Have you noticed the proliferation of wireless earbuds lately? They seem to be everywhere—from the office and traveling on planes to people walking outside. Wireless earbuds have become highly popular. The reason for their popularity is the freedom they provide from the dangling wires of traditional headphones. Wireless earphones also provide other functions such as speaking to a voice assistant, making calls, and more.
While wireless earbuds, such as Apple’s Air Pods, are popular, could they be dangerous?
The Popularity of Wireless Ear Buds
Back in 2017, the headphone and wireless earbud market saw over 368 million headsets/earbuds sold globally. The global sale of wireless earbuds is expected to grow to 83 million units by 2026. Wireless earbuds, including Air Pods, are growing in popularity.
Some believe wireless earbuds and Air Pods are not all that great. They believe wireless earbuds offer poor quality sound and have a very short life span. Another concern is that the plastics used in these devices will have a huge negative impact on the planet.
But what about safety? Are Air Pods and other wireless earphones safe for people to use?
Wireless Earphones & EMF Radiation Emissions
There is a concern that Air Pods and other wireless earbuds may be dangerous for our health. The concerns are raised by the EMF radiation that is emitted from all mobile devices. EMF is made by Bluetooth, WiFi, and cell tower connections. Some research had shown that these radiation emissions might carry certain health risks to humans.
While these concerns have been made public, most people who buy the devices consider the risk of EMF exposure is worth it. The benefits of wearing these earphones are numerous. Living without a constant tether to another device, the ability to work with voice assistants (such as Alexa, Google, and Siri) is much appreciated.
People point out the fact that the research on wireless earphones has not definitely determined whether or not Air Pods and other wireless earphones are a danger or not. However, scientists are concerned that these devices could be a danger due to using Bluetooth EMF radiation so close to the brain.
Health & Safety Concerns with Bluetooth Radiation & Wireless Earbuds
Bluetooth is a type of radiofrequency (RF) radiation, which falls into the frequencies of 2.4 to 2.485 GHz. Bluetooth is used to send data through the air for a short distance. The data may be in the form of video, text, or audio.
Many wireless earbuds and headphones are classed as Class 2 devices. They have the ability to emit radiation up to 33 feet. However, the true range of Bluetooth devices can vary due to conditions in the environment. While it’s true that Bluetooth does operate at a lower intensity than cell signals, scientists are still concerned the radiation emitted may not be safe.
They point to the fact that wireless earbuds are meant to be worn for long hours. This means they’re close to the body/brain. The devices sit in the ears, directly next to the brain. The concern is the length of time in the ears, as well as being close to the brain. The length of time the radiation is close to the brain is what has scientists are concerned about wireless headphones.
2019 Petition by Scientists
Back in 2019, over 250 scientists came together and signed a petition that called for more oversight and additional guidelines for wireless devices that emit EMF radiation. They are concerned about the public’s ever-increasing exposure to EMFs generated by all-electric and wireless devices.
In the petition, the scientists pointed to studies that seem to show EMFs are dangerous and can lead to increased risk of certain cancers, genetic damage, learning problems, neurological issues, and more.
While current wireless earphones, including Air Pods, do comply with current legal EMF limits, the scientists believe the limits are not realistic and are too lax. They believe stronger laws and guidelines need to be put in place to ensure people’s health is safe from the effect of EMFs.
The scientists also believe people need to be informed about the possible dangers of using devices that increase their exposure to EMFs.
The Location of the Bluetooth Transmitter is Important
Some mobile devices are seen as riskier than others when it comes to the effects of EMFs. The rule is that when you’re closer to a device, then the more dangerous it becomes. This makes wireless earphones possibly more dangerous than other types of electronics. The earphone is placed directly in the ears, close to the brain.
On the other hand, standard Bluetooth headphones (including earbuds) use a wire from each earbud that connects to a transmitter at the back of the head. This places the transmitter farther from the brain, which is thought to be safer than using wireless headphones.
Some scientists believe that wireless earbuds placed in the air canal expose the tissue of the brain to higher amounts of EMFs, which may lead to tumors and abnormal functioning of cells.
Concerns of other health issues from the placement of wireless earphones include:
- Early onsite of dementia, including Alzheimer’s
A Safer Way to Listen?
If you’re concerned about the possible health issues from wireless headphones, then there are some alternative ways to listen to your favorite music, podcasts, and movies. It’s possible to reduce your exposure to EMS by using these alternative earphones:
Traditional wired headphones: these headphones do produce a form of radiation when in use; however, it’s different than EMF. Instead, traditional headphones produce Extremely Low-Frequency (ELF) radiation. This type of radiation is less intense and more controlled. Even so, some scientists believe even this type of radiation can be damaging over time.
Air tube headphones: these headphones use a tube rather than a wire to carry sound to your ears. They use small speakers that are placed below your head (around the chest area). These are attached to a tube that runs to each air. The speakers produce sound, which is carried by air within the tubes and up your ears. This way, EMFs are nowhere near your brain.
Summing It Up
It’s good to be aware of the potential health risks that come with wireless earphones. You may choose to keep using this type of earphones; however, it may be best to only wear them for short periods. It’s also a good idea to alternate them with other types of earphones such as traditional or air tube headphones.
Limiting your use of wireless headphones may lower your risk of developing a serious health condition in the future.