Last week, CBS News reported, “the California Department of Public Health is releasing guidelines about cellphone radiation and how you can reduce your exposure.” The story quoted Dr. Karen Smith:

We recognize that there are a lot of people in the general public that have some concerns about their cellphones and whether using a cellphone is safe. When you sleep, you keep the cellphone at least arm’s length away from your body. And also, not carrying your cellphone in your pocket, having it either in your purse or not carrying it with you.”

That makes it sound as if scientists have found a link between cellphones and some health risk. Plenty of other media outlets picked up the report and made it sound like your cellphone is going to give you cancer unless you only use it while holding it six feet away while wearing a hazmat suit.

The problem is this clause in the story:

Although conclusive medical research is lacking…

In other words, there is no proof that cellphone radiation is harmful to humans. When asked if California’s new guidelines mean that it believes cellphones are dangerous, Dr. Smith replied:

“Not at all. Our position is that the science is evolving.”

That means nothing. Science is always evolving — its basic rule is that you keep working on things until you reach a definitive answer about them, and that answer may eventually change, too. But you don’t go issuing public health warnings without any conclusion whatsoever!

So why did California issue these guidelines? Check the penultimate paragraph of the CBS News story:

The state said one of the main reasons they’ve decided to release these guidelines now is that there are new numbers out showing that cellphone use is higher than ever, with 95 percent of Americans using them on a regular basis.

What? You issued these guidelines because a lot of people use cellphones? Then what about ballpoint pens, light bulbs, thumbtacks, and drinking glasses? A helluva lot of people use those items, but no one is announcing health guidelines warning us to limit our exposure to them.

Oh, right, the medical research did come to a conclusion about those.