Are AirPods bad for you?

Are airpods bad for you?

Have you ever wondered: are AirPods bad for you? This article will provide the key information that you need including the potential dangers and why you could need to be cautious of overusing this tech. 

Like any other Apple, product AirPods have become very popular with consumers on the market. They are often considered to be a fashion trend and 14-16 million AirPods were sold through 2017. Through 2018, another 35 million units were sold and 60 million were sold in 2019. As well as being popular, to begin with, demand for this particular product is actually increasing. Through 2020, Apple is expected to sell another 85 million units. At the same time, the production of Apple AirPod Pros has doubled due to a surge in demand. 

Indeed, you see these items being used everywhere. People wear them on holiday, at the gym and on public transport. 

What Are AirPods?

AirPods and iPhone X
Photo by Jess Bailey Designs from Pexels

AirPods are the evolution of Apple Headphones. Operating using Bluetooth technology, the devices can connect to your iPhone or similar devices wireless. Reviews claim that they provide crystal clear sound and long lasting battery life. They also come with a neat little charging case to ensure that they never run out of power at an inopportune moment. 

They’re not the only wireless headphone tech available on the market either. In 2017 more than 368 million headphones and headsets were sold worldwide and many of these were wireless. This was also the year that the AirPods were announced as the year Airpods became the brand’s most popular accessory. 

Despite the high level of demand, there have been some questions raised about whether AirPods are safe to use for both adults and children. Let’s explore why this is. 

Are AirPods Safe?

If you are asking yourself the question: are AirPods bad for you, then you need to explore the research surrounding these devices. The main fear connected to the use of Airpods is due to the EMF radiation levels that they emit. 

It’s worth noting here that EMF radiation is emitted by all mobile devices. It can be created by:

  • Cell towers
  • WiFi 
  • Bluetooth

Recent research has presented evidence that EMF radiation could present substantial threats to human health. Studies exploring EMF radiation have assessed whether the Bluetooth transmitters in AirPods leak dangerous electrical signals into the brain. 

The concept of close EMF radiation being dangerous is not new. Indeed, even the FCC – an organisation responsible for public safety in America – agree there is an issue here. Their official guidelines suggest that wireless tech should not be kept close to the body for extended periods. This presents a problem when you consider that AirPods are designed to slot quite deep into an individual’s ears. It also puts this type of radiation close to the brain as well. 

That said, Bluetooth, while a form of radiofrequency radiation, is not the same as the type of radiation caused by phones. Instead, Bluetooth is designed to transmit data over short distances. This is why you can only go a few meters away from your phone when it’s connected to Airpods before they stop working. 

Specifically, Bluetooth headphones will usually be a “Class 2,” device and this means that the data can only be transmitted 33 feet. They will also operate at lower levels of intensity compared to cellular signals. However, that doesn’t mean that there is no danger here. 

One of the main issues is how this tech is designed to be used. On Average will last about 4 hours when listening to music. However, with the charging case, you can get them back to 100% in just under an hour. That means that you could use them for most of the day and some people do. It’s common for people to keep the headphones in, even when they are not connected. The length of the contact is always going to increase the level of EMF radiation that you are exposing yourself to over time. 

What Do Officials Say About The Danger Of AirPods?

The official stance on the danger of AirPods or rather wireless devices, in general, is a complex issue. Through 2011, the World Health Organization determined that electromagnetic radiation constituted a possible human carcinogen. While this sounds worrying, it puts it in the same group as talcum powder and pickled vegetables. 

However, through 2019, 250 scientists were part of a petition demanding stronger guidelines for wireless devices. This does seem to be directly connected to the increased popularity of personal wireless devices like AirPods. 

There is also some question as to whether the safety standards outlined for EMF devices are actually valid and accurate. Typically, wireless devices will meet the legal limits of EMF emissions. Devices that fail to meet this limit won’t be released on the market as a consumer purchase. 

Yet the limit dates back to 1996 so it’s difficult to argue that it’s still relevant or even valid for the tech available on the market today. For instance, it completely ignores any biological impact of these devices and there is a growing level of research that suggests this is an issue. 

Are AirPods Safe For Kids?

Child playing with clay
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

It’s difficult to know for certain whether AirPods are safe for kids to use. As mentioned, the limit for EMF radiation is dated and also is based on a model of a fully developed adult male. The limit does not explore the effect of this type of radiation on a child’s brain which is quite different. Research shows that the brains of children have a higher rate of absorption and may be more at risk of the radiation caused by devices like AirPods. As well as this, it takes years for the blood-brain barrier to develop in children, and the immune system isn’t fully developed until they reach 18. Some studies have suggested that the impact of cellular radiation on children compared with adults is more than 10 times greater. 

