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The Most Dangerous Tech Products

by on September 07, 2011
in Health and Home, News, Home Safety & Security, Family and Parenting, Baby & Toddler, Blog :: 10 comments

The electronic products in our homes enhance our lives in countless ways. But these devices can also be among the most dangerous products we have––putting some of us, especially young children and the elderly, at risk of serious injury or even death. The risks run from flat-panel TVs that topple onto toddlers to button-sized batteries that become poisonous pills.

Yet avoiding these hazards could be as simple as taking a few precautionary measures. Here's what you should know and do, before it's too late:

#5 - Baby Monitors: Mind the Cords

Stat: Seven deaths since 2002

By definition, a baby monitor must be placed near a crib, but this raises the risk of strangulation for the child, who may be tempted to play with the device's cord if it’s within reach.

The CPSC has noted at least seven infants and toddlers who have strangled with baby monitor cords and three infants and toddlers who have nearly strangled since 2002, with the youngest victims being six months old.

Make sure your baby monitor is placed so that the cord is more than arm's-length away from the child––ideally, at least three feet away.

Also, it's not just baby monitors that present this strangulation danger. Movement-monitor sensor cords also should be kept taut and not dangling, the CPSC warns.

#4 - Button Cell Batteries: Potential Poison Pills

Stat: 3,500 injuries, nine deaths since 1985

The small coin-sized button cell batteries commonly used in remote controls, garage door openers, key fobs, light-up shoes, flashing jewelry, digital ear thermometers and bathroom scales are surprisingly dangerous. According to the National Capital Poison Center (NCPC) in Washington, DC since 1985 more than 60,000 people swallowed miniature disc or “button” batteries, resulting in over 3,500 injuries and nine deaths, most of them children under six years-old.

The batteries can get stuck in children’s throats where they can cause severe chemical burns. The effect starts within minutes of ingesting the battery and within two hours can burn a hole through the esophagus where it's lodged, says Toby Litovitz, MD, executive and medical director of the NCPC.

Parents should be careful not to leave a "dead" button battery within a child's reach when putting a new battery in a device. Even a dead battery still has enough of a residual charge to cause the same sort of burn, Litovitz explains.

The batteries that posed the greatest risk are labeled CR 2032, CR 2025 and CR 2016, or BR 2032, BR 2025 and BR 2016, she adds.

#3 - Shredders: The Home Office is No Place for Kids

Stat: 2,700 injuries in 2010

Paper shredders don’t just pose a threat to sensitive documents. In 2010 CPSC estimated that there were 2,700 emergency room visits involving consumers of all ages because of incidents with paper shredders.

The reasons for these visits can vary broadly, ranging from entrapping a finger to the paper shredder falling over and causing a foot injury. So keep kids and pets away from the home office and its paper shredder.

#2 - Flat-Panel TVs: Bolt Down or Hang Up

Stat: 18,000 injuries a year, one child death every two weeks

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), on average one child dies every two weeks when a TV, furniture or appliance falls on him, and each year on average more than 18,000 children eight-years-old and younger are injured in this same way.

"Parents think about gates to prevent falls down the stairs, about safety in the kitchen to keep kids away from stoves, but there can be that hidden hazard: the TV and that old piece of furniture that you have it sitting on," CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson says, adding that even bulky old-fashioned TVs can be unstable if perched on a bookshelf or a too-small stand.

Babyproofing your home theater by mounting the TV on the wall or securing it to furniture which is also bolted to the wall or to the floor prevents these accidents.

#1 - Cell Phones: The Biggest Killer

Stat: 995 deaths in 2009

There are three main types of distraction: visual, which takes your eyes off the road; manual, which takes your hands off the steering wheel; and cognitive, which takes your thoughts away from the primary task of driving. Unfortunately, texting on a cell phone combines all three forms of distraction, making it especially dangerous while driving.

But that hasn't stopped drivers from doing it. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, cell phones were a factor in 18% of distracted driving fatalities, leading to 995 deaths in 2009.

For drivers, there are hands-free technologies, such as Bluetooth speakerphones built into cars and Bluetooth headsets. Even these aren’t much help, though. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that using a cell phone while driving—handheld or hands-free—slows a driver’s reaction time to the same speed as a person with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent (the legal limit). Apps that prevent cell phone use while driving are better options.

