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Are Bluetooth Headphones, Like AirPods, Safe?

They’re convenient, easy to use, and stylish… but are they safe? In an era of wireless connectivity, Bluetooth headphones (like AirPods) have given wired headphones a run for their money. But are Bluetooth headphones, like AirPods, safe to wear throughout the work day, while you are exercising, and while you watch your favorite TV show? Are you exposing yourself to unnecessary EMFs or are the potential dangers overblown? 

Keep reading to learn more about Bluetooth headphones, electromagnetic radiation, and best practices to reduce your risk of exposure.

Note: This article contains affiliate links, meaning In On Around will make a small commission at no additional cost to you. This helps us maintain the site. As always, we value full transparency & only work with brands we love and trust.

Summary: 

  • Instead of Bluetooth headphones, opt for wired headphones or talk on speakerphone. 
  • Best: Using wired headphones or speakerphone
  • Okay on occasion: Using Bluetooth headphones
  • Worst: Talking with your phone up to your ear

Table of Contents

What is Bluetooth?

We all have it on our phones, but what really is Bluetooth? Well, let’s dive into the details. 

Bluetooth is the technology that links nearby devices wirelessly and allows them to communicate with each other. The typical connection range for Bluetooth is 10 meters (about 30 feet). Bluetooth is able to connect devices at this distance because it uses a short-range radio frequency. To be specific, according to Forbes, the spectrum used by Bluetooth “is in the 2.4GHz ISM spectrum band.” 

Bluetooth oftentimes switches the exact frequency used in order to keep your connection secure, stable, and continuous. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency explains that while Bluetooth is mostly secure, people need to be careful if their Bluetooth device is “discoverable,” since it can potentially lead to data breaches. 

Understanding Bluetooth Technology & Radiation Range

If you didn’t know, there are actually different “classes” of Bluetooth… but what are the differences?

Bluetooth is a source of electromagnetic radiation, and different Bluetooth devices emit different levels of radiation

As of now, there are three classes of transmitters that differ based on the level of power it puts out. According to Shield Your Body, the classes are: 

  • Class 1 transmitters: transmit with a power of 100 milliwatts
  • Class 2 transmitters: transmit with a power of 2.5 milliwatts 
  • Class 3 transmitters: transmit with a power of 1 milliwatts 

The more milliwatts = the further the Bluetooth devices can be apart from each other. 

For example, if you are wearing Bluetooth headphones that are class 3, you can only be about 3 feet from the device the headphones are connected to. If you are wearing Bluetooth headphones that are class 1, you can be about 300 feet from the device the headphones are connected to. With the convenience of being able to span farther distances and having better connectivity, comes more radiation being emitted. 

Simply put, the more power emitted, the more radiation also emitted. This is important to consider when considering Bluetooth devices and their power.

Bluetooth and WiFi Safety

What is Electromagnetic Radiation?

The term “electromagnetic radiation” is thrown around a lot online, but what does it really mean? Well, there are two types of electromagnetic radiation: ionizing and non-ionizing (you may have learned about this in high school science class).

The differences between the two depend on the length and frequency of wavelengths. Ionizing electromagnetic radiation has short wavelengths and high frequency, while non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation has long wavelengths and low frequency. 

Ionizing electromagnetic radiation (like gamma rays from nuclear power plants) is much stronger and may have the power to change an atom’s charge (leading to very, very serious health conditions, sometimes quickly). Non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation, however, is the category that Bluetooth falls under and is less intense than ionizing electromagnetic radiation.  

How Harmful is Bluetooth on Your Health?

As we mentioned, Bluetooth devices are sources of electromagnetic radiation (specifically non-ionizing radiation)… but does that mean it’s safe? There have been quite a few studies that have tried to determine if electromagnetic radiation is really safe, but more long-term research is needed.

