Techno Hazard: A New Monster in Our Neighborhood and How to Handle Them.

New technology is supposed to make life easier. Instead computers, microwave ovens, mobile phones and television sets have been linked to everything from backache to cancer. Find out what steps you can take to ensure you don't become a victim of the technological monsters.

Be warned: lurking behind the user-friendly control of many of our new state-of-the-art technology and gadgets are a whole host of new health hazards. Even the most commonplace of house hold gadgets may be a source of ill health, while some of the newer ones - like mobile phones and the Internet - are likely to engender a slew of unforeseen problems.

Computer Culprits
A man scratching himself and holding a credit card in front of a computer.The internet and its email facility are wondrous tools that allow incredible possibilities for communication of all kinds, but their frequent use can also lead to mental and physical disorders.
Heading the list of the cyber-disorders is computer addiction. According to the latest research, there are now literally millions of 'online junkies' who need their regular 'fixes' just as badly as people with a drug or alcohol dependency. Researchers have found that truly addicted internet-junkies often spend all their waking hours glued to their computer, destroying their relationships.

Apart from what spending hours at a computer may do to your mind or social life, it can also damage your physical health. The screens of computers are strong sources of electromagnetic energy and this type of radiating power has been linked to a multitude of disorders, ranging from headaches to cancer. To play it safe, follow these recommendations from the experts:
  • Always buy a monitor that meets the so-called 'Swedish standards', these being specifications formulated in environmentally highly-conscious Sweden to keep emissions to a safe level.
  • Keep your head at least 28 to 30 inches (71 to 75 cm) away from the screen. Switch off the monitor when not actually using it: just reducing its brightness won't help because it will still radiating energy.
  • Use a black and white monitor if colour not essential. Monochrome monitors have much weaker EMFs.
Computer users are also susceptible to back problems from spending long hours typing in one position, perhaps also leaning forward to see screen more clearly as well as stretching out to move the mouse over its mat - an activities that were almost designed to lead to back and neck problems.
  • Your spine need to be straight and your forearms should be horizontal in front of you, with your hand resting lightly on the keyboard. Your feet should rest on the floor. The monitor screen should be directly in front of you (not off-set) and the top of it should be level with your eye line (an imaginary line drawn front your eyes to the top of the monitor). The screen should not be too near or too far (25 inches or 640mm should be about right).
  • Reflections on our screen may cause you to adopt an awkward posture. Try not to face a window or sit to your back to one, sitting sideways to a window is the best. Ceiling lighting may also give trouble: get a desk light and turn off the ceiling or the suspended lights.
  • Most important of all is the length of time you spend in a static posture. Get up after half an hour and have a good stretch for five minutes or so. Walk around and shake out your arms and hands. If possible try to vary the work you are doing.

A lady putting food in a microwave oven.Microwave Ovens
Another gadget that is both a boon and a source of health risks is the microwave oven. Although these ovens are totally safe most of the time, it is vital to have it checked regular to ensure it does not become a technological Frankenstein.

Never stand too close to an oven while it is switched on - if some radiation is escaping, the closer you are to it, the more it may harm you. Regularly check the mechanism that automatically switches off the oven when you open the door is working properly.

To ensure the safe operation of your microwave, regularly check your oven's door hinges. latches and seals. If these appear warped or damaged in any way, have your appliance checked by a qualified serviceman as microwave radiation escaping from a faulty oven can be extremely hazardous.

Fluorescent Light
Not exactly at the cutting edge of current technology fluorescent lights are nevertheless recently been identified as contributor to skin cancer and prematures aging in millions of office workers.
In a report to the International Commission on Illumination, researchers claimed that the lights could lead to one to two skin cancer deaths per million office workers a year because of the ultraviolet the emit. It make obvious good sense not to work near fluorescent light for too long.

Electromagnetic Fields
Every modern home is filled with electrical gadgets of all kinds, every one of which produces electromagnetic field or EMFs. These are imperceptible emissions of the lower end of the electromagnetic spectrum which result from the surges that are a features of alternating electric current.

EMFs are emitted by household appliances and gadgets, and also by power lines. They have been linked to a wide variety of disorders, ranging from insomnia to cancer. To limit your risk from EMFs, follow these guidelines:
  • Move any electrical gadget in bedroom three or more feet (0.9 m) away from the bed so that its EMFs doesn’t affect you while you sleep.
  • Don't buy a house near power lines or an electric substation. If you already live in such house, ask the power company to measure the EMFs in your home. Note where the readings are highest and try to avoid using those areas as bedrooms.
  • Your electric meter is a significant EMF source, so make sure that any beds are as far away from it as possible.
  • Your television set is another major EMF source. Don't spend lengthy periods sitting very close to the tv, and never allow children to be glued to the screen.

A man talks using a mobile phone.Mobile Phones
Like any other electrical device, mobile phones emit electromagnetic fields, but these fields are so weak that it was thought that they would not pose a health hazard. However, a spate of recent studies strongly suggest that the prolong use of a cell phone can provoke damage to DNA inside the brain may trigger a number of disorder, including cancer, Alzheimer's disease and asthma.

"Mobile phones are like a drug which has been release without proper testing," said Professor Olle Johansson, a neuro-scientist at Karolinska Institute in Stickholm. Professor Johansson believe the frequent use of mobile phones might also increase the risk of severe headaches, skin irritation and blurred vision.

While the case against mobile phones remains unproven, you should take sensible precautions to reduce any possible risk. Avoid using the mobile phone any more than you absolutely have to, keep the earpieces as far away from your head as is compatible with acceptable reception, invest in one of the many slip-over shields that you can put over the phone and/or its antenna to reduce the radiation.

We should take cautions. Technologies come with a price. Live well. :)

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