How Much Radiation a Laptop Emits (and what to do about it)

Laptops can emit an EMF (electromagnetic field) radiation level of up to 150mG (milliGauss). This number can vary since most estimates are based on speculation or at-home testing, but it does not help that laptop companies do not enlighten consumers on the true extent of laptop radiation.

Although it is not an official number, 150mG is the most common maximum given.

Just like with other devices, it can be hard to get an exact measurement of EMF from a laptop. At different moments in the day, a laptop could be updating software, completing downloads, or running virus scans; at each of these moments, the laptop is producing a different level of EMF because the computer requires more power. Especially when your laptop is turned on and charging, the EMF is significantly higher than when it is turned off and unplugged.

Understanding these fluctuations in EMF can give you a slight advantage because you are aware of actions you can take to reduce EMF radiation.

Let us look further into the source of laptop radiation and why you should know about it in the first place.

Are Laptops Dangerous?

Laptops are one of the many pieces of technology that emit radiation.

Young blond boy and young blond girl sitting next to each other with a laptop on their lap looking at the laptop

Once you learn more about it, the idea of your body absorbing radiation can be very concerning. However, this type of radiation is low-frequency and non-ionizing. The opposite of that would be gamma rays and x-rays, high-frequency radiation levels that you should not have much exposure to in your lifetime because it will most certainly cause serious health problems. Low-frequency radiation from laptops does not affect your health in this way.

Technically, there is no definitive evidence that says laptop radiation will cause you problems in the short-term or long-term, but more and more people are complaining about hypersensitivity issues that cause them to have chronic migraines and eye pain.

It can be hard to identify the cause of pain from using a laptop since there are a few different aspects that can cause hardship.

For one, you could pinpoint the source of your pain as the heat generated by the CPU or staring at a brightly-lit LCD/LED screen; EMF radiation is a less likely cause. However, that does not diminish the validity of real people who have experienced adverse effects of EMF radiation because it is a serious issue.

When it comes to declaring whether laptops are dangerous or not, it is hard to say. Anything in moderation is okay, but excessive use of a laptop or even a desktop computer is never good, for numerous reasons, not just because of EMF radiation.

What you can do to help protect yourself is to learn more about the subject, buy laptop brands that focus on safety, and invest in EMF shielding accessories.

The Types of Radiation Emitted from Laptops

EMF radiation is the primary type of radiation you will see with laptops, as well as with other devices like cell phones, wi-fi routers, desktop computers, and so on. But what exactly is EMF radiation?

The “EMF” in EMF radiation stands for electromagnetic field.

Radiation comes off the electromagnetic field and spans out a radius of several feet, depending on the intensity of the EMF.Strength depends on the type of device; for example, city power lines have an EMF that can extend all the way into your home, while smaller devices are only about a foot away from the source object.

Pretty much all wired and wireless electric devices have some level of EMF, whether it is a significantly high level, such as with cell phones, or low, like with a hairdryer, which has EMF just like any other device. Some hairdryers have a surprisingly high level of EMF radiation, but that is not what we are talking about today.

Wireless devices have RF and EMF radiation.

RF, also called radiofrequency, is emitted from radios, and any device using Bluetooth or wi-fi capabilities, since they must send out a signal wirelessly to another source.

The radiofrequency itself causes another form of radiation. RF has a lower frequency and radiation level than the standard EMF radiation of other devices, but they are all encompassed under “low-frequency EMF” on the EMF spectrum.

To further understand the differences in frequencies between RF and EMF radiation, check out the official EMF spectrum. On this spectrum, you will see that radiofrequency is not in the same spot as standard EMF radiation, this is because radiofrequency only happens in certain devices that produce radio waves in addition to an electromagnetic field.

Since laptops are both wired and wireless, there is a significant level of EMF radiation.

Close up of hands on a laptop keyboard

If you need an exact number, you may have to take measurements yourself using an EMF meter. Many laptop brands deny that their laptops even emit radiation, which is highly unlikely because almost all wired electronic devices emit some level of EMF radiation, even if it is barely detectable, it is still there.

Maximum Safe Radiation Level

150 mG, the maximum EMF level found in laptops, is insanely high compared to what government agencies usually recommend. Most laptop radiation levels do not reach 150 mG.

