Are AirPods safe

Apple AirPods: do the wireless headphones cause cancer?


  • Just like smartphones, Apple's new AirPods Pro and other wireless headphones also emit small amounts of high-frequency radiation.
  • Scientists are still not sure if this dose can harm us. Studies suggest that radiation from cell phones (which is far greater than that from Bluetooth devices) is no more likely to lead to cancer.
  • According to experts, consumers should be more concerned about noise in their ears than about radiation.
  • You can find more articles from Business Insider here.

Do Bluetooth headphones like Apple's new AirPods Pro increase the risk of cancer? Rumors about it appear again and again on the Internet.

The short answer: calm down, everyone! Compared to other electronic devices, Bluetooth radiation is not really harmful. However, scientists cannot confirm one hundred percent that it is completely free of damage.

Most of the vortex came from a blog post published in early 2019. The post quotes Jerry Phillips, a biochemist who studied DNA damage from electromagnetic fields. His research suggests that electromagnetic radiation could deleteriously affect human DNA.

"My concern about AirPods is that they expose the tissue in the head to relatively high levels of radiation," he said.

There is no hard evidence that the AirPods Pro or any other headphones are dangerous

Crystal Cox / Business Insider

The author of the blog post also wrote that in 2015 a group of more than 200 international scientists made an appeal to the United Nations and the World Health Organization expressing a "serious concern" about the non-ionizing electromagnetic field (EMF).

That is true, but the said appeal did not specifically mention Bluetooth devices or headphones.

The scientists behind this letter were concerned about all types of electronics that emit non-ionizing electromagnetic fields - energy waves that travel at the speed of light in many electronic devices, including smartphones, routers, smart meters, baby monitors, and broadcast antennas.

"EMF scientists have serious concerns about the ubiquitous and increasing exposure to radiation from wireless devices and antennas from all sources, including the pulsed digital signals that Bluetooth transmits," Elizabeth Kelley, director of the Electromagnetic Safety Alliance, told Business Insider in an email.

Most other scientists, however, hesitate to claim that the low doses of radiation from smartphones and Bluetooth headphones are dangerous.

Andreas Rentz / Getty Images

"They don't have enough energy to cause cancer and directly damage the DNA in cells," according to the American Cancer Society.

The electromagnetic energy from smartphones, radios, and other wireless devices is different from more powerful types of radiation, such as X-rays, gamma rays, and the sun's ultraviolet (UV) light, which can actually break the chemical bonds in DNA.

There is evidence that cell phone radiation can be harmful to rats

However, some interesting discoveries have been made in experiments with rats. The US National Toxicology Program found "clear evidence" that extended cell phone exposure is associated with more heart and brain tumors in male rats. This cannot be proven for female rats or mice (male and female).

However, the fact that this happens to laboratory rats does not mean that it can also affect humans. It cannot be conclusively proven whether the radiation dose from a smartphone is actually harmful to a person.

A 10-year study in 13 countries carried out by the International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that there is no increased risk of brain tumors when using smartphones. But the scientists also indicated that more research was needed, especially with very intensive use of the devices.

If you are worried about radiation risks, Kelley recommends swapping the Bluetooth headphones for wired headphones. However, it makes more sense to worry more about the volume than about the radiation.

The science is clearer there. Constant loud noises in the ear can lead to non-cancerous acoustic neuroma tumors, which can result in hearing loss and constant ringing in the ears called tinnitus.

If you are not careful here, you may soon have to put a completely different type of radio technology in your ears - namely a hearing aid.