Bluetooth vs Wired Headphones Radiation: Should You Worry?

Bluetooth vs wired headphones radiation
Bluetooth vs wired headphones radiation

We talk about the facts and myths about Bluetooth vs wired headphones radiation for a worry-free listening.

Headphones, whether they are wired or not, have become an integral part of our lives. But with reports of wireless headphones’ radiation causing cancer, no one can blame you for worrying about their safety.

Worse yet, as you try to find the truth behind this, you’ll be bombarded instead with scary sites claiming that even your wired headphones are killing you! Is it time to say goodbye to your favorite listening devices?

Of course not! While we know that headphones do produce some radiation, we can evaluate the resulting dangers rationally. Let this article guide you through the truths and myths surrounding Bluetooth and wired headphones radiation.

What Is Electromagnetic Radiation?

Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) is, much like all types of radiation, a form of energy. While radiation seems scary and brings forth images of atomic bombs and destructive nuclear power plant meltdowns, the reality is quite a bit different.

“Radiation is energy moving in the form of particles and waves… There is a wide range of electromagnetic radiation in nature. Visible light is one example.” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

In short, radiation is an unavoidable part of life. The Sun’s rays are radiation, your microwave cooks with radiation, there is even a field of study called sound radiation. Some radiation is harmful and some radiation is not.

Pictured, hundreds of people enjoying radiation from sun. (Source: Pexels/Sergio Souza)
Pictured, hundreds of people enjoying radiation from sun. (Source: Pexels/Sergio Souza)

For electronic devices such as headphones, we mainly talk about EMR. This is created when atoms in the system absorb energy.

You may also hear the term EMF when reading about this topic. This similar term stands for Electric and Magnetic Fields. These fields are the areas of radiation near EMR emitters.

Two types of EMR

When it comes to EMR, it is important to look at the two primary types:

  • Ionizing EMR
  • Non-ionizing EMR

Ionizing EMR is higher energy and can cause damage to DNA and cells due to its ability to remove electrons from atoms. Sources include the sun, X-ray machines, and nuclear waste.

On the other hand, non-ionizing EMR is much safer due to its low energy levels that cannot alter atoms. It includes Bluetooth devices, cell phones, Wi-Fi, and energy radiating from power lines.

Both your Bluetooth device and wired headphones emit the second type of EMR – non-ionizing.

Worries Surrounding Non-Ionizing EMR

While most scientists believe non-ionizing EMR to be harmless, many people remain worried since this is still classified as ‘radiation’.

In fact, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified non-ionizing EMR as possibly cancerous. This means that there is not enough evidence to completely rule it out as a carcinogen, but also not enough evidence to suspect that it is.

To put it bluntly, the IARC considers the non-ionizing waves from your Bluetooth device to be as likely a source of cancer as it does your aloe vera hand cream.

Therefore, no one has conclusively confirmed nor denied whether or not non-ionizing EMR can cause cancer. But, it’s ruled to be safe to use for long periods and the risks may outweigh its benefits.

Another common source of concern is the direct comparison of Bluetooth vs wired headphones radiation amounts. The logic goes that since wired headphones aren’t emitting a signal, they aren’t putting out radiation. Unfortunately, this is false since wired headphones only put out a type of weak radiation called extremely low frequency (ELF), which is even safer than regular non-ionizing EMR.

Should You Worry About Radiation From Headphones?

No. Radiation does cause cancer but not all types of radiation can do so, especially those that come from headphones.

A much more supported cause of damage from non-ionizing EMR in headphones is simply heat, which can be dangerous at high levels.

The good news is, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency US EPA) also reports that lower level emitters, such as cell phones and headphones, do not produce high enough levels of heat to cause harm. There are no repeatable studies showing short-term exposure to low-heat radiofrequency waves causing significant damage to people.

If your headphones or their accessories are overheating, such as what happened with a batch of Schiit Modi 3, please contact technical support.

Where did the radiation concern come from?

Despite all available studies, some people still remain concerned.

This is mainly because many news sites cover a petition from EMF Scientist calling for protection from non-ionizing EMF exposure. This group’s main purpose is to call for more investigation into the safety of EMF waves.

