Laptops harmful to your lap?

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by Magical Realist, Feb 22, 2017.

  1. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Just when I thought I was safe from harmful EMF...

    "It’s highly ironic, but your laptop is dangerous on your lap. Researchers are warning laptop companies that they need to change the name of the product to protect users’ health.

    Like holding a cell phone too close to your head, holding a laptop so close to your body means the radiation flows directly into your body—and into some of your most vital organs. And if you’re pregnant, of course, the dangers are even worse.

    If you measure the electromagnetic radiation levels of a laptop on a gauss meter, you’ll find that many have levels higher than 200 milligauss—and safe ranges are less than 0.3.

    It’s not like the computer manufacturers don’t warn us. If you take the time to look in your manual (which many of us don’t), you’ll probably find wording something to this effect: “Warning: Do not place on lap.” And actually, these days, you just need to look at the bottom of your laptop and you’ll likely find this kind of warning:

    “Warning: Do not block the outlet of fan grill. Place the machine on hard surface only. Caution: This surface is hot. Avoid body contact and do not place this notebook on your lap while it is operating.”

    And if you research the subject, you’ll find that even the FCC report regarding safety from EMFs way back in 1996 states that a laptop needs to be placed at least 20 cm from the body. Read more about thermal dangers of a laptop."---http://www.earthcalm.com/laptop-is-dangerous-lap
     
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  3. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

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    I think you need to apply a little critical thinking!
     
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  5. Kittamaru Now nearly 40 pounds lighter. Staff Member

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    RE laptop exhaust port:
    My thought would be along the lines of "no shit...?" - if it gets warmer than "slightly uncomfortable", don't set it on top of your crown jewels...? Then again, I don't personally know anyone that actually uses a laptop on their lap... I do know two people who use a laptop "desk" (a smooth, solid surface for the laptop to sit on, with about 2 or 3 inches of padding (normally foam beads) underneath. The "desk" rests on your legs, with the laptop on top, so there is a good 4 or 5 inches of separation between your fleshy bits and the naughty laptop) so... yeah. I guess it's possible to use a laptop sitting directly on your legs, but good GOD would that put strain on your lower back and forearms (especially the carpal tunnel area)...

    As for the crud about radiation... all I can do is laugh. We are exposed to radiation every moment of every day from various sources - cell phones, wifi, overhead power lines, nearby transformers, the sun, various particles undergoing radioactive decay, coal power plants, et al.

    The question one should be asking is - does the type of radiation being output cause cellular damage. To my knowledge, there is not a single reputable study that has shown commercially available laptops emit any ionizing radiation, and the non-ionizing radiation emitted isn't in a high enough dose to be a problem:

    http://sciencequestionswithsurprisinganswers.org/2014/12/04/why-doesnt-my-laptop-emit-radiation/
    Oh, look, there is some low frequency EM radiation, and some nuclear radiation, including gamma rays! Yikes!

    Actually, you will be exposed to more nuclear radiation from the output of a coal-fired power plant.

    Simply put - going outside during a sunny day exposes you to more radiation than your laptop does... the bigger health risks of using a laptop include eye strain, back and wrist strain, carpal tunnel, etc... all of which can be mitigated with proper posture and a basic understanding of when to stand up, stretch, and take a break.
     
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  7. Bells Staff Member

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    It isn't exactly radiation flowing directly into your body as such. It is somewhat different.

    The biggest issue with laptops being used in one's lap is the heat and the damage that heat can do.

    From burns, to very rare types of burns that can cause tumors, that yes, can be cancerous. To the heat affecting male fertility (there are issues with how this study was conducted and the results may not be sure because it was conducted in such an artificial setting) and for pregnant women, the recommendation is that they do not have the laptop sitting in their laps, close to their pregnant belly where the heat could transfer to their belly.

    The EMF study was interesting though and their recommendation was to change the name of "laptops" so that they do not encourage people to use them in their laps. But not because radiation is, as you put it, flowing into your body. The EFT levels from a laptop are probably less than one would find with a mobile phone. The risk from a laptop is quite minute.

    The issue with laptop probably remains the heat.

    That said, the science does suggest that the heat generated by laptops can cause serious problems, from singed skin to male fertility problems. According to Dr. Mark Perloe, medical director at Georgia Reproductive Specialists: “Men who sit with a laptop directly on their laps create a temperature rise of up to five-degrees in their testicles. A one-degree rise for longer than 20 minutes drops sperm activity by more than 40 percent. You damage the DNA, affecting fertility and increasing the likelihood of a miscarriage.”

