Gadgets

Published on March 14th, 2019 | by Alan Cross

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UPDATE: Are Apple’s AirPods giving you cancer? Yes, it’s one of those stories. (Or is it?)

NOTE: Yesterday a story starting bouncing about the Internet about how we were all gonna die of brain cancer because of radiation from things like Apple AirPods. Well, let’s just hang on for a second. Read through the article and the update below.

I love my AirPods, Yes, it looks like I’ve got a couple of cigarettes jammed in my ears, but as wireless earbuds go, they work great. Apple has sold 29 million sets of AirPods last year alone, so they’ve become a runaway hit for the company. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, just don’t drop one in the snow because you’ll be searching forever. And there’s that new risk of contracting cancer.

Some 250 scientists from 40 countries have sent a petition to the World Health Organization and the UN warning against the dangers of radiation from WiFi, Bluetooth and cellular data transmissions. They note that by having Bluetooth devices jammed in your ears means that a source of this radiation is close to the brain.

AirPods, they say, sit deep enough in the ear canal that they may expose the fragile bits of the inner ear to harmful radiation. And as we’ve all learned from our sci-fi/horror movies, radiation equals either (a) spidey powers or (b) cancer.

No, they don’t have hard evidence that AirPods or other Bluetooth devices cause cancer, but animal studies suggest some kind of link.
Similar research on electromagnetic frequencies say that tumors (non-cancerous, thankfully) may form along the nerve that connects the ear to the brain.

In other words, this is a new version of the cell-phones-cause-brain-cancer warning.

Read more here.

HERE’S THE UPDATE: Quartz would like to set the record straight on this petition.

  1. This declaration about the effects of non-ionizing radiation is actually from 2015, not just this past week but…
  2. …it received new life when details appeared in a Medium post on March 7.
  3. We must also fold in a 2018 study that found some evidence that non-ionizing radiation can cause cancer in rats. Cell phones emit this kind of radiation…
  4. …as do Bluetooth devices like AirPods. However, no one knows exactly how much Bluetooth radiation it takes to cause cancer–if it does at all.
  5. AirPods (and similar devices) are never more than a few metres from the source of whatever they’re transmitting. That means they use much, much less power–and therefore emit much, much less radiation–than a typical smartphone.
  6. But still, if you wear the things for a long time, who knows what might happen, right?

Still worried? Back to wired headphones, I guess.




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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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