Are Airpods Dangerous – Is Low Frequency EMF Radiation Harmful To Our Health?
The question I get asked all the time is “Are Airpods dangerous?” I was in the airport terminal the other day waiting for a flight and nearly everyone around me was glued to their phone and listening to music on their Bluetooth wireless headphones. Popularized by Apple’s Airpods, Bluetooth wireless headphones are convenient and almost seem like a fashion trend at this point. The question remains, are they actually safe to use?
Reuters states that, “there is no established evidence to warrant advising people against using wireless devices like Bluetooth headphones.” They aren’t wrong, there aren’t any studies on the health effects of wireless headphones.
The reason they assume Bluetooth wireless headphones are safe is because the amount of radiation they emit is significantly lower than the amount of radiation emitted from a cell phone. However, there are many studies that indicate cell phone radiation is indeed extremely harmful.1 More on this in a future article.
Are Airpods Dangerous – SAR Levels
From a regulations standpoint, the legal limit for specific absorption rate (SAR) set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States is 1.60 W/kg.2 The SAR for the Airpods Pro is between 0.072 W/kg and 0.097 W/kg when exposed to the head.3 For perspective, holding an iPhone 8 against your head results in roughly 1.2 W/kg of radiation.4 Wireless bluetooth headsets from other brands have similar SAR readings and all are within the legal limit set by the FCC.
So it’s settled. If the FCC has determined wireless headsets to be safe, they must be safe, right? Well, not so fast. Let’s take a closer look at the radiation emitted by Bluetooth headsets.
Are Airpods Dangerous – Is Low Frequency EMF Radiation Harmful?
In the case of Bluetooth headphones, what we are dealing with is non-ionizing radiation, specifically low frequency EMF radiation (LF-EMF) between 2.4 to 2.485 GHz.5 There are studies that have determined LF-EMF radiation is harmful to our overall health. More on this later.
Are Airpods Dangerous – LF-EMF Radiation Near The Brain
The biggest concern I have is that a constant stream of LF-EMF radiation is literally millimeters away from our brain. When defining safe levels of EMF exposure, the inverse square law applies. In short, the intensity of the radiation decreases exponentially as we move further away from the source. This means that moving the source of radiation even a small distance away can make a big difference in terms of reducing exposure.
Dr. Jerry Phillips, a University of Colorado biochemistry professor, states that, “What bothers me the most about AirPods is it’s taking cell phones one step deeper into the head. It’s a significant amount of power being delivered even closer to the brain. It just doesn’t make sense.”
In 2015, 250 scientists from all around the world sent a petition to the United Nations as a way to bring attention to the dangers of wireless devices and create regulations. The petition states that EMF exposure is carcinogenic, increases cellular stress, generates free radicals, causes genetic damage, affects the reproductive system, and causes learning, memory, and other neurological disorders.
The first goal of the petition was to define guidelines to protect and inform the public of EMF exposure, especially children and pregnant women. The second goal was to train medical professionals on EMFs and their biological effects so they can treat their patients who suffer from electromagnetic sensitivity. The third goal was to force disclosure of financial relationships with industry experts who offer their opinions on the safety of EMF radiation. The fourth goal was to improve the manufacturing process to create products with lower EMF radiation levels. The final goal was to offer the public safe spaces free of EMF radiation.6
Are Airpods Dangerous – WHO Has Classified Bluetooth As Possibly Carcinogenic
The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified EMF and Bluetooth radiation as possibly carcinogenic. This classification was made after reviewing the scientific evidence of exposure to EMF and Bluetooth, including studies conducted on mobile phones. This determination puts EMF and Bluetooth radiation in the same category as other potentially hazardous substances such as lead, asbestos, and engine exhaust.7
Are Airpods Dangerous – ROS And DNA Damage
Studies indicate that LF-EMF radiation results in the creation of reactive oxygen species, alteration of gene expression, and contributes to DNA damage on the epigenetic and genetic level. Additionally, studies have also demonstrated adverse effects on male and female reproduction due to the generation of reactive oxygen species.
This is a key concern, especially when it comes to children and their exposure to wireless technologies. With the widespread adoption of these devices and technologies, it is important to consider the potential impact on young and developing bodies.
Children’s brains are still in the process of growing and maturing, making them more susceptible to outside influences. This includes exposure to radiofrequency radiation from wireless devices. Additionally, children have a higher hyperconductivity in their brain tissue, meaning that any disruptions or changes caused by radiation are amplified.
Furthermore, the smaller head size of children compared to adults means that radiofrequency radiation can penetrate deeper into their brains. This is concerning as it has been suggested that prolonged exposure to this type of radiation has negative effects on brain function and development.
To make matters worse, children also have a longer lifetime exposure to these technologies. With the increasing use of wireless devices at younger ages, they are going to be exposed for a longer period of time compared to previous generations.8
Are Airpods Dangerous – Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress is a state in which there is an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the body’s ability to detoxify them. This leads to damage at the cellular level and is considered a key factor in various diseases, like autoimmune conditions.
