Smartwatch usage has absolutely rocketed in recent years.
Initially, smartwatches were considered somewhat gimmicky, a little pointless, even.
However, they have since transformed into indispensable health tools, capable of tracking everything from step counts to workouts, heart rates and heart rate variability (HRV).
With the addition of sleep tracking, many users sleep with their smartwatch, wearing it 24/7.
With growing concerns about the health implications of electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation, many individuals are becoming increasingly cautious about using Fitbit or other smartwatches.
This article will explore the potential EMF radiation effects of Fitbit smartwatches and how to mitigate them.
Table of Contents
What is EMF Radiation?
EMF radiation refers to the waves emitted by electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops, and smartwatches. They’re a natural product of any electronic device.
However, devices with wireless connectivity, such as phones, emit additional radiation in the radio and microwave part of the spectrum.
In general, waves can be classified into two broad categories: non-ionizing and ionising.
- Non-ionizing radiation, emitted by most electronic devices, is generally considered safe, but recent research has cast doubt on just how safe it truly is. This is the type of radiation emitted by electronic devices, including wireless devices like phones which use non-ionising radiation to communicate.
- On the other hand, ionising radiation emitted by sources like X-rays can harm health at certain doses. While a few X-rays won’t harm you, prolonged exposure to X-rays is not advisable. Further down the EMF spectrum, you’ll find highly damaging radiation like gamma rays.
The radiation discharged by electronic devices has a higher wavelength than visible light, mainly occurring in the microwave and radio wave sections of the spectrum.
EMF Radiation and Electronic Gadgets
Healthcare and technology agencies worldwide are mindful of EMF exposure. After all, we live in a world absolutely full of electronic devices, many of which communicate wirelessly. Exposure is high and increasing all the time.
Research conducted in the 1970s revealed multiple health effects related to working in environments with intense EMF fields. In response, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) monitors workplace exposure to EMF in the UK for this reason. Other countries have established their own guidelines to prevent exposure to powerful EMF.
However, emerging concerns indicate that even lower EMF exposure levels might have health implications.
For instance, the World Health Organization (WHO) has designated it as a Group 2B possible carcinogen, primarily because of evidence suggesting a risk of glioma, a type of brain cancer.
As sceptics continue to debate the evidence, it’s becoming more challenging to ignore.
Numerous organisations, including the International EMF Appeal, signed by hundreds of scientists around the world, are now calling for wider debate surrounding EMF.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, cellphones are cited as one of the primary concerns.
WaveWall has published numerous summaries of research about EMF radiation, which can be found here.
Evaluating EMF Exposure
Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) calculates the amount of radiofrequency (RF) energy soaked up by the body when exposed to electromagnetic radiation.
- SAR is expressed in watts per kilogram (W/kg) and is employed to gauge the potential health consequences of exposure to RF radiation.
- SAR measures the energy absorption of the body’s tissues and is typically used to assess the safety of wireless devices like smartphones and digital wristbands.
Phantom body parts, such as a head and other synthetic tissues filled with a liquid that mimics the electrical properties of human tissues, are used to measure a device’s SAR. These tissues are placed next to phones and other devices to see how much radiation is absorbed into the tissues.
The electronic device is positioned near the body parts, and the SAR is measured using a probe. The probe evaluates the amount of RF energy absorbed by the phantom and calculates the SAR.
Regulations for SAR
Different countries have unique regulations for SAR levels. In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) limits the SAR level of a wireless device to 1.6 W/kg over 1 gram of tissue.
The European Union (EU) establishes the SAR limit at a higher 2.0 W/kg over 10 grams of tissue.
The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) similarly recommends a maximum exposure limit for non-ionizing radiation of 2 W/kg over 10 grams of tissue.
However, advocates, including the 247 scientists who signed the International EMF Scientist Appeal, argue that the limits are excessively high. They’re archaic and don’t reflect normal use patterns.
Additionally, SAR is typically tested at a 10mm range, and some manufacturers, like Apple, suggest using your device at this distance. Who uses their phone at a consistent distance of 10mm?
Thus, unless you hold your phone away from your head, you are likely exposing yourself to EMF beyond the stipulated limits measured by SAR tests.
Fitbit and EMF
Fitbit, a well-known smartwatch brand, offers advanced fitness tracking, message notifications, music playback, and compatibility with various apps.
However, like any electronic gadget, Fitbit smartwatches emit EMF, and they use wireless connectivity like Bluetooth and WiFi, which means they release more radiation in the microwave and radiofrequency sections of the spectrum.
