To much fanfare and excitement, Apple has announced that the iPhone 7 will come with wireless earbuds, ditching the much-reviled and ever-tangled cords of conventional earbuds. The wireless earbuds, dubbed "AirPods," will be water-resistant and are, in the words of company CEO Tim Cook, the first step to a "wireless future."
They will also fire dangerous, cancer-causing radiation directly into the brains of users, experts have warned.
The iPhone will communicate via Bluetooth directly with the right earbud, which will send a separate Bluetooth signal to the left earbud. This means the radiation carrying the signal will pass directly through the user's brain.
"Playing with fire"
According to Apple, all Bluetooth devices emit radiofrequency radiation (RFR) within the guidelines set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). But according to Joel Moskowitz of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, more than 200 scientists who study the effects of electromagnetic fields on the body have gone on record criticizing the FCC guidelines as far too lenient.
"We are playing with fire here," Moskowitz said. "You are putting a microwave-emitting device next to your brain."
The public health implications of people doing this on a massive scale are daunting, Moskowitz and other experts have warned.
Traditionally, scientists have claimed that RFR does not carry enough energy to cause cellular or DNA damage -- in contrast to the more high-energy ionizing radiation, such as X-rays, that has been shown to cause cancer.
Yet ionizing or not, a large body of research continues to show negative health effects in humans and other animals exposed to RFR.
"This has been observed over several decades," Moskowitz said. "It's like we keep rediscovering that Bluetooth is harmful and trying to forget it because we don't know how to handle it from a policy standpoint."
Brain cancer link is PROVEN
Contrary to the claims of industry representatives, studies have in fact established ways that RFR leads directly to health harm.
For example, RFR has been shown to degrade the blood-brain barrier, thereby allowing more toxins to pass into the brain. This is a major concern with placing RFR transmitters directly next to the brain.
"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?" Moskowitz said. "Essentially I recommend using corded headsets or hands-free use of cell phones, not wireless ear buds."
But even without Bluetooth, any cell phone use is hazardous. Cell phones also operate using RFR signals, as do smart meters and wireless internet.
Another mechanism by which RFR can cause health problems -- including cancer -- was identified in a 2015 study published in the journal Electromagnetic Biology & Medicine. The researchers found that numerous prior studies have shown that RFR can induce oxidative stress, a condition in which the body's antioxidant defenses are overwhelmed and free radicals run amok.
Free radicals are molecules that damage cells and DNA, and are considered among the major causes of cancer, heart disease, dementia, and numerous other health problems.
Indeed, all studies that have shown health concerns with cell phone radiation apply equally to Bluetooth, and therefore to Apple's AirPods. Thus, iPhone 7 purchasers should be concerned about the findings of the 2010 industry-funded Interphone study, which found dramatic increases in the risk of brain tumors, acoustic nerve tumors and parotid gland tumors among people who had used cell phones for 10 years or more -- and even higher risks among those who started using phones before age 20.
Earlier this year, scientists from across the United States gathered at a pediatric conference in Baltimore to declare that there is no longer a debate about the cell phone-brain cancer link.
"The weight of the evidence is clear: cell phones do cause brain cancer," said Dr. Devras Davis, president of the Environmental Health Trust.