As I was sitting in the HUB trying to brainstorm a topic to write for my blog, I became aware that my laptop had been sitting on my lap for quite some time now. I became distracted from thinking of a blog topic and quickly googled if there were any negative health effects that could be caused by heat and radiation from a laptop—thus finding my next blog topic.
So- as I now sit here writing this blog, laptop on lap, am I putting myself at a health risk? Would I be better off placing my laptop on a desk and not allowing skin contact with the bottom of the device?
The number one concern of placing operating laptops on one’s lap is the fear of radiation. Just as studies show that holding a cell phone up to your ear can lead to unhealthy radiation transmission, the same goes for laptops sitting on your lap. Electromagnetic radiation, also referred to as EMR, is defined as energy in waves forms emitted from electrical sources. EMR is radiated from laptops when the devices are in use. In fact, EMR waves from laptops are extremely dangerous to our health according to a study done by scientists from the International Journal of Engineering and Management Research. The study analyzed just how dangerous the EMR waves of laptop are. The scientists did a study on students working on laptops in college. The first 5 to 10 minutes of the students’ laptop use did not have any effect on the health of the students. However, by the 4th hour there was evidence of loss of concentration, irritation and eye sight complications, believed to be caused by the EMR waves. By the 7th hour, students were experiencing indigestion and sleeplessness in addition to the previously mentioned side effects.
Aside from the obvious physical feelings that are caused by the ERM waves radiated by laptops, the study was able to show that ERM waves had other, less obvious effects on laptop users. There was evidence of protein changes in the skin in addition to brain cell damage. A serious long term effect of the ERM wave radiation is a link to brain tumors and salivary gland cell tumors. Furthermore, a second type of radiation, ELF, known as extremely low radiation, is projected through laptop use. ELF has been connected to sleep disorders, allergic reactions, hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease and brain tumors.
Although I am not directly affected by this concern, another effect of the radiation of laptops is a decrease in male fertility. According to The Journal of Human Reproduction, male’s who actively have laptops on their laps are at a higher risk of damaging sperm count. There are two hypothesises on why laptops can reduce male sperm count. The first theory is that the heat of the laptop damages the vital male organs needed to produce sperm. The second theory is that the ERM radiation itself kills the sperm. Both hypothesises are regarded as possible mechanisms for the proven decrease in sperm count. It is even possible it is a combination of both theories that are active in the reduction of fertility.
As one can see, laptop radiation is a serious health concern that all laptop users should be aware of. However, does it make difference if the laptop is sitting on your lap or a desk? According to an article published in 2012, there is not much of a difference between having a laptop on your lap versus on on a desk when it comes to radiation. Although the lower half of your body is not directly exposed to radiation when the laptop is sitting on a desk, by typing directly onto the laptop, you are still experiencing direct exposure to radiation. In order to use a computer in the safest way possible, the device itself and the keyboard should be separated, minimizing the levels of radiation transferred between device and user.
In conclusion- next time you sit down to write a blog, maybe think about using a desk top computer in the library instead of exposing yourself to the dangerous radiation of laptops!!!