Why Do Doctors Advise Against Using Laptops On The Lap?

Laptop not to be placed atop the lap? Paradox indeed!

Whether due to the demand of dynamic work roles played by a corporate office goer, or because of the myriad uses a laptop is put to by consumers across all ages, it plays a major role in the life of majority of the computer savvy population.

In this scenario, doctors all over the world are increasingly warning people to not place the laptop on the lap while working on it. The effects of not paying heed to this crucial bit of advice ranges from as minor as thermal radiation-induced injuries to as major as cancer.

Let us study the adverse effects of working on the Laptop while it is placed on your lap:

Thermal dangers:

Thermal or heat-related dangers caused by ionizing type of radiation.

Toasted Skin Syndrome: Prolonged use of any gadget causes it to heat up as the internal components work that much harder to perform their assigned tasks. A laptop is no different. As the laptop steadily radiates heat, the thighs take the toll as the heat gets transmitted to them directly.  Constant exposure to this heat can cause a clinical condition called‘erythema abigne’,toasted skin syndrome, in simple language. Swiss doctors call it ‘laptop-induced dermatosis’. A health condition named after the laptop? Well, something to think about! It begins with slight reddishness of the skin and slowly turns into an ugly blotchy rash if the use is not discontinued. Equally, the condition improves when further exposure to the heat is prevented.

Male fertility issues: This is the most serious effect caused in men, if laptop is placed on the lap while in use.The scrotum of a man gets exposed to the trapped heat, and with the air flow cut off (where the legs are held together), the pelvis area is exposed to high thermal radiation thus posing a great health hazard.  With just four hours of exposure, a drastic reduction in the sperm motility and increase in sperm DNA fragmentation was observed.

Long term cancer risks: Not just severely affecting the fertility in a man, the danger of testicular cancer cannot be ruled out. DNA damage turns out to be a precursor to cancer.

  Non-thermal dangers:

The non-thermaldangers are of non-ionizing kind. The radiation here is due to the Electro Magnetic waves emitted by the device. In a gauss meter, the electromagnetic emissions of a laptop exceed 200 milligauss, whereas the safe ranges are set at 0.3 milligauss.

Necessary precautions that need to be taken while working with a laptop:

  • Instead of placing it on the lap, it is advisable to keep it on a desk, 20 cm from the body.
  • If placed on the lap, a thermal insulator be placed first, on which the laptop can be kept.
  • This should not be a blanket or a pillow, as they block the air vents and further heat up the laptop thus causing the internal components to get fried.
  • A flat and hard surface should preferably be used as the base of the laptop. On stackexchange the top answer is to have a thick book on your lap.
  • Laptop cooling pads are now available in the market for this very purpose.

Martin Fraley

Helping developers, IT professionals, students and technology enthusiasts with SQL and a better laptop based workplace.

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