Did you ever think about whether your computer emits any sort of radiation? Similar to cellphones when they first appeared, when computers first became available on the market, many people thought that they were harmful. Computer monitors, but not notebooks and laptops, emit ELF (extremely low frequency). People used to buy screen shields which they put on monitors, but today few people still believe that monitors are a real threat. The text discusses the possibilities, as seen through a historical lens.
Are Monitors Really a Menace?
Worries that monitors emit dangerous levels of radiation have made front-page-news. How can you protect yourself?
The type of radiation in question is called extremely low frequency (ELF), which is emitted in low doses from computer monitors. Although no studies have proven that health problems arise directly from using monitors frequently, ELF from other sources (such as electrical transmission and distribution lines) has been likened with increased incidents of childhood cancer.
Should you worry about being exposed to ELF if you use a monitor? Experts disagree. The best tactic is protecting yourself against potentially harmful ELF radiation is to exercise “prudent avoidance” and arm yourself with some facts.
Because ELF’s electromagnetic field is elliptically shaped, the greatest concentration of radiation is emitted not from the front of the monitor, but from the back and sides. Make sure that you’re at least several feet away from monitors on either side and in back of you.
Color monitors generate more ELF than monochrome monitors do. If you buy a color monitor, make sure that it has met the MPR-II Very Low Frequency and Extremely Low Frequency emission standards published by the Swedish government, which exercises the most stringent regulations on monitors of any country. Monitors that have been approved bear the MPR-II seal.
Screen shields – transparent screens that fit over your monitor – block the electrical component of ELF radiation, not true magnetic, about two feet. Even if you use a screen shield, you still need to sit away from your monitor and make sure that you’re several feet away from other monitors around you.
Liquid crystal (LCD) screens, which are used in most notebooks and laptop computers, do not emit any ELF radiation.
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