Scientists are scrambling to understand just what new dangers we face when we use our computers and mobile phones, and now they believe they’ve pinpointed just one. A review of radiation levels has shown some scientists are concerned the amount of radiation we get is damaging the DNA in our cells. The industry may be turning its back on radiation-protection standards.
The problem is not so much what we do on the computer, as it is what we are exposed to when we are using it. On a typical day during the early 2000s, more than 220 million people worldwide used some sort of electronic device, according to statistics collected by NASA. In 2008, for example, the numbers were 216 million for devices that used computers and 24 million for devices that used computers.
The fact that it is electronic may be a good thing, but it also means there is much more information being gathered and transmitted about us. The same would be true for an electrical fence that extends wire above the ground and into the sky, if someone decided they wanted to shut it down in the middle of the night.
The key to answering the questions about potential health problems might be to introduce radiation into a cell. Researchers say radiation is potentially damaging for healthy cells, even when there is no injury or sickness. In one recent study, published in the journal Bioenergetic Medicine, scientists used radiation to determine that cells exposed to radiation lose much of their biological flexibility. Those cells turn into rigid objects with few ways to behave.
The situation would become worse if this method became widely used for testing, but it could also mean an increased risk of cancer in the long term. Radiation causes damage to DNA, as well as affecting cells’ ability to regulate the way they are producing energy, researchers said.
In the study, researchers treated a set of cells with an oxygen-free fluorine gas. The cells then had six minutes of intense radiation exposure. By measuring how much energy these cells generated, scientists determined the radiation caused cells to become in a state of constant, low-energy activity.
Radiation from Apple Watch
While the results are not definitive, the scientists argue that the DNA damage was due to the effects of radiation and that the damage could be long-lasting, which brings into focus everyday devices such as your Apple Watch. The use of radiation blockers is a great way to protect yourself from potential dangers.
Similarly, radiation exposure in workers who handle hazardous materials would also result in higher levels of DNA damage, and be more damaging to healthy cells than not being exposed to any radiation at all.
The effect would likely be exacerbated if we were to create new kinds of products using the same materials or method. Some radiation-protection agencies are recommending new radiation-free standards for new technologies, but others say the long-term effects on human health are currently unknown, and the industry isn’t likely to adopt new safety standards because the public isn’t there yet.