So, have you heard the one about the three-headed iPad developer? No? Well, perhaps you remember the news from a while back about the World Health Organization classifying cell phone radiation as a possible carcinogen. Its potential to cause cancer is in the same class as that of DDT, lead, and tailpipe exhaust. What you may not know is that your iPad, as a wireless device, is lumped into this same category.
The Science of It. Kinda.
Let me state for the record that I am not a scientist. Nor am I an alarmist. Nor do I have a long attention span when it comes to trying to research the specifics of radioactive emissions. I am content enough to understand simply that wireless devices are built with transmitters that produce radiation while on. Feel free to delve into your science books (aka Google); as for me, I’m waiting for a call back from Bill Nye, The Science Guy.
Until then, here are the basics. Radiation is simply defined as the movement of energy through space from one place to another in the form of waves or particles. There are two types of radiation: ionizing and non-ionizing. Ionizing radiation comes from nuclear reactions and radioactive substances and has enough energy to knock an electron out of an atom’s orbit and also has the potential to cause mutations and cancer in the human body. Non-ionizing radiation includes the electromagnetic waves sent from our wireless devices. This type of radiation has less energy than ionizing, only enough to make electrons more excited. It is generally accepted, however, that non-ionizing radiation can penetrate the body and harm sensitive tissue. This the cause of all the hubbub surrounding our wireless devices. (Hubbub: A chaotic din caused by a crowd of people.)
How Do I Make It Go Away?
Well, you can’t. However, there are some steps you can take to reduce your exposure to these pesky non-ionizing waves.
- Turn off the wireless transmitters when not needed. You can reduce radiation exposure by keeping your iPad on Airplane Mode as much as possible and switching off the Wi-Fi and 3G transmitters. Doing so still allows access to much of your music, movies, apps, and games.
- Invest in a case that reduces radiation exposure. Scientists out of MIT, Princeton, Harvard, and UCLA have developed the Pong case, which has been certified by the FCC to reduce radiation exposure up to 95 percent below the FCC limit.
- Use a stand. If you’re going to be using your iPad for an extended period of time, such as when watching a movie, place your iPad on a stand instead of resting it in your lap. For the DIY-er in you, home-made stand possibilities are endless and, better yet, free!
- Keep it away from your head. This point might be especially important when it comes to our children using the iPad. What limited research there is has shown that twice as much radiation penetrates the softer, thinner skulls of children than adults. It is recommended to never sleep with a wireless device under your pillow, and if you are pregnant, it is advised to keep it away from your belly.
- Power down your wireless devices when not in use. If you don’t need it, you’re not missing anything by taking those few extra seconds to turn it off.
Too Soon To Tell?
Let’s face it: This is new technology and we are the guinea pigs. We are not fortunate to have available to us studies and research that span over the lifetime of wireless users. This is a new realm and with it comes many uncertainties. While I doubt we’ll grow an extra head or two from using our iPads, I do think it’s important to pay attention to current research and at least be aware of recommendations intended to protect our health. Even the iPad pamphlet makes it a point to include information about exposure to radiofrequency energy: “If you are…concerned about exposure to RF energy, you can further limit your exposure by limiting the amount of time using iPad WiFi +3G in wireless mode…and by placing more distance between your body and iPad Wi-Fi +3G.”
When it comes to the health and safety of our children, perhaps it’s better to be safe than sorry…although, I know my 5-year-old would think it awesome to have 3 heads!