Is Your Laptop Dangerous?
Laptop radiation dangers may be greater than you realize.
If you use your computer for many hours a day, this may be the greatest source of electromagnetic radiation danger you’re exposing yourself to, even with all the other sources of radiation in the environment today.
But if your computer is a laptop, you’re facing even more complex dangers. Especially if you use it on your lap.
Ironically, laptops are not safe on lap tops.
Although the results of studies about electromagnetic radiation danger from computers are controversial, there is abundant research concluding that laptops are particularly dangerous, especially when used on the lap.
If you look in the small print of your laptop user’s manual, you will probably find wording something to this effect: “Warning: Do not place on lap.” If a user’s manual actually indicates a warning like this, you know this is something you need to pay attention to. And if you research the subject, you’ll find that the FCC report regarding safety from EMFs back in 1996 states that a laptop needs to be placed at least 20 cm from the body.
Additionally, the 1996 FCC regulations were only measuring thermal dangers of laptops (which are serious enough in themselves). However, what most researchers are concerned about these days are the non-thermal hazards of laptops—the long-term effects on the immune system and the links being drawn between laptop radiation and serious conditions and diseases.
Laptop Radiation Values Deemed Risky for Tumor Development
Research recently published in the archives of the Environmental & Occupational Health journal cites a study in which they measured EMF levels in five commonly-used laptops of different brands.
Although they found that the EMF values were within the guidelines put out by the International Commission on Non-ionizing Radiation Protection, they also found them considerably higher than those recommended in recent guidelines put out by two other sources: the Swedish Board for Technical Accreditation (ICNIRP) and the Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees (TCO). The EMF values in laptops were actually deemed risky in these guidelines for tumor development.
The Closer, the More Dangerous
It was also noted that EMF values were alarmingly high when the laptop was close to the body. The power supply induces strong intra-corporal electrical current densities in both adult and fetus subjects—71%-483% and 1882%-263% higher, respectively, than ICNIRP basic restrictions recommend to prevent adverse health effects.
In conclusion, the researchers state:
“Laptop is paradoxically an improper site for the use of a LTC which consequently should be renamed to not induce customers towards an improper use.”
Laptop Radiation Danger Less when using a Table or Desk
Because of studies such as this one, health experts are recommending that if you absolutely have to use your laptop on your lap, you should insert a sturdy pillow of at least 6” thickness between your lap and the laptop. Otherwise, it’s best to use it on a table or desk, as the radiation falls away rather quickly with increasing distance.
What about your Hands on the Keyboard?
Because of the dangers of close proximity to the laptop, even typing on it can be harmful. For safety’s sake, experts suggest keeping at least 30 cm away from laptop—and, if possible, getting an external (non-wireless) keyboard and mouse.
Reproductive Health Endangered
Men need to be especially careful about using a laptop on their lap, especially if they’re concerned about their reproductive health. A study to evaluate the direct impact of laptop use on human sperm was published in January 2012 in Fertility & Sterility, showing a significant decrease in sperm motility and an increase in sperm DNA fragmentation. And this was after just four hours of exposure.
This study is similar to the tests done with men wearing cell phones on a belt or in pants pockets, published earlier in 2008, in Fertility & Sterility, which showed statistically significant changes in the men’s sperm count.
Although these studies on laptops measured non-thermal effects, there are other studies that have showed that sperm may also be damaged through thermal effects when a laptop is used on a lap if a man’s legs are held close together.
Testicular Cancer Linked with Laptop Radiation
According to Cindy Sage, environmental consultant and public policy researcher since 1982,
“Overwhelming evidence shows that RF can cause DNA damage, and DNA damage is a necessary precursor to cancer.”
Somewhat more graphically, David Carpenter, MD, director of the institute for Health & Environment at the University of Albany, states:
“When you hold your laptop on your lap, what you’re essentially doing is radiating your pelvis. So that all the concerns that affect that area are of concern.”
He cites a number of studies that point to a heightened risk of testicular cancer for men who keep RF-emitting devices close to their pelvises.
Carpenter adds a note about women:
“The studies aren’t quite there yet, but I think we can say that anything that might cause cancer almost always causes birth defects, so pregnant women—or those wanting to become pregnant soon—should take extra precautions.”
Which Way is your Laptop more Dangerous—Wired or Wireless?
There are conflicting reports on this question. Some experts claim that using WiFi or 3G connectivity is more harmful because of the microwave radiation from these sources (on top of that coming off the laptop itself). They say it’s better to use cable connection and keep the wireless ability switched off.
Other reports tell us that laptops are even more harmful when they’re plugged in and charging, because computer-charging devices are ungrounded. They claim that the amount of radiation you’re exposed to when your laptop is plugged in compared to that running on a battery is 100x higher.
Common Symptoms of Non-Thermal Radiation Exposure
Avoiding Laptop Radiation Dangers
No matter is you’re feeling symptoms at this point or not, it’s clear you should use your computer with care. And if you use your laptop a lot, you might consider getting laptop radiation protection, which is relatively inexpensive, considering laptop radiation health risks.
Is your laptop dangerous? It’s clear it probably is, especially if you use it on your lap. But there’s no reason to stop using it, if you have protection. Just as we use sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, and wash our hands to prevent illness in our digestive systems, using laptop radiation protection in today’s world just makes good sense.