Editor’s note: A previous version of this story reported that the petition mentioned Apple AirPods. However, that information was added in error.
A petition about the potential dangers of wireless and cellular devices has resurfaced.
The 250 experts who signed the United Nations and World Health Organization petition in 2015 believe there is an association between cancer and the emission of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields or EMF.
EMF is a type of energy generated by electric and wireless devices, such as cellular and cordless phones, Wi-Fi, broadcast antennas, smart meters and baby monitors.
The petitioners noted the International Agency for Research on Cancer determined EMF is “possibly carcinogenic” to humans and said previous research has linked neurological disorders and DNA damage with EMF exposure as well.
In a Medium article published in March 2019, one scientist specifically expressed concerns about AirPods, wireless earbuds unveiled by Apple in 2016. The headphones use Bluetooth technology, a type of EMF.
"My concern for AirPods is that their placement in the ear canal exposes tissues in the head to relatively high levels of radio-frequency radiation," said Jerry Phillips, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
Existing evidence “indicates potential concerns for human health and development from all technologies that operate at radio frequencies,” he added, listing tumors and abnormal cell functioning as some of the potential risks.
Although high levels of EMF can generate heat, cause burns and affect cell growth in humans, scientists have not determined the impact of large amounts of relatively low-level EMF exposure, produced by devices like the AirPods.
Apple has previously responded to concerns about radiation risk.
"Apple products are always designed and tested to meet or exceed all safety requirements," Apple spokesperson Alex Kirschner said in 2016 when the AirPods first launched.
While the petition does not mention AirPods, the experts said several agencies have not provided sufficient guidelines to protect the general public from the effects of EMF generated by other wireless devices.
"Various agencies setting safety standards have failed to impose sufficient guidelines to protect the general public, particularly children who are more vulnerable to the effects of EMF," the petition read. "By not taking action, the WHO [World Health Organization] is failing to fulfill its role as the preeminent international public health agency."
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