Some concerns about long-term Airpods usage...

Discussion in 'iPhone Accessories' started by joscejrod, Dec 17, 2016.

  1. joscejrod macrumors 6502


    May 16, 2015
    Hello guys,

    Like some of you, I'm waiting for my Airpods very excited (still in PFS with 20th December as expected delivery date-Spain). However, I'm a little bit worried about the risks of using know, I have other Bluetooth headphones, but in that case only one emission is required, from one side of the headphones to the iphone and vice verse. With airpods, besides this connection, both airpods are connected between them, in theory using NFMI, a different technology of which the impact on human health has not been studied much. So, two radiation emissors and your brain just in the middle, and then add the normal Bluetooth connection with the phone (using w1 with class 1 Bluetooth connection that emites more power to assure large signal range).
    What do you think about it? Anyone with similar concerns?
  2. domhoenig macrumors regular

    Oct 31, 2012
    think you need to just chill out about it!
  3. Der Keyser macrumors regular

    Der Keyser

    Aug 18, 2016
    I think I read somewhere that they are not interconnected like that. They listen to the same bluetooth stream and both decode the stream but only play L/R signal respectively
  4. Ma2k5 macrumors 68020


    Dec 21, 2012
    Your premise may be just complete irrational fear, but at the same time could be valid. We don't have anything meaningful to allay your worries I'm afraid :(
  5. joscejrod thread starter macrumors 6502


    May 16, 2015
    I'm afraid not...

    According to EE Times, the left AirPod communicates with the right AirPod using a different technology, "near field magnetic induction (NFMI)."

    Although there is a substantial research literature on the health risks of exposure to magnetic fields, I am not aware of any biologic research that examines NFMI.
  6. rockyromero macrumors 6502


    Jul 11, 2015
    There may be some concern..for the youth.

    Matured brains may not have as much impact, if anything.

  7. Der Keyser macrumors regular

    Der Keyser

    Aug 18, 2016
    Well, if you read all the posts below this article i'd say thats nowhere near a confirmation on NFMI usage - rather the opposite.

    And to support my theory is the fact that replacing an airpod according to apple requires you to have the new one paired to the first - perhaps to have them bluetooth teamed so they communicate as one (same encryption key, address and so on)
  8. NT1440 macrumors G5


    May 18, 2008
    Just so you know, they're not using NFMI....
  9. jcmoney10 macrumors member

    Jul 1, 2009
    Tl;dr version - Airpods are safer than cellphones, but not as safe as some other Bluetooth headphones. If you aren't worried about cellphones, then don't worry about Airpods.

    Glad to see I'm not the only person who is slightly paranoid lol. I too have ordered my Airpods (PFS with December 21st ship date in US), but since ordering I started doing some research on health concerns after stumbling across an article that suggested they (and other Bluetooth headsets) may not be safe. My non-scientific research focused on the SARs level, and how much is too much.

    What I found was that most Bluetooth devices have a SAR level 1000 times less than most cellphones, which is good considering cell phones are considered safe to use (Most studies anyway). With that being said, most Bluetooth headsets are class 2 or class 3, which from my understand have shorter rangers and in turn require less power which also lowers the SAR levels. Some of these Bluetooth devices only reach a few feet, but produce a SAR of .001w/kg (in the US, cellphones are not allowed to have a SAR higher than 1.6w/kg). In the case of Apple Airpods, their FCC filing shows that they have a SAR level of .446 w/kg, which compared to cellphones is much lower, but compared to other Bluetooth devices is much higher. My guess is that because the range is so much higher on the Airpods, then that's why the levels are also elevated.

    Some researcher hold the belief that all Bluetooth devices and cellphones produce dangerous levels of radiation, but as a whole the scientific community still holds the belief that there is not enough evidence to suggest the radiation produced by these devices are harmful to humans.

    As for the concern over NMFI, I couldn't find any research suggesting that it was unsafe for adult. I found a few articles suggesting that magnetic fields were potential cancer causing agents in children, but didn't seem to talk much about adults. The jury might still be out on this one, but my guess is the levels are probably so low, that safety isn't an issue.
  10. rockyromero macrumors 6502


    Jul 11, 2015
    Your research is a welcomed relief.

