Do Laptops Emit Harmful Radiation? Myths and Facts

What Kind of Radiation Does Your Laptop Emit?

Your laptop emits two main types of EMF radiation: Radio Frequency (RF) radiation and Extremely Low Frequency (ELF).

Radio Frequency (RF)

You are probably using your laptop because it connects to the internet (among other important functions like creating documents and such). To connect to the internet, your laptop, and really any other portable electronic device such as tablets and iPads, use RF signals. RF signals include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 4G, and now, 5G. In order to make any of these connections, your laptop has a receiver and transmitter. This transmitter produces RF radiation.

Any time you place your laptop directly on your person, like on your lap, these RF radiations from that transmitter are emitted directly into your body, which, over time, could be harmful to your health.

Extremely Low Frequency

This kind of emissions are produced as the laptop converts electrical energy to perform a wide range of functions expected of it. This ELF is produced by the internal parts of your laptop and then radiated to the outer shell.

Think of functions such as processor activity, mem

Think of functions such as processor activity, memory storage, operations run by the hard drive, and a host of other functions within the machine. Newer laptops are more efficient in these operations and therefore emit much lower levels of EMF. Older laptops, on the other hand, emit higher levels because these functions are no longer as efficient.

Apart from these two types of radiations, there is one other form of emission coming from your laptop: Heat or thermal emissions.

All these electrical functions running within your laptop generate heat. Your laptop has fans that expel this heat as hot air, which, in some cases, can exceed 110º Fahrenheit.

This expulsion of heat is necessary to keep the operating temperature within your computer stable enough to ensure efficient performance. Unfortunately, this exhausted air holds potential health risks to users such as yourself.

What makes the emissions from laptops so unique is that, since they are non-ionizing emissions, they typically would not be harmful to you – if used at a safe distance. The problem is that most people use their laptops extremely close to their bodies like on their lap.

The FCC actually recommends that you stay at least 20 cm away from your laptop whenever you are using it. At that distance, the kind of emissions produced by your laptop is considerably less harmful over time.

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Dangers of Working with a Laptop on Your Stomach

Some of the more severe consequences of working with a laptop on your stomach include the following:

1. Leads to Toasted Skin Syndrome

Erythema ab igne, or toasted skin syndrome, is a skin condition that produces red marks on the skin. Itchiness and burning sensations sometimes accompany the markings as well.

Prolonged exposure to heat is the reason this happens.

Some laptops, especially those with large processors, can get very hot, which is why you should keep them away from your stomach and  thighs.

Another thing to keep in mind is that your laptop’s fans may not work as well if your laptop isn’t on a flat surface, which means it won’t cool down as fast.

2. Increases Risk of Cancer

The relationship between wireless smart devices and cancer has been studied extensively, and there is plenty of evidence showing adverse health effects from such devices – laptops included.

Some organizations, such as the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), have labeled RF radiation — a product of using a laptop — a possible carcinogen.

A lot of this has to do with RF radiation’s ability to heat up the body, similar to how a microwave heats up food, and this can have a number of biological effects.

There is also evidence to suggest that exposure to this radiation can affect DNA, bodily tissue, calcium, and a number of other things in the body.

Scientists have conducted both lab tests and studies in people to come to these conclusions, and while the results are sometimes unclear, there’s always a lingering concern.

3. Increases Risk of Fertility Issues

For years, there has been concern that laptops create fertility issues, particularly in men, when used on the stomach or lap for long periods of time.

The discussion has revolved around the heat that laptops produce.

Granted, today’s laptops have more advanced cooling systems, but this doesn’t mean you should be unaware of the potential risk.

For men, exposure to heat in the area of the testicles has been known to affect fertility and the quality of the man’s sperm.

After all, the reason why men’s testicles exist outside of the body is that they were meant to be a few degrees cooler.

For women, there is a fear that the heat and radiation from laptops can affect reproductive cycles.

It’s clear that the heat can affect fertility, but what’s less clear is how much heat is too much.

If you have a laptop that gets unusually hot, it’s probably best to keep it on a desk as often as you can.

4. Increases Risk of Miscarriage

Biological factors are the primary causes of miscarriages, but environmental factors also play a role.

Laptop EMF radiation is one of them.

While more experiments need to be conducted, an association between increased EMF exposure and increased risk of miscarriages does exist.

Laptops create heat and emit radiation that wouldn’t be present otherwise.

As long as there is even the slightest risk, it’s best to be cautious about where you place your laptop during pregnancy.

5. Exposes Unborn Babies to EMF Radiation

The harmful effects of EMF radiation are potentially more dangerous to unborn babies still in development and therefore extra sensitive to this form of radiation.

Exposure to radiation during certain stages of development has been linked to malformations, growth disorders, and malignant diseases among other things.

While this is more closely associated with ionizing radiation, heavy exposure to certain non-ionizing radiation (like RF radiation) can have biological effects as well.

6. Encourages Poor Posture

Poor posture is extremely widespread for several different reasons.

