The newly available iPhone 7 is being touted as Apple’s sleekest, most picturesque, powerful, and water-resistant model yet, with high-quality stereo sound to boot. But it comes with a catch: Apple has ditched the headphone jack on its latest model … and this could pose a health threat.
Here’s why: to listen with the new phone, you can use the speaker function, opt for the included earpods with Lightning Connector, use the 3.5 mm headphone jack adaptor Apple provides, or splurge on the new wireless AirPods, a Bluetooth device that retails on the Apple website for $159.
It’s the last option that has health experts alarmed. Bluetooth devices, such as cell phones and wireless routers, emit radio frequency (RF) in the form of non-ionizing radiation. While not as harmful to health as ionizing radiation from medical devices such as X-rays, non-ionizing radiation still warrants caution.
Apple’s Own Warning
Look no further than the legal section of Apple’s own website for the first warning: “To reduce exposure to RF energy, use a hands-free option, such as the built-in speakerphone, the supplied headphones, or other similar accessories. Carry iPhone at least 5mm away from your body to ensure exposure levels remain at or below the as-tested levels.”
Wireless headphones, such as Apple’s new AirPods, appear to do the trick when it comes to increasing the distance between your cell phone and your head. Unfortunately, you’re just trading in one RF device for another. And while the exact consequences of RF devices are unknown—they just haven’t been around long enough for researchers to accurately assess long-term effects—health organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) are on high alert.
Warnings from Watchdog Health Organizations
In 2011, WHO classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic,” due to the increased risk for a type of glioma brain cancer linked to wireless phone use. And in May of 2016, the United States Department of Health and Human Services released an advanced partial report on the possible adverse health effects of cell phone radiofrequency radiation. Experiments reveal that rats and mice exposed to cell phone RF are developing the same types of rare and extremely aggressive cancerous tumors as those found in humans who have used their cell phones for the greatest number of years.
Speaking with CNN, Dr. Devra Davis, founder and president of the Environmental Health Trust, explains, “The reason they released a partial report was because the senior scientist leading the study realized how extraordinarily important those results were. There is no other substance I know of where results like this have occurred in the National Toxicology Program.”
As for the FDA’s stance on RF from cellphones and wireless devices such as Bluetooth, they stand with Apple, claiming that any potential risk is relatively small, but that concerned consumers can limit RF exposure by cutting back on the amount of time spent on the phone and using the speaker function or a wired headset to increase distance.