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Cell phones safe? Flap in California revives debate

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Here at "Fones gone wild," master technician Kim Santiago is deep in cellphone surgery.

“I'm actually taking off a motherboard,” Santiago tells me.

Located across from UNLV, the store calls itself a cell phone superstore.

“We get a lot of college kids coming in for screen repairs,” says store manager Brenton Wingate.

On a busy Friday afternoon, the activity inside this business underscores how ubiquitous wireless technology has become.

“Everyone needs their cell phone,” Santiago says, adding, “it’s like phone, keys, wallet. That’s three things that you need most.”

In California this week, health officials released years-old draft guidelines, which had been sitting silently in the state’s Department of Public Health, that said cell use carries risk.

“Long-term cell phone use may increase the risk of brain cancer and other health problems,” said the document, which University of California Berkeley research Joel Moskowitz sued to obtain.

“The current federal regulatory standards are wholly inadequate,” Moskowitz says. “Much of the scientific community, at least some 224, have signed a petition calling on governments to strengthen the regulations to educate the public about how to use these devices safely.”

The California Department of Public Health says the information was not released because it was not original research and was never finalized or adopted. It says the project was discontinued when the Centers for Disease Control issued national guidance on the subject.

In the debate over cell phone safety, we came to a store across from a college campus to ask the guys who live and breathe wireless technology, about the phones we put next to our head.

“They're very safe,” says Santiago. His manager, Brenton Wingate tells us the newer phones have evolved, with more shielding and more metal, “that block unnecessary and unwanted frequencies and quote unquote radiation that might be inside your devices.”

“You should at least be concerned that there are these potential risks and there are very easy measures you can take to reduce your risks by reducing your exposure,” says UC Berkeley’s Moskowitz.

In a statement to News 3, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, which represents the wireless industry in Washington, said its products are safe. “Scientific evidence shows no known health risk due to the RF (radio frequency) energy emitted by cell phones,” says the CTIA.

Berkeley’s Moskowitz says we’re going on outdated information. “Our government has stopped funding this research in the 90’s,” he says. “They haven’t looked for the link because they haven’t funded the research.”

To stay safe, California recommended, among other things; to keep your phone away from your body and reduce the amount of time you talk.

Back at the store, customer Lovinia Dock has her own solution.

“That's why I’d rather use my earpiece more often than I do holding my phone to my ear,” she says.

Cell phones today are everywhere.

“I use my phone very often. face time with my sisters,” says Dock.

Whatever worries we have, take a backseat to the convenience they bring.

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