If you think about your body’s position when you are working with a laptop on your stomach, it’s bent in ways that it probably shouldn’t be.

Your back isn’t straight, and you’ve probably propped your head up to be able to see your screen, which strains your neck even more.

Working this way may feel comfortable at the time, but you’re essentially reinforcing a bad habit.

Long-term poor posture can lead to permanent curvature of the back. 

Once that happens, you’re left with nagging back and neck pain.

Poor posture strains both your neck and back, creating tension in various places. Over time, this can lead to anatomical changes in your spine.

Poor posture also affects your muscles as well as the discs and joints in your back. Issues in these spaces can result in lifelong back pain.

7. Disrupts Your Sleep Cycle

All artificial light can throw off your sleep patterns, but laptops are one of those things that we tend to use at night and in the dark.

The human body naturally sets its sleep patterns according to the rising and setting of the sun, which of course is based on light.

When natural light begins to fade, the body produces hormones such as melatonin to prepare the body for sleep.

When artificial light is introduced, however, the body gets confused and the natural sleep cycle gets out of balance.

Blue light from cellphones and laptops is particularly powerful, and in addition to its effects on sleep, it can also produce eye strain and other side effects.

Blue light has even been shown to boost attention and increase reaction times, which are two things you do not want when you’re trying to sleep.

Blue light also suppresses melatonin production, so if you spend a lot of time on the computer at night, it’ll be harder to catch those Zs.

8. Can Damage DNA

Damage to a cell’s genome is what initiates the majority of cancer types.

And since EMF and RF radiation are possible carcinogens, it’s important to investigate whether or not this radiation affects DNA.

Studies suggest that EMFs can actually penetrate the nucleus of a cell and interact with the DNA.

Upon entry, they can generate reactive oxygen species (ROS). That’s not necessarily bad, but when too much ROS is created, it can damage the cell’s membrane and impair anti-oxidative mechanisms in the body.

This enables the EMF to penetrate the nucleus and effectively break DNA strands, which is how some cancers get started.

Given that DNA possesses electronic conduction characteristics, there’s greater reactivity between DNA and EMFs, so reducing your exposure is critical. 

How to Reduce Side Effects from Laptop Radiation

It’s not realistic to eliminate laptop use entirely.

So the next best thing is to take precautionary measures when you do use it.

With that said, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • I’ll state the obvious first – don’t use laptops on your lap or stomach. Distance is the most important factor in reducing the effects of EMF and RF radiation.
  • If you can, hook up an external keyboard and mouse, so you don’t have to place your hands directly over the laptop.
  • Use a wired ethernet cable to access the internet. I know it sounds old school and wi-fi is so cool and great, but it’s really not worth the threat to your health.
  • Turn it off when not in use. This should be a no-brainer, but most people just put it in sleep mode (if anything) – in which case it’s still emitting radiation.
  • Use some sort of laptop shield. I like the Harapad or this one from Shield Your Body.

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WiFi Radiation in Laptops

WiFi Radiation coming from the wireless card is go

WiFi Radiation coming from the wireless card is going to emit a particular level of RF radiation especially when the laptop gets connected to the WiFi.

This component works by sending and receiving packets of information as you stream videos or surf the Internet using the device.

To give you an idea of how much RF radiation a laptop emits, I tested a 2016 model of a MacBook Pro which has a 15″ screen size and I tested it to see the radiation levels.

Below are the results that I was able to obtain:

– 1 Inch Distance = 4.8 mW/m² – 1 Foot Distance = 1.2 mW/m² – 3 Feet Distance = .21 mW/m²

I used my Trifield TF2 in this test but using other EMF meters also gave me similar results.

Just remember that whenever you’re getting Radio Frequency (RF) readings, it is important to look at the peak number and not the primary value which is lower.

The reason behind this is that information that is sent over WiFi and Bluetooth is sent in packets which are small alternating currents.

So the peak number on the EMF meter (in case it has one) will actually give a more accurate reading of the radiation and that is exactly how I obtained the results that are listed above.

The readings also show that as you gain distance from your laptop, radiation exposure also decreases dramatically. But this can be a tough thing to do.

I would recommend that you keep your head at least 1 foot away from the device but still, the rest of your body can still be closer to it.

That is why it’s really a challenge to do this thing!

Thankfully, there is something that you can actually do about this matter and we’re going to talk about that further in another section below.

Just remember though that you need to put some effort trying to keep your head at least a foot or a couple of feet away from the laptop all the time.

Conclusion

There are plenty of devices in our life that can make life convenient and easy but also exposes us to EMF radiation.

That doesn’t mean that you shut your life off from using these devices, instead, you just need to make sure that you’re finding ways to moderate exposure to the radiation that they produce.

Limiting the use of such devices is one and you can do other methods like distancing from them or using a shield when you need to use them.

I do hope that this guide provided some helpful tips and bits of information to help you combat radiation and if you loved it, please consider sharing it with the people whom you care the most!

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