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Virtual Reality Headsets Igniting Safety Concerns Over Radiation Levels

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The debate over the potential health effects of wireless device emissions has officially crossed a de facto threshold.

Although scientific opinion is divided about the health effects of absorbing low-frequency non-ionizing radiation, such as those emitted by mobile phones and other wireless devices, some virtual reality headsets Far exceeds Federal Communications Commission (FCC) safety standards. guidelines.

The established FCC safe absorption rate for radiation from wireless devices is 1.6 Watts per kilogram (W/kg).

As an overview, most smartphones fall within this range, emitting less than 2W/kg.By comparison, independent analysis The popular Oculus Quest virtual reality (VR) device headset has been found to emit up to 9W/kg of low frequency non-ionizing electromagnetic frequency (EMF) radiation.

On January 5, 2022, an Owo vest that allows users to feel bodily sensations during Metaverse experiences such as virtual reality games such as wind, gunshots, and punches. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

At the same time, analysts forecast the market growth VR revenues in both the gaming and professional worlds are expected to surpass $31 billion in 2023 and exceed $51 billion by 2027.

Apple is about to enter the virtual world and plans to release its first “mixed reality” headset later this year.

But industry fanfare hasn’t stopped researchers and consumers from worrying about the potential health effects of prolonged use of VR headsets.

This is a debate that has been debated for over a decade: Do wireless and other low-frequency, non-ionizing EMF devices pose risks to human health?

messy results

Many scientists say it’s very likely. In particular, long-term data on the effects of radiation exposure on device users are lacking. However, results from some studies suggest that prolonged exposure to non-ionizing EMF radiation causes problems in regulating body temperature and damages cells.

1 study Conclusion Non-ionizing radiation interferes with the body’s oxidative repair mechanisms. This leads to oxidative stress and damage to cellular components and processes.

The authors noted that surges in oxidative stress were also associated with increased presence of cancerous tumors.

Underpinning this is the big 2016 study It was done in rats exposed to prolonged bouts of non-ionizing EMF radiation. Results from hundreds of exposed male rats showed a nearly 3% increase in brain tumors in him. In the control group, no male rats developed cancerous tumors.

2020 third study group release Findings on the specific absorption rate of radiation by the human head through VR headsets. The study revealed that radiation can overcome thermoregulation when the absorption value exceeds her 4 W/kg.

At that point, the tissue begins to overheat. “It is especially important to avoid electromagnetic exposure of the head,” the study authors said in their report.

Although the evidence is inconclusive, some members of the scientific community are urging caution when using VR devices.

keep your distance

Leading organizations are tiptoeing around the topic of how wireless radiation can affect human health.

But most stick to what is known as “electronic theory”.

This is the theory that low-frequency non-ionizing radiation cannot pull electrons away from atoms and molecules. Lacking that function, proponents suggest that there is no direct DNA damage, making cancer exposure unlikely.

Epoch Times photo
Oculus Quest 2 VR headset in use on January 28, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Sergio Flores/AFP via Getty Images)

Other scientists disagree, but say that the “electron argument” is based on flawed assumptions and models used for different types of radiation.

When asked about the impact on wireless device users, government and private organizations are vague. They add modifiers such as “not known to cause cancer” or “not known to cause cancer”.

One such organization is the National Cancer Institute. specify “Most types” of non-ionizing EMF radiation are not cancerous.

The FCC declined to comment when approached by the Epoch Times about changes to safety guidelines regarding radiation exposure for wireless device users.

Industry developers say beyond the amount of radiation emitted, it’s the distance from the user that makes all the difference.

“How far away is the device? Even a few centimeters can exponentially reduce the specific absorption rate,” Winston Nguyen told the Epoch Times.

Nguyen is the developer of VR Heaven. According to him, the radiation-emitting part of the VR headset should be far enough away from the user’s body that the amount absorbed should be minimal. He also said the same rule applies to mobile phones.

“We know it exceeds the safety standard of 1.6 when the phone is tested against the skin, but it was tested 1-1.5 cm away from the skin.”

Nguyen admits that too much of anything is bad. He says VR headsets emit non-ionizing EMF radiation, which can only be dangerous at “very high intensities”.

“You will notice this from the heat. [the device] burn. ”

user’s point of view

Due to the lack of sufficient data on potential health effects, some VR users are taking precautions when using headsets.

“I’m usually cautious when using any kind of VR headset. I tend not to wear it for more than an hour at a time,” Muneeb Fazal told the Epoch Times.

Fazal is General Manager at Leap Digital, a marketing agency that provides VR solutions to clients.

He admits he’s had conversations with colleagues about the potential dangers of using VR headsets, but hasn’t found a clear answer.

Fazal also said he was “modestly afraid” of using a VR headset for more than an hour at a time.

“For the Quest 2, the headset can get hot if the vents are blocked. These types of small devices don’t have a lot of wattage compared to VR headsets.”

Some gaming experts say more research is needed to clear the fog surrounding the radiation safety of VR headsets.

“There are concerns about potential health effects from long-term exposure to high levels of radiation emitted from VR headsets. Game Taco CEO and owner Ivan Lovre Marusic told the Epoch Times.

Marusic said some industry manufacturers are proactively addressing this issue by building in features that reduce radiation exposure, such as time limits and automatic power off when not in use. Certain materials are also excellent at reducing radiation exposure.

“The current consensus is that short-term exposure to VR radiation levels above ‘safe limits’ is not cause for concern, but more research is needed,” he said.

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