Studies have shown that low-intensity radiofrequency radiation (RFR) is capable of inducing oxidative stress in living cells. This is due to its ability to penetrate tissues and interact with molecules in the body, causing them to produce ROS. This process has a cascading effect, leading to additional oxidative stress and further damage.
Moreover, RFR has also been found to increase the permeability of cell membranes, allowing more ROS to enter and cause further damage. It has also been shown to disrupt the body’s antioxidant defense systems, further exacerbating the effects of oxidative stress.9
Are Airpods Dangerous – Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity
One of the main concerns surrounding AirPods is their potential to cause Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS). EHS is a condition where individuals experience symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, fatigue, ringing in the ear, rashes, cognitive issues, and nausea when exposed to EMFs.
The symptoms of EHS can vary from person to person, but they are often described as similar to those of other environmental illnesses such as multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) or fibromyalgia. The severity of symptoms can also vary, with some individuals experiencing mild discomfort while others are completely debilitated.10
Read more about MCS.
Reducing Exposure To LF-EMF – Air Tube Headphones
One of the safest options for headphones are air tube headphones. These are specifically designed to lower your exposure to EMF radiation, making them a popular choice among health-conscious individuals.
Air tube headphones use hollow tubes instead of traditional wires to transmit sound from the audio source to the earbuds. This means that there is no metal present in the cords, reducing the risk of EMF radiation. The sound travels through the tubes filled with air, providing a safe and clear listening experience.
Aside from lowering your exposure to EMF radiation, air tube headphones also have other benefits. They are lightweight and tangle-free, making them convenient for everyday use. They also provide high-quality sound without the need for batteries or power sources.
Are Airpods Dangerous – Is Low Frequency EMF Radiation Harmful To Our Health
There are studies that have linked low frequency EMF radiation with certain health issues, although there are no specific studies that have determined that AirPods or other Bluetooth wireless headphones pose a significant danger to our health.
In any case, I would err on the side of caution and avoid them, as there have been many products that were originally considered safe like lead, asbestos, and thalidomide that turned out to be horrendously toxic. I’m not in any way saying the radiation from Bluetooth headsets is as toxic as these three examples, but I wouldn’t choose to be in the experimental group for unnecessary brain-related LF-EMF radiation while I wait for the safety studies to roll in.
Since air tube headphones are available and nearly as good from a quality perspective, it just makes sense to use them instead. Remember, the more toxins you stay away from, the better your health will be and simply not using Bluetooth headsets is an easy way to limit toxin exposure.
Read more about toxins we are exposed to daily.
1 Brice, A. (2021, July 1). Moskowitz: Cellphone radiation is harmful, but few want to believe it. Berkeley. https://news.berkeley.edu/2021/07/01/health-risks-of-cell-phone-radiation/
2 Specific absorption rate (SAR) for cellular telephones. Federal Communications Commission. (2019). https://www.fcc.gov/general/specific-absorption-rate-sar-cellular-telephones
3 SAR EVALUATION REPORT. (2019, October 3). A2084 Bluetooth Earbud RF exposure info 1 apple – FCC Id search. FCC ID . https://fccid.io/BCG-A2084/RF-Exposure-Info/12681939-S1V2-FCC-Report-SAR-4475947
4 Apple Regulatory Information. (2022). https://regulatoryinfo.apple.com/rfexposure/iphone10,4/en
5 Understanding Bluetooth Range | Bluetooth® Technology website. (2024). Bluetooth® Technology Website. https://www.bluetooth.com/learn-about-bluetooth/key-attributes/range/
6 EMFscientist.org – International EMF Scientist appeal. (2015). https://emfscientist.org/index.php/emf-scientist-appeal
7 IARC classifies radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly … International Agency for Research on Cancer. (2011, May 31). https://www.iarc.who.int/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/pr208_E.pdf
8 Belpomme D, Hardell L, Belyaev I, Burgio E, Carpenter DO. Thermal and non-thermal health effects of low intensity non-ionizing radiation: An international perspective. Environ Pollut. 2018 Nov;242(Pt A):643-658. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2018.07.019. Epub 2018 Jul 6. PMID: 30025338.
9 Yakymenko I, Tsybulin O, Sidorik E, Henshel D, Kyrylenko O, Kyrylenko S. Oxidative mechanisms of biological activity of low-intensity radiofrequency radiation. Electromagn Biol Med. 2016;35(2):186-202. doi: 10.3109/15368378.2015.1043557. Epub 2015 Jul 7. PMID: 26151230.
10 Stein Y, Udasin IG. Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS, microwave syndrome) – Review of mechanisms. Environ Res. 2020 Jul;186:109445. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2020.109445. Epub 2020 Mar 30. PMID: 32289567.