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If AirPods pose a potential health risk, what are the options?

In-ear Bluetooth headphones could pose a health risk, despite relatively low emissions. (Source: Notebookcheck)
In-ear Bluetooth headphones could pose a health risk, despite relatively low emissions. (Source: Notebookcheck)
Our article about the possible detrimental health effects of wireless devices including Apple’s AirPods, among others, seemed to strike a chord with a lot of readers. We are exposed to a lot of EMF radiation on a daily basis and 250 scientists with stellar reputations have signed a petition asking the UN to act on the issue. So what can you do to help reduce exposure to potential harm?
Sanjiv Sathiah,

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Apple’s AirPods are a very popular device. And for good reason. They sound great, pair easily and are reasonably affordable. It is little wonder that they have sold in excess of 45 million units since launch. But as we pointed out yesterday, although emitting low levels of non-ionised radiation through the electromagnet field that they generate, they are situated in a particularly exposed part of the body. Our ear canals don’t have the bone of our skulls protecting them and these things sit close to delicate tissues, including the brain.

We came across an interesting article written by Graham Ryan at Synchro explaining why he decided to stop wearing Apple’s AirPods. According to Ryan, he noted anecdotally that he was feeling lightheaded and a little moody after wearing his AirPods, so he decided to investigate the effects of low-frequency electromagnetic fields (LF-EMFs), just like those emitted by AirPods. He found considerable evidence supporting the potential side-effects of LG-EMFs that could account for his experience wearing AirPods.

After conducting some testing of his own using an EMF meter, Ryan observed that the AirPods produced the highest average EMF intensity of all the headphones he tested. Given people’s satisfaction with the Bluetooth stability and ease of connectivity of Apple’s AirPods, that should probably come as no surprise. But there could be a price to be paid for this in terms of one’s health. After his testing Ryan concludes that wired in-ear buds produce the least amount of EMF intensity.

Speaking to The Daily Mail about the potential hazards of using in-ear Bluetooth earphones like Apple’s AirPods, University of California, Berkeley community health professor Dr Joel Moskowitz had this to say:

“[Apple’s AirPods, for example] communicate with one another using a magnetic induction field, a variable magnetic field [one] sends through your brain to communicate with the other...Since Bluetooth tends to be low-intensity it could open the blood-brain barrier which evolved to keep large molecules out of the brain...From a precautionary standpoint, I would argue you shouldn’t experiment with your brain like this by keeping these kind of wireless headphones on your head or in your ears.”

The scientific evidence may not be conclusive, but with around 250 highly regarded scientists in agreement that we should be exercising greater caution with our use of wireless technology, particularly when in close proximity to the brain, caution is warranted. At the very least, minimizing the use in-ear wireless headphones like AirPods is probably a good approach. Or to be safer still, switching back to wired headphones could be the surest bet. If your smartphone still has headphone jack, that is.

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Sanjiv Sathiah
Sanjiv Sathiah - Senior Tech Writer - 1291 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2017
I have been writing about consumer technology over the past ten years, previously with the former MacNN and Electronista, and now Notebookcheck since 2017. My first computer was an Apple ][c and this sparked a passion for Apple, but also technology in general. In the past decade, I’ve become increasingly platform agnostic and love to get my hands on and explore as much technology as I can get my hand on. Whether it is Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Nintendo, Xbox, or PlayStation, each has plenty to offer and has given me great joy exploring them all. I was drawn to writing about tech because I love learning about the latest devices and also sharing whatever insights my experience can bring to the site and its readership.
contact me via: @t3mporarybl1p
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Sanjiv Sathiah, 2019-03-14 (Update: 2019-03-14)