Bluetooth & EMF Symptoms

A 2016 review found that electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from “cell phone base stations, excessive mobile phone usage, and from wireless smart meters” could contribute to neuropsychiatric effects. The neuropsychiatric effects that people may experience include: [1]

  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Depression (or similar symptoms)
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Dysesthesia (abnormal sensory perception)
  • Memory changes
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite (leading to a loss of body weight)
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Concentration or attention dysfunction
  • Nausea
  • Skin burning or tingling
  • Brain changes
 

In addition to the neuropsychiatric effects that EMFs may have, the report said that electromagnetic radiofrequency radiation could also cause thermogenic effects, biological effects, and genotoxic effects. [2] 

The International Agency for Research on Cancer also categorized radiofrequency radiation as a possible Group 2B human carcinogen. Other Group 2B carcinogens include aspartame and lead. The research done by Miller et al. on rodents could mimic human exposure to radiofrequency radiation over a lifetime. If this is true, the researchers discovered that radiofrequency radiation could increase rates of schwannomas, malignant gliomas, and chromosomal DNA damage. [3] 

A key thing to note here is that the level and amount of exposure to EMFs is going to determine the impact that these devices have on you. Some people may be more sensitive to EMF exposure and could present with symptoms with less exposure and less amount of time. It is very dependent on the person. 

Is your phone’s Bluetooth usually on? It might be time to reconsider! Turn your Bluetooth off when you’re not using it.

How Does Bluetooth Compare to Phone Radiation?

Kathlyn here! To learn even more about EMFs, I took part in the Changing Life and Destiny Conference in Plano, TX in April 2024. There is so much amazing research on Bluetooth and phone radiation, but so much more research is needed. Let me walk you through some key points that I learned at the conference and from reading many different studies. 

At the conference, Maria Crisler, CEO of Abeytu Naturals, told participants that she has found that frequencies above 2.4 GHz might be harmful, potentially stressing the body and hindering its ability to rest and heal. So, it might be worth considering ways to reduce exposure. We were also presented with information from Dr. Jonathan Group that showed 5G, and 2.4 GHz 4G frequencies could cause the nervous system to go to the sympathetic state, which is the state our body goes into when we experience stress. When the body is in a stressed state, it is much more challenging for it to rest, digest, and heal. 

A child’s brain has almost double the cellphone radiation absorption of an adult’s! [12, 13]

Should You Use A Phone With Weak Signal? Are Bluetooth Headphones Better Than Putting A Phone To Your Head?

It’s best to try not to use their cell phones when they have a weak signal. A 2018 study showed that using Bluetooth headsets may reduce exposure 10-400 times more than cell phones. There was a wide range of the amount of exposure the headsets reduced because the range was dependent on the specific headset. [12]

An article by Jabra, a company that specializes in audio and visual technology, explained that this could be because cell phones have “to transmit a signal to an antenna that might be many kilometers away,” while Bluetooth headsets need to reach your phone that is likely close by. Organizations like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the American Cancer Society have noted that headsets can reduce exposure caused by cell phones by keeping cell phones away from the body. [4]

So maybe Bluetooth headphones aren’t as bad as you may think they are (at least when compared to cell phone radiation)!

Is Bluetooth Healthy?

What’s the Connection Between Fertility and Radiation?

In the holistic space online, EMFs are often brought up in the fertility discussion, but do they really have an impact? 

Research has shown that there may be connections between radio frequency EMF exposure and fertility in both men and women. Researchers concluded in two separate studies that radio frequency EMF exposure may increase levels of reactive oxygen species and cause oxidative stress in males. [5, 6]

Simply put, more oxidative stress = more free radicals in the body = more potential damage to cells & DNA.

The researchers in both studies indicated the increase in oxidative stress could negatively impact male fertility by reducing sperm quality and motility and creating structural abnormalities. The more time they used their phone, the more potential impact.

A 2017 study aimed to discover the connection between non-ionizing radiation and the risk of miscarriage. The results showed that “women who were exposed to higher magnetic field levels had 2.72 times the risk of miscarriage.” However, a lot more research is needed to confirm the true impacts. [7]

So, all in all, yes. Radiation can have an impact on fertility. We don’t know the exact impact it can have, but preliminary studies do show that there can be some impact. This is why it’s essential to reduce unnecessary exposures when you can during pre-conception and while pregnant.

What’s the Connection Between Cancer and Non-Ionizing Radiation?

The International Agency for Research on Cancer categorized radio frequency radiation (EMFs included) as a possible Group 2B human carcinogen. 

One study done by the National Toxicology Program, published by the National Institute of Health, looked at high levels of radio frequency radiation using 2G and 3G cell phones on male and female rats and mice. The researchers found evidence to support an association between radio frequency radiation and tumors in the hearts (malignant schwannomas) of male rats. They also found potential evidence that suggested an association between radio frequency radiation and brain tumors, malignant gliomas, and adrenal gland tumors in male rats (though the association wasn’t as strong). More studies need to be done to determine how this information could be translated into human exposure. 

