Magazine article UN Chronicle

Healthwatch

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Healthwatch

Article excerpt

Over 30 years have passed since the introduction of mass-produced video display units (VDUs) into the workplace. When first introduced, VDUs were suggested as the cause of many health complaints. Many scientific studies were conducted to determine if electromagnetic fields (EMF) could have any health consequence. The World Health Organization (WHO) and other agencies have reviewed factors, including indoor air quality, job-related stress and ergonomic issues, such as posture and seating, while using a VDU. These studies have suggested that the work environment, and not EMF emissions from VDUs, may be a determining factor of possible health effects associated with VDU use.

Suggestions that working with a VDU could affect the outcome of a pregnancy arose in the late 1970s, when several "clusters of adverse pregnancy outcomes" were noticed in Australia, Europe and North America. This led to many epidemiological and animal studies being conducted in North America and Europe, which failed to demonstrate any effect on reproductive processes due to EMF emitted from VDUs, but suggested, however, the role of other work factors such as job stress. Cataracts and other eye diseases were not found to have any link with VDU work, although glare and reflections from VDU screens can be a source of eye strain and headaches in extreme circumstances. Instances of skin rashes or itching have been studied, particularly in Scandinavian countries, showing these were not a result of any EMF exposure. …

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