    So yes, I’ve probably done myself no favors setting a laptop flush against my legs for upwards of eight to 10 hours a day, at least five days a week. I keep the ambient temperature in my house around 75F during the summer, but the sunlight sneaks in through my office windows, and who wants to close the blinds and work hours on end in a cave? Without a cooling pad, my laptop’s simply hotter between May and September.

    What to do? Use a cooling pad. Mine has a fan with a USB cable that’s powered off a standard USB port. Raise your laptop off your lap at least an inch (EMF radiation drops off dramatically in that initial jump from “direct contact”). Stick it on a table. Or if you prefer sitting in a chair as I do, get one of those crosswise surfaces that braces on either chair arm, like the one film critic Roger Ebert’s using in the second picture of this slideshow. Spread the word.
     
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  8. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    There's even a medical term for it: 'toasted skin syndrome'.
     
  9. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

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    I thought it was called a 'weenie roast'.
     
  10. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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  11. Kittamaru Now nearly 40 pounds lighter. Staff Member

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    Indeed:

    Thing is, the power supply of modern laptops isn't built into the laptop itself (in fact, the transformer brick is typically 3+ feet away, far enough for the residual EMR to dissipate). If you are sitting there with the power brick on your balls... well, I'd have some more pressing questions (starting generally with "Why the hell...") then yeah, it will probably cause you issues, not the least of which includes overheating the testicles and lowering sperm count.
     
  12. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Does this study imply that having a cat sit on your lap is also bad for your fertility?
     
  13. Bells Staff Member

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    Even with the power supply being external, they still get quite hot.

    And if you are male and you are resting it in your lap, it can increase the temperature in your scrotum by a few degrees, which can affect the sperm count. And it does not take much heat to reduce the sperm count. This is also affected by the positioning of the legs.. If your legs are closer together with the laptop perched in your lap, the scrotum temperature increases by more than if you sit with your legs spread out. But even with the legs spread out, the laptop in your lap will still increase the scrotum temperature.

    Even using a cooling pad was found to have increased the temperature of the scrotum, although the build-up of temperature was slower than when the laptop was used directly on the laps of the male test subjects.

    A study in 2004:

    Balancing laptop computers on the lap raises the scrotum's temperature, say researchers including Yefim Sheynkin, MD, FACS, of the urology department at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

    About 15%-20% of couples that want to get pregnant aren't able to conceive. Many of those cases trace back to issues relating to the male. Gradually declining sperm production has been noted in recent decades, say the researchers.

    Elevated scrotal temperatures have been linked to male infertility. Many factors can raise scrotal temperature, including hot baths, saunas, and tight jockey shorts.

    Laptop computers may also belong on that list, say Sheynkin's team. They studied 29 healthy young men ages 21 to 35 for two, one-hour sessions in a climate-controlled room.

    Participants were all similarly dressed in casual clothes. After having their body temperature taken and standing in the room for 15 minutes to adjust to the room's temperature, they sat down and were given working or nonworking laptop computers.

    The researchers used two brands of Pentium 4 laptop computers. The brands aren't identified in the study, which appears in the European journal Human Reproduction.

    The men balanced the computers on their laps. The researchers then removed the nonworking computers, instructing the men to hold the position for the rest of the session. Participants with working laptop computers kept the computers in place throughout the session.

    The men's scrotal temperature was recorded every three minutes. The temperature on the bottom of the working computers was also monitored.

    Scrotal temperature rose with the working and nonworking computers. However, the working laptops prompted a greater increase in scrotal temperature -- around a 5 degrees Fahrenheit increase (or about 2.7 degrees Celsius).

    Participants without working laptops had a scrotal temperature increase of about 3 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit (2.1 degrees Celsius).

    [...]

    (Page 2)

    In the study, the bottom of the laptop computers rose from about 88 degrees Fahrenheit (31 degrees Celsius) to almost 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) after an hour. Both brands had similar temperature increases.

    "Working on laptop computers in a laptop position causes significant scrotal temperature elevation as a result of heat exposure and posture-related effects," say the researchers.

    Is the increase enough to impair male fertility? The researchers can't say for sure. However, they note that another study showed that sperm concentration dropped by 40% when median daytime scrotal temperature rose by 1 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit (or 1 degree Celsius).

    They then did another study in 2010, published in 2011. The results were similar to their previous study. In fact, they found that even using a cooling pad under the laptop still resulted in an increase that could conceivably, affect male fertility. The men were made to sit with a laptop for 1 hour. Their recommendation is to use a laptop table or table and if the laptop has to sit in the lap, then the legs need to be spread apart and not use it for long periods - ie, less than an hour.

