Wireless. Effortless. Magical. Dangerous?
Wireless, effortless and magical. This is the website headline accompanying Apple’s launch of its newest phone accessory, AirPods. Launching alongside the newly-released iPhone 7 and iPhone 7s AirPods take the tangle out of headphone wires and help make the phone more water resistant than its predecessors by removing the ubiquitous headphone jack. With instant connectivity and superior sound quality, there has been a frenzy of excitement about this new ‘magical’ invention among iPhone afficionados worldwide.
It’s not hard to see why. Until of course you realise it’s not magic at all; there is one rather significant catch. In order to connect to the phone without a wire, the AirPods must be wireless and connected to the phone via Bluetooth, effectively meaning that you’re putting radio transceivers directly into your ears.
What Apple’s CEO Tim Cook sees as the first step to a "wireless future" many in the field of electromagnetic safety see as a further step towards a wireless health crisis. At a time when the warning to keep your mobile phone away from your head to reduce your RF exposure may finally be getting through to people, Apple introduce a device equally - if not more – potentially dangerous to public health.
As Dr. Anthony Miller, senior adviser to the Environmental Health Trust says in this CNN article: ‘I think it's unfortunate, because Apple themselves acknowledges in their fine print -- often hidden -- that you need to keep cell phones ... away from the ear’*
As Joel Moskowitz of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health warns ‘We are playing with fire here . . . You are putting a microwave-emitting device next to your brain.’
In 2011, the World Health Organization classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possible carcinogenic to humans, ‘based on an increased risk of glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use.’ The recent study on rats and mice by the National Toxicology Program backs up the research that prolonged exposure to mobile phone radiation increases the chance of aggressive, malignant brain tumours.
The risks far outweigh the benefits of better sound quality and not getting your wires in a tangle.You can however still enjoy the new iPhone 7 or 7s and reduce your exposure to harmful radiation if you opt for wired Lightning headphones which Apple are making available. You can also purchase an adapter if you wish to continue using other types of wired headsets, such as Airtube headsets which use an 18cm hollow tube between the speakers and the ear buds so the sound is delivered to your ear with almost zero EMR.Whether this can compete with the ‘wireless, effortless and magical’ airpods though remains to be seen . . .
* If you are looking on the Apple website it is very hard to find information on radiation exposure. Give it a go and see how long it takes you !