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Apple eliminates headphone jack from iPhone 7: Harmful to your health?
8 sept. 2016
(CNN) Apple's new iPhone 7 will ditch the ubiquitous headphone jack, senior vice president of marketing Phil Schiller announced Wednesday at the company's keynote event in San Francisco.
Many tech writers are touting the positive implications of this seismic shift for cell phones: better sound quality, a thinner design and superior water resistance, to name a few.
But the new wireless AirPods (which will be available for purchase as a premium accessory) will effectively put radio transceivers in your ears, a decision that could impact your health.
''I think it's unfortunate, because Apple themselves acknowledges in their fine print -- often hidden -- that you need to keep cell phones ... away from the ear, and most people don't do that,'' says Dr. Anthony Miller, senior adviser to the Environmental Health Trust, an activist group that studies radiation and cell phone usage.
Most people talk on their cell phones while holding them directly in contact with their ear, and Apple does make warnings regarding radio frequency (RF) exposure available to consumers, but it's buried in the legal section of the company's website. You can also find it on your iOS by going to Settings -> General -> About -> Legal -> RF Exposure.
For the penultimate iPhone, the 6s, Apple recommends: ''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.''
While wireless headphones do, in effect, increase the distance between your cell phone and your head, they are in reality just replacing one radio-transmitting device with another. With all new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus purchases, Apple says it will include wired Lightning headphones, as well as an adapter for those consumers who wish to continue using their existing 3.5mm wired headphones. But for many users, necessitating this extra step will serve as a catalyst to make the switch to Bluetooth.
In 2011, the World Health Organization classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans, ''based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use.''
The RF of any wireless device -- a cell phone, Bluetooth headphones or a wireless router -- emits non-ionizing radiation. These devices aren't as dangerous as those that emit ionizing radiation, such as X-ray machines, but some experts remain wary of them nonetheless.
''The biggest problem we have is that we know most environmental factors take several decades of exposure before we really see the consequences,'' Dr. Keith Black, chairman of the neurosurgery department at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, told CNN when the news broke.
''What microwave radiation does, in most simplistic terms, is similar to what happens to food in microwaves, essentially cooking the brain,'' Black said. ''So in addition to leading to a development of cancer and tumors, there could be a whole host of other effects like cognitive memory function, since the memory temporal lobes are where we hold our cell phones.''
In May, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a partial report, based on experiments in rats and mice, on potential health hazards from cell phone radiofrequency radiation.
CNN typically does not report on animal studies, because the results often don't translate to humans. However, these rare, aggressive, malignant tumors that occurred in male rats are the very same tumors found in epidemiologic studies in humans using cell phones for the longest period of time.
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iPhone 7: Public health professor warns radiation of Apple AirPods could harm your health
It is one of the features of the new phone which has sparked conversation, with many excited about the prospect of never having to untangle the wires and others worried how easily they could lose the gadgets.
The new headphones are powered by Bluetooth - a wireless technology for exchanging data over short distances.
An expert has warned the small white devices, which also have the added bonus of being water resistant, could in fact be damaging to health.
This isn’t just because we all tend to crank the volume up - which can gradually lead to a loss of hearing.
It’s because the headphones are transmitting very low intensity radiowaves into your ears.
Dr Joel Moskowitz, a professor at the UC Berekely School of Public Health, said people would be ‘putting a microwave-emitting device next to your brain’.
While it has not been revealed exactly what the frequency of the AirPod Bluetooth waves are, Apple’s engineers argue that they are well within the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) guidelines.
Dr Moskowitz said more than 200 scientists who study electromagnetic radiation safety believe that the FCC guidelines are inadequate to protect human health.
The expert questioned: “Although we don’t know the long-term risks from using Bluetooth devices, why would anyone insert microwave-emitting devices in their ears near their brain when there are safer ways to use a cell phone.
“Is the legal limit sufficient to protect the cell phone user’s health?” he added.
He said he recommended the use of ‘corded headsets or hands-free use of cell phones, not wireless ear buds’.
Dr Moskowitz argued there have been more than a dozen studies using animal models have found that exposure to very low intensity microwave radiation can open the blood-brain barrier which could enable chemical toxins in the circulatory system to penetrate brain tissue.
He said: “This effect is nonlinear as it is found with very low intensity exposure but not at higher intensity exposures to microwave radiation.”
Users can connect their AirPods to their Apple device by just opening up the AirPods case and tapping ‘connect’.
An Apple spokesperson said: “Apple products are always designed and tested to meet or exceed all safety requirements.”
iPhone 7: Apple unveils waterproof smartphone with better battery life, AirPod headphones .
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