    Scrotal temperature increased significantly regardless of leg position or use of a lap pad. However, it was significantly lower in session 3 (1.41°C ± 0.66°C on the left and 1.47°C ± 0.62°C on the right) than in session 2 (2.18°C ± 0.69°C and 2.06°C ± 0.72°C) or session 1 (2.31°C ± 0.96°C and 2.56°C ± 0.91°C). A scrotal temperature elevation of 1°C was reached at 11 minutes in session 1, 14 minutes in session 2, and 28 minutes in session 3.


    Session 1 was legs close together to balance the laptop in the lap. Session 2, was the use of a lap pad or cooling pad, and session 3 was with legs spread apart at a 70 degree angle.

    If you do not wish to read the study that I linked above,
    PC World wrote up a short blurb about it.

    And if you have a new laptop, you would know that they do get very very hot underneath, even when used on a table.

    And such
    temperature rises can affect one's sperm count and sperm mobility.

    According to Dr. Mark Perloe, medical director at Georgia Reproductive Specialists: “Men who sit with a laptop directly on their laps create a temperature rise of up to five-degrees in their testicles. A one-degree rise for longer than 20 minutes drops sperm activity by more than 40 percent. You damage the DNA, affecting fertility and increasing the likelihood of a miscarriage.”

    Can they cause cancer though? Some research suggests that there may be a risk, but it is not conclusive and will probably be something that will require further study. Either way, laptops should not be used in one's lap regardless, because of the heat issue and pregnant women should also be mindful that they should be using a table and not having such a heat source resting against their belly for too long.
     
  14. Kittamaru Now nearly 40 pounds lighter. Staff Member

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    Oh, certainly - though, I was under the impression it was relatively well known that allowing ones testicles to swelter was generally a bad idea (not to mention downright unpleasant... I mean, is there any male here that hasn't had the displeasure of dealing with "swamp nuts" on a overly hot, humid day?) - the radiation aspect though just makes me giggle.

    They do make cooling pads that have pass-thru fans, as well as ones that pull air in on the sides and direct some upwards (to cool the bottom of the laptop) and some downwards (to cool your legs) - those are kind of neat. Admittedly, though, I never was able to use a laptop on my lap - it put undesired tension on my back and wrists

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    Perhaps the newer "portable desktop" laptops, meant for gaming, are more dangerous... but then again, when you shove desktop level hardware into something the size of a laptop... well, all that heat has to go somewhere, and a three inch long, half inch wide cooling port doesn't quite seem up to the challenge... though, they have water-cooled laptops now (seriously, wtf...)

    http://www.theverge.com/2015/9/2/9251275/asus-gx700-water-cooled-gaming-laptop-ifa-2015-video
     
  15. Bells Staff Member

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    But laptops are marketed as lap top computers. Advertising and the media will more often than not, show people lying down or reclining on their lounge or bed, with the laptops right smack bang on their laps. For example, VISA consumer support in the US:

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    The study showed that 15 minutes is all it takes to heat up to levels that will affect male fertility.

    Do you really think the general public is even generally aware of the risks and dangers?

    Why?

    A lot of people would probably giggle at being told that it could be dangerous to carry your smartphone in your front pocket too.. And how many people do you see carrying their smartphones in their front and back pockets? It is dangerous enough that some States in the US are looking at implementing legislation to require phone sellers and providers to warn people about carrying it on one's person.

    "If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF [radio frequency] radiation," is part of the proposed language. Retailers would be prohibited from selling phones that do not bear the warning: "This potential risk is greater for children. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely."

    Berkeley might become the first city to adopt such an ordinance, but it's not the first place to try. Health groups and consumers have been campaigning for cellular safety regulations for years now.

    With laptops, some studies have found higher than normal levels of radiation, while others have not. All suggest that more study needs to be done. So why would it make you giggle?

    If a laptop is connected to a wireless network, as they often are, it stands to reason that people might be concerned. They should certainly be concerned with tablets and their mobile phones. The EPA in the US have advised that there could be danger involved and more study is required for more information.. For mobile phones and other wireless devices.

    I think people have a right to feel concerned and this is something that should continue to be studied and monitored. And I certainly do not think that one should laugh at anyone who expresses those concerns. As I said, at least one study that I linked in a previous post, showed higher than normal elevations and they advised that further study was required..

    The studies found that cooling pads also saw an increase in testicular temperature.

    My kids desperately want gaming laptops so they can use their computers in their rooms or elsewhere. The answer is always "no". Not because of the cost, but because of the heat they generate and the fact that it would affect their eyesight and posture. And frankly, I am not comfortable with their sitting a computer in their lap for any length of time. They are also not allowed to use the tablet in their lap - it has to be on a table and for not more than 15 minutes at a time.

