Wireless technology is everywhere, and when it comes to Bluetooth headphones, there is no doubt that they are convenient and easy to use. We all love the absence of dangling wires attaching you to a physical device and the way that high-quality sound is delivered straight inside our ears. However, the big question is, are Bluetooth speakers safe?
Apple is embracing Bluetooth technology with its AirPods selling in millions and offering a magical experience of seamless delivery that is voice-activated via Siri. Other wireless brands are less expensive but provide the same smooth listening experience.
Bluetooth is so commonplace that most people now just accept it in the same way as we don’t question how electricity or the internet works. Already headphones with wires are beginning to look a little dated. But is this a mistake?
First up, How do Bluetooth Speakers Work?
Bluetooth works by electromagnetic radiation. Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are invisible areas of energy or radiation that are produced by electricity. Our mobile phones, our microwaves and our Bluetooth speakers emit a very low-level EMF called radiofrequency radiation (RFR). All wireless devices, use this frequency to pass digital information through the air and deliver it seamlessly, so RFRs are literally everywhere.
There is not much we can do about this, but there are specific concerns about the safety of cell phones and Bluetooth speakers. Because both these devices are used in such close proximity to the head and for such long periods of time, they may pose a risk to health.
The Potential Dangers of Bluetooth Technology
A study carried out by the World Health Organisation in 2011 classified that RFR is a possible cause for cancer. Glioma is a type of malignant brain cancer associated with mobile phone use.
A study carried out by the National Toxicology Program in 2018 established a proven link between exposure to RFR and cancer. They tested this out on rats and mice and found that it caused cancerous tumors. It is essential to point out here that the rodents received far higher doses of radiation than the equivalent amounts received by humans using mobile phones.
So are Bluetooth Headphones Safe?
Bluetooth Headphones emit far less radiation than a cell phone, so they are much safer to use. However, according to scientists, there are some concerns. The specific absorbency rate (SAR), which is the amount of radiation that is absorbed by the body, can vary depending on the device.
The Apple AirPod is within safe guidelines at 0.466 watts per kilogram, but long term use has never been tested, and scientists are concerned that prolonged use could build up radiation levels and affect the brain. Other brands could be higher – the legal limit is 1.6 watts per kilogram, but scientists warn that this is an unregulated market, and long term exposure could lead to increased risk.
Listening to music helps improve sleep patterns and cancels out external noise and, according to scientific studies, has many positive benefits for health.
Alternatively, cutting out background environmental noise and replacing it with active noise-canceling technology is the right solution, and it does not require the use of Bluetooth.
You can achieve active noise-canceling without Bluetooth. There are sleep headphones that work without a Bluetooth connection. QuietOn Sleep Earplugs, for example, cancel out low-frequency noise such as traffic or snoring and have 20-hour battery life. Although these sleep headphones do not have any attached wires, they do not work via wireless technology either, and so do not emit radiation.
How to Keep Safe When Using Bluetooth Headphones
To ensure that you stay safe and minimize the risk, you should take some precautions when using Bluetooth technology. If you use Bluetooth headphones to sleep, always set the timer so that you are not absorbing radio waves while you sleep. Do not let children who have thinner skulls and developing brains listen via Bluetooth unsupervised for hours on end.
Is There Really a Risk of Using Bluetooth Headphones?
When it comes down to the safety of Bluetooth headphones, it is vital to keep some perspective. We are surrounded by WIFI and low-level RFRs, so unless you build a Faraday cage – an enclosure to block electromagnetic radiation and not an option for everyday life – you will be subject to this invisible magnetic field most of the time.
Besides, science into the effects of Bluetooth technology has not been thoroughly investigated. It is possible that the potential risks have been exaggerated, and nobody really knows the long term effects of in-ear speakers. However, to keep safe, it is crucial to recognize that there is a potential risk, and if in doubt, choosing sleep headphones that don’t work via Bluetooth is undoubtedly a safer and risk-free option.