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Posted by on Jan 26, 2011 in Boating Law, Marine Electronics, Safety and Seamanship, UK, US |

Can Marine Electronics Fry Your Brain?

If cell phones are a radiation hazards, what about all those fancy display screens?

Question: I’ve read that using my cell phone a lot may have some health risks due to radiated emissions. I’ve been wondering about the effect of standing in front of all the electronic display screens on my sport fishing boat; should I be concerned?cell-radiation

Answer: This is a timely question. Just last week I attended a meeting and learned that committees are working on the development of a mandatory European standard to address this very issue that would apply to all recreational boats. And the ABYC is contemplating adoption of an environmental standard (that I helped create) for onboard network systems which addresses both radiated and conducted electrical and electronic interference (ABYC S-31).

Here’s the game-changing catch: The Europeans are going to require a test of the whole boat, as delivered to the customer with all the equipment installed. This has huge implications on the cost of product development and boat building. Cell phone related health concerns have been around for a while. But the whole boat concept is new.

It is important to note that the Europeans have been ahead of the curve on this for some time compared to the U.S. Concerns about cancer and other health problems have spurred government agencies in six countries to issue warnings to consumers to reduce cell phone radiation exposures, especially for children. But the U.S. government provides no such information for the public and does not even require that cell phone radiation emissions be posted where phones are sold. Current cell phone radiation standards were adopted by the FCC from 1992 recommendations issued by industry (the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE). So the relevancy of those today is questionable.

So, to answer your question directly: it looks like within a year, there will be new standards in place in both the US and Europe that will describe acceptable emission levels for the helm, and actually all areas on your boat. Stay tuned as we learn what the actual limits will be.

Ed Sherman