There are concerns as to the radiation exposure produced by devices like Fitbit and other smartwatches.
EMF Radiation Levels in Fitbit
While Fitbit smartwatches emit EMF radiation like other electronic devices, the levels emitted by these watches are comparatively low.
In a forum post, a moderator from Fitbit says, “Fitbit’s power output is extremely low: about 0.5% – 1% of the output power of a cell phone.” While we can’t easily verify this, it seems close to the truth. Since Fitbits aren’t communicating directly with cell towers, and don’t need powerful wireless connectivity like phones.
Whichever way you look at it, smartwatches are definitely not as concerning as phones.
Furthermore, since Fitbit watches do not come into contact with the head, the radiation exposure to the brain is reduced. The maximum SAR for wrist devices is set at 4.0W/kg in the US.
Though smartwatches like Fitbit are not the primary sources of radiation exposure, they contribute to the overall radiation we are exposed to daily through constant contact with other devices, primarily smartphones. It’s not totally negligible, as it all adds up over time.
Potential Health Effects of EMF Radiation
EMF radiation has a cumulative impact. As exposure increases, so do the risks. Since many of us use phones and other electronic devices frequently, exposure is generally higher than ever before.
Here are some health impacts of EMF exposure:
There are common and legitimate concerns that extended exposure to EMF radiation can heighten cancer risk. This isn’t a niche concept and has been recognised by health institutions worldwide.
Several studies have explored the connection between EMF radiation and cancer, but comprehensive academic consensus is still lacking in the mainstream, at least.
Many scientists are convinced, including the signatories of the International EMF Scientist Appeal. Moreover, while brain cancer is the primary concern, EMF exposure has been linked to other cancer types, such as breast cancer.
Some individuals report headaches after prolonged exposure to EMF radiation. This was among the main concerns revealed by early research into working near high-powered EMFs.
Various factors can cause headaches, including stress, illness, exhaustion, and dehydration, making it difficult to attribute them solely to EMF radiation.
However, anecdotal accounts of headaches related to EMF exposure are widespread.
EMF radiation may interfere with sleep patterns.
While the evidence supporting the connection to EMF is largely inconclusive, late-night smartphone usage can adversely affect sleep due to other factors, such as blue light exposure.
Mobile phones may be associated with infertility in both men and women. Exposure has been linked to reduced sperm motility, mobility, and lower sperm counts.
Additionally, global fertility rates have dropped in the last 20 years. Many believe that radiation exposure is likely contributing to the decline. We simply don’t understand the magnitude of the effect yet.
Protecting Yourself from EMF
If you want to decrease your EMF exposure, you can take several practical steps.
Primarily, focus on reducing exposure through your smartphone and other wireless devices.
If you wish to minimise your EMF exposure, there are various measures you can implement.
First and foremost, concentrate on limiting exposure through your smartphone and other wireless devices, as these are likely the ones you interact with most frequently.
Starting with the most apparent solution, reducing the use of phones or other electronic devices will decrease EMF radiation exposure. Unfortunately, many of us spend too much time on our phones – this is another reason to curb your addiction!
Utilising Airplane Mode
Deactivating unnecessary features, such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, can also lessen radiation exposure.
Airplane mode disables all wireless communication, including cellular, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connections, significantly reducing EMF radiation exposure, particularly when the device is not in use.
Employing EMF Radiation Shielding Products
Highly effective EMF-blocking phone cases are available.
These products absorb and redirect radiation away from the body. WaveWall cases are independently tested to reduce 87% of smartphone radiation while allowing your phone to function unhindered.
Avoid Using Your Device at Night
Many people wear smartwatches throughout the night to track sleep metrics.
However, this means you’re virtually never free from radiation exposure. Additionally, your watch may end up near your head while you sleep.
If you can do without sleep tracking, it’s probably a good idea not to sleep with any electronic device on your person.
In Summary: Fitbit EMF Radiation – Are They Safe?
Generally, Fitbit smartwatches emit relatively low levels of EMF radiation. Importantly, their position on the wrist is more favourable than proximity to the head or groin.
However, the continuous operation of smartwatches raises concerns, especially when people sleep with the watch on, resulting in near 24-hour EMF exposure.
Reducing radiation exposure by limiting use and refraining from wearing the watch at night is advisable.
In addition, using EMF radiation shielding products can also significantly help in decreasing exposure.
WaveWall’s anti-radiation products are independently tested to protect you against EMF radiation. Explore our range of phone cases, headphones, laptop sleeves, and other innovative anti-EMF products.