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January 21, 1994 - Image 38

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-01-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

1

-1

Is your
Computer
Safe?

Livonia company tests monitors
for harmful radiation.

'...

udy Edelstein, a com-
puter programmer at
Compuware, has
heard of it, and she's
nervous.
Cheryl Berlin, a ben-
efits analyst with Elec-
tronic Data Systems,
says it sounds vaguely
familiar, but she's not sure how
to find more information.
Gene Kavner, a computer
programmer with Microsoft, is
convinced that "if it were that
bad, somebody would have told
me about it."
They're talking about the po-
tenfially harmful effects of elec-
tromagnetic fields (EMFs)
produced by computer moni-
tors. Some researchers have
linked EMFs with cancer and
miscarriage.
Ms. Edelstein, Ms. Berlin
and Mr. Kavner say their com-
panies haven't alerted them
about the issue. Perhaps, the

THE DET ROIT JE WIS H NEWS

J

38

say, these companies
are not worried.
Robert Craig,
president of Livonia-
based Magnagard
Laboratories, thinks
they should be. His
nine-person company
tests monitors for EMF
levels, and provides shield-
ing for those that emit what
many consider dangerous lev-
els of radiation.
Although nothing has been
proven, he says, too much evi-
dence points toward EMFs be-
ing harmful in high doses.
"They haven't found out what
that something is," he concedes.
"But they (also) don't know
what causes AIDS."
In response to growing con-
cern over EMFs in the work-
place, Mr. Craig, a veteran of
the computer industry, found-
ed Magnagard Laboratories
less than two years ago.
Magnagard provides on-site
testing of computer monitors.
For $60, Mr. Craig can deter-
mine the level of radiation from
any monitor in less than 15
minutes.
The company's mobile work-
station, which contains testing
equipment, is the only one of
its kind in the world. Other
testing facilities require com-
puter owners to package their
monitors and send them in.
Magnagard brings its equip-
ment to the client's office.
Mr. Craig speaks forcefully

SUSAN KNOPPOW SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

about the danger of EMFs.
"This is the next tobacco," he in-
sists. He believes it is only a
matter of time before scientists
agree that the level of EMFs
present in a typical workplace
are dangerous.
"In the 1940s, they had an ad
saying how many doctors
smoked Camels," he says, by
way of illustration. Today, cig-
arette companies are required
to print health warnings on
their products.
Several months ago, Mr.
Craig called the University of
Michigan to find out how much
research was being done link-
ing EMFs and health.
"The sent us a list of 20 dif-
ferent studies," he recalls. "At
least 15 of those 20 had to do
with the effects of radiation on
people."
The Swedish government
was the first to suspect that ex-
posure to EMFs could cause
health problems. Preliminary
studies on power lines showed
a higher incidence of cancer in
people who lived near trans-
formers.
In 1986, Sweden set a stan-
dard for safe levels of radiation.
Five years later, they set an
even more stringent standard.
Of the over 1,000 monitors
Magnagard has tested, about
15 percent of them have ex-
ceeded the Swedish standard.
To remedy the situation,
Magnagard also installs shield-
ing made of a nickel-cobalt al-
loy. Technicians insert the

shielding material inside the
monitor case.
"Shielding will cut radiation
by as much as 80 or 85 percent,"
Mr. Craig says.
The testing equipment itself
consists of a rotating platform
mounted on a large plastic util-
ity cart.
The monitor rests on a wood-
en box at the center of the plat-
form. Three wooden poles, each
50 centimeters from the moni-
tor, hold the valuable Combi-
nova testing equipment, which
detects radiation.
The equipment cost Magna-
gard about $25,000.
"Right now we have only one
set," Mr. Craig says. Within a
year, he hopes to hold a patent
and build additional sets.
Gaye Miller, owner of Miller
and Associates, had Magnagard
test and shield four of her ac-
counting firm's eight comput-
ers.
Ms. Miller had known Mr.
Craig for 15 years when he
founded Magnagard. "When he
went into this venture, it real-
ly interested me," she says.
"But I didn't really think about
it until I had a computer on my
own desk.
"In one tax season, my pre-
scription for my eyes changed
drastically."
If the computer screen was
that detrimental to her eye-
sight, she could only imagine
how it was affecting her gener-
al health, she says. Ms. Miller
COMPUTER page 40

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