And the danger is not limited to drive time, texting while walking also is hazardous, and not uncommon.

There is some hope for those walking-while-texting culprits, though: A variety of apps for the iPhone and iPad superimpose use the device’s back-facing camera to create a live-action background for messaging functions, allowing users to keep an eye on where they’re going even as they type e-mails, text or chat . The selection includes iType2Go Pro (iOS $1.99), Type n Walk (iOS $0.99, Android free), Text Vision (iOS $0.99), Type n View (iPad free), Type n Go Pro (Android $0.99), Chat & Walk for Facebook (iOS $1.99) and Type n Step HD (iPad $0.99).

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Discussion loading

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Thank you for this article

From John McPhee on September 13, 2011 :: 1:27 pm

This alert to the injury hazards of technological products is much appreciated.  These of course are in addition to the hazards of radiation emissions of wireless products, such as baby monitors, which are unregulated.  On the FCC website it clearly states that there are no federally mandated radiofrequency standards.
The standards proposed by the EPA, after 17 years of outstanding and diligent research between 1970 and 1987 in their own state of the art lab, were rejected for the last time by Congress in 1995, as if such standards could be optional.  This is most unfortunate, as wireless products have now become ubiquitous in the American living environment, having grown from a choice of about 15 products in the 80’s to over 100 products available in 2011. Truly, the situation with wireless technology is one of “buyer beware”, as 70% of non-industry financed studies indicate major health hazards,and wireless systems are already being removed from schools and public buildings throughout Europe, as well as private businesses and homes.  If you have a wireless system in your home, please turn it completely off when not in use.  These frequencies pass directly throught the human body, disrupting our entire physiological operation by confusing signals at the cellular level.  Symptoms begin with insomnia, followed by low thyroid, memory lapses, hypertension, high blood pressure, diabetes, and, finally, cancer, strokes or heart attack.  Wired systems are readily available as well, so why even have a wireless system at all?
It is worth your health and the well being of your family?

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Risk from wireless use is not established

From Josh Kirschner on September 13, 2011 :: 1:45 pm

Hi John,

Thanks for your comments. The latest research is showing no links between wireless use (at least for cell phones) and cancer. We wrote this up back in July here: http://www.techlicious.com/blog/evidence-shows-cancer-risk-from-cell-phones-is-unlikely/. It is even less likely that other devices such as baby monitors or wireless networks, which are not held neaar the body, would create any risk.

Other studies are inconclusive about why cell phones may cause symptoms, such as insomnia. It’s quite possible that using devices right before bed simply gets your mind worked up, and it has nothing to do with a physiological effect of the cell phone on your body or cell functions.

If you can link to specific studies that show otherwise, please do.

Best,
Josh Kirschner
Founder, Techlicious

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Risk from wireless technology cannont be ruled out either

From David Wendorf on September 16, 2011 :: 3:02 am

Sorry Josh, but every study on earth shows that as wireless technology has increased so have brain tumors. Just because science isn’t capable of proving the correlation yet, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Your argument sounds very similar to the tobacco companies of the ‘70s. Eventually the cause will be determined, and once again big business will fight with all their might to bury any proof of wireless being a cause (if it’s not happening already). The fact is that we just don’t understand all the ramifications of wireless technology yet, and no amount of studies is likely to change that in the near chances. In the meantime (knowing 2 20 yr olds myself with brain tumors) I choose to take the safe route and avoid wireless technology whenever possible. grin

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Sorry, David, but that just

From Josh Kirschner on September 16, 2011 :: 9:53 am

Sorry, David, but that just isn’t true. In fact, your argument is very similar to those who have been railing against Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) health risks for decades in the absence of any evidence.

There are many large studies showing no correlation between increased cell phone adoption rates and brain tumors. And to be clear, the studies that have been done are for cell phones, which are held directly against your head, as opposed to wireless routers and baby monitors, which the commenter was suggesting above. Here are a few links to summaries from Britain’s Institute for Cancer Research (http://www.icr.ac.uk/press/press_archive/press_releases_2010/15161.shtml and http://www.icr.ac.uk/press/press_archive/press_releases_2011/21212.shtml) and World Health Organization (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs193/en/) which confirm no established link.

