Apple’s AirPods might be all the rage for the convenience they offer, but a certain section of researchers believe that they are not particularly safe and can cause cancer.
Over 250 researchers have signed a petition addressed to the United Nations and the World Health Organization expressing their concerns about the EMF radiation emitted by AirPods and other similar Bluetooth earbuds.
Like almost all other wireless earbuds, AirPods rely on Bluetooth to talk to each other. Bluetooth in itself uses EMF to transmit data which has been found to be harmful. What’s even worse is that with devices like AirPods, they are placed deep in the ear canal which leads to brain tissues directly being exposed to radio waves emitted from them.
“My concern for AirPods is that their placement in the ear canal exposes tissues in the head to relatively high levels of radio-frequency radiation,” says Jerry Phillips, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He mentions tumors and other conditions associated with abnormal cell functioning as some of the potential risks. These risks are not restricted to AirPods. Existing evidence “indicates potential concerns for human health and development from all technologies that operate at radio frequencies,” he says.
In the petition, one researcher points out the various health issues like neurological disorders and DNA damage that can be caused by exposure to EMF radiation over a period of time.
While one set of researchers believe that EMF is harmful, others believe that they pose no harm to human health.
“There are many thousands of papers of varying quality and relevance to health that point in all sorts of directions,” says Kenneth Foster, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania who has studied the effects of wireless radiation on human health. While you could cherry pick data that paint Bluetooth and other wireless technologies in a scary light, “these arguments have no credibility,” he says.
WHO and other major health organizations have already studied the side effects of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and other wireless technology on human health and have not found any clear evidence of any potential risk.
It is important to note that the petition does not explicitly target AirPods. Instead, it targets wireless technologies like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth itself which have become increasingly important in this day and age.