Around 250 experts have signed a United Nations and World Health Organisation petition warning against the use of wireless devices. The experts have 'serious concerns' about the risk posed by wireless headphones, like Apple's Airpods.
The iconic Apple AirPods were launched in 2016 and Apple has since then sold at least 28 million AirPods. The AirPods, a quick and beautiful solution to tangled earphones, use Bluetooth technology to play music.
Bluetooth is a type of electromagnetic frequency (EMF) radiowave that can transmit data.
AirPods and other wireless headphones use this technology to play music directly into the user's ears from a phone or a tablet.
What worries scientists is the proximity of the device to the user's inner skull. In a report by Medium, Jerry Phillips, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, says, "My concern for AirPods is that their placement in the ear canal exposes tissues in the head to relatively high levels of radio-frequency radiation."
Philips is one among the experts who has signed the petition calling for "protection" from the technology. The petition says that "numerous recent scientific publications have shown that EMF affects living organisms at levels well below most international and national guidelines." These effects include increased "cancer risk, cellular stress, increase in harmful free radicals, genetic damages, structural and functional changes of the reproductive system, learning and memory deficits, neurological disorders, and negative impacts on general well-being in humans."
But it is also true that the entire scientific community is divided on the issue. Other experts say that when all the research on EMF is pooled and analysed, there is no indication of harm.
Kenneth Foster, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania tol Medium that “there are many thousands of papers of varying quality and relevance to health that point in all sorts of directions". While you could cherry pick data that paint Bluetooth and other wireless technologies in a scary light, “these arguments have no credibility,” he says.