We get asked a lot of questions about EMF and cancer, and one of them is, are Bluetooth headphones safe? And, more specifically, some people want to know whether AirPods are dangerous. So what are the health risks of Bluetooth? Can listening to your favorite music actually be harming you?
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The Problem With Holding Your Phone Against Your Head
EMF radiation is all around us. It emanates from our smartphones, laptops, wifi routers, baby monitors, and smart meters – to name just a few.
And this EMF radiation is damaging to our health. For example, human epidemiological studies have shown that EMF exposure leads to increased risk of glioma and acoustic neuroma, and laboratory studies have shown that this type of DNA can cause irreversible genetic mutations.
And in 2011, the World Health Organization classified radio frequency radiation as a Group 2B human carcinogen.
This has led scientists from all over the world to petition for stronger protective guidelines and public education on EMF radiation.
To put it another way: the evidence is clear. Too much EMF exposure puts you at risk of multiple health issues – some of them as serious as cancer, DNA damage and neurological disorders.
Now, it’s a widely-known fact that holding a cell phone to your ear is one of the most dangerous ways to use it. When your phone is on a call, it is emitting a very high level of EMF radiation. So high, that even companies like Apple warn you not to hold your phone against your head or body. (And, it turns out, many wireless companies publish false test data; their cell phones can actually emit more radiation than is legally allowed.)
These are just some of the reasons why, as one example, the state of California warns its residents not to hold phones against their heads.
So it’s safer to use a headset or headphones, instead of holding your phone up to your head.
But here’s the catch – not all headphones are created equally when it comes to health and safety.
So what’s the safest option? A traditional set of wired headphones, or a wireless Bluetooth headset? (Hint: It’s neither. They both have their dangers and there is another alternative, which we’ll get into below.)
Apple & Other Cell Phone Companies Try to Force Bluetooth
But first, let’s take a step back to 2016, when Apple caused major ripples with one simple announcement: the iPhone 7 would be released without a 3.5mm headphone jack.
It may not seem like the most dramatic move, but this one design alteration had big implications. It signaled an end to the days of using wired headphones with our phones. In their stead, Apple released Airpods – their proprietary wireless earbuds.
The move thus ushered in the age of Bluetooth headphones and wireless charging – bringing us one step closer to the portless iPhone and amplifying our collective EMF radiation exposure to yet another level.
It makes sense that people would be wondering about the safety of AirPods. After all, it seemed like almost overnight that they appeared everywhere. And due to a lack of research, there’s no way for their creator, Apple, to provide a simple answer on whether they’re safe.
And AirPods are not alone. While Apple’s gorgeous little Bluetooth earbuds are incredibly popular, wireless headphones and headsets have been around for a while.
But the popularity of AirPods means they warrant their own investigation. Apple’s move created something of a phenomenon: within a year of the iPhone 7’s release, AirPods were selling out as fast as stores could get them into stock.
And by removing the headphone jack and effectively forcing iPhone users to go wireless, Apple set a precedent for other companies to do the same – and opened up new questions about EMF and cancer.
Are Bluetooth Headphones Safe?
Wireless headphones, like the Apple AirPods and similar products, operate using Bluetooth.
Bluetooth is a technology that emits a type of EMF radiation that is very similar to what comes out of your cell phone. And these wireless Bluetooth headsets are designed to be positioned in your ear, directly adjacent to your brain.
So Bluetooth headsets expose your brain to these harmful EMF rays.
Bluetooth devices such as wireless headsets, hands-free devices or even wireless earbuds can expose you to EMF radiation.
This is the same type of radiation that your cell phone emits – that the World Health Organization lists as a Class 2B carcinogen, and that governments, like the state of California, warn you to keep away from your head.
But Isn’t Bluetooth Radiation Minimal?
Another valid question, and one worth addressing.
Compared to a typical cell phone, the amount of radiation emitted by Bluetooth headphones can be significantly less.
That said, not all Bluetooth devices are created equal. There are actually three different types of Bluetooth transmitters, each with their own level of power output.