Everyone is free to make their own choices when it comes to wireless use. And I understand why some may be more sensitive about potential risks, but it’s important to be clear about where the science stands so those choices can be informed.

Best,
Josh

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Cell Phone & Cancer

From CPA Guy on September 17, 2011 :: 12:21 am

Sorry, Josh, but the jury is still way out.  My nephew used a NexTel phone for many years in his business (it functions as both a cellular phone and a 2-way radio).  The transmitters in these devices are very powerful.  He was constantly on the phone, talking to customers and his office via the cel function and talking to his construction crews via the 2-way radio function.

He eventually developed brain cancer - the tumor was just above his right ear, just inside the brain case (he is right-handed).  It was avery aggressive and fast growing tumor, about a cm thick and 2 cm by 4 cm oblong shape.

He was exceedingly lucky; the brain surgeon later remarked that tumors such as the one removed from my nephew’s head are usualy fatal.  The fact that the tumor was right under his skull and had very little involvement in brain tissue meant that the surgeon was able to remove the entire tumor.

Nevertheless, when we asked the surgeon if my nephew’s use of the powerful NexTel phone could have caused it, he simply shrugged.  While I’m not going to name names, this was a very highly regarded brain surgeon and a top hospital in the DFW area that specializes in treating cancer patients.

If these real-life everyday brain surgeons are cautious about the issue, then I would say the jury it still way out.  Way out.

I always use a ear plug when in my car and the speaker-phone function when not driving.  For those of you who are addicted to constanlty talking on your cel, remember denial isn’t a river in Egypt.  Oh well, more social security funds for me!

Oh yeah, Blue Tooth is just another powerful radio transmitter that is always on - just the thing to keep right next to your head.

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Cel Phones & Cancer...

From CPA Guy on September 17, 2011 :: 12:56 am

Nice try, Josh.  I checked your links and…wait…the cited studies were funded by…(drum roll)...the British telecommunications industry!  Who’d a thunk it!

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The analysis linked to was

From Josh Kirschner on September 17, 2011 :: 11:31 am

The analysis linked to was conducted by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection’s Standing Committee on Epidemiology. According to their description, “The ICNIRP is the international body, recognised by WHO, that constructs guidelines for exposure limits for non-ionizing radiation, including radiofrequency fields emitted by mobile phones, and publishes reviews of the health effects of such exposures.” It’s an international organization funded primarily through government grants.

The specific study received funds from a number of sources. Some of the funding originated from the telecommunincations industry, but was provided through third part research organizations. Much also came from government grants and non-telecom sources.

The full study is here: http://www.icnirp.de/documents/SCIreview2011.pdf and people can draw their own conclusions.

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As I said...

From David Wendorf on September 18, 2011 :: 3:49 am

Just because science isn’t yet capable of determining the cause, doesn’t mean the correlation doesn’t exist. Big business and the government are tied closely together, as proven with the financial housing and bank collapse in 2008. Eventually private studies will find what is causing the increase in brain tumors (both carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic). And when they do, IF there is a correlation between wireless devices (including or excluding cell phones), both big business and the government will fight to keep the technology in place until the evidence can no longer be denied in any way. You’re welcome to take your chances, and I’ll avoid taking mine as much as possible. But as the point has already been made, linking to studies funded by the government or special interests are not what I call evidence at all. I’m more inclined to disbelieve anything they say than use them as a reference. grin

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David

From Jon the Engineer on October 30, 2011 :: 2:28 am

I work doing SAR and FCC certifications. I have seen no proof at all linking health problems woth wireless technologies. Your statement “Sorry Josh, but every study on earth shows that as wireless technology has increased so have brain tumors.” is plain dumb. I could also say that as wireless technology has increased so has life expectancy therefore wireless exposure causes one to live longer. You can’t prove me worng either. The people who are scared are those who dont understand physics and because it’s invisible it’s even worse.

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Button Batteries

From Mike on February 21, 2012 :: 2:00 pm

These things scare me…

I use a lot of these to power holographic sites on firearms. They use the large type button batteries. I have to be careful, because my dogs will eat anything below table top level…

I just got a flat panel TV/monitor and I never thought about it falling on anyone… Have to do something about that…

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