Are You Allergic to Your Computer?

Being allergic to your computer sounds like a cheesy and entirely unlikely episode in a soap opera, but think again. Research at Stockholm University in Sweden found that there may indeed be such allergy problems.

The main issue seems to be with flame retardants. These are chemicals used widely in modern manufacturing. The motive is of course to reduce fire risk and it is likely that we all have some exposure to flame retardants used in our curtains, or carpets or perhaps in flame retardants used in paint and now apparently in our computers too.

Unfortunately these worthy concerns about fire safety have led to scientists developing flame retardants to slow down the spread of fire. Our safety has been increased in one respect and apparently compromised in another.

The research found that computer monitors, especially new models, emitted significant levels of flame retardant from the plastic casing. Around each computer there was a vapour containing the chemical found up to 2 feet from the monitor.

The flame retardants are stated to cause allergic reactions with symptoms of headache, nasal congestion and itching.

The researchers found significant levels of flame retardant in 10 of the 18 monitors they tested and they found that the levels varied according to the manufacturer. Unfortunately, for consumers, the researchers have not published the makes of monitors used so that we could make better buying decisions.

That said, there are some things we can do. Clearly working in a well ventilated room would help to reduce the amount of chemical vapour emitted by the monitor that hangs around the monitor as an invisible cloud.

Keeping an adequate distance away from the monitor would make sense too. Sometimes we tend to work a little too close to our computers, perhaps to get better visibility.

The researchers also found that after 2 weeks of continuous operation the amount of chemical vapour emitted by the computer monitor was far less – so the issue becomes less pressing with time.

How serious this issue is seems to be unknown. What is known is that the chemicals are widely found in the environment and that nearly all Americans tested have trace levels in their body.

Depending on where you live you may well have a right to know of any chemical hazards from equipment you use in your workplace.

For those of use with computers at home we can follow up enquiries with the manufacturer and in the meantime make sure we use our computers in well ventilated rooms and take regular breaks from working or playing on our computers.

Source by Alexander Newell

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