HTV National Desk
Published 1:48 pm CDT, Wednesday, March 13, 2019
By now, you’ve seen the alarming headlines proclaiming wireless headsets, like Apple AirPods, could potentially cause cancer. But does this mean you should ditch those beloved Bluetooth headphones for old-school earbuds?
The answer isn’t so simple, some experts say.
Here’s why people are talking about this: Last week, a Medium article questioned the safety of AirPods and other Bluetooth headphones. The story quotes Jerry Phillips, a biochemistry professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, who believes wireless headphones aren’t as safe as we assume.
“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,” he said. Phillips told the website that risks include abnormal cell functioning, which may cause tumors or other health conditions.
The story re-surfaced a petition urging the United Nations and World Health Organization to strengthen guidelines and regulatory standards for Bluetooth devices. The document is signed by 250 researchers from more than 40 countries who caution that using certain devices may increase cancer risk. However, the petition isn’t new – it originated in 2015 – and specifically calls out non-ionizing electromagnetic fields (used in all Bluetooth devices), as well as radio frequency radiation-emitting devices (like cellphones and Wi-Fi) as dangerous.
Although most experts agree that there is no safe level of radiation, it’s simply not possible to avoid exposure, Schulder says.
“We cannot avoid radiation in our lives even if we lived a completely pastoral existence off the grid,” he said.
That’s because radiation is in our food, plants, airplane travel and even the sun. The bigger question, then, is how much do you willingly want to expose yourself to radiation?
“For me, the added convenience of the AirPods doesn’t matter so I choose not to use them,” Schulder said However, if you really enjoy wireless headphones, there’s no reason to give them up. Schulder explains that wireless headphones emit less radiation than another gadget most of us are glued to: cellphones.
“There has not been a major bump in tumors to suggest that cellphones are causing it (the tumors) and we know that the Bluetooth radiation is less than cellphones themselves,” he said.
Bottom line: If you want to wear AirPods, go ahead.
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