Possible Health Implications Of Bluetooth Radiation
Contributing Writer: Jane Bayleaf
We recently raised the issue of making sure phones are safe as people begin to return to work and school. The issue is relevant right now from a general safety and sanitation standpoint. We should all be diligent about keeping the actual surfaces of our devices as clean as possible. More generally, this need for health safety is also a good reason to reopen the question of radiation in mobile devices. It’s an issue that’s been discussed and debated for years now, but it’s good now and then to revisit the implications.
So, what exactly are those implications?
The simplest way to put it is that it’s about EMFs or electromagnetic fields. In 2015, right around the time when Bluetooth headphones began to take off, a survey was conducted of 247 scientists from all around the world. Some of these scientists warned of potential health risks associated with “chronic EMF exposure” from the use of wireless devices. Specifically, the health risks mentioned included cancer, genetic damage, neurological disorders, learning and memory deficits, and even reproductive issues.
It’s important to note that these were not conclusive findings or concrete warnings. But as a university expert noted, we simply don’t have the research on long-term EMF exposure from Bluetooth and wireless devices to conclude that they’re entirely safe. Indeed, even a skeptical professor quoted in a more recent piece on the cancer risks of wireless headphones noted that “people can always argue that there’s no proof they’re 100% safe.” (That professor, to be clear, is not personally concerned about safety issues based on the knowledge at hand.)
Still more testing needs to be done. Many of us remember when doctors were once promoting cigarettes as being safe. Our Bluetooth devices expose us to EMFs, which in theory can lead to a number of serious health problems. Furthermore, we simply haven’t had these devices long enough to have suitable long-term research to completely disprove risks. However, the bad news more or less stops there. The more encouraging research indicates our devices are by and large safe to use.
For example, current studies and assessments of widely used Bluetooth technology tend to find very little risk, if any. Regarding concerns in recent years about Apple’s AirPods, for example — some of the most popular Bluetooth devices on Earth — researchers who have studied the subject concluded it’s “fine” to put a “radiation-emitting device” directly into our ears. Experts involved in this assessment stated decisively that a cordless headset “will not increase your risk of developing cancer.”
Beyond scientific studies, we can also hope to some degree that the companies behind Bluetooth devices have the research data to back up the safety of their own devices. This may not have been the case 15 or 20 years ago, but the rise of data analytics is nothing to scoff at. It’s a popular subject among undergraduates eyeing the tech field. Even working professionals are now pursuing online masters in data analytics to become experts in database principles, data visualization and forecasting and predictive modeling. This is so they can fulfill increasingly useful roles in some of the world’s biggest companies. And with the steady influx of data analysts, businesses are conducting more research on more topics than we can imagine.
Now, this does not mean we should blindly assume companies like Apple, Samsung and others have our best interests at heart, nor that they know better than scientists. For the sheer purpose of protection from liability and bad PR, it’s important for these companies to have confidence that their own products are safe. This motivation, coupled with the companies’ capacity for research and analysis, reassures some that serious risks are unlikely.
In addition to assessments on particular products and the assumption of tech company research there are also major health studies to back up the notion that some concerns may be overblown. Meanwhile, more recent studies by the California Department of Health found that Bluetooth devices release radiation 10 to 400 times lower than that of cell phones — making them even less likely to cause health issues.
All in all the data, is encouraging. However, we can’t be entirely sure one way or the other. Some other potential health consequences are not as thoroughly studied as cancer, and it’s understandable to be concerned about the particularly heavy use of wireless and/or Bluetooth devices. So if you are concerned, limited Bluetooth use and protective cell phone cases are worth looking into.
Prepared by: Jane Bayleaf
Prepared for: gadgetguard.com