    I think the lack of education and information available to the public when buying these sorts of devices is dangerous and probably leads to conspiracies and whatnot. I do think further studies need to be completed with regards to laptops and it needs to be monitored and studied continuously, especially where WiFi is involved. But just for the heat reasons, people should not be plonking them in their laps for any length of time.
     
  16. Michael 345 Valued Senior Member

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    Would not matter to me what name manufacturers called them if the construction shape made it sit comfortably on my lap for ease of use that's where I would place it

    It does but I don't

    A pad of downwards pointing very sharp spikes might do it

    However I suspect the accessories makers would bring out a brightly coloured neutralising pad with a optional accessory kit of wing mirrors

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  17. Kittamaru Now nearly 40 pounds lighter. Staff Member

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    Fair enough I guess - though, as I've said, there are a myriad other reasons why actually using a laptop on your lap is bad for overall health.

    I guess my question with that, then, becomes - is this a short term or long term effect? I would imagine that, yes, overheated testes result in dead sperm. However, they are constantly churning out new ones... does that 15 minute exposure just mean your next "shot" is a blank, or are you forever reloading with blanks?

    Probably not... but if a 2 degree increase in temperature is enough to affect virility... well, by that standard, blankets are far worse.

    Joking aside, I get the idea - a localized increase in temperature would not necessarily incite the body to start cooling itself, and thus could result in prolonged hot nuts; my question to that, though... the body is rather adept at maintaining a level of homeostasis. Have they compared this localized effect with, say, putting on a heavy blanket when cold? I've had nights where I'm too cool without one, and start to sweat with one - now, obviously, there is a difference between an increase in ambient temperature vs internal temperature, and the scrotum is designed to adjust the closeness of the testes to the body to help regulate heat (which, if I'm not mistaken, was a large part of the whole boxers vs briefs debate) - wouldn't instigating a mild increase of temperature by ANY means, not just exhaust from a laptop, cause similar results?

    Except... (sourced from Wikipedia)
    Cell Phone signal frequency:
    WiFi Frequency:
    So, we are comparing 900 to 1900 MHz, vs 2400 to 5900 MHz - plus, cell phone radios typically run between 1 and 2 watts, where as wifi radios are capped at 1 watt per FCC regulations (though the average, such as a WRT54G, are around 30mW - previously, the 2.4 GHz band was capped at, I believe, 50mW). Next, factor in distance due to the inverse square law. At this point, we are exceeding the level of math I have either the desire or time to do whilst at work.

    Indeed, it does. I'm not trying to say there is no risk (please, don't interpret it that way!) but it seems our priorities are all kinds of screwed up. Case in point - we are worried about the doses of radiation one might get from their cell phone or laptop, all while said person is inhaling a veritable cancerous cocktail from their Pal Mal and breathing air that has a concentration hydrocarbon emissions that would make a coal miner cringe (hyperbole warning). There are issues with schools near major roads with air quality poor enough to cause far more problems than these signals ever could:

    https://www.epa.gov/schools/best-practices-reducing-near-road-air-pollution-exposure-schools

    ... and yet, these reports are continually derided and shut down by opponents, saying the regulations intended to help protect our kids lungs are "too costly" or "unnecessary".

    Again, I apologize if I made it seem like I was dismissing the idea out of hand - I would, however, submit that the amount of exposure from a cell phone or laptop probably would not be enough to be an issue if not combined with other radiant sources, such as poorly shielded wiring, cell towers, etc.

    Certainly.

    Agreed - between the issues of posture, heat, et al, I can get behind renaming "laptop" to something else - perhaps "mobile personal computer" or "MPC"?
     
  18. Kittamaru Now nearly 40 pounds lighter. Staff Member

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    I guess my biggest issue with things like this is it feels a bit fear monger-ish... I mean, at this point, damn near anything and everything puts one at risk for cancer... the question is, what is the "level" of risk, and is it an acceptable one.

    To me, kids in a school near a busy highway being forced to breathe in high levels of pollution... that isn't acceptable, especially since said kid doesn't have a choice in the matter. By compare, someone adding a half a percentage point (or whatever it works out to) of giving themselves breast cancer by keeping their cell phone in their bra (which always seemed kind of... ew... to me... I'm sorry, but given the proximity to various glands and pheromone emissions... boob sweat can be downright rank... why wouldn't one use a pocket or strap/snap on holster, I dunno, maybe it's just me?) is sort of on them.

    Then again, as you say, some people may simply not know - to which, yes, certainly, increase awareness of it... but, much the same, look how much "awareness" we have for tobacco, or drinking and driving, and they still happen... can't legislate good behavior

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  19. naturallygorg Registered Member

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    I never thought about this. Thanks for sharing.
     

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