These ‘scientists’ aren’t without controversy, though. For one, they refute evidence from the EPA, cancer.gov, worldwide committees, and reputable scientific journals.

Another extreme red flag comes in the form of concern for people with a condition referred to as electromagnetic hypersensitivity. This is a pseudoscientific condition that doesn’t hold up to double-blind studies.

For more discourse on why this group’s claims don’t hold water, Steven Novella’s article on the organization at Science Based Medicine comes highly recommended.

Anti-EMR/EMF groups also point to a study that shows a potential link between some types of EMF exposure and danger to mice brains. However, most reputable resources today show that these results could not apply to humans.

The overwhelming scientific consensus is clear: both Bluetooth and wired headphones’ radiation is safe.

3 Tips Against Bluetooth & Wired Headphones Radiation

As mentioned, both Bluetooth and wired headphones aren’t dangerous. That’s why extra precautions against radiation from your headphones are not needed. Despite this, anti-EMR and EMF marketers often use scare tactics to promote products designed to ‘lessen radiation exposure’.

In the following discussions, we’ll explore some of the products that anti-EMR people advertise and discuss the truth about their actual uses. Many of these products and ideas have some interesting features or properties, but protecting you from the dangers of EMR isn’t one of them.

1. Use ferrite beads

The ferrite bead on the end of the USB wire is intended to protect computer equipment for EMR, not the end user. (Source: Pexels/Karolina Grabowska)
The ferrite bead on the end of the USB wire is intended to protect computer equipment for EMR, not the end user. (Source: Pexels/Karolina Grabowska)

Ferrite beads are common suggestions for reducing EMR and are used in circuitry for that exact purpose. Not to protect the end consumer, of course, but to protect the circuitry itself.

In reality, installing a ferrite bead on your sound equipment can reduce the likelihood of your headphones from producing high-pitched whines and hums from radio frequency interference.

Be aware of what you are purchasing. Some websites will sell ferrite beads as a cure all for EMR-related issues, using fear as a means to sell you a product. Legitimate sellers of ferrite beads focus on factual information and improved audio/video quality after using the product.

2. Opt for air tube headphones

How air tube headphones work
How air tube headphones work

The next popular product recommended by anti-EMR and EMF people is air tube headphones. Air tube headphones work by producing the sound in a place far away from your ears. The sound then travels through empty tubes up to your ears, no internal wires required.

However, air tube headphones are only recommended if you want them for the cool factor – not health and safety.

Despite there being no known mechanism by which the frequencies of typical headphones can cause cancer, the DefenderShield air tubes are still interesting from a mechanical perspective.

Another really cool type of headphones hobbyists find interesting are bone conduction headphones. Check out our article to lean more about the safety of using bone conduction headphones.

3. Limit Bluetooth headphones use

One of the best ideas from the frequency-fearing is to simply wear your Bluetooth headphones a bit less. This is a great idea, not because Bluetooth devices produce harmful frequencies, but because this can save us from ear damage.

While Bluetooth is quite safe, we can’t say the same about too much or improper earbud usage in general.

Limiting your daily headphone and earbud usage is great from an overall ear safety perspective — especially when it comes to preserving your hearing. Prolonged exposure to loud noises will harm your ears. Yet again, from a Bluetooth vs wired headphones radiation and sound safety perspective, they rank the same – this is all about volume in your ears and no other factors.

Conclusion

All reasonable science suggests that your headphones are safe. You don’t need to worry about Bluetooth vs wired headphones radiation or emitted frequencies.

With the faux doctors and snake oil salesmen turned off, you breathe a sigh of relief. A lot has been learned, but there are still burning questions about headphones and safety.

The list goes on.

We know this is still somewhat of a contentious topic. There are so many scammy websites out there that claim these things are going to kill us, but none of them seem to link to substantial, repeated studies.

What’s your take? Is there something we’ve missed? We want to know below. Also, we’d love to hear your safety questions – they just might inspire our next article!

