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Are Bluetooth Headphones Safe? AirPods & Your Health

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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? 

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. 

Where do you carry your phone?

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My father, Dr. Martin Blank, speaking on behalf of the International Scientist Appeal on Electromagnetic Fields

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?

are bluetooth headphones safe - dangers of airpods
Wireless headphones, like the AirPods, are another source of EMF.

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: 

  1. the placement of the device on the body, and
  2. 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: public health bodies globally strongly 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 inside your head via your ear canal. That’s not only very close to your brain but 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 smartphones,” writes Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D.

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. 

Besides EMF: Apple Air Pods Cause Ear Infections

In addition to concerns about EMF exposure, a significant number of Apple AirPods Pro users have been reporting incidents of ear infections and allergic reactions associated with the use of their headphones.

In 2021, iPhone in Canada, one of the leading news authorities for anything Apple and technology-related, reported links between Apple’s AirPods Pro and ear infections.

Experts suspect that this might be because of the material the AirPods Pro ear tips are made from – though this is not confirmed because Apple doesn’t specify exactly what they use in their ear tips.

One viral video from an ENT doctor, Dr. Sina Joorabchi, also showed the downside of AirPod overuse.

(Warning: Graphic Imagery). The video is of a doctor extracting a “fungus ball” from the patient’s ear.

The fungus infection called otomycosis created a “fungus and earwax mixture” in the patient’s ear, who claimed to be an avid AirPods user.

Now, it’s nearly impossible to confidently say if AirPods cause infections and allergic reactions without an epidemiological study with a huge subject pool. But, based on the anecdotal evidence we have, it’s better to limit the use of AirPods, or any other earbuds for that matter, to a short duration.

So, Do Airpod Pros Cause Brain Cancer?

So, as Bluetooth headphones bypass your skull’s natural EMF shielding, it’s normal to wonder whether devices like AirPods could induce chronic diseases like brain cancer. But I’m afraid the answer isn’t so simple.

See, cancer is a progressive disease. This means, in many cases, it can take a long time for it to develop and get to the point where it becomes fatal.

So, there’s no real way to confirm this through experiments, as that would mean keeping the subjects under observation for as long as it takes for cancer to develop. And that could be years.

But this also doesn’t mean we can rule out the possibility of developing brain cancers from prolonged exposure to EMF from Bluetooth headphones like AirPods. Why?

To understand this better, we have to go back to what we already know.

Research studies show that prolonged EMF exposure causes problems in your brain like:

  • Albumin leakage through the blood-brain barrier
  • Nerve cell damage
  • Myelin sheath damage
  • And neurological cognitive disorders

And if they continue, some of these can cause one to develop brain tumors and eventually cancer.

Learn more about EMF’s effects on the brain in my post, “EMF & Brain Health: How EMF Exposure Affects Your Brain’s Functioning?”

So, do AirPods cause brain cancer? We don’t know yet. But can using them create problems that could cause one to develop brain cancer in the long term? Certainly, that’s a possibility.

So, now you know that, let’s look at how much radiation AirPods emit.

AirPods & AirPods Pro Radiation Levels

Measuring EMFs from gadgets like AirPods isn’t as simple as holding an EMF meter in front of them. That means we have to rely on the SAR levels that manufacturers publish to understand the levels of EMF we’re receiving from them.

So, what is SAR?

SAR, or specific absorption rate, is a method of EMF measurement that shows how much radiation your body will absorb from a specific device. Manufacturers are legally required to test the SAR levels of their devices, and make their findings publicly available, to be able to sell their gadgets.

But there’s a problem with SAR. It actually doesn’t actually tell you how much radiation YOUR body will absorb from the device. Instead, it tells how much EMF a 6’2” man who weighs 220 lbs would absorb.

I’ve written all about it in my post, “What is SAR and How is Cell Phone Radiation (Not) Regulated?” So, give it a read.

But even though SAR isn’t perfect, unfortunately, it’s all we have. So, let’s have a look at the SAR levels from different generation AirPods.

DeviceLeft EarRight Ear
First Generation AirPods0.510 w/kg of Body Weight0.466 w/kg of Body Weight
Second Generation AirPods0.501 w/kg of Body Weight0.581 w/kg of Body Weight
Third Generation AirPods0.614 w/kg of Body Weight0.626 w/kg of Body Weight

Avoid Bluetooth

This 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.

Do Anti-EMF Stickers for AirPods Work?

There are many products on the market claiming to reduce your EMF exposure from wireless earphones like Airpods. If you do a simple online search, you’ll come across hundreds of websites selling Anti-EMF stickers and EMF harmonizers for Airpods and other wireless earbuds.

But are these products worth your money? Do they even work?

Well, to answer this, we have to go back to the two key aspects of EMF protection.

  1. The power of EMF weakens with distance.
  2. Conductive materials like metals shield and deflect EMF radiation in the opposite direction.

These anti-EMF stickers are tiny stickers that go on the back of each of your wireless earbuds. So, I want you to ask yourself:

  • Are they creating a distance between your device and your head?
  • Do they stand between your device and your body to shield EMF from the gadget in the opposite direction?
  • Or do they at least make you use your device less?

Well, the answer to all these questions, as far as anti-EMF stickers for Airpods go, is no.

So, unless there’s another explanation that the scientific community is unaware of, I recommend sticking to using your wired headset or speakerphone mode.

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.

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??). 

Wired Headsets

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

SYB Air Tube Headset, Anti EMF Radiation Protection

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

SYB Air Tube Headset, Anti EMF Radiation Protection - Are Bluetooth Headphones Safe

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

SYB Air Tube Headset, Anti EMF Radiation Protection
Our SYB Air Tubes are available in two separate styles, to meet your needs.

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.

No Magnets

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:

SYB HARD Anti Radiation Headset Shield, Air Tube Alternative
  • 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.

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About the Author

R Blank is the CEO of Shield Your Body, which he founded in 2012. With hundreds of thousands of customers in over 30 countries, and having been interviewed on platforms including Dr. Phil, ABC news television and ElectricSense, R is an internationally followed expert on issues of EMF, health and safety. He also hosts “The Healthier Tech Podcast”, available iTunes, Spotify and all major podcasting platforms. In the past, he served on the faculty at the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering as well as the University of California, Santa Cruz. Previously, R ran a software engineering firm in Los Angeles, producing enterprise-level solutions for blue chip clients including Medtronic, Apple, NBC, Toyota, Disney, Microsoft, the NFL, Ford, IKEA and Mattel. He has spoken at conferences around the world, including in the US, Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands, and he is the co-author, along with his father Dr. Martin Blank, of ‘Overpowered‘ from Seven Stories Press about the science of health effects of EMF radiation. He has an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and received his bachelor’s degree, with honors, from Columbia University. He has also studied at Cambridge University in the UK; the University of Salamanca in Spain; and the Institute of Foreign Languages in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. Read more about R and SYB or connect with R on LinkedIn.

Have a Question?

I take pride in designing great, effective products, based on real, measurable science – AND taking the time to ensure that each and every one of you has the information you need to understand EMF and make informed decisions.

So if you have a question, just email me and ask.

R Blank

R Blank

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