Generally, laptop radiation is safe; but on the direct underside of a laptop, the EMF level is usually much higher than around the keyboard and screen.

So, it is in your best interest to try to keep at least a few inches of distance between your lap and the bottom of the laptop. Keeping your laptop raised on a desk is a great way to distance yourself from the laptop. However, remember that a desk will not block EMF radiation; it only creates a distance thatlessens the strength of the radiation.

Thermal Radiation

Something unique to just a few types of devices, including laptops, is the presence of thermal radiation, which is shown by heat. Thermal radiation comes from electromagnetic waves and can be quite dangerous in electronics.

Whether it was from a gaming console, an old phone, a tv, or a laptop, you may have noticed heat after using one of these items. Thermal radiation can be a serious problem if it raises too high, but this does not mean that the EMF level of a device is high.

Usually, EMF radiation is undetectable by human senses; you can only identify it with an EMF meter.

Radiofrequency Radiation Associated with Cancer in Male Rats

In 2018, a news release came out from the NIEHS (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences) that depicted a research study of the effect of radiofrequency radiation on rats and mice.

This research study was very significant since most studies on EMF and RF radiation either do not come to a conclusion, or the results say that the radiation is not harmful to humans.

Each time one of these inconclusive or negative-resulting studies is released, consumers and scientists greatly question it because there is a clear and apparent problem with EMF hypersensitivity and other health problems in relation to high exposure to EMF radiation from cell phones and other devices.

The results of this specific study, however, concluded the radiation as harmful.

During this study, which you can read about at NIEHS, scientists exposed rats and mice (male and female) to high levels of RF radiation, such as the radiation from 2G and 3G cell phones and other devices.

The rodents received high doses of the RF radiation over their entire bodies for long periods of time.

These research studies took more than 10 years and came to the conclusion that the RF radiation caused cancerous heart tumors and brain tumors in male rats.

How does this apply to the effect of laptop radiation on the average consumer?

If humans have the same level of RF and EMF radiation on a daily basis as what the rats experienced in this study, then it seems likely that we would have some risk for cancer from radiation.

EMF radiation seems to have become a norm with technology, and unfortunately, most consumers have no awareness of it. Now that the seriousness of EMF radiation has recently come more into the light, hopefully, we take steps to protect people from this type of radiation or reduce the radiation emissions of cell phones and laptops rather than letting it continue to increase.

How to Protect Yourself From Laptop Radiation

View from behind the should of a woman typing on a laptop on a table with a cup of coffee and glasses of orange juice and water on it next to the laptop

The best bet is to avoid your laptop. Of course, that’s not always practical. When you do need to use our laptop, keep it off your lap (not aptly named!). Keep your laptop on your desk or better yet, on a stand away from your body. I like this one from Amazon.

Then I just attach a corded keyboard and mouse (this mouse from Amazon has a 5 foot cord) to the laptop and the computer keeps its distance.

EMF Shielding Laptop Case

Sometimes, you can’t escape the closeness of your laptop. After all, you probably have a laptop so it’s mobile. When you’re near it, an EMF shielding laptop case is a great option.

The special material the manufacturer uses to create the case blocks EMF radiation from your body, and they usually protect you from heat as well.

Check out my article on the best laptop radiation shield options.

Summary

Radiation comes from the electromagnetic fields of almost all electronic devices, and laptops are one of the top contenders for EMF radiation emissions. They are not usually as bad as the radiation emitted from cell phones, but the underside of a laptop has been known to almost triple the recommended safe amount.

Not all laptop brands give information on the exact measurement of EMF radiation from their laptops, and some even deny it entirely. However, it would be best if you still took precautions because scientists have proven that EMF radiation exists.

Your best option for shielding yourself from the EMF radiation of a laptop is to purchase an EMF blocking case or computer pad. They come in all sizes and for all types of computers. Even if you have a desktop computer, you can put an EMF shielding pad underneath to protect the greatest EMF radiation-emitting part of the computer. Consider EMF protection clothing as another layer of protection.

Read next: Cell Phone Radiation Chart: Top Phones Emitting the Most Radiation