- Class 1 transmitters — transmit with power of 100 mW (milliwatts)
- Class 2 transmitters — transmit with power of 2.5 mW
- Class 3 transmitters — transmit with power of 1 mW
As you can see, class 3 transmitters output the lowest level of EMF power emissions, and offer the lowest range of device connectivity (up to about 3 feet). And Class 1 outputs the highest amount of power and offers the maximum range of connectivity (300 feet). Class 2 sits in the middle.
Apple’s second generation of AirPods falls under Bluetooth Class 1 – meaning they give you a better range of connectivity at the cost of outputting more power (which in turn equals higher radiation).
So, among Bluetooth devices, Apple’s AirPods emit the highest EMF radiation with the highest amount of power.
In fact, one report that found hands-free kits channel three times the dose of radiation into the skull compared to a cell phone!
It’s Not Just the Power
Even so, with wireless earbuds, the main concern isn’t only the strength of the radiation they emit.
There are two other significant factors:
- the placement of the device on the body, and
- the cumulative exposure over time
Let’s look at each of these things.
Wireless Earbuds: Closer To The Brain
Holding a cell phone to your ear is dangerous. There’s no longer any debate about this fact, and public health bodies globally advise against it.
That being the case, what about putting a radiation-emitting device inside your ear where it’s even closer to your brain?
Wireless earbuds like AirPods deliver EMF radiation straight to the brain via your ear canal. That’s not only very close to your brain, it’s also a part of your head without the skull to provide even some basic level of shielding against the EMF – the radiation has a straight shot to your brain.
So even with emission levels lower than that of a cell phone, there’s the factor of higher absorption.
Says Jerry Phillips, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, “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.”
Many other scientists agree. “For some Bluetooth devices like Apple’s AirPods, the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR), a measure of the body’s maximum exposure to microwave radiation, exceeds that of many smart phones,” writes Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D. “Moreover, the cumulative exposure to radiation from wireless headsets may be substantial since many users keep these devices on their head for hours at a time.”
Cumulative Exposure to EMF
This brings us to the second point: cumulative exposure.
The World Health Organization has already classified EMF radiation as a Class 2B carcinogen. So if EMF can lead to cancer, then all exposure counts. All exposure is damaging. And all exposure – regardless of where the device sits on the electromagnetic spectrum – is best limited.
Wireless earbuds like AirPods take the opposite approach. AirPods are designed to be used for extended periods of time. The intention is for you to use them while listening to music or podcasts, watching movies or binging on Netflix series, as well as talking on the phone.
And this is exactly what most people use them for. We’ve all seen people – friends, relatives, colleagues – walk around all day long with these EMF transmitters lodged in their skulls.
What’s more: your radiation exposure from Bluetooth devices is in addition to your exposure to EMF radiation from your cell phone and other sources of EMF. So it doesn’t matter that the Bluetooth radiation is weaker than the radiation from your phone, because it’s not replacing your phone’s radiation. It’s yet one more source of EMF to which you are exposing your body.
Added to that, when your cell phone is connected to your AirPods, your phone (which is almost certainly very close to you, if not in your pocket) emits more radiation than it otherwise would. So using AirPods not only adds a new source of radiation right next to your brain, it actually increases the amount of radiation your phone emits.
So while AirPods (and other types of wireless earphones) may emit radiation that falls technically within safety guidelines, the truth is that these guidelines do not account for the potential risks of prolonged and cumulative exposure, or to the proximity of the accessory to the brain.
So no, Bluetooth headphones are not safe.
Which brings us to SYB Healthy Living Tip #9: Don’t Use Bluetooth Headphones.
Despite widespread complaints from consumers, smartphone manufacturers are continuing to drop the 3.5mm headphone jack from their products, with the likes of Google and Samsung following in Apple’s footsteps. The push towards wireless continues. The cell phone companies are implicitly pushing consumers like you to use Bluetooth whether you like it or not.
But, if you’re concerned about your health and your exposure to EMF radiation, you should not use Bluetooth headphones.
And if you use wireless Bluetooth earbuds like AirPods, try to limit your use to when you really need it – like perhaps when you’re working out or going for a run – and don’t leave the earbuds in for extended amounts of time.
What Should You Use Instead of Bluetooth Headphones?
