Ever since Apple unveiled AirPods in 2016 (and simultaneously axed the headphone jack), wireless headphones have exploded in popularity. However, with growing concerns about the health risks of wireless headphones, including AirPods, should you be concerned?
Are wireless headphones, including AirPods, dangerous?
Why Are Wireless BlueTooth Headphones So Popular?
As you might expect, there are several reasons why wireless headphones have become so popular.
First, wireless earbuds are, of course, wireless, and for anyone who's used wired earbuds knows, they cause a whole host of problems. They get tangled up in your pocket, snag on things, tether you to a device, and attract unwanted attention from the teeth of cats, dogs, and children.
Second, the tech behind wireless headphones has improved to the point that matches (and often exceeds) the tech of wired headphones. You can get excellent audio quality, including noise-canceling features, tap and swipe controls, easier portability, all-day battery, and low-cost options from third-parties. Wired headphones are still the more robust, affordable option, but they lack the convenience and potential that wireless does.
How Do Wireless Headphones Work?
Based on BlueTooth technology, wireless headphones is just a name given to a set of radio waves used to connect our devices. It's not a whole lot different from the walkie-talkies you used as a kid. BlueTooth uses a low-power, low-range signal providing you with a reasonable distance without killing your battery.
To be more specific, BlueTooth uses the 2.4GHz ISM band, which you can think of as the "channel" that all BlueTooth devices operate. This frequency is the same band that WiFi uses, which is why WiFi and BlueTooth can sometimes interfere with one another.
Since this radio wave passes through the air, pockets and walls can interfere with the connection. This is why a BlueTooth headset will often have a harder time connecting when in a different room, even if the distance isn't very far.
Are Wireless Headphones Dangerous? Are AirPods Safe?
Since wireless headphones rely on radio waves, the idea that they are moving around you and passing through walls may cause alarm. How do you know for sure that these waves aren't dangerous to your brain or other body parts?
Potential for cancerous consequences
In 2015, an often-referred to story surfaced on Medium citing a petition by 247 scientists from 42 countries calling for stricter regulations on wireless headphones. Their concern lies in Electromagnetic Field (EMF) radiation, a type of radiation emitted by BlueTooth devices. In 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report showing that EMF radiation could have carcinogenic (cancerous) effects on humans.
There is some potential for harmful consequences when using wireless headphones, at least according to current research. But that's not the real problem.
Negative effects are unknown
The real danger is that not enough is known on EMF radiation or wireless devices to understand the adverse effects fully. Though wireless headphones do emit EMF radiation, the amount is so small that it's typically negligible. However, these devices are near the brain, which may increase the negative effects.
Still a topic for debate, scientists and health professionals call for stricter restrictions on wireless headphone manufacturers to reduce potential consequences. All we know for now is that there is some risk, and though it is small, it's not entirely clear how much.
Despite the lack of scientific basis, wireless headphones are not as dangerous as some might think. Just look at the facts that no one (at least not enough to reach our ears) has complained about wearing wireless headphones causes headaches or any diseases since the first Bluetooth headphones were invented more than a decade ago.
Do The Benefits Outweigh The Risk?
Before you throw your AirPods in the garbage, it's essential to consider the risks carefully. While carcinogens are undoubtedly serious, they're also present everywhere, from the wireless router, TV or wireless charger. Even going outside on a sunny day can have harmful results. So a bit of balance is needed.
The truth is that for most people, the benefits of wireless headphones greatly outweigh the potential risks. The risks are mostly minimal, and the benefits are great. So unless you feel you don't have much to gain from wireless headphones, it's almost certainly worth the investment, especially as wireless replaces wired tech.
If you don't own any wireless headphones and are looking to purchase some, now is the perfect time to grab a pair of AirPods. This year, Apple offers a free pair of AirPods with the purchase of a new Mac or iPad for its back-to-school promotion. It's a great deal to take advantage of, especially since the iPhone 12 is likely to be the first Apple iPhone that doesn't include any headphones. Apple has just announced new features for AirPods at WWDC 2020, including automatic switching between Apple devices.
The Best Wireless Charging Case For AirPods
Of course, while AirPods are an excellent investment, they're certainly still an investment at $160 for standard AirPods and $250 for the AirPods Pro. What better way to protect your AirPods investment than with a wireless charging case? An AirPods case can not only protect the delicate Apple case from scratches but also prevents losing them.
A refined protective case for AirPods Pro
In our humble opinion, the best wireless charging case for AirPods Pro is the AirPal Mini for AirPods Pro. Made using 600D Aramid fiber, the same material used in aerospace and auto racing industries, your AirPods Pro will stay protected.
The dual-side wireless charging case for AirPods 1&2
The AirPal Mini case for AirPods 1&2 allows you to charge your AirPods wireless or wired while keeping them protected. Due to the chain-coil chargers on both sides of the case, you can charge your AirPods anywhere on a Qi-certified wireless charger. With a detachable loop, you can attach it to your personal belongings and make your AirPods part of your everyday carry.
The power bank case for AirPods 1&2
For those who want more than the standard all-day battery life offered by Apple, there's the original AirPal for standard AirPods. It provides you with three times the normal battery life of AirPods; plus, the bigger size means it's harder to lose. You can even use the clip and attach it to your clothes or bag.
Balancing Convenience With Risk
Technology changes at such a fast rate now that it's easy to ignore the consequences of our devices and only focus on the positives. We hope this article has given you better insights into wireless headphones so that you can better mitigate their adverse effects.