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Optical Mouse Cancer Warning Hoax

Summary:
Email warns that radiation emitted by an optical computer mouse can cause cancer and damage hand tissue (Full commentary below).



Status:
False

Example:(Submitted July 2007)
Just in case, please be careful.

Subject: Optical mouse can cause cancer

The convinience of using optical mouse eventually coz dangerous side effect. After Three years from the first launch by microsoft, have been found thousand of cases - hands tissue coz by mouse radiation.

Optical Mouse works by release Electromagnetic high frequency to the lower surface under it. This frequency much more higher than the frequency use for handphone.

As it has been known that human hand and wrist contains lot of important nerve connected to brain.

According to WHO, the radiation from Optical Mouse is 5 times stonger than using handphone.

These radiation is even worse for those product with lower quality ( non branded mouse ), since they use weaker shield to protect customer wrist. WHO, GreenPeace, and CNN have stopped the usage of Optical mouse in their whole office.

Meanwhile Microsoft and IBM have allocate 2 billion of US Dollar, in joint venture to make a safer pointing device.

Big Hardware Industries in China and Taiwan are trying to hide all fact related to this things. While in the market, most of optical mouse sold old were coming from their product.

To avoid this, try to reduce using mouse. learn how to use hot key ( i.e. Ctrl-V, CTRL-C for paste and copy ) Use back your old model of mouse ( with the tracking ball).




Commentary:
According to this "warning" email, using an optical mouse can have dangerous side effects and cause cancer due to the amount of radiation produced by the devices. The message claims that there have been thousands of cases of hand tissue damage attributed to optical mouse radiation.

However, the claims in the message are fundamentally flawed. Optical mice do not emit radiation that could cause cancer or damage tissue. An optical mouse has a tiny built-in camera that takes thousands of photographs per second. A red light emitting diode (LED) bounces light off the underlying surface to a sensor that analyzes the images and sends coordinates to the computer. The cursor is moved on the screen based on the coordinates received.

Thus, the core component of an optical mouse is a simple LED. Nowadays, LEDs are ubiquitous and are used in dozens of electronic devices including indicator lights in household appliances, digital clocks, remote controls, traffic lights, brake lights, television backlighting, Christmas lights, watches and fiber optics. Many of us spend our lives virtually surrounded by these tiny lights. Yet, in spite of the fact that we are exposed to LEDs almost constantly, there is no reliable information whatsoever that suggests that LED "radiation" can cause cancer or tissue damage during normal use. In fact, scientists have discovered that LEDs may actually aid healing and have other positive health effects.

Of course, LEDs can produce very bright light and ocular discomfort or damage could occur if we stared into the light for too long. Moreover, some reports indicate that blue LEDs like those on the front of many computer systems may have negative health effects, including eye strain, headaches and disturbed sleep. There is also a somewhat convoluted and unproven connection between blue light and cancer. A Texyt article about blue LEDs notes:
Blue light at night reduces our bodies' melatonin levels, which can disturb sleep this is generally accepted. What is far less certain [PDF] is a link between low levels of melatonin, a weakened immune system, and cancer.
That said, there is no suggestion that emissions from the blue LED itself can cause cancer. And the LED in an optical mouse is typically red, not blue.

Furthermore, I could find no believable news or consumer reports that claim that optical mouse use can cause cancer, and this is compelling evidence that the claims in the message are false. According to the message, there have been thousands of cases of hand damage caused by "mouse radiation". It is simply absurd to suggest that such serious and widespread health risks would have been totally ignored by the media, consumer groups, and governments. If there were really thousands of substantiated cases, there would certainly be official, and well-publicized, health warnings about the use of optical mice, not to mention the almost inevitable legal actions against the companies that manufacture them. In fact, if the potential health risks were really so great, the devices would have likely been withdrawn from sale completely.

And, for the record, there is no information on the World Health Organization (WHO) website about the strength or danger of optical mouse radiation, nor is there any reports that Greenpeace and CNN have stopped using the devices.

In short, this warning is no more than a ridiculous piece of scare-mongering nonsense. Forwarding it will help nobody and will serve only to spread misinformation.

References:
How do optical mice work?
How Light Emitting Diodes Work
Light at the End of the Tunnel
Blue LEDs: A health hazard?
Does the LED light from an ordinary optical mouse pose a health hazard?


Last updated: 23rd July 2007
First published: 23rd July 2007

Write-up by Brett M. Christensen

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