And now we arrive at SYB Healthy Living Tip #87: Use Your Speaker Phone or a Radiation Free Headset.
Speakerphone is easy to use – we all know how to do it. Just hit the speakerphone icon on your phone to be able to talk and listen on calls without the phone near your head. By keeping your phone further from your head, you’re making a huge cut to your radiation exposure.
But you obviously can’t use speakers all the time. There are private conversations to be had (and who wants to be that annoying person on the bus with their music blaring out loud??).
The other option is to use a wired headset, like the headset that likely came with your phone. In fact, this is what the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends.
These plug directly into your phone and carry the soundwave signals from your phone up to your earbuds, where they are converted to sound. By using a headset, you are keeping the major source of EMF emissions — your phone — further away from your body, thus reducing your exposure.
See, traditional wired headphones are much safer than Bluetooth headphones, because wired headsets don’t require wireless transmission (and thus, EMF emissions) like Bluetooth does. But they’re not a perfect solution. And they’re not without dangers.
Why? Because standard wired headsets and headphones use metallic wire to conduct the sound signal to the speakers in your earbuds.
Unfortunately, the same properties that make metal a good conductor for your sound signal also make these same metal wires a good conductor for EMF radiation.
So standard headphones not only carry sound up the cables and into your head, they also carry some of your phone’s EMF radiation emissions right into your ear canal.
So, while using a headset is much safer than holding your phone against your head, they still enable EMF to travel up the cord and into your brain, even if your phone is positioned away from your body.
What Should You Use Instead of a Wired Headset?
An even better option is to use a radiation-free headset. And here at SYB, we have two different solutions for you, so that you can enjoy radiation free headsets with your phones and other wireless devices.
The Air Tube Anti-Radiation Headset
Instead of using a traditional headset, a better solution is something called an air tube headset, which adds an extra layer of safety beyond what traditional wired headsets offer.
What’s the difference between wired and air tube anti-radiation headsets?
Visually, a conventional set of wired headphones and an air tube headset look much the same. Both of them plug into the headphone jack of your device, and have a cord that branches off into two parts ending in two earbuds.
The major difference between the two is the way they transmit sound. As I explained above, a wired headset has metal wires extending all the way through the cords from the device to your ears.
How Air Tube Headsets Work
In standard headsets, the metallic wires conduct the audio signals all the way up to the earbud, where the speakers convert the signals into the sound that you hear.
In an air tube headset, the speakers are not in the earbuds. Instead, they are located part-way up the headset wires. With air tubes, the metal inside the cables stops part way up. There a speaker converts the audio signal into sound, and the sound is carried the rest of the way up to your ear through hollow tubes filled with air.
Because there’s no metal to act as a conductor, they transmit only the sound, not the radiation. In a product like our SYB Air Tube Headset, that means 99% of cell phone radiation is stopped in its tracks by the air tubes and kept away from your brain.
Air Tube Headsets and Sound Quality
One question you may have about airtube headsets is whether you need to completely sacrifice sound quality in order to protect your health.
While you do not need to completely sacrifice sound quality, no air tube can match the sound quality of a good pair of traditional headphones or a headset. It’s just how the air gap technology works.
Air tubes are great for making calls and listening to podcasts. But when it comes to listening to music and watching movies, you’ll definitely notice a difference: air tubes do not sound as good as a comparably priced pair of standard headphones.
That said, some air tubes are better than others. Our SYB Air Tube headset provides crisp audio quality for clear conversations as well as decent bass for listening to music.
So, while using any pair of air tubes will sacrifice sound quality, our SYB Air Tubes provide better sound than most.
If sound quality is a significant priority for you, then check out our SYB Headset Anti Radiation Device (H.A.R.D.). The H.A.R.D. is a great alternative to Air Tubes, because you can turn any headset into an anti-radiation headset, and get protected without sacrificing sound quality. More on that below.
As for the SYB Air Tubes, they not only provide good audio quality, they have other benefits too.
Stylish, Conventional Design
To look at them, you wouldn’t know that our SYB Air Tube headphones are anything but normal. Our anti-radiation headphones are stylish and comfortable, and they work exactly like normal models, but with the added benefit of cutting up to 99% of EMF radiation from reaching your brain.