Additionally, a review examined the connection between non-ionizing radiation and childhood cancer. They discovered that “children exposed to 0.2 μT or more of EMF non-ionizing radiation run 1.33 times higher risks of contracting childhood cancer compared to those with less than 0.2 μT exposure.” With childhood cancer on the rise, this is absolutely something to consider! [8]

On The Contrary…

On the contrary, a 2011 study ran a systematic review of studies that explored the connection between wireless phone use and brain cancer. Is there a brain cancer connection to cell phones? [9]

Well, their meta-analyses found no statistically significant increase in risk in brain cancer, head tumors, tumor promotion, or genotoxic damage to brain cells from using wireless phones for less than 10 years. The researchers noted that they did not have data to determine if wireless phone use for longer than 10 years could have an association between brain cancer, head tumors, tumor promotion, or genotoxic damage to brain cells. 

Remember: the data is always changing. Science is meant to be questioned. We don’t know the long-term health impacts of cell phone use – so use caution. 

A 2015 study also looked at reports from 1997-2003 and 2007-2009 to determine if there was an association between meningioma (a type of brain tumor) and cell phones/cordless phones. They discovered that there was only a “somewhat increased risk” of meningioma for people who were heavy users, more than 3,358 hours. [10]

More research and reviews need to be done examining the impact of long-term use and duration of use of wireless phones on cancer. If you are looking for research that has been done on radio frequency EMFs and a specific type of cancer, check out the National Institute of Health’s comprehensive article: Cancer in Humans.

How to reduce EMF

Are Wired Headphones Better Than Bluetooth Headphones?

Bluetooth operates at about 2.4 GHz, which is the same range as kitchen microwaves. However, the difference between Bluetooth and microwaves is that microwaves put out a lot more radiation power. Bluetooth headsets put out a maximum of 2.5mW, which is far less than the 600mW that cell phones emit during a phone call.

Wire headphones, on the contrary, emit only a small amount of radiation since the current is running through a cable. 

So, yes. Wired headphones ARE better for your health than bluetooth headphones. Opt for wired headsets or speaker phone as much as you can, instead of putting the phone up to your head or using bluetooth headphones.

Are Airpods and Bluetooth Headphones Harmful?

Many of the researchers and writers cited above have expressed that more research needs to be done to determine the impact that wireless headphones, like AirPods, have on increasing health risks. 

It is thought that the specific absorption rate (aka the body’s max exposure) for Apple AirPods depends on which version you’re testing. One report showed that for Apple’s AirPods 2, the right AirPod releases 0.581 watts per kilogram of radiation and the left AirPod releases 0.501 watts per kilogram. The cumulative exposure to radiation from these types of wireless headphones can be substantial since it’s common to use them for many hours consecutively. [11]

Once again, the amount of exposure and amount of time exposed may play huge roles in how the radiation could impact a person. As new data about Bluetooth headphones is released, it will be interesting to see if new regulations are imposed. 

The 240+ scientists who have studied EMFs have signed the International EMF Science Appeal, which calls for stronger exposure limits and health warnings.

How You Can Protect Yourself From Bluetooth Radiation & EMFs

We are exposed to a lot of EMFs daily, but there are some simple ways to reduce your exposure!

Follow these tips: 

  1. Keep distance between sources of EMF (the more distance = the better!)
  2. Remove or unplug devices near your bedroom
  3. Unplug your WiFi at night 
  4. Turn your cell phone on airplane mode when you sleep (especially if you use it as an alarm and it’s on your side table)
  5. Try to avoid putting your devices in your pocket 
  6. Use speaker phone or text when you can 
  7. Disable Bluetooth when you are not using it 
  8. Use wired headphones (bonus points if they are EMF blocking headphones) 
  9. Take a “Radiation Detox Bath” using 2 cups sea salt and 2 cups baking soda 
  10. Do activities to help you go into the parasympathetic (breathwork, draw/doodle, read, stretch/yoga) 
  11. Do grounding activities (bare feet in grass, sit on grounding mat, walking in grounding shoes) – You can learn more about grounding here: Grounding To The Earth (Earthing) – Techniques & Benefits
  12. If you want to use Bluetooth headphones, use them for a short amount of time – find your balance and lower the volume to protect your eardrums [To learn more about incorporating more balance, check out: 80/20 Rule: Healthy Balance with Diet and Exercise]

To learn more about reducing EMF exposures, check out: 20 Ways To Reduce EMF Exposure From Bluetooth, AirPods & More.

