May 30, 2013
Question: Are static shocks a health risk?
Answer: Static shocks can be a nuisance – but are not generally a health risk.
Fortunately there is little risk attached to such electrostatic discharges. In most cases they are just a common nuisance. The biggest risk is that a shock could cause you to have an accidental injury. For example, you might withdraw your arm suddenly and hit it against something.
Household static shocks, for example, are very high frequency and have a very short duration. According to LiveScience.com, it’s possible to generate up to 25,000 volts by dragging your feet across a carpet, though the voltage of a typical carpet shock between a few hundred to a few thousand volts. People can typically feel static at 2000 volts. Either way, household static shocks are almost always harmless. Most of the shocks that electrocute people are at a much lower frequency, a much longer duration, and have more energy creating a much more significant driving force.
Every Thursday, Transforming Technologies will answer questions concerning all things ESD: static causes, threats, ESD prevention, best practices and all things static in a feature we call ESD Q&A. If you have ESD questions that you would like to be answered, email firstname.lastname@example.org with Q&A in the subject line.