Is Your Laptop Giving Off Microwave Radiation?

Since the 90’s laptops have been used world-wide by millions of people. As the tech blossoms, they get lighter, more portable, and ever-more convenient for the digital nomad, the student, or casual user alike. Laptops have become a common and frequently used device in the household and they are rapidly replacing desktop computers in offices.

laptop radiation

Here’s the thing - the term, “laptop” is a misnomer. 

Even though it’s in the name, we’re pleading with you not to rest your laptop… on your lap.

Why?

Because studies show that putting these devices directly on your lap may be a cause to long term health issues that are wreaking havoc in our societies.

Laptops and Radiation

Let’s start here: Do laptops give off radiation?

The simple answer is yes, the same way all other devices that Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities do.

There are two types of radiation laptops that give off, Magnetic Field Radiation and Radio Frequency Radiation. Let’s let’s take a closer look at both of them:

Magneto-electric Fields Radiation (MEF)

Magnetic radiation can be found in just about all electronics, including laptops, and most emit a reasonably high amount of radiation. Although the radiation falls off pretty quickly as you create distance from the emitting device, in the case of your laptop, iPad, and desktop computer, there's a good chance, especially if you use these devices for work, that you’re in close contact with them for extended periods of time.

It’s also worth considering how much time you’re allowing your kids to be in close contact to their laptops as their sensitivity to radiation exposure is much higher than adults.

Much of the magnetic field radiation from your laptop is coming from the LCD monitor and motherboard but there are other internal components emitting this type of radiation meaning that the culmination of your exposure to this type of radiation is high. 

Radio Frequency (RF) Radiation

Radio Frequency (RF) Radiation is the type that gets emitted when sending and receiving wireless data.

This type of “wireless” radiation will occur with mobile devices, smartwatches, and speakers. 

There are two primary forms of this type of radiation: the wireless card and the Bluetooth antenna. When they are active, both of these are continuously sending and receiving data - which causes regular spikes in the radiation fields around your laptop.

Are there Health Risks from Laptop Microwave Radiation (MWR)?

If you google this question, you will find a rabbit hole of information because this is still being independently studied around the world. There are hundreds (even thousands) of studies that you can find on the effects of Microwave Radiation.

Here, we went down that rabbit hole for you. Here are a few key studies to connect with.

How much Radiation does a Laptop Give off?

Unfortunately, this doesn’t have a clear answer and varies quite a bit from laptop to laptop.

A study by the Department of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Reproduction Medicine at the University of Siena, Italy tested 5 laptop computer brands and found that exposure varied widely between “safe” and “unsafe” values - as set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection. They recommended that people (especially pregnant women) should stop using a laptop on their lap. They also say, Laptops “should be renamed to not induce customers towards an improper use.”

Exposure to electromagnetic fields from laptop use of "laptop" computers
C V Bellieni 1, I Pinto, A Bogi, N Zoppetti, D Andreuccetti, G Buonocore. Department of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Reproduction Medicine, University of Siena, Italy

Laptops and Cancer

In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer ( IARC), a part of the World Health Organization, classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. There report was specific to cell phones. As the lines blur between our phones and our computers, we want to include this finding here because the World Health Organization is what countries around the world look to for answers regarding public safety in our societies.

IARC CLASSIFIES RADIOFREQUENCY ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS AS POSSIBLY CARCINOGENIC TO HUMANS
Dr Jonathan Samet (University of Southern California, USA), overall Chairman of the Working Group. World Health Organization.

Pregnancy and Laptops

Studies suggest that pregnant women should limit their exposure to devices like laptops and that they should especially avoid using them directly on their lap by their belly.

A 2017 study by Kaiser Permanente concluded that, “exposure to non-ionizing radiation from magnetic fields in pregnant women found a significantly higher rate of miscarriage, providing new evidence regarding their potential health risks.”

Health risks linked to electromagnetic field exposure
Kaiser Permanente

Can Your Laptop Affect Your Fertility?

We have talked about Radiation and Sperm before, and the fact is there is a ton of evidence suggesting that exposure to WiFi producing radiation from laptops can have a notable increase in the DNA fragmentation of sperm.

In 2011, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine found that just four hours of use can lead to decreased sperm motility. They concluded that, “Ex vivo exposure of human spermatozoa to a wireless internet-connected laptop decreased motility and induced DNA fragmentation by a nonthermal effect. We speculate that keeping a laptop connected wirelessly to the internet on the lap near the testes may result in decreased male fertility.”

Use of laptop computers connected to internet through Wi-Fi decreases human sperm motility and increases sperm DNA fragmentation

Conrado Avendaño, M.S., Ariela Mata, M.S., César A. Sanchez Sarmiento, M.D., Ph.D., Gustavo F. Doncel, M.D., Ph.D.

Three ways to minimize exposure to laptop radiation

Keep your laptop off your lap

Distance is the primary factor when it comes to reducing your radiation exposure, so you can significantly reduce your exposure by creating space between your body and your laptop. 

The more distance you create, the better.

Turn off Bluetooth and WiFi whenever possible

When you are using WiFi, your laptop is emitting both types of radiation, so turn it off whenever it is not in use.

Hardwiring your computer and turning off wifi is a great way to cut back on your exposure!

Use the Battery whenever possible

If you read that study by the Pediatrics group, you may have noticed that they tested the laptop AND the power supply.

The power supply gives off an incredible amount of MWR - much higher than the safety levels laid down by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection. Whenever possible, try to let your computer run off its battery as long as you can.

Are you planning on reducing your exposure to laptop radiation? Tell us how!

 

References and Interesting Reads:

Exposure to electromagnetic fields from laptop use of "laptop" computers
C V Bellieni 1, I Pinto, A Bogi, N Zoppetti, D Andreuccetti, G Buonocore. Department of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Reproduction Medicine, University of Siena, Italy

Exposure Limits: The underestimation of absorbed cell phone radiation, especially in children
Om P. Gandhi, L. Lloyd Morgan, Alvaro Augusto de Salles, Yueh-Ying Han, Ronald B. Herberman & Devra Lee Davis

IARC CLASSIFIES RADIOFREQUENCY ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS AS POSSIBLY CARCINOGENIC TO HUMANS
Dr Jonathan Samet (University of Southern California, USA), overall Chairman of the Working Group. World Health Organization.

DNA is a fractal antenna in electromagnetic fields
Martin Blank &Reba Goodman. International Journal of Radiation Biology.

Use of laptop computers connected to internet through Wi-Fi decreases human sperm motility and increases sperm DNA fragmentation
Conrado Avendaño, M.S., Ariela Mata, M.S., César A. Sanchez Sarmiento, M.D., Ph.D., Gustavo F. Doncel, M.D., Ph.D.


Health risks linked to electromagnetic field exposure
Kaiser Permanente