Low-EMF Headphone Options - Reviews

We tested out two low-EMF headphone options from Tech Wellness and Atomsure. Each have their pros and cons – let’s dive into our thoughts:

  • Kathlyn here! I have been using Tech Wellness EMF blocking headphones for 2 months. Let’s dive into the pros & cons based on my experience: 
  • Pros: 
    • Aesthetic: I ordered the Golden Blush Headphones w/ Apple USB-C adapter, which is so aesthetically pleasing. 
    • Great sound quality: They work extremely well and the sound quality is on par with or better than any other headphones that I have used. 
  • Cons:
    • Long wires: The wires are very long, which is not always the most convenient when I am using them on a walk with my dog. The wires can get tangled in his leash, making the walks a little more chaotic. 
    • Poor fit: They do not stay in my ears when I want to go for a run. They fly out of my ears pretty quickly, so I can only use them when I am stationary or walking. 
  • While they did take a bit to get used to on my walks, I would much rather have headphones that lower my EMF exposure. I would definitely recommend these headphones to people who work desk jobs in an office or from home with their family and need headphones to block out noise. They are wonderful when you are sitting and look great! 
  • Catherine here! I experimented with Atomsure’s low-EMF headphones, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them as the best choice. While they reduce EMF exposure, they also significantly reduce the sound quality, and they’re hard to keep in your ear.  
  • I have stopped reaching for the Atomsure headphones, and instead just use Apple’s wired headphones on a daily basis.
 

If you don’t want to invest in low-EMF headphones (which have their pros & cons), the standard Apple wired headphones are a better option than using AirPods/bluetooth headphones or putting the phone up to your head. No need to purchase new ones, if you already have a wired headphone option!

Final Thoughts: Are Bluetooth Headphones, Like AirPods, Safe?

So, all-in-all, Bluetooth headphones may be safer than cell phones, but they’re not safer than wired headphones. It’s best to opt for wired headphones as much as you can. Make a conscious effort to follow our tips to reduce your EMF exposure! We don’t know the full impact of EMFs on our long-term health, so it’s best to err on the side of caution since preliminary data does show that it can have a negative impact. 

Do you use Bluetooth headphones?

Let me know your thoughts and key takeaways in the comments below!

xoxo,

In On Around Signature

Want to read more? Check out our other articles here! 

Other references on Are Bluetooth Headphones, Like AirPods, Safe?: Headphonesty, Medical News Today, Healthline, Shield Your Body, Jabra Blog, Headphones Addict, House of Marley, DefenderShield, Audiolgy, Soundcore US, ForbesCISA, Spandidos, SUMS, NIH, Pall et. al, Medieros et. al, Frontiers in Public Health, Wall et. al, NCI, BMC, JHRS, Nature Research, National Toxicology Program, Repacholi et. al, Middle East Journal of Cancer, IARC, Safer EMR, CISA, Biomol Theur

Copyright In On Around LLC 2024 ©. The statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration). They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information provided by this website should not be used as individual medical advice and you should always consult your doctor for individual recommendations and treatment. The information contained in this site is provided on an “as is” basis. Related to this site, there are no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness, or timeliness. In On Around LLC assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this site.

Frequently Asked Questions – Are Bluetooth Headphones, Like AirPods, Safe?

Click on the below FAQs to learn more about: wireless devices, bluetooth headsets, ionizing electromagenetic field, headphones safe, and wireless earbuds.

While further research is required, preliminary studies suggest that electromagnetic fields (EMFs) emitted by Bluetooth headphones may potentially contribute to health issues such as headaches, insomnia, and dizziness.

To ensure safe usage of Bluetooth headphones like AirPods, users should disable Bluetooth when not in use, opt for wired headphones (preferably EMF-blocking ones), and maintain distance from sources of electromagnetic fields.

Yes, the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) or the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), create regulations on electromagnetic radiation maximums.

Contrary to common belief, current research suggests that cell phones held close to the head pose a potentially greater risk than Bluetooth headphones like AirPods due to prolonged exposure to electromagnetic radiation.

About Catherine Power

Catherine Power is the Founder and CEO of In On Around. She is a Harvard-educated Ingredient Safety and Environmental Toxins expert. Catherine has a background in Food Science, Personal Care Quality, and Regulatory Compliance.

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