14 comments

  1. Maybe EFI doesn’t cause cancer, but certainly high EMF has been proven to cause other health issues. High EMF from electrical systems can cause sleep disorders, hallucinations, and other problems. We are a society that keeps adding more and more wireless to our lives. We are bombarded with all sorts of signals. It may be some time before we discovered the significance of all these signals. Most signals like Bluetooth are pretty low powered, so I doubt we need to worry about wireless headphones or ear buds. But so is the affects of EMF interference in general. Add it all up and it may be a more significant amount.

    1. Hello, fellow John!

      Thanks for reading my article! A lot of research went into it. You bring up an interesting point – that the sums of new waves might have some effect – and that will certainly be worth investigating in the future. Actually, the science for this is constantly evolving… just look up ‘Havana Syndrome’ on Wikipedia. Possible causes put forth include pulsed electromagnetic energy, microwaves (no, not the appliance), ultrasound, and – I kid you not – …cricket noises?

      HOWEVER, all of that being said, I still 100% stand by what I stated in this article. The dangers based on TODAY’s technology are well understood. We can all feel safe wearing our headphones!

      1. Hi, sir. I am 18 years old guy from india. I am currently thinking of getting bluetooth headphones, but i am confused if bluetooth headphones will harm me in future.Can it have any effect on my health I will make my decision on your answer and do you use bluetooth headphones?

  2. How do bone conduction head phones play into your article? In other words, is there anything to be more concerned about? Although makers of these tout that they are safer for your hearing. While I believe its at the very least the same, I’m wondering if its worse.

  3. This is maybe the worst article I’ve ever read on emf. I came here looking for suggestions on headsets and now question the safety of bluetooth devices. Your interpretation of things is frightening. You can’t just make up your own definition of things to fit your preexisting beliefs. You doubt scientists that doubt other scientists… are you qualified for that? Of course not. Your conclusion is retarded. Thanks for waking me up.

    1. Hey Jeff, I really appreciate you taking the time to engage with the article.

      I really came into this article with an open mind and looked carefully to see if there was something new discovered about this type of radiation. However, upon closer inspection and some fairly intensive research, it become clear that EMF was quite safe in accordance with worldwide health research body outcomes.

      If you read closely, you’ll notice that I *do* make mention of the IARC statement that the waves are “possible carcinogenic”. Again, aloe vera creams are in the same category.

      While this level of possible danger is not enough to worry me or make me wish to change my own behaviors, I would highly encourage you to do whatever makes you feel safe.

      Regards,
      John

    2. Well said! I was thinking the same thing when I read this article… what a joke the article and author are! He has absolutely no formal education in this AND he blindly trusts the government when in and of itself a scary thing! Guess he’s never researched all the F-ed up experimented the gov use to do and still does! I’m more qualified than this guy and I still wouldn’t go out and write an article on something in medicine unless I was qualified (MSN, PhD, NP, ND, DO,MD degrees) with years of extensive research and funding. Seems like everyone is an expert nowadays lol

      Nurse YaYa, BSN RN

    3. I agree Jeff. This article is ridiculous. I have seen diagrams telling us exactly what harm will come to us if you live certain distances from power lines and towers. It’s not new information. And main stream science is controlled and narrow. Anyone who dares to question it is shamed deplatformed or shut down. It’s absurd. This guy’s blind agreement with the mainstream way is so misleading for those who don’t know better. I have a friend serious debilitating emf sensitivity. I have another friend who had a tumor in the side of her head where she held the phone for years. My girlfriend and I can feel discomfort(not just heat) from our cell phones on our head, even at 3 inches away for too long. Mainstream science is controlled bought n sold. Sadly. As long as lobbying is legal, it won’t change.

  4. Very weak logic by the OP. The safety data on telecom EMF is inconclusive, as it always has been. That does not equal SAFE. And, like a previous poster pointed out, cancer is not the only potential measure of harm caused by transmitting RF & EMF just millimeters from your brain.

  5. Hi, sir. I am 18 years old guy from india. I am currently thinking of getting bluetooth headphones, but i am confused if bluetooth headphones will harm me in future.Can it have any effect on my health I will make my decision on your answer and do you use bluetooth headphones?

  6. My friend Merrick developed agressive brain tumor. he constantly wore Apple Bluetooth head phones and used other mac devices. Apple devices are notorious for poor signal which causes more radiation.

Leave a Reply