Our lives have somehow gotten to the point, where we cannot imagine it without our precious wireless gadgets, and understandably so. From TVs, radios, smartphones, Wi-Fi, tablets, and earphones, everything has gone cordless. The convenience and benefits of wireless technology can never be matched with traditional wired devices. Now, are wireless earbuds safe?
But because the advent of wireless devices has been so sudden in our lives that no one is really sure whether they are safe or not. If there are health hazards as some of the research points out, then we will possibly be the first generation to face its effects. While we can choose to just hang around till the negative effects become apparent or inculcate some changes as part of our tech hygiene.
With Apple’s AirPods the Bluetooth technology has seeped into the earphones as well. So much so that many smartphones do not even come with an earphone port anymore. Now we are surrounded by more wireless technology than we ever were in the past ten years. And it is only prudent to worry about its safety.
Let us first ask.
How do wireless earbuds work?
Wireless earbuds use Bluetooth technology to work. The Bluetooth earbuds receive the radio transmission from your smartphones/tablets, etc., and convert them to the audio signals which we listen to in the form of music.
Since this means connecting to a bunch of radio waves through the air, any physical hindrance like walls, concrete, and other electronic devices can interfere with the connectivity. For instance, you must have noticed that your Bluetooth connectivity suffers when you go into the other room.
Specifically, the 2.4GHz ISM band is used by the Bluetooth to operate. This is the same band used by the WiFi and that is why sometimes both the signals can interfere with each other. The obvious benefit you get because of this wireless transmission is that you do not have to deal with the entangling wires.
What is EMF?
EMFs or electromagnetic fields are the magnetic fields produced because of the movement of electrically charged particles. And all things- living or non-living are electrically charged. But the EMF radiated by the wireless devices called RFR (Radio Frequency Radiation), has raised concerns about its safety for human beings.
While many would dismiss the negative effects of EMFs radiated by wireless technology, it is really hard to confirm that it is totally harmless. Consistently scientists have been raising alarm about its potential health hazards and it is only careless to ignore those.
Are wireless earbuds safe?
To the question, are wireless earbuds safe? Although much research has yet to be undertaken, we cannot say with surety whether the EMFs from wireless devices are completely safe or not. Although the radiations from the Bluetooth earphones have been found to be of lower levels when compared to other devices like smartphones, another factor that comes into play is SAR.
SAR or Specific Absorption Rate of the radiation by the body also plays a major role in determining how much radiation we are consuming. And because the earbuds are comparatively closer to our brains and constantly in touch with our body, the SAR through them is obviously higher than the other gadgets like Smartphones.
Even though it is difficult to notice the immediate effects of EMFs from these devices, prolonged usage might be hazardous for our health. According to WHO, 1-3% of the population suffers from EHS (Electromagnetic hypersensitivity).
The bigger problem lies in the non-availability of enough research on the potential threats of EMFs from the wireless devices. Much research has yet to be undertaken and we are the first generations that would serve as the natural guinea pigs. While it remains a topic of debate amongst scientists, it is better to adopt some necessary changes in our habits to avoid potential problems.
Precautions on your part
While boycotting wireless technology is neither prudent nor convenient, you can still adopt some simple measures to avoid your EMF exposure.
- Say no to gadgets in the bedroom: Firstly, you should avoid sleeping with the earbuds still attached to your body. It so often happens that we are watching some movie or video on our laptops or tablets and we doze off with the earbuds still connected to our ears. If you make sure to say no to gadgets in the bedroom, the overnight EMF exposure will reduce significantly. Also, make sure to keep the smartphones and other wireless devices away too. You can simply keep a battery-led alarm clock for the mornings.
- Use the gadgets wisely: Another thing that you can do to reduce your EMF exposure is to keep the wireless gadgets as far away from your body as possible. This includes not keeping the smartphones in the pockets for long, texting rather than calling, keeping the smartphones on the speaker mode whenever possible, and so forth.
- Use wired devices: While it is not possible to completely go wireless, you can at least replace some of the wired gadgets inside your homes. For instance, if you are alone you can connect your work pc directly to the Wi-Fi router via an Ethernet cable. You can even replace the cordless landlines with the corded ones and replace the wireless mouse, keyboards with the wired ones.
It is a simple fact that leaving the convenience of wireless devices is something that is neither possible nor convenient. You do not have to lose your wits and replace all the wireless gadgets with wired ones. Sure you can take the above-mentioned precautions, but going completely wireless is not a good idea.
The research is still underway and we do not have concrete evidence about the harmful effects of the EMFs. Therefore it is still too early to be able to answer this question in a simple yes or no. What you can do on your part is to reduce the exposure and keep an eye on the recent studies on the effects of EMFs.