    I agree that a cellphone poses a much higher risk than the Airpods.

    Age is still a factor and consideration for developing brains.

    We may not know conclusively for many years from now.

  11. jcmoney10 macrumors member

    Jul 1, 2009
    You're right, and most the research I found stated that same issue. While most of the studies that have been done have not found any concrete evidence that cellphones or Bluetooth devices cause cancer, many state that since the technology is still relatively new, it might be many decades before we can get true results. The study that really helped put me at ease was this:

    Essentially they studied the brain cancer rates from 1992-2006 to see whether their was a rise in the number of cases. They point out that while cellphones today and the way we use them are different, if cellphones truly resulted in cancer, then we should see an uptick during this time span. For the most part they found no evidence that brain cancer rates increased, resulting in them suggesting that cellphones have no effect.
  12. rockyromero macrumors 6502


    Jul 11, 2015
    In the short term, most people receive injuries to the brain due to accidents.

    Football and soccer are sports that injure the young.

    Biking and car accidents injure most other adults.

    With the inevitable VR and AR head devices, they may prove to be another consideration.

    In the overall picture, the Airpods experience may be much better for many of us.

  13. joscejrod thread starter macrumors 6502


    May 16, 2015
    Airpods use Class 1 Bluetooth like beats solo3 wireless with W1 chip, and because of that the higher SAR level. All of you are comparing then with cellphones but you are not thinking about I have explained. Two radiation emissaries inside your ears emiting microwaves across your brains and beside of this, Bluetooth waves between phone and's obvious that we won't know the consequences until 10-20-30 years or more...
  14. jcmoney10 macrumors member

    Jul 1, 2009
    Is it possible that since each Airpod has a W1 chip and can work by itself, that they don't "communicate" with each other, but rather individually connect to the phone? This means that yes, they would produce radiation that would come in contact with your head, but without the need to pass the signal through your brain. if this is the case, then you are still talking about a total SAR level of about .44, which is far below the industry safety limits.

    Apple, from what I can tell hasn't explained how this works yet, so I'm obviously just speculating.
  15. Lennyvalentin macrumors 65816


    Apr 25, 2011
    That does not seem very likely. Airpods can be used with only one inserted; any one inserted. So if you have your right airpod inserted, how would that one be communicating with your phone (or other apple device)?

    Also; space. Airpods are really tiny, they're by far the smallest cordless BT buds I've ever seen. How would they fit both BT and NFMI transceivers?

    Anyhow, these techs are incredibly low power. 2.4GHz spectrum devices have no effect on biological tissues other than some very minute localized heating effect (same physical effect as used by a microwave oven - only a millionth or less power output.) NFMI would be similarly extremely low power if it has to run on a tiny battery for hours; unlikely to have any measureable biological effect. All non-beamformed wireless transmissions are impacted by law of inverse squares, so if transmitter output is 1mW, then it would be even less by the time the signal reaches your brain.

    I don't think you need to worry. If your health is a concern to you, avoid red and/or smoked and/or fried meat, eat lots of veggies, quit smoking and drinking alcohol (both strong carcinogenics), exercise (with moderation) and stay away from big cities and polluting industries.

    Wireless earbuds - last thing you need to worry about. Unless you listen to some awesome music and wander out blindly into traffic of course. :D
  16. rockyromero macrumors 6502


    Jul 11, 2015
    Hearing loss is most likely a bigger concern for wearing any earphones.

    Future devices may even function as hearing aids.

    The wearable evolution is jump starting with the Airpods.

    And Siri, more easily available on command wirelessly.

  17. cliffster82 macrumors 6502

    Sep 27, 2013
    According to AirPod diagrams, the communication device is located in the stick/shaft part. I am not a scientist but my common sense says that at least the bluetooth receiver is not directly in my ear. Maybe not worth anything health-wise but who knows. I just got a pair today so was looking in to this issue.
  18. happysymptom macrumors newbie

    Mar 19, 2008
    Super helpful thread, thank you all for putting things in perspective.

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