Is it really safe to rest a laptop computer in your lap? Find out whether radiation from laptops is a serious health concern.
You can’t live without your laptop, but can you live with the radiation? That’s the question people are asking as laptops become the computer of choice for the person on the go. Questions about radiation from laptops remain largely unanswered. The concern is that laptops have the capacity to rest in the lap which allows direct contact with the body in contrast to a desktop which generally rests several feet away from the body. Is radiation from lap tops a health threat?
The radiation emitted from a computer monitor or from a laptop is a low frequency type of radiation, in contrast to ionizing radiation which has enough force to remove an electron from at atom. Exposure to ionizing radiation is of great concern because the high energy waves have the ability to alter DNA, the genetic material found in cells. Ionizing radiation can create mutations which increase the risk of developing a cancer if the mutation isn’t repaired by the body’s own natural defense mechanisms.
In contrast the radiation from laptops is of low frequency and is often labeled as ELF or extremely low frequency radiation. ELF is the type of radiation most people are exposed to a daily basis from their television screens, hair dryers, and other electrical appliances. Although these waves don’t have the power to knock electrons off of DNA like ionizing radiation, there’s concern that they may have negative health effects with long term exposure. Despite this, few studies have shown an association between radiation from laptops and health problems.
Another concern about radiation from laptops is that the low level radiation exposure that comes from the computer resting in the lap could increase the risk of infertility, pregnancy related issues, or cancer of the testicles. One study did show that males who rested a computer in their lap developed changes in sperm production, although this was believed to be related to the heat produced by the laptop causing a rise in scrotal temperatures and affecting sperm production. An association between radiation from laptops and testicular cancer has never been proven.
Another concern relating to radiation from laptops is their effect on pregnancy. With so many women using laptops throughout their pregnancy, this is an issue that could be of concern to many. One study that looked at the rate of miscarriage among a group of pregnant, office computer users found no association between radiation from laptops and an increased rate of miscarriage or premature birth.
Obviously, if radiation from laptops is an issue, it’s not a large one, at least according to current research. Because there could be an association between lowered sperm counts in males who rest laptops on their lap, it may be best to rest it on a table.