4.0310 Monitor Hazards (5/147)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Mon, 23 Jul 90 18:44:46 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0310. Monday, 23 Jul 1990.

(1) Date: 20 Jul 90 21:30:29 (24 lines)
From: David.A.Bantz@mac.dartmouth.edu
Subject: Re: 4.0305 N&Q: Job Announcement; Monitor Hazards

(2) Date: Sat, 21 Jul 90 10:00 EST (59 lines)
From: Jim Cerny <J_CERNY@UNHH>
Subject: monitor hazards

(3) Date: 21 Jul 90 13:44 -0600 (21 lines)
From: Donald MacRae <grfmacrae@brocku.ca>
Subject: monitors

(4) Date: Sat, 21 Jul 90 15:52 EDT (15 lines)
From: Diana Meriz <MERIZ@pittvms>
Subject: Computer Monitors

(5) Date: Sun, 22 Jul 90 11:54:26 BST (28 lines)
From: Robert Dale <rda@cogsci.edinburgh.ac.uk>
Subject: Carcinogenic Monitors

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: 20 Jul 90 21:30:29
From: David.A.Bantz@mac.dartmouth.edu
Subject: Re: 4.0305 N&Q: Job Announcement; Monitor Hazards

MacWorld, July 1990 issue has a cover story on health hazards from
monitors. It is surprisingly comprehensive and critical of the computer
industry. Low frequency electrical and magnetic fields have been
associated with brain chemistry changes and diminished T-cell production
(important in immune response) in experimental animals. Some
epidemiological studies have correlated video display usage with
elevated risks of cancer or miscarriage; others have apprently failed to
find such effects. The industry has sytematically denied any health

The MacWorld piece gives measured magnetic field fluxes at several
distances in different directions from 10 different monitors. There are
also some important caveats about measurements, such as industry
decalrations of safety based on measurements of X-ray emissions
(negligible) rather than VLF (very los frequency) and ELF (extremely low
frequency) electromagnetic radiation.

The article cites journal literature, but often with incomplete
bibliographical information.

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------90----
Date: Sat, 21 Jul 90 10:00 EST
From: Jim Cerny <J_CERNY@UNHH>
Subject: monitor hazards

from CCNEWS Newsletter (CCNEWS@BITNIC), v. 3, n. 21, June 22, 1990:

Video Terminals as a Health Issue

"I imagine most subscribers have some awareness of the Paul Brodeur's
recent book on the potential, but seemingly understudied, electric and
magnetic field hazards with which we surround ourselves. Things like
video terminals, electric blankets, etc.

"For our computer newsletter (ON-LINE), we have always tried to address
computing health issues and Brodeur's reporting is something that we, as
editors, have tried to follow closely and call to the attention of our
readers. Included here is a list of some of the more important and
accessible materials we have found.

... [eds.]

"There seem to be two main voices emerging here. Brodeur represents one
position, which I would colloquially put as: "Hey folks, it looks like
we have a real problem here, why aren't people paying more attention."
The other position is represented by M. Granger Morgan and associates at
Carnegie Mellon University. Morgan heads the Department of Engineering
and Public Policy there and I'd colloquially summarize his position as:
"We who do research in this field are aware of the risks and they are
not anything to get alarmed about -- and besides there are lots of
problems with Brodeur's methodology."

"For the Brodeur position see: * Brodeur, Paul, 1989, "Currents of
Death: Power Lines, Computer Terminals, and the Attempt to Cover Up
Their Threat to Your Health, Simon and Schuster. [Originally published
in three installments in The New Yorker in June 1989.] * Brodeur, Paul,
1990, "The Magnetic-Field Menace," MacWorld, July 1990, pp. 136-145.
[Includes some specific tests done on Macintosh monitors.]