Because they look and act like regular headphones, the product is also practical, intuitive and can be used with any of your devices that have a standard 3.5mm audio jack. (And for those of you with newer phones and devices, you can use a USB-C or lightning adapter to enjoy the EMF protection benefits of air tubes.)
So they’re great not just for phones, but also for tablets, ebook readers and laptops too.
Two Models: Standard and Over-the-Ear
We originally offered just the standard earbud design, which you can see in our black Air Tubes. But it turns out a lot of people don’t like standard earbud designs. Either they’re uncomfortable, or the headphones are prone to falling out, especially during exercise.
So we created the SYB Over-the-Ear Air Tube headset, available in white. These are the most secure-fitting air tube headsets you will find anywhere.
Not only is it almost impossible for these earbuds to fall out, but they also sit slightly deeper into the inner-ear, enhancing sound quality and boosting bass.
Multiple Sizes of Ear Bud Covers
Each pair of SYB Air Tubes includes three sizes of ear bud covers, so you can get just the right fit.
Some models of air tubes include magnets in the ear buds. For those most concerned about exposure to electromagnetic radiation, rest assured that our SYB Air Tubes have no magnets in them.
Should you use an Air Tube Headset?
If you use your phone, and you don’t want to use the speaker, then yes, you should use an air tube headset – it’s a no-brainer.
And the SYB Air Tube headset will offer you durability, a fantastic fit, and industry-leading sound quality – all while protecting you from your cell phone’s EMF radiation emissions.
There’s no doubt that modern technology improves our quality of life, but the health risks should not be ignored. By adapting your smartphone use to reduce radiation, you get the best of both worlds: unrivaled technical performance and minimal exposure.
The SYB Headset Anti Radiation Device (H.A.R.D)
While highly effective as EMF blockers, air tubes have one major downside: they don’t deliver optimal sound quality. They’re great for making calls and listening to podcasts, but do not provide a satisfying audio experience for listening to music, watching movies, or playing games.
So right now you’re probably thinking that there’s no ideal solution.
But it turns out there is. And we’ve found it.
Introducing SYB H.A.R.D. Protection – the best alternative to air tubes for blocking EMF radiation and keeping you safe – while also providing fantastic audio at the same time.
Why H.A.R.D. is the Better Alternative to EMF Protection Headphones
The SYB H.A.R.D. (Headset Anti Radiation Device) is the latest and best technology for protecting your head and brain from radiation.
Here’s how it works:
You simply plug one end of the HARD device into your audio jack, then plug your favorite pair of headphones into the other end. In other words, the HARD EMF protection sits in between you and your device.
The SYB HARD protection contains a powerful dielectric gel formula that absorbs unwanted radiofrequency radiation, preventing it from reaching your ears and brain.
Unlike air tube headsets, SYB HARD protection doesn’t degrade your sound quality. Because it works with your favorite headset or headphones, you get the sound quality you’re used to – while also protecting yourself from cell phone EMF radiation.
In fact, because it removes interference from the cable, HARD can even enhance audio quality.
Additional Benefits of Our Headset Anti Radiation Device
The SYB HARD EMF protection for headphones has a bunch of benefits:
- It blocks 99% of cell phone radiation away from your brain.
- It’s small, subtle and stylish.
- You can use it with ANY headphones, earphones or headset you want.
- Any controls that you have on your headphones – like volume control and call answering – still work.
- You can use it on any standard 3.5mm jack, which means it’s suitable for most smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other devices with audio. If you have a later model smartphone without a 3.5mm jack, you can simply use a Lightning or USB-C adapter.
- No batteries are required.
- No sacrifice on audio quality.
And, like all of our products here at SYB, the SYB H.A.R.D. offers free shipping, a lifetime warranty and 30-day returns. There’s absolutely no risk to try them.
So what’s the downside?
If we could think of one, we’d tell you. But as far as we’re concerned. this is our best solution yet for making your headphones safer and protecting your head and brain from harmful EMF rays.
The SYB H.A.R.D. is the best air tube alternative to use your phone more safely, without sacrificing sound quality. Find out more about the SYB HARD Headset Anti Radiation Device here.