No, Apple’s New AirPods Won’t Give You Cancer, Experts Say

Technology analysts have been calling Apple's decision to eliminate the earphone jack on its new iPhone 7 a risky business move. But some potential users of the new smartphone wonder whether the company is asking them to take on some health risk as well.

Unless iPhone 7 users adopt a workaround that would let them plug their earphones into the device's charging jack, they will need to don wireless headphones or earpieces. But is it safe to put a radiation-emitting earphone device directly in contact with one's head?

The answer, say researchers who have studied the subject, is almost certainly yes. You can damage your hearing by listening to music too loudly or get injured by walking inattentively into traffic, just as you could while wearing traditional earbuds. But using a cordless headset will not increase your risk of developing cancer, experts say.

Apple's new AirPods connect to the iPhone 7 via Bluetooth, a technology that makes it possible to transmit data over radio transmissions. The frequency on which Bluetooth devices operate is not very different from those used by mobile phones or WiFi service, so "biologically, it's not a new form of exposure," said John E. Moulder, a radiation biologist and professor emeritus at the Medical College of Wisconsin who has examined the health effects of using wireless devices.

Since a Bluetooth gadget communicates with a cellular device just a few feet away and not to a distant base station, "it's transmitting at quite a low power level," said University of Pennsylvania bioengineering professor Kenneth Foster. Other Bluetooth wireless headsets sold by Apple have an output of 10-18 milliwatts, and because they transmit in short, quick bursts, less than 1% of that energy is in the form of electromagnetic radiation, he said.

Wearable fitness devices, which also transmit bursts of data over short distances,...

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