Wireless earphones and headphones have been around for more than a decade now, however the complementary pair of Apple Airpods with new iPhone purchases made the signature white items ubiquitous in what felt like a matter of months.

Powered by Bluetooth technology, the cordless gems add new meaning to the word convenient. After all, no one could have ever convinced previous generations how obnoxious cords connecting smartphones to our ears could possibly seem.

Airpods are especially popular for workout warriors, as cords tend to get in the way of just about any workout—from lifting weights to running, jumping, crunching, dancing or lunging.

Earlier this week, Quartz published an article written by author Zoe Schlanger who helped average Janes and Joes make sense of the disconcerting headlines, noting:

The scientist declaration referenced in all the news posts is actually from 2015, and was an appeal to governments to take seriously the potential health threats of the type of non-ionizing radiofrequency radiation emitted by cell phones and other wireless devices. Yes, those include Bluetooth devices, like Airpods. But it’s not that simple. We’ll get to that in a minute. … 

The stories published this week were sparked by a Medium post from last Thursday (March 7) that mentioned the declaration, and quoted one of the signees, Jerry Phillips, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. …

Cell phones emit non-ionizing radiation while communicating with cell towers. In 2018, after years of research, US scientists released the peer-reviewed results of a pair of federally-funded studies finding that this type of radiation could cause cancer in rats.

That was major news. … Now, the scientific community has to figure out how those findings in lab rats relate to humans—and what doses of radiation pose a threat. So, yes, there are legitimate scientific reasons to be skeptical about the harmlessness of cell phones.

Airpods use Bluetooth technology. Bluetooth (and WiFi) also uses the non-ionizing radiofrequency radiation that cell phones use. But just like we still don’t know what dose of cell phone radiation could be harmful to humans, we still don’t know how much—or even whether—Bluetooth radiation poses a threat.

As Schlanger eventually goes on to point out, those who want to err on the side of caution may want to set their Airpods aside for the time being—no pun intended.

To read her full writeup, click here.