"For the Morgan position see: * Morgan, M.G., 1990, review of Paul
Brodeur's book, Scientific American, v. 262, n. 4, April 1990, pp.
118-123. * Morgan, M.G., 1989, "Electric and Magnetic Fields from 60
Hertz Electric Power; What Do We Know about Possible Health Risks?," 45
pp. [Done in question and answer format. Includes a subset of the
material in his longer study, below.] * Nair, I., et al., 1989,
"Biological Effects of Power Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields,"
Background Paper, Office of Technology Assessment, U.S. Congress. 103
pp. OTA-BP-E-53. GPO stock no. 052-003-01152-2. Government documents
cataloging no. "Y 3.T 22/2:2 B 52/16". [This is particularly useful
for the very extensive bibliography, which runs to about 13 pages.]

"Presenting this as a Brodeur/Morgan dichotomy of views, reminds me,
BTW, of this old joke: All people can be divided into two categories --
those who believe everything can be divided into two categories and
those who don't!

-- Jim Cerny, Computing and Information Services, University of New
Hampshire. j_cerny@unhh

(3) --------------------------------------------------------------33----
Date: 21 Jul 90 13:44 -0600
From: Donald MacRae <grfmacrae@brocku.ca>
Subject: monitors

There was an article in MacUSER in February 1990, pp. 147-151, entitled:
"Unsafe At Any Frequency?" It might have some useful information in it
for him, although I am not sure how "concrete" i.e scientific it really
is. The bottom line seems to be "...the best advice we can give is to
take reasonable measures to control your exposure." Perhaps that
suggests the use of one of the filters for the monitor which will cut
down the radiation substantially. These are not cheap, however. If
memory serves me right, about $200.00 plus.

th e only other alternative seems to be to sit at least a meter from the
screen, but at that point, some of us may have trouble reading the dots
on the screen!!

Don MacRae
Brock University,
St Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
(4) --------------------------------------------------------------22----
Date: Sat, 21 Jul 90 15:52 EDT
From: Diana Meriz <MERIZ@pittvms>
Subject: Computer Monitors

Charles Ess' recent query regarding low-level radiation from computer
monitors brings to mind a rather sobering article on the subject that
appeared in the July (1990) issue of MACWORLD. In this report, at
least, Apple's own high-resolution RGB monitor does not at all fare well
for close-distance viewing, but then neither does any of the other
monitors reviewed. One's chances regarding low-level radiation are
improved if the monitor is viewed from at least 28 inches' distance (a
rather tricky thing to accomplish with a Mac Plus or SE!).

Diana Meriz
(5) --------------------------------------------------------------57----
Date: Sun, 22 Jul 90 11:54:26 BST
From: Robert Dale <rda@cogsci.edinburgh.ac.uk>
Subject: Carcinogenic Monitors

See the US edition of MacWorld, July 1990; they have a lengthy feature
on this topic, with some references (one of the articles in there is
by Paul Brodeur, who wrote a recent book on electromagnetic emissions:
"Currents of Death", Simon and Schuster 1989---I haven't seen this
book, does anyone have any comments on it?). Seems there's
controversy over the evidence, but if those who suggest that monitors
are indeed a health hazard are right, it looks like there's little you
can do other than complain to the manufacturers until changes happen.
Some monitors are worse than others, but all CRT devices are bad,
seems to be the story.

One way out is the use of LCD displays. This means everyone who has a
Mac has to replace it with a Mac portable :-). Things are a little
easier on the IBM-alike market -- I think there are a few vendors of
LCD displays there. See the latest Whole Earth Review for a mention
of one. If you have a large bit-mapped display workstation screen, I
think you may have to wait a while for an alternative to appear.

Robert Dale Phone: +44 31 667 1011 x6487 | University of Edinburgh
UUCP: ...!uunet!mcvax!ukc!its63b!cogsci!rda | Human Communication Research
ARPA: rda%cogsci.ed.ac.uk@nsfnet-relay.ac.uk | Centre, 2 Buccleuch Place
JANET: rda@uk.ac.ed.cogsci | Edinburgh EH8 9LW Scotland