energy emitted by cell phones,” said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. “We know that simple steps, such as not keeping your phone in your pocket and moving it away from your bed at night, can help reduce exposure for both children and adults.”

Smith warns specifically about the exposure of children to the energy emitted by cell phones, as the brain developers through the teenage years. As the CDPH notes, nearly 95% of Americans own cell phones, and the average age that children receive their first cell phone is 10 years old. Not only are young people at greater risk to be affected by radio frequency energy, but they often spend more time on the phone and even sleep with it next to their pillows.

If you want to reduce your exposure to the potentially harmful energy, here are some practical steps you can take:

  • Keeping the phone away from the body
  • Reducing cell phone use when the signal is weak
  • Reducing the use of cell phones to stream audio or video, or to download or upload large files
  • Keeping the phone away from the bed at night
  • Removing headsets when not on a call
  • Avoiding products that claim to block radio frequency energy. These products may actually increase your exposure.

In modern society, the idea of limiting cell phone usage might sound farcical, but health impact aside, we could all do with a little less time staring at screens. The fact that it might be slowly killing you is just extra motivation.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.