Are Kids Using AirPods?

There is evidence to suggest that children are using devices like AirPods. Indeed, research shows that there are increased levels of tinnitus in child populations compared with ten years ago. Tinnitus is caused when the ears are damaged due to exposure to loud noise. It has been linked to the extensive usage of personal tech devices. Some research does also suggest that Bluetooth headphones may cause development over tinnitus overtime. While tinnitus is certainly not life-threatening, it can trigger a wide range of side issues. People who suffer from severe tinnitus may experience depression, anxiety, and insomnia. That’s why it’s essential that parents limit children using tech devices like this. If they are using them, it’s important to regulate the noise level. A key benefit of Apple products is that it is easy to set a max volume and ensure that you don’t accidentally go over the recommended level of noise. 

Apple has no age recommendation for their devices. So, we can assume that they are comfortable with parents deciding how old their children need to be before they can start wearing them. 

Can AirPods Cause Cancer?

One of the main questions surrounding the safety of AirPods and similar devices is whether they can cause cancer. This idea has been around since 2015 during the time of petition that we mentioned earlier. In the petition, scientists did reference the potential danger of radiation even when it is at levels below the current guidelines. 

Despite this, a recent study has found that the radiation in Bluetooth Headsets is 10 to 400 times lower compared to the radiation from cellphones. If the evidence is accurate then it’s possible that using a Bluetooth headset to answer a call could be safer than holding a phone to your ear. 

That said, many health experts have warned about the potential danger of using wireless headphones over an extended period of time. One of the issues here is that the tech is still relatively new on the market. So, we don’t actually know the full impact that it could have. 

Even the research that exists is limited because it’s not legal to test radiation exposure on humans. Instead, we have to rely on studies that use animals or a large population of individuals. Both these paths present issues including the fact that the biology of the animals used for testing is considerably different from our own. Although it is worth noting that most animal studies have not found a link between phone usage and health issues. That’s critical because phones produce more intense radiation than AirPods. 

Are There Other Potential Health Risks?

EMF radiation which is caused by tech like AirPods has been linked to a variety of different health conditions. As well as there is the suggestion that it might cause cancer or DNA damage, it has also been linked to the development of ADHD

The reason for this is that EMF radiation may cause calcium leakage which stimulates hyperactivity. This makes it far more difficult for people to concentrate. It has also been suggested that this is linked to electromagnetic intolerance. 

The leakage of calcium ions may also trigger a shift in junction barriers throughout our bodies. This means that toxic materials are now able to access different areas of the body including the brain. It has been tied to the death of neurons which is linked to the development of serious mental health issues such as Dementia. 

Why Single Out AirPods?

You might be wondering why experts seem to be singling out Apple AirPods when exploring the potential danger of wireless headphones. Do scientists simply hate the brand? No, there are several reasons why AirPods are frequently mentioned in reports that investigate the danger of this tech. 

First AirPods make up more than 54% of the wireless Earbuds market. While there are certainly other competitors around and choices that are more budget-friendly, Apple is the leader in this sector. Secondly, there is some worry surrounding the design of the devices. 

Typical Bluetooth headphones will have a wire running from one ear canal through to the other ear. There will also be just one transmitter positioned at the nape of the neck. Apple AirPods are different because the Bluetooth transmitter fits directly into the ear canal and there is one for both ears. 

This is why some experts have suggested that AirPods are more harmful than other similar devices that have been released on the market. 

Alternatives To AirPods 

It’s perhaps worth noting that there are alternatives to AirPods and similar tech devices. You can use regular headphones. While these do still produce radiation they emit extremely low-frequency radiation which means that it is nowhere near as problematic. It’s less intense and far more controlled. 

Air tube headsets are another option. These have the big benefit of being completely EMF-Free. So, you don’t have to worry about them causing any damage to your brain or ears. 

You might also want to consider using other EMF radiation shields. These are available for a variety of different tech devices and can provide the peace of mind that you need that you are protected from harmful levels of radiation. This is certainly recommended if you are letting children use tech devices like AirPods. As mentioned, they are far more at risk here than typical adults. 

The Final Verdict

Ultimately, it’s difficult to say whether AirPods are bad for you. While there is limited evidence to suggest that these devices could cause long term, significant health issues like cancer, there are multiple issues with how the research is conducted and the current radiation levels that are considered to be safe. It’s also worth pointing out that this technology is still a fairly fresh concept. So, it will be years before we understand the full potential issues here. It has taken decades for researchers to scratch the surface of the risk of using a phone so it could be another decade before we start to fully understand the dangers of AirPods and similar wireless headphones.