Electromagnetic radiation is produced by charged particles moving across the electromagnetic field at varying speeds in the form of waves. The electromagnetic spectrum characterizes these wavelengths by length and frequency.
Shorter wavelengths have higher frequency of radiation and are a severe health risk to humans. These kinds of waves include gamma rays, x-rays and ultraviolet (UV) rays. Longer wavelengths are less intense and emit less radiation. Some examples include radio waves, microwaves and infrared rays. Low frequency waves come from many different man-made devices including cell phones, radios, power lines, satellites and laptops. Laptop radiation is a form of low frequency radiation that emits thermal heat while processing.
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With advancing technology around the globe, there is an increasing amount of low frequency wavelengths traveling through the air. It is now estimated that there are over 4 billion mobile phone users in the world, and about 70 percent of the American population aged 18 to 34 owns a laptop computer. With people constantly using these devices, the topic of laptop radiation and health has become a growing concern.
Low frequency devices emit radiation, but it is hard to measure how much. According to the American Cancer Society, cell phones, televisions, microwaves and laptop radiation have an extremely low frequency, whereby they do not conclusively produce enough energy to damage DNA. This does not mean people are completely free from risk, though, as even low doses of radiation interfere with cell function. In the article “Health Risks Associated with Residential Exposure to Extremely Low Frequency Electromagnetic Radiation”, Professors Rolan Lamarine and Richard Narad state, “…promotion or stimulation of cancerous growth in previously initiated cells, does appear to be a popular mechanism by which extremely low frequency electromagnetic radiation may increase the incidence of a variety of cancers.” More specifically, low frequency magnetic fields affect calcium ion movements across membranes (which relates to cell division), activate enzyme systems and alter DNA synthesis. As a result, low frequency radiation can be a co-promoter of cancerous formations.
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Scientists have conducted numerous studies about whether laptop radiation decreases a man’s sperm count as a result of placing the laptop on a lap where the heat is in direct contact with the genitals. A study from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine found that when semen was exposed to this radiation, the sperm count was lower than in semen that had not been exposed. Given that the study was conducted in an artificial setting, some professionals were skeptical of its results. However, not in dispute are the series of tests conducted by other scientists that confirm laptop heat does in fact harm sperm production, whereby increasing the first study’s validity. Although heat from a laptop may cause decreased sperm count, there are to date no proven cases of testicular cancer linked to laptop radiation.
No birth defects or miscarriages have yet been reported in correlation with low frequency radiation, but pregnant woman are still cautioned against placing a laptop near their abdomens to ensure that no laptop radiation affects their children in utero. Instead, it is recommended that the laptop be placed away from the lap on a counter, pillow or desk.
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Some other common preventative measures against radiation vary from device to device. To prevent laptop radiation, limit the amount of time spent using it. Users should opt for a landline or hands free/Bluetooth device while talking on the phone to decrease cell phone radiation. Expanding the distance between the user and device lessens risk of exposure because the strength of radiation decreases the further an individual is from the source. To further minimize exposure, an individual should also not sleep or sit near appliances for a long period of time. Shutting off or unplugging these devices when not in use also eliminates any low frequency waves from being emitted.
People are exposed to low frequency radiation everyday while using their laptops, talking on their phones or watching their televisions. Although the health risks seem minimal, prolonged exposure can still negatively affect cell function. There are several ways to practice safe use and limit exposure. Innovations in preventative laptop radiation shields have become a popular investment to protect one’s body from laptop radiation. One form of protection is a laptop pad which allows an individual to use the device without any concern about radiation.
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