Apple’s popular wireless AirPods headphones may pose cancer risks to wearers, according to a United Nations and World Health Organization petition.
Some 250 have signed the petition, which warns against numerous devices that emit radio frequency radiation, which is used in WiFi, cellular data and Bluetooth.
AirPods in particular are concerning because they sit deeply enough within the ear canal to emit expose these fragile parts of the ear to dangerous among of radiation, some experts warn.
The scientific jury is still out on the whether or not the particular devices can cause cancer, but animal studies on the kind of radio frequency radiation that they emit has suggested a link to cancer.
Radio waves from Bluetooth AirPods may be carcinogenic, a group of 250 international scientists warned in a petition against minimally regulated wireless technology
And, in some cases, the levels of radiation found to be carcinogenic were significantly lower than the maximum allowed by federal and international guidelines.
Last year, Apple sold 28 million pairs of its tiny, white wireless earbuds. The year before, they sold 16 million pairs. With a new design reportedly on the way, the technology company is set to profit even more on sound.
But the devices could be pumping more than beats into wearers’ heads.
The AirPods wirelessly connect with a phone via Bluetooth, the popular short distance radio communication technology.
Essentially, anything that communicates wirelessly using electromagnetic energy waves of varying types.
Bluetooth operates on one form involving low-power radio waves.
The most obvious and well-established risk of radio waves is that, at high levels, they can generate heat and cause burns. Scientists are still working out the effects of long-term exposure to lower-power radio waves.
When they have exposed animals to this form of radiation, reproductive, neurological and genetic damage has become more common in those animals than would be expected in a normal sample of the same animals.
These forms of energy are powerful enough to shake up atoms that compose cells but not powerful enough to fundamentally change their structures.
This means that radio waves are less dangerous than higher energy radiation like X-rays or UV, but more extremely low-frequency radiation.
Last year, further evidence that cellular transmissions may indeed cause certain kinds of cancer was published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Now, scientists calling for more oversight and warnings for all manner of radiowave-based technologies are particularly concerned over the intensity and proximity of Bluetooth radiation to the human ear canal and brain.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer has declared electromagenetic field radiation a possible carcinogen.
WiFi, too, has been shown to pose cancer risks.