Back in the 1960s, General Electric released a special cathode ray tube (“CRT”) television capable of displaying colors. It was a technological breakthrough at the time. It worked by shooting electrons from the CRT into the phosphor coating on the screen that would then light up when excited by this energy. Importantly, the color television technology at the time required much more powerful electrons than the black and white variety. These more powerful electrons brought with them high levels of x-ray radiation.
It was well known at the time that radiation could be contained with lead shielding. Unfortunately, for reasons never explained, G.E. failed to properly shield these old televisions resulting in high levels of radiation reaching viewers. The levels of radiation were so high that they ranged from 10 – 100,000 times of what was considered acceptable, even back in the 1960s.
These televisions were ultimately recalled in 1967 but the stigma of sitting too close to the television persists today.
So, are we now safe to sit close to televisions and computers? You might be safe from radiation, but other risks arise with the prevalence of LEDs and similar technology. Most recently, researchers are looking at whether there is a link between the elevated levels of blue light emitted from LEDs and increasing rates of age-related macular degeneration. If this correlation is correct, then sitting further away would reduce the level